Sunday, April 27, 2014



In last week's "Film Classics of the 20th Century," we wrote:

And she [Meg Ryan] and  Tom Hanks have real chemistry in the film -- it's not easy to have chemistry with Hanks and Meg's the only one who ever has -- in this film, in Joe Versus The Volcano and in You've Got Mail.  Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks have co-starred in two flop and demonstrated all the 'magic' and appeal of curdled milk.  Chemistry can't be forced.

Reader Lillian e-mailed in reply:

I will no argue that Larry Crowne was a bomb, it was.  But Charlie Wilson's War, the other film Tom made with Julia Roberts, was a big hit.  That film made over a hundred million dollars.

We decided to let Ava and C.I. respond:

Working with the figures publicly available at, it is clear that Charlie Wilson's war was a box office bomb.

The budget is listed at $75 million.  It is an undercount but let's pretend it's accurate.

Charlie Wilson's War took in $66.6 million in ticket sales.

It didn't even sell enough tickets to match its budget.  Oh, and by the way, those ticket sales?  They're split with the movie theaters.  They don't run films as a charity exercise.  They get a take of the ticket sales.  The studio gets the biggest portion in the film's opening week.  It then slides downward.

Charlie Wilson's War made more for theaters than for the studio.

Its audience trended older.  Older ticket buyers are not 'opening day' ticket buyers.  They tend to see a film not based on when it premiers but based on their own schedules.  By the second over $30 million of the ticket sales came in the third week and after -- which means the theaters got a greater percentage of those ticket sales.

Lillian seems like a smart person trying to follow box office.

We applaud her for that.

We also apologize to her that so many idiots at Entertainment Weekly and elsewhere have never bothered to talk about the domestic ticket sales.

So the film couldn't even make back its budget domestically.

Could overseas have helped it?

Lillian notes the movie made over $100 million and that's true when you bring in overseas ticket sales.  To the $66.6 million in ticket sales domestically, the film added $52.8 million in foreign sales.

That's not really anything.

Again, the Entertainment Weekly and other gas bags that 'follow' box office don't know what they're doing.

You need to make a minimum of 80 million in overseas ticket sales for the studio making the movie to see any real profit.

Universal had to share that $52.8 million with foreign theaters who showed the film and with foreign distributors.  There were other additional fees which included promoting the film in these overseas markets.

The film was a bomb.

It didn't need a $75 million budget.  It could have been made for much, much less.  Julia Roberts also starred in August: Osage County whose budget was much lower ($25 million).  Roberts hasn't carried a film across the $100 million mark since 2000 with Erin Brokovich.  Tom Hanks' Captain Phillips squeaked past the $100 million mark but his last real blockbuster was in 2009 with Angels & Demons.  It's been awhile since either Roberts or Hanks charmed a wide audience.

Dennis e-mails to say he's missing "those short pieces with Barack Obama."  He goes on to suggest a number of photos we could have used.

Dona: Dennis, great minds do think alike.  We had the same ideas.  Dennis is referring to a group of photos that featured Barack and children.  He had some Godzilla captions.  We thought of that as well.  We also thought of drone jokes.  But we kept coming back to the fact that these are kids.  We really didn't want to go there.   Dennis isn't making fun of the kids with his proposed jokes and we weren't going to with ours but we just decided to take a pass.

Calah wrote to say that he felt we missed a great deal of the important stories.

Jess: You are correct.  We publish once a week.  We cover Iraq and grab other topics when we can.  Ava and C.I. have a TV piece this week that notes a great many important topics from last week.  They can do that.  They can figure out how to weave in additional topics.  But in terms of our commitments, we have always covered Iraq and we always will.  Other than that, we grab what we can.  We attempted a piece on net neutrality this week but had no luck with it.  In the words of Kat, it is what it is.

Braeden e-mailed about "The day after Easter" from last week:

I started reading you guys in February 2005.  I was a college student.  I'm now in the worry-every-day-you-might-lost-your-job workforce, married with two kids.  I still read you guys.  I still care about Iraq and am really disappointed how few people on the left do anymore.  But my wife and I do care and we're glad that you do as well.  We also read for the TV coverage.  It makes us laugh and, with 2 kids, we don't have a lot of movie money lying around and when we do it goes to some kid's cartoon movie.  Ava and C.I. deserve a week off.  But that said, Ava and C.I.'s TV reporting is the first thing we read each week.  But we read all of it and the candy piece?  We are your target audience and we appreciated the reminder to grab Easter candy the day after.  Thank you for that.  And not only did we get Easter candy but I grabbed a bag of Hershey Christmas candy -- cookies and cream -- for 38 cents.  0

We do try to remember our core audience when we work on the editions.  Jim notes:

Score on the Hershey candy bars!  Great job, Braeden.  At 38 cents, I think you beat all of us bargain hunters across the country.  And congratulations on your marriage and your two kids.  It's weird to think how many years have passed since this site started.  Thank you to Braeden and everyone else who's joined us for the ride.

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