Sunday, June 07, 2015

Variety lies again (Ava and C.I.)

The summer popcorn movie season is shaping up to be a huge disappointment.

This may or may not change.

But into this mess comes Brent Lang and Variety -- not to offer clarity but instead to offer lies and spin.

First off, let's acknowledge there's a difference between studios and theaters.

Thanks to the 1948 anti-trust decision by the Supreme Court (United States v. Paramount Pictures Inc.), the movie business changed tremendously.

To illustrate, Sandra Bullock was very popular with theater owners from 1996 through the  '00s.

Murder By Numbers, Force of Nature, Hope Floats, Practical Magic . . ,

These weren't blockbusters.

She had blockbusters, Miss Congeniality (2000) and The Proposal  and The Blind Side (2009).

The studios loved those two films.

But theater chains just loved Sandra.

She delivered an audience.  A steady audience.

A modestly successful film starring her brought in people after opening weekend.  Usually, it brought in adults willing to spend at the concession stands.

The theaters make the least money off of opening weekend ticket sales.  As the film continues to play beyond that opening weekend, the theaters get a larger percentage of the ticket sales.

They get the profit from concession sales throughout.

But that's why a steady performer like Sandra meant more to them than someone whose film does brisk business for the first three days and then falls flat.

If you can grasp the above, and we're sure you can, you may also grasp the deceit Variety served up in this paragraph:

With the domestic box office a diminishing part of a film’s revenue pie U.S. audiences aren’t as important as they were a decade ago. “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” for instance, has generated 67% of its $1.3 billion bounty from foreign markets, while “Mad Max: Fury Road’s” best chance at recouping its $150 million production budget lies with how fervently overseas’ crowds embrace its apocalyptic vision. 

In North America, studios get a higher percentage of the ticket sales on opening weekend.

If you can grasp that difference, you should also grasp that a film making more money in overseas ticket sales (than it does domestically) is not a good thing.

The ticket sales from a foreign market?

A lot of that money stays in the foreign market and doesn't come back to the US.

(The same is true of foreign films that play in US theaters -- a lot of the money from those films stay in the US with the foreign studios receiving a much smaller percentage of the profit.)

Too often ticket sales are wrongly seen as profit for the films.

They're not profit.  A percentage is and the percentage for US films is greater when they play in North America.

Ticket sales can -- and should -- be used to measure popularity but if Jaws 16: Steel Magnolias Blood Bath rakes in $69 million on opening weekend, that $69 million in ticket sales did not go all to the studio.

There's still -- thank E! among others -- a very infantile grasp in the US on ticket sales.

There's another problem as well.

Hollywood is a legend around the world.

But if Americans are seen (consistently) being bored by US films, distancing themselves from US films, then the luster for these films overseas starts to fade.

The biggest bomb of the summer will be (and should be) Tomorrowland.

What idiot decided to greenlight a $190 million film with no box office star?

Oh, right: Disney.

George Clooney cannot carry a film.


His entire filmography makes that clear.

The Oceans are ensemble films, A Perfect Storm was as much Mark Wahlberg and Diane Lane's film and that leaves what?

The only other films that crossed the $100 million mark domestically for George were Batman & Robin (a bomb that destroyed the franchise) and Gravity where he played the role of "the girl" (it was Sandra's film).

He can't carry a film.

He can't open a film.

So why do you cast him as the male lead, as the adult lead.

And that's before you factor in his inability to shut his mouth.

He's ticked off people more left than centrist Democrats and he's ticked off pretty much all of the right-wing.  The non-political just know he's long in the tooth and does vegetable movies (good for you! but not satisfying).

Clooney's politics and his film choices meant that ticket buyers would stay away.

The film's a bomb and proves (yet again) that George Clooney is not a leading man.

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