I’m back after missing a week! (sorry, been busy with a new project)
Opening this weekend:
Inception: The big geek movie of the summer! I sure know I want to see it. This will translate well to box office dollars, I’m just not sure how well. It’s like guessing how much over $100 million a “Twilight” movie will open at.
I’ll do some math then. Geek cred ($35m) + Leonardo DiCaprio ($30m) + interesting ad campaign and premise ($30m) + “From the Director of the Dark Knight” ($50m) MINUS nobody died during production ala Heath Ledger (-$50m) equals $95 million opening weekend. Possibly edging past $100m.
I think the death of Heath Ledger is a sorely unappreciated part of “The Dark Knight”‘s gross, easily accounting for $100-$150 million of it final tally.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Think we’re looking at another Bruckheimer bomb here, a high-concept movie with a concept that’s hard to sell. Plus it’s probably crap. I, like most people, enjoy the “National Treasure” films but as is being proved again and again, it’s the brand, not the actor/director people care about. Still, I could see it doing $30-$35 million for the weekend.Which is being generous.
There was an article recently called “Whatever happened to the Box Office Bomb?”. It lamented the fact we never get an “Ishtar”, “Last Action Hero” or “Cutthroat Island” anymore. Instead we get “under-performers” that eventually squeak out a profit on DVD.
Let’s examine that with “Prince of Persia”. Worldwide gross $323 million. Cost: $200 million. Sounds good right? Not really. Studios only get back 50%-70% of a movie’s box office gross, the remainder goes to theaters. The percentage changes each week, the longer a movie is out. Opening weekend it might be Studio 80 / theater 20, next week is 70 / 30, and so forth.
This is why movies open huge, fizzle quick and are gone in a month. It is not in the studios interest for them to linger. Back in the 80’s, a movie could often be in theaters for an entire year (ET, Back to the Future, Star Wars). Now that would never happen.
Back to Prince of Persia. It opened weakly but held in OK, so its split is probably closer to 50/50 than 70/30. Let’s be generous and say Disney got 60%. That puts it at $193 million, which might just barely cover its cost. But then there’s marketing. A typical big film will often spend an amount near or even equal to its budget on advertising. “Prince” had a ton of advertising so let’s say $100 million.
So that’s roughly $100 million it’s still in the hole. The film’s remaining source of income is DVD sales, which in this weak environment it will likely never recover. So the movie lost money.
Is it a true bomb? No, that would be Jonah Hex. But the sad fact is most movies don’t even begin to show a profit until DVD, which is why studios are going nuts over declining DVD sales and piracy.
Closing note: Most of history’s famous bomb movies aren’t really the biggest bombs. Stuff like “Pluto Nash”, “Cutthroat Island”, “Town & Country” did far, far worse than “Ishtar”, “Last Action Hero” or “Waterworld”.