Movie Prediction Madness: July 16-18th

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”.

12 thoughts on “Movie Prediction Madness: July 16-18th”

  1. The commercial for Sorcerers Apprentice makes the movie look pretty cool… but “pretty cool” in that way that you just KNOW it’s going to be AWFUL.

    The only thing that gives me pause about saying it’ll be a bomb is that when Pirates of the Caribbean was about to come out, my reaction was “they’re making a movie about that old people ride at Disneyland? Yeah… THAT’S a good idea.”

    So… “they’re making a movie about that little chunk of Fantasia (which is already an overrated movie)? Yeah… THAT’S a good idea” *MIGHT* be slightly premature.

    Although I’m sure it’ll be terrible.

    Nick Cage =/= Johnny Depp

  2. I’d be shocked to see a weekend take beyond $75 million for “Inception”. As far as “new” properties go I think Avatar has the biggest opening weekend ever with somewhere near $80 million and that had the benefit of 3D and much greater awareness upon it’s release. Plus, I suspect the subject matter of “Avatar” was a bit more accessible than that of “Inception”.

    I’m looking forward to seeing it this weekend. I’m sure it will kick ass just like every other Nolan movie. Although I don’t expect greatness on the level of “The Prestige”. That would be unrealistic me’sa thinks.

  3. The Piracy thing is a big issue but you also have to look at the people that can’t afford to go to the movies every so often and can’t buy dvd’s either. Not everyone that downloads a movie or other media is out to sell it they just might want to download different types of media for themselves. And let’s face the facts piracy will never go away and the less fortunate will always look for the free media to download as long as they can afford to get internet and even with that you have to know how to download, open files, and then put the movie or music or game on dvd so it’s not like it’s the easiest thing in the world. To make a dent you have to go after the guys who want to make a living of piracy which is like the drug world eventually you’ll get caught.

  4. That was quite a rant (directly above) considering Ben didn’t put any value judgment whatsoever on piracy, and merely said the studios were “going nuts”.

    I’m also not putting a value judgment on piracy either way, but it’s reasonable to say “even if you’re not planning on selling the movie, if you download a movie you otherwise would have wanted to see, you’ve taken some money out of the studio pockets.”

    I don’t particularly care about studio pockets (especially since Ben himself proves that people WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE MOVIES, EVEN IF THEY AREN’T GOING TO GET RICH DOING IT)… but you are costing them money.

    Now… I’m off to watch Inception on my home theater.

  5. Well, the rising popularity of the home theater has made it impossible for films to stay in theaters for more than a couple of months. What happened in the 1980s could never happen now, or even in the 1990s thanks to VHS, DVD, and digital distribution.

    I wonder how much longer the concept of the theater can last, since people have gotten increasingly reclusive in the information age and because real estate is getting more and more valuable. Arcades are all but dead, drive-in theaters bit the dust in the 1990s (the last film I watched at a drive-in was Jurassic Park in 1993!), and it seems that indoor theaters will be pushed into extinction next if trends continue. Old media is trying very hard to prop up its old business models, but no matter how much it fights to preserve them, they WILL fall apart eventually… and the old guard had better prepare itself for that inevitability.

    Anyway… speaking of bombs, it pains me that M. Night Scam-u-lot’s latest turkey, The Last Airbender, will make enough money to justify a sequel. I don’t care what that arrogant prick says… he’s not a genius, and his films are the stuff that manure is made of. When you make a film that doesn’t compare to the cartoon that inspired it, you’re doing something terribly, terribly wrong.

  6. There is a drive-in theatre in the town I’m from and it’s pretty cool because there are either two to three movies playing for the price of one and you can bring your own food.

  7. Inception was brilliant, I hate Avatar – why do the good movies make less money? >:/

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