Monday, March 06, 2006

Summertime Blues....

The Feb 20th issue of Weekly Variety has the now annual, “Uh, oh, the Summer Movie Line-up Looks Way Overcrowded" story. However, it’s still more than relevant. As noted below, the year’s movies so far have done little to assuage Hollywood’s ongoing straits. Without a single breakthrough movie yet seen this year, hopes are once again being pinned on a huge summer.

The problem, though, is that with so many high profile movies being released—the majority of weekends between May 5th and July 7th see the release of one huge movie—these films risk piling up atop of one another and bombing massively.

May 5: Mission: Impossible 3
May 12: Poseidon
May 19: The Da Vinci Code
May 26: X-Men Three
June 6: Omen 666
June 9: Cars
June 30: Superman Returns
July 7: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

And that’s just the blockbusters. Each week will also see, naturally, smaller movies hoping to catch some box office crumbs.

The problem isn’t that many of these films won’t have predictably big opening weekends (although it’s hard to see a Harry Potter or Spider-Man 2 or Star Wars in the bunch, save perhaps Superman Returns), but that they will make a goodly amount one weekend, be decisively pushed out of the number one spot the next week, and be almost forgotten by the third. And with many of the budgets for this things being simply huge—Poseidon’s production budget alone, sans the tens of millions more in advertising and print costs, is a reported $150 million—chances are that the majority of these are going to lose money in the States, and will be praying for strong overseas sales.

Pirates probably has the best shot. It actually has a clear couple of weeks before the next ‘big’ film, Michael Mann’s reportedly $200 million (!!) remake of his old Miami Vice TV show. I can’t imagine that one not bombing, although that’s partly because I don’t get Colin Farrell at all, and he’s assuming the Don Johnson role. And Cars is this year’s animated movie, so that should probably do pretty well, although perhaps not Finding Nemo or Shrek big.

Still, believe it or not, the biggest gamble appears to be Superman Returns, by dint of it’s reported $250 million budget. It’s should be noted that director Bryan Singer has disputed that figure, noting the actual number is “a little lower than $200 million.” Even so…damn!! And again, you’ve got to figure that the advertising and prints budget for the movie will be between fifty and a hundred million on top of that.

Basically, with production and advertising budgets continuing to skyrocket, the majority of these films are going to have to do significantly better than $50 opening weekends if they’re to break even. And frankly, I don’t see it. The best hope is that the first couple of movies, M:I3, Poseidon and Da Vinci Code, turn out to be actually good and get people excited about seeing movies again. That’s possible, but I’m not holding my breath.

The most anticipated blockbuster, of course, arrives on August 18th: Snakes on a Plane.

6 Comments:

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Jessica R. said...

See I'm seeing MI3 doing very badly partially because of Cruise's off screen behavior partially because every time I see the trailer I can't stop giggling (seriously Phillip Seymour Hoffman would actually be scarier using his Capote voice), It wasn't the hottest franchise to begin with so I see it tanking badly. Superman Returns I think will be the event movie though I don't know if a that price it will turn a profit and I don't know if I even want to see it in theaters unless I hear good enough reviews. I see Divinci Code doing very well as there is still enough intrest in that craptacular book. Omen is going to find out that you can't intrest people in a 30 year + plus old bad horror film just buy opening it on Ohhhh spoooooky 6-6-6 and X-Men 3 is crippled right out of the gate by bad buzz though I'm sure Bret Ratner is going to confirm that.

 
At 2:30 PM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

I think MI3 will actually do pretty well. It's the first big movie out of the gate, and I think the Scientology (sp?) stuff mostly hurt Cruise with people that didn't like him in the first place.

Moreover, the franchise is actually quite successful. The first two movies made over a billion bucks worldwide, and that's not counting TV sales and home video and such. Say what you will for Cruise, he's a great producer, and he almost always offers well put together product.

Plus, you know, that theme music is still bitchin'.

Superman Returns will probably do well, probably very well (unless superhero fatigue starts to set in), but it's going to have to make a lot of money overseas to go into profit. Still, it will be an over-all windfall for Warners, given the other streams of revenue it will generate. And I think Singer will deliver the goods. A good movie doesn't guarantee good box office, but it never hurts. Think how much money Godzilla would have made if it hadn't sucked.

Omen is a crapshoot, although I see it dying like last year's Exorcist movie. I guess it could be effective counter-programming, but again, since the movie probably won't be very good, it's presumably higher budget will hurt it. The odds that it draws Saw or The Ring kind of money seem fairly slight to me.

X-Men 3 does look to suck, so I do expect that one to underperform. If I had to bet on one movie to crash and burn, that would be it.

Again, I think Pirates will do really well, and is the odds-on favorite, along with Superman, to be the biggest movie of the summer. The question is, though, whether the summer's biggest movie draws a $250-300 million gross or a $500 million one. Hollywood really needs the latter at this point.

 
At 2:49 PM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

I wonder if MI3 will do that well. Generally speaking, most Part Threes seem born more of desperation than any kind of "the story must be told!" conviction.

I'm trying to think of a Part III which did as well as previous entries and (apart from Jason and Freddy Kreuger) am not having much success.

 
At 2:59 PM, Blogger Ken Begg said...

Star Wars, although that's a bit different. I expect Spider-Man 3 to do pretty well, though. Part of it is timing, not waiting too long or too soon to release the next chapter. I think this one is about right on that score.

I think series usually start to fade by the third go around because they start getting bad. Like I said, you can knock Cruise on a lot of matters, but he might be the canniest star producer we've seen in the last thirty or forty years. For a film with a mega-star, the budget is comparatively low ($150 million), and he shakes things up by bringing in a different, and strong, director for each movie. We'll have to see if J.J. Abrams is up to the job, but if he is, I don't see why this wouldn't do as well as the last two.

Moreover, the film is nearly a lock to do well overseas. I certainly can't see it not turning a profit, unless it does much worse than I think and Cruise's no doubt impressive first dollar gross participation eats up a lot of the studio's end.

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

I think Star Wars isn't quite the same, in terms of sequels. Part 3, as far as I'm concerned, was Return of the Jedi which wasn't as good as the previous two. Revenge of the Sith was okay-ish at best, though much better than Attack of the Clowns.

Star Trek III was a decent film, though (like Jedi) designed more to wrap things up than expand the market.

 
At 5:35 PM, Anonymous wjl2 said...

Since when did we start calling these things "blockbusters" before they'd had a chance to bust any blocks?

The term "blockbuster" means (or used to) an entertainment production (originallya stage show, later a movie) which is very successful either in popularity or financially.

Yes, yes, I know. I'm a fossil and have not kept up with the dumbing down of the language.

- Bill

 

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