Summer Movies and The Future

Chuck Mayer

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http://www.usatoday.com/life/enter/m...mer-movies.htm
I am a first weekend moviegoer. I have been since 1989 when I saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade on opening day (a school night no less...I was a H.S. freshman). And now it seems, most of the rest of the country goes as well. For me, I just can't stand to wait!
According to this article (and this summer's box office), studios don't care when they take a %50+ dive after the first weekend. They have made their money and their statement. They just want to "open."
So why do we care. Why am I so worried? I think this is the future for the next several summers, and I think it will really hurt the quality (what's left of it). Well-written does not open a movie. "Concept" does. Or quick-cuts of neat CGI effects. Or a sequel to a comedy whose fanbase has grown on video. Skillful plotting and development don't sell in trailers. Imagery does. Skillful hype does.
The future of the summers is hype. Dazzle them with a trailer, get the internet cranking with rumors, and open BIG. Who cares if they don't like it. The second weekend for us is the first weekend for someone else. Summer movies have always (since Jaws) been about showmanship, but there used to be love and craftmanship and caring there.
Now it is the suits pressuring for the two-minute hook. It's not all doom and gloom, but I foresee a lot of summers like this one. Without A.I. or Moulin Rouge. And it worries me. I know that late fall and early winter are for the Oscar movies. I know that summer is for the "fun" movies. But not many of them were fun. The movies were a go before the script was started.
And I am to blame. I went and saw them. Every weekend. Hoping for a jewel in the mix (which I got with Moulin Rouge). But the rest were, for the most part, soulless. Let me know what ya'll think. It's not quite the deathknell of Hollywood or good movies. Everything moves in cycles. But it's a beast, and it's here to stay for a while.
Chuck
P.S. I know there are good indy films out there. I mean summer movies. I LIKE summer movies.
 

Ross Williams

Supporting Actor
Joined
Feb 9, 1999
Messages
653
Unfortunately this is the Hollywood trend of the moment. I get that the studios want their movies to open big. That's a no brainer. What I don't get, is why they don't care if they perform after that? Don't they want to make more money? If a big movie is actually good, people keep going to see it. The only summer movie that saw twice this year was Shrek, that was because it was a good film. It was also the only film I told my friends they should see. Is it a coincidence that Shrek is the #1 film of the year so far? Good Hollywood films that are well advertised always make money.
What does it take to become a Hollywood executive? Obviously they need to know nothing about filmmaking, marketing or accounting. It seems so damn simple. Find talented filmmakers and let them do their thing. Hand it off to some talented advertising and marketing guys. Stand back and reap the profits.
I can't wait until this horrible Hollywood mentality passes. And we can look forward to the wonderful summer movies of lore. Films I can actually sit through twice!
Here's a good article about it. "Legs Don't Matter?" http://reel.com/reel.asp?node=movien...l&pageid=18191
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"You know, there's a million fine looking women in the world, dude. But they
don't all bring you lasagna at work. Most of 'em just cheat on you." - Silent Bob
"No matter where you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzai
Optimus Prime Films
 

Jason Seaver

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What I don't get, is why they don't care if they perform after that? Don't they want to make more money?
Ideally, right now, studios want movies to move through "the machine" at a brisk pace, and then clear out so that a screen is cleared out for the studio's next film.
Studios and theaters basically have a revenue-sharing arrangement, but the percentages change over time. During the first two weeks, studios collect up to 90% of the ticket price; if a movie survives two months, that may be down to 30%. So, although the studio will still be making money if a movie stays in theaters longer, it's not as much as they would make if more people saw it earlier. And if the studios can turn the movies over enough, then they can have two "first weeks". So a studio will actually gross more if they have two movies that each make $100M in a month than if they have one movie that makes $200M in two months.
Of course, that's gross, not net. They've still got to pay for making that second movie.
However, pushing movies through the machine faster means that they can keep a movie more-or-less continuously in the audience's attention during its life-cycle. The life-cycle is currently along the lines theaters --> [second-run theaters] --> rental VHS/initial DVD --> pay-per-view --> sell-through VHS/SE DVD --> pay cable --> network TV. If these steps follow quickly, they'll each get a boost (and total advertising costs go down).
Now, that's not to say studios don't want movies to last a long time in theaters. They just don't really want them hanging around quietly.
 

Ross Williams

Supporting Actor
Joined
Feb 9, 1999
Messages
653
Thanks Jason, I definately understand it better now. I guess what we need now is movie theater owners to demand some kind of resructuring of the profit sharing system. So that they can both profit from long lasting films. I'm not holding my breath though.
But another reason why Hollywood would want films to do well in the long run, would be the almighty franchise. Take a film like Tomb Raider, which opened huge, but pretty much bombed the next weekend. If it had been good, it would have made more money, and a sequel would be in order. I was anticipating Tomb Raider the first time around, but if they actually decide to make a 2nd one, I'm not going to see it based on the crappiness of the 1st.
Look at Rush Hour and American Pie, the 1st films opened decent, but made a lot of money because they were those slow burners that made money over time. The sequels opened huge because of this.
Good product leads to sequels, which isn't always a good thing, but at least we have the 1st film to enjoy. If the sequels are almost as good as the 1st they can go on making em' till audience get sick of it.
------------------
"You know, there's a million fine looking women in the world, dude. But they
don't all bring you lasagna at work. Most of 'em just cheat on you." - Silent Bob
"No matter where you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Bonzai
Optimus Prime Films
 

Rob Willey

Screenwriter
Joined
Apr 10, 2000
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Rob
Ebert nailed it in last week's show. As far as the big studios are concerned, summertime is for B-movies with A-budgets.
Rob
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"That suits me down to the ground."
 

Mark Kalzer

Second Unit
Joined
Mar 19, 2000
Messages
443
Studios need to realize that Titanic didn't make $1 billion on the first weekend. I don't even think it stood out very much on the box office line up at first. I know me and my parents chose Tomorrow Never Dies over Titanic on opening day. What brought Titanic so much income was general word of mouth, and repeat attendence. Of course, you need a good movie for this to occur. (Please, hold your fire!)
This is why I generally don't pay attention to box office scores. So what if such and such a movie made $50 million on opening weekend. That doesn't tell me that it's good. All it tells me is that the advertising campaign reached a lot of people.
Hmmmmm....So studios take $9.00 of every ticket for the first two weeks. No wonder theatres are making less money.
 

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