What defines a "flop"?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Jeffries Jones, Mar 13, 2004.

  1. Jeffries Jones

    Jeffries Jones Auditioning

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    I understand that films such as Gigli and The Adventures of Pluto Nash are considered major flops, but for other films, what defines a flop? Is a film a "flop" if its box office receipts in its entire theatrical run never reached the total production and promotional costs? For example, if a film costs $100 million to produce and it costs $20 million to promote it, but it received only $80 million in its entire theatrical run, would it be considered a flop?

    A second question: not all films are made for commercial profits, as in the case of most "independent" or "art house" films. Even if these films do not earn back the production or promotional costs in the box office, would they still be considered "flops" as do commercialized films?
     
  2. Rob Bartlett

    Rob Bartlett Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, let's face it, the industry is about perception anyways, and people can use whatever word they want. People throw words like "hit", "flop", and "A-list". Pundits don't like to call a movie that they liked a "flop", they just simply chalk it up to idiocy on the public's part, and refer to it as "critically acclaimed".

    Arthouse films are generally exempt from the term, but something like Full Frontal and The Human Stain, which recieve terrible reviews and are high profile to begin, tend to be considered "flops".

    Generally speaking, a movie that makes a lot of money, and is considered an audience pleaser is a "megahit". A film that dissapears from theaters without making much quickly and recieves apathetic reviews is considered a "flop".
     
  3. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    The cost/box office ratio used to define a flop, but with DVD sales and rentals making up such a huge portion of revenue that even traditional flops like "Waterworld" eventually make a profit. Any more it has more to do with how well it was expected to do compared to how well it did, regardless of how much profit it makes.



    Don't kid yourself. ALL films are made with profit in mind.
     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    You can tell I've been watching too much of the World Poker Tour because I immediately thought a flop was the first 3 community cards after everyone's been dealt their hand...
     
  5. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    I agree with this. A small movie can make a relatively low gross and be considered a hit because it did better than expected, whereas flicks like Hulk and Godzilla can take in $130 million plus and be considered bombs. Heck, Attack of the Clones earned more than $300 million and was seen as a relative dud - not a flop, perhaps, but a definite disappointment financially. It mostly depends on expectations. It's one of those things that's hard to define but you know it when you see it...
     
  6. Jeffries Jones

    Jeffries Jones Auditioning

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    Is everyone saying that even if a film never recovers its production or promotion costs from the box office, but earns more than expected, then it is considered a "hit"? If that is the case, then a film that is expected to earn $100 million but takes in only $4 million in ticket sales is a "flop" then.
     
  7. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Well, yeah - why wouldn't a movie that falls so far below projections be considered a flop?
     
  8. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    Take the production cost and marketing cost and add them up, multiply that number by 2, and that's a rough idea what a film needs to make before it starts earning money. If a film cost $80 million to make and $20 million to promote, it needs to earn $200 million before it starts to generate profit. Again, just a loose generalization. This is why the world box office is so important. Many films don't start earning any money until they hit the ancilliary markets.

    A flop from our perspective is a film that sharply underperforms below production costs at the North American box office.
     
  9. Rob Bartlett

    Rob Bartlett Stunt Coordinator

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    Colin Jacobson, and the movies you mentioned also tended to not do great with critics or audiences. Something like Master and Commander has seen the word "dissapointment" linger around, but very few have used the word "flop".
     
  10. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    I agree with Ernest, except I've always multiplied by 3... With today's low interest rates he may be more accurate...

    Keep this in mind however... The terms "flop" or "disapointment" are (in my opinion) intentionally overused... There is an incentive to have a film "flop", in that profit participants dont start getting paid til the film is in the black... Meanwhile, the studio continues to recoup its investment...

    The entire industry is set up on the principle that 2 out of 3 films (at best) will FAIL financially...
     
  11. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    "Waterworld" profitable? Say it ain't so! [​IMG]

    I generally split the definition in two: the critical aspect and the financial aspect. This way, I can see a movie being a critical success but still be a financial flop at the same time, and vice versa.
     

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