Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Big Picture: "The Numbers"

22 comments:

Tim said...

Bob, you’re an idiot. When people say that box office numbers don’t matter, they mean it has nothing to do with the quality of the film. For example, just because Transformers 2 did very well, that doesn’t make it a good film. No one is denying that a bad film doing well or a good risky film doing poorly will have a negative impact. You completely misunderstood everyone as usual. Get on the ball.

Kent said...

@Tim

I pray to Beta Ray Bill you will one day poses the wisdom to understand just how stupid it sounds to call someone an idiot for not understanding people and in the same statement completely ignore the context of a persons argument.

Bob, nothing but love for you. To this day I show Scott vs World to people and everyone loves it, I always chastise them for not seeing these things in the theater. God help me when Transformers 3 comes out, I'm going to need a lot of alcohol.

Hasse said...

At the Mountains of Madness was by far my most anticipated movie until it got cancelled. Glad you decided to talk about it :)

Steve said...

You know, I was thinking about a similar topic Bob. I asked myself the other day, what if Green Lantern does bad at the box office? It's arguably the most comic-esque superhero movie we've ever seen until now. Not even Thor is reaching this far into it's original pages of Silver Age campyness. So what will DC think if Green Lantern fails? Hell, what will OTHER studios think if it fails? Let's be honest here, we all know Dark Knight Rises will destroy the box office. Will that tell investors that dark and gritty is the way to go, and that comic/campy films are a no-go? It truly worries me, because I think it'll limit the number of Superhero films that DC/Marvel/etc could produce. Batman is allowed to be gritty because he was originally made to be gritty (at least for that time period), whereas heroes like Green Lantern, Thor, Wonder Woman, etc, have a more campy tone to them.

So in a way, I'm really polarized by Green Lantern. What if it does good in the box office, but is a shit movie? I hadn't realized until a few days ago how important this film will be. It could very well define how Superhero movies will be produced by studios for the next 5-7 years or so. And that, is equal amounts exciting and worrying.

Adam said...

It’s a sad story to be sure, but I can’t really blame the movie studios on this. They need to make money, plain and simple. And I think it some point we need to be honest and admit that our tastes are really pretty niche still. I really enjoyed Scott Pilgrim (its actual merit completely separate from that) and will show it to anyone who’s interested, but the majority of my friends would probably only get the “Extra Life” joke. Everything else is a huge cavalcade of “What the Hell was that?” I feel geek and internet culture has become very insular over the last decade, and we overestimate the appeal of our taste. Stuff like Lord of the Rings succeeds in part because of its already widespread recognition. Narnia gets a boost from being a family friendly fantasy movie by Disney. How many parents took their kids to the Narnia movies without knowing what the subtext was or that they were even based on books to begin with?

Let’s try an example. Let’s suppose that the unthinkable happened and Nintendo gave the green light to a Legend of Zelda movie. People who are open to the idea usual demand that to be done well the film would need nothing less than a Lord of the Rings esque budget (Fellowship cost about $93 million by itself I believe). In fact take a more recent example. The Prince of Persia movie was somewhere around $150 mil. to make. I think the last Zelda console game sold somewhere around 6 million copies. If we assume that everyone who bought the game goes to the movie and for the sake of argument the average movie ticket costs $10, that’s “only” $60 mil. right there. Yes, this isn’t an exact science but you see my point. For a movie of that scope and cost to succeed it needs more than just the fan appeal: it needs mainstream appeal. And unless presented the right way the mainstream just isn’t going to care. If it has a company like Disney backing the film people will say, “Oh! A whole new fantasy world to see!”. By any other studio it probably looks like another LoTR rip-off.

While we have proof that more fantastical art can succeed the producers have to be more careful about it. Star Wars is widely credited with bringing Sci-Fi to the masses right? Well the original movie while it had a fairly generous budget for the time it was still pretty constrained. The second and third movies effectively doubled and tripled the original budget because it had been proven that the people would come to see them. So I think that’s a big clue right there. We want to see our favorite series and concepts brought to the big screen but they just aren’t ready for the big time yet and may have to live within their means at first if they want to get noticed.

…Sorry, I need to work on being more concise.

Kholdstare said...

Thank you for bringing up At the Mountains of Madness. It's incredibly sad that Guillermo del Toro's dream project was shut down by Universal. I can understand why they did it, but it doesn't make it any better. We can only hope that SOMEBODY will pick this up and let this movie be done the way he envisions it. If it ever happens, I'll try and see it as many times as I can.

Reverend Allan Ironside said...

I finally caught Scott Pilgrim on HBO this month. My god that movie was pretentious art house bunk. Love letter to gamers? The little video game bits were more distracting than anything, but I would say that it was a graphic novel that did not work in live action. Fun fight scenes though.

Major bummer for Del Toro. Maybe Lovecraft would do better if it had a bitchin car chase in it.

Popcorn Dave said...

Ugh. Seriously, Bob, I agree with most of this video (Steve is right too), and the stuff about Del Toro's Lovecraft movie was interesting (and sad), but for the love of God, get a new cause. It's really getting old listening to you bitch about Scott Pilgrim every week.

Silens said...

While I understand where Bob's commentary is coming from regarding Del Toro's movie, I think there's a point in the logical conjecture where things begin to fall apart, and that is directly equating the failure of Scott Pilgrim with the success of The Expendables - because there are a LOT of problems with that logic.

Let's face it, Scott Pilgrim was aimed at a very small demographic, far smaller than that of The Expendables - and worse still, it was aimed at a demographic without a great deal of disposable income. Most teenagers/young adults find it easier to torrent movies they want to see rather than shell out cash to see it in theaters. And frankly, Universal hasn't managed to find a way to drag this group into theaters en masse, which is why they're bleeding money on these film-geek projects.

And there was also a distribution problem with Scott Pilgrim - or at least that was a problem I ran into - it was hard to find theaters showing it in the city, and I lived in the nerd capital of Canada at the time.

And while Bob might have championed this movie, he can't deny that the majority of mainstream movie critics either just didn't understand the film, disliked the pretentiousness (which I liked, but I like that sort of artsy pretentious stuff, and there's nothing wrong with being a bit more pretentious either), or just didn't see the film (eg. Roger Ebert). Without a larger push from the critics, this film wasn't going to come anywhere close to making the same amount of money.

So yeah, while the douchebag crowd that is going to make Transformers 3 a hit might have contributed to the box office failure of Scott Pilgrim, they weren't solely responsible, and I wish Bob would at least acknowledge that point.

Dave said...

@Bob: While the Box Office revenue is indeed relevant, there's one major thing that cripples your overall argument......

Movies don't make the majority of their money from Box Office revenue. They make it off of merchandising, DVD sales and TV spots.

Why do these shitty reimaginings of old classics like Michael Bay's Transformers keep being made? Is it solely because of the Box Office revenue? No. It's because it's a toy-toon franchise, and will make the majority of its money through toy sales, comics, and the upcoming game.

Otherwise, even it if did OK or even decently well at the Box Office, the producers and Paramount wouldn't bother. It's not as important to them that the movie will rake in money through box office sales, because let's get real.... both films may have made a significant amount of money each, but the REAL money has been through other means.

Scott Pilgrim was, in all honesty, meh. I never cared enough to read the comics, and the movie wasn't all that great. I was never moved enough to purchase any SP-related merchandise after the movie's release. So, to be perfectly honest, I can totally understand why it didn't do so well in the box office. Same goes for Watchmen: while it was a really great movie, was it really all that marketable to the non-nerd crowd and the wide, general audience? Not really, no.

@Steve: Your assertion that the upcoming Green Lantern flick is arguably the most comic-esque movie we've seen until now - moreso than Thor, which adapts much of the Jack Kirby and Olivier Coipel aesthetics straight out of the comic books - is easily the most pants-on-head retarded comment I've read pertaining to the GL film. I think you need your eyes checked. In terms of look, its aesthetic couldn't be farther from the comics.

Beyond that, Adam covered just about everything else I was going to say, though I would argue that - in spite of the difficulty in adapting videogames to film - The Legend of Zelda might make a better adaptation as a straight-to-DVD anime feature than a live-action film. This is because some things work better animated than as live-action adaptations. Regardless, I think it'd be more appropriate as a straight-to-DVD feature than a flick with a theatrical release, as I don't see it selling nearly as well and many interested people might wait for the DVD release anyway.

Dave said...

I'd also like to add in that the push to make Del Toro's film had absolutely nothing to do with young people not being able to see a Rated-R film. Making the film harder to get into actually adds to its appeal, and kids will want to see it even more because they aren't supposed to, so they'll nag their parents or a friend aged 17 or over to take them. There are many examples of a film's more adult rating helping to boost Box office revenue for this reason.

The REAL reason why films try and stive for a PG-13 rating over an R rating is because the higher the rating, the smaller the advertising budget the film is allowed. Having a fairly decent advertising budget is especially crucial for flicks that aren't already huge, mega-popular franchises. *points to "At the Mountains of Madness"*

While Lovecraftian stories adapted to films might pique the interests of older audiences, it'd go right over the heads of younger viewers who - lets face it - don't read. Therefore, a larger budget would've been crucial to making certain the film was sufficiently marketable.

Oh, and Bob? You aught to check your source material. While sources say Del Toro refused to budge from his R rating, the only one I found which says it had something to do with marketing the film to kids was one on hitfix.com (an article that shares quite a bit in common with your video here, all the references and such included), in which the article's author Drew McWeeny spends much of his time pontificating rather than speaking from a position of knowledge.

And don't "this is an opinion show" me. That wasn't an opinion statement, it was an assertion of fact from your video, and unfortunately for you, it isn't true. And while you've claimed that your videos cut corners in the interest of time, there's a perfect example of something that could've been cut to buy you a few more seconds of motor-mouthing that could've been better spent on something more substantive.

Joe said...

To this day, I don't know why Scott Pilgrim, the Expendables and Eat Pray Love were all released on the same weekend, when the rest of that August was a veritable wasteland (like August usually is for films).

While I loved Scott Pilgrim, I was coming in as a huge fan of the comics. I was really surprised that this somewhat obscure indie comic set in the biggest city in my generally neglected country got greenlit for a major motion picture in the first place, so maybe the whole thing was too good for this sinful Earth after all.

I do think it's overstating to claim The Expendables was a sure cash-in. I remember being slightly excited at the first buzz, mostly based on nostalgia for the 80s action films I used to love. But I also thought most of the cast were washed-up has-beens stuck making direct-to-video B-movies. Only after I watched the last Rocky and Rambo films, where Stallone gave decent send-offs to two noteworthy but very tired franchises, did I think Expendables had a shot of being a decent film. Unfortunately it was just bad, and made worse because it had so much wasted potential. I think going up against Eat Pray Love definitely worked for Expendables--I'm sure a lot of women went in packs to see that movie (since there's so few films aimed at adult women), and their boyfriends and husbands probably decided to see the movie with the NFL player, the MMA fighter and a bunch of once-badass actors.

O.T said...

As Richard Williams said "The golden rule is the person with the gold makes the rules." Universal aint got the gold anymore.

@Kernal corn Dave

Im pretty sure this is the first time he has mentioned it in a few months.

@Silens

I dont think he's in denial of that. Wasn't that the point of his little ending line? That people can still be upset with a movie doing poorly. Even when the atopsy comes back clear.

I know I do.

Robert said...

Congrats on making another "big picture" episode that is actually about the big picture and not worthless comic book bs.

+1

Lee Kalba said...

Some good points in here. Yeah, a lot of it does come down to merchandizing, why do you think we're getting a Cars 2? Something like 1.2 billion in merchandizing, if I remember my source, correctly. If not, it was still a fuck ton of money in toys. So when a movie doesn't have a lot of merchandizing to rely on to make a profit for the studios, ticket sales are even more important. And ultimately, that was the downfall of Scott Pilgrim: it didn't even make back its advertising budget.
And Robert can shut the hell up. So many movies are based on comics, it makes sense to talk about comics, especially on a site and blog that caters to geeks. And yes, there are non-superhero movies based on comics.

Krissirge said...

I just came to say that The Expendables is by far a better movie than Scott Pilgrim and I'm glad they are making a second one.

Of course I am a huge fan of the movies the actors in Expendables star in anyway, so...

Phobos said...

It is disappointing that in both may favourite entertainments the same thing is happening. Bob's analysis of the movie industry is the same as what is happening in the games industry, obviously due to sharing a lot of the same audience. COD is so the Fast and Furious of the games industry. Though to be fair I would much rather sit down and play COD than sit through any of the 3 movies I have had the fortune to miss.

smile said...

Oh shit... Me hating Scott Pilgrim is the reason I'm not going to see a Cthulhu movie...

I'm sorry guys... Oh man... I had no idea...

counterpoint said...

sad. very sad. GdT is by far one of the best working today, IMO.

CraftyAndy said...

@Steve Just because it has alien worlds and fantastic settings doesn't automatically equal campy. Why can't we have a serious tone Green Lantern movie. If there is any movie to be worried about, it's X-men first class. An awesome movie but not many realize it's directed by the same guy behind kick ass which should be the number one selling point.

David (The Pants) said...

This episode is sooooo good!!!!

Huggiesunrise said...

nah cthulu has had a curse on it for a long time. Lovecraft stuff in general does.

However.. if "THE VIN" can get producers to raise eyebrows for Riddick 3 im sure that nerd would love to get in on del toros lovechild.

Just throw the rest of the idiots from F&F in there.. i mean.. really.. they are all going to die in that movie people will pay to see em in it and us counter culture trolls will pay to see em get flesh crafted into a foot stool.