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David Poland

By David Poland

Something For Y'All To Chew On

Here is the number I have… if anyone wants to scream about it somehow being wrong, go for it. This has been lingering since Thursday and I admit, I am a little anxious about somehow having missed something.
According to my calculation, the major studios and their divisions opened 89 movies, grossing $3,080,207,993, as of June 17.
As of June 18 last year, the same studios released 94 movies and to June 18, grossed $2,778,780,593.
So the studio business is, but this calculation, up by $301,427,400 this year.
The flip side, of course, is that the true indie sector is down by $399,938,032 with 149 release this year versus 161 to this date last year.
So outside of emotional takes on “The Slump,” what do you think about the details?

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36 Responses to “Something For Y'All To Chew On”

  1. Chester says:

    Dave, do your figures reflect total grosses or just domestic U.S. grosses?
    In either case, assuming your figures are correct, it sure would be interesting if independent films were at the root of the currently perceived slump. Then we can have an argument about whether indie filmgoers prefer to watch DVDs…

  2. jeffmcm says:

    Two things:
    1. Why do these numbers not match the official “slump” numbers? What’s the difference?
    2. What do you mean when you say the “true indie sector”? What were their numbers last year vs. this year? It seems like $400 million should be catastrophically devastating numbers to them.

  3. RDP says:

    Well, I would think a large chunk of that indie money last year came from a little movie called “The Passion of the Christ”.

  4. L&Db says:

    Again, we are not in any slump. Especially when we now have THE POTTER coming up. Entertainment Journalist can be so bloody banal sometimes. Good Grief.

  5. Martin says:

    This seems to go back to the Passion/Greek Wedding type of discussion. Ultimately these stories are about the movie theaters, not the studios, so whether it’s indie/hollywood/foreign/etc. it’s about people seeing stuff at home more than at theaters. Whether the movies tanking are Studio or indie is beside the point. No one is disagreeing with the fact that admissions are down this year, the disagreement is why and if this means anything other than lack of interest in current product. We’ll know more if this slump is still going on next year at this time.

  6. Joe Leydon says:

    If the absence of a “Christ” or a “Greek Wedding” is the major reason for this year’s real or perceived “slump,” well, it just goes to show you: There are literally millions of people out there who are totally turned off by most of contemporary cinema, and will buy tickets only if there’s something very, very special that appeals to them. Make it, and they will come. The trick, of course, is figuring out what “it” is.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s the actual number of admissions/moviegoers that is of importance, not only the dollar amount.

  8. There IS a slump in theatrical admissions this year, because the distributors have reduced the number of wide-release films (500 or more theaters) they distributed by 13.5% … last year as of this date there were 74 wide-release films shown in 2004 – this year, there have only been 64. (Less product equals less sales. Period)
    For the major studios, its due to a temporary gambling affliction called ‘tent-pole-idice’.
    When your corporate parents are balking at your cost per picture and won’t increase your budgets, (but you need more money for making tent-pole pictures), you have no choice but to reduce the number of pictures you produce each year … and put that money towards your tent-pole picture, and hope to make up the admission losses with your ‘hopefully’ block-buster hit. (It’s a gamble your downstream vendors end up paying for.)
    But after making the huge component formulation errors and missing huge potential profits in their tent-poles, the studios (other than Fox) now hope they can make up for losses and make themselves look good to their corporate parents… by reducing the number of films they distribute even more. (So now it looks to corporate parents like their studios have actually reduced their dollar losses – as compared to last year’s dollar losses – by a big 10%!) …and that they have reduced overall marketing costs by 10%!
    Now the corporate parents are actually proud of their studios for their reductions, especially in a year of low attendance. (A 13.5% lower year in attendance that the studios artificially created by lowering the number of films they distributed, hoping to make it up in tent-pole attendance.)
    But LESS films shown = LESS tickets sold. And the studios forgot they would have to make MORE tent-poles than they did before, MAKE SURE THEY CONTAINED THE CORRECT COMPONENT FORMULATIONS INSTEAD OF THE WRONG ONES, and spend more money marketing each one…and not just put ‘more money’ into producing the same number of them.
    But the tent-pole market is saturated…and putting any more money into the tent-poles that have more ‘negative component formulations’ than they do positive ones is a waste of money. It just won’t draw enough additional admissions to the box-office.
    So why do they gamble? Because less product doesn

  9. Eric says:

    Great. This “component formulation” junk again. It almost makes me miss the casino ads.

  10. jeffrey boam's doctor says:

    oh my aching sides. please stop it michael you’ll killing me.. the reasoon why you fucked up the component formulations is true genius! too funny
    from Michael Adam and Associates
    Herbie: Fully Loaded – starring Lindsay Lohan and Matt Dillon
    Positive Component Formulations = + 108
    Negative Component Formulations = – 110

  11. sky_capitan says:

    He forgot to add the rumours of Lindsay Lohan’s digitally reduced tits added a further -69 Negative Components, which resulted in an even worse Total Component Formulation Score.
    I think I’ll start a consulting site like that too.
    Now I’ll just sit back and relax and let the money roll in, and then let Micro$oft buy me out (it worked for Homer, didn’t it?)

  12. sky_capitan says:

    The “NOT PROFITABLE* in the U.S.” line made me think of something else (I assume he means U.S. and Canada, not just the U.S.)
    But why isn’t Mexican box-office ever added to the “domestic” (U.S. and Canada) box-office? Any particular reason?

  13. Anonymous says:

    From the 6/27 LA Times:
    Paul Hanneman, executive vice president of sales and strategic planning for Fox International, pointed to a global trend of youth drifting toward other forms of entertainment.
    “They’re multitasking, watching TV, on the computer, talking on the telephone all at the same time,” he said. “Maybe going to the cinemas doesn’t offer that instant access. We do need to be aware that the dynamics of the business seem to be changing and figure out what we need to do to adapt to that going forward.”
    You got that right!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Since the US population is increasing rapidly year after year, it’s increasingly worrisome that boxoffice admissions are trending downward. Does anyone have stats on what actual percentage of the population sees movies in a theater each week/year in 2005 compared to 10, 20, 30 years ago, or in the 1939-esque heydays?

  15. KamikazeCamel says:

    Maybe this year we have more mid-range middle tier hits like “White Noise” “Monster In Law” and “Boogiemen” compared to lots of big hits and big bombs.
    This “slump” is still grossing more money than Hollywood did several years ago though isn’t it. Because last year was crazy.

  16. TheLife&DeathBrigade says:

    Anonymous, you really cant compare attendance from the past to the present. Since the world has changed so bloody much. Also, there happened to be a depression in 1939. 10 cents still a lot of money back then. Poland has a point that the theatrical experience still remains the BEST WAY TO SEE A MOVIE. Unless you build a theatre in your crib like Bon Jovi. We are a social animal. It’s fact. We might hate people talking during films, eating to loudly, answering their cell phones, and carrying on with their kids. Yet we still go back. Hell. We still go to the theatre. Animals like watering holes. It’s foolish to think, because of one movie that brought non-movie goers to the theatres and a ridiculous Ogre flick, that the box office has a real-slump going on. Just go read Poland’s articles about this. If the studios would have just listened to Blockbuster.

  17. bicycle bob says:

    why would the us want to be associated with mexico? all they got is good vacation spots wholly supported by the us and corona’s and tequila

  18. Terence D says:

    I never bought this slump talk anyway. Especially since it is only the end of June.

  19. BluStealer says:

    Why all the doom and gloom stories??? It is like if the box office fell apart and the #1 movie every week was under 10 million dollars.

  20. BluStealer says:

    is this all preparing for “how harry potter saved hollywood” stories?

  21. Joe Leydon says:

    Some figures for you to consider, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau and

  22. Joe Leydon says:

    One other thing: From time to time, people on this blog (including its host) go off on tears about how the theatrical experience is the best way to enjoy a movie. That very likely is true. It also is almost entirely irrelevant. More and more, people are expressing their preference with their butts

  23. Joe Leydon says:

    One last thing: Today’s Supreme Court ruling regarding file-sharing will have more impact on the film industry than all the “slump” talk we’ve been having.

  24. Brett says:

    From a Timesonline article I read this am.

  25. RDP says:

    Whenever I go see a game at the Ballpark in Arlington in August, I’m wishing that sucker had a roof we could close.

  26. Sam says:

    This “component formulation” guy is the most hilarious thing ever. David Poland offers free publicity for his “business” if this guy posts his box office predictions ONE DAY EARLIER, and the offer is summarily ignored, thereby exposing the scam for what it is, and now I see he is STILL COMING BACK HERE?
    Dude. Game over. Jig up. All done. Get message.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Take another look at website Sam. We are posting films MONTHS in advance, not just a day in advance…

  28. sky_capitan says:

    I think adding the Mexican box-office each week to the ‘domestic box-office’ is just the kind of thinking-outside-the-box remedy that the industry needs. Not only does it solve present problems, but anytime in the future that there is a box-office decline, further “domestic territories” can be added (maybe Greenland, or the Republic of Ireland, or Spain etc).
    If I’ve read Dilbert enough, it’s this kind of ingenius thinking that will win praise from my bosses, and eventually get me promoted to a position where I can greenlight that third Brian Levant / Flintstones movie you’ve all been craving to see.

  29. David Poland says:

    I don’t care about the retracting roof and I don’t need to tell people how to watch movies.
    My argument is about the business. If exhbition declines because the industry moves towards a home model even more, it will end up cutting the business model by 30% or more, in my opinion.
    Some would say, “great.” Not I. I like there to be a distinction between TV and film, just as I do between the New York Times and US Magazine.

  30. Stella's Boy says:

    So can we chalk up all this crisis talk to a few films performing below expectations? Or a lack of other major stories, a la Passion of the Christ, Fahrenheit 9/11 and an election year?

  31. Joe Leydon says:

    David: I can sympathize with your attitude. Hell, I even share your attitude. But we’re approaching the point (assuming we’re not already there) where insisting on “a distinction between TV and film” will be as pointless as inisting on a difference between paperback and hardcover books. There will always be hardcover best-sellers — but these titles will sell even more copies when they’re available in paperback. And there will always be books that are NEVER printed in hardcover, but will be very, very popular as paperback originals. That’s how I see exhibition ultimately shaking out.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Joe – Thank you for the census stats and your non-emotional, unbiased theories. I agree 100%. David Poland, nobly, is operating more on emotion than fact, but the truth will win out and he’ll have to stop the cheerleading and adjust to reality.

  33. L&DB says:

    Sorry, but without exhibition, film has no difference than TV. Which will then lead to TV being the more dominant medium, and film being relegated to just another pay channel. If anyone wants that, then Im sticking with Dave’s emotional take on this story. I love TV, but there should be a difference. Less people have gone to the movies, because the world continued to change. So the population has doubled, that does not mean jack nor )))). When it comes in comparison to cultural change. Joe’s argument has more to do with Cultural Anthropology, then anything dealing with economics.

  34. joefitz84 says:

    Why is Dave operating on emotion? Does he have a personal stake in the BO?

  35. HulkamaniaStillRunsWild says:

    No. He just wants there to be a future for cinema. Without things changing, then there may be some problems ahead.

  36. KamikazeCamel says:

    The thing that certain people are bringing up about how attendance is down from 50 YEARS AGO is the dumbest thing I’ve read on here all week.
    Back then they did not have computers and iPods and giant malls and anything else that large amounts of teenagers may like outside of sport (and even now there’s more of that than there probably was then)

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So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

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