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David Poland

By David Poland

Stat O' The Day

For those of you wondering…
Ove the first 90 days of Summer, 2007 is once again the Best Summer Ever
2007 – $2.87b

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31 Responses to “Stat O' The Day”

  1. Noah says:

    Will Rob Zombie’s Halloween count as a summer movie since it opens on August 31st? Or will just the first day count towards the summer? Because if you count all the grosses for that last weekend, which stretches into September, that’s 2 extra days of dollars being counted towards the summer, which would help it keep the record.

  2. Tofu says:

    What dates are basing on being the start and end of summer?

  3. Direwolf says:

    Thanks, Dave. Right up my alley. I am may quote you on tomorrow. OK?

  4. Joe Leydon says:

    Given the inflationary spike in average ticket prices that occurs every year, wouldn’t every summer have to post bigger grosses than the previous summer? Because if that didn’t happen — indeed, if the increase wasn’t at least as huge as the previous summer’s increase — wouldn’t that mean that fewer people (even as the overall population increases) are buying tickets?
    I guess what I’m saying is: Without a ticket-sale count, isn’t info about overall grosses essentially meaningless in terms of judging long-term health prospects for the industry?

  5. montrealkid says:

    I think it might be a stretch for RH3 to hit $200 million. It seems to be the sequel that no one wanted. Look for Superbad to surpass expectations.

  6. Direwolf says:

    That is true, Joe, and you can calculate ticket sales given that there is decent data on average ticket prices. Per capita ticket sales have grown 1% per year historically but often in recent years ticket sales have been negative. This is why many believe theatrical is dying. That debate is separate from the health of the theatre exhibitors where revenue matters because costs inflate with ticket prices.
    A similar situation exists for the studios who have inflating production and marketing costs offsetting increasing revenues. So it doesn’t matter that current films might not sell as many tickets as long as revenue from all windows offsets costs from green light though marketing and distribution to all channels.

  7. David Poland says:

    Well, no, Joe.
    Gross and net are ALL that matter. And not just domestic and theatrical gross and net. International box office, home entertainment, and all ancillaries gross and net are ALL that matter.
    The reason the media, including me, write so much about domestic box office is because it is the one piece of information that is readily available to us. There is a real correlation to the overall numbers… but traditional thinking in on this is probably off-base about 20% of the time. Some movies perform better overseas, DVD sales vary, etc.
    Moreover, the estimates that people do about ticket sales each summer are bullshit on their face. No one outside of the studios and exhibitors know exactly how many tickets sold until year’s end, at which time the MPAA gets a very closely held figure. We don’t know how many children’s tickets were sold or how many matinees. We don’t know whether ticket sales were significantly heavier – though the gross detail is available from EDI market by market – in big cities where tickets are more expensive or small towns that bring the avg ticket price down to what it is. Etc, etc, etc.
    AND even if we had all that info, it would be somewhat inconclusive until we broke it down by movie, chain, price points, etc.
    The quick answer is always, “prices went up 25 cents again.” People spin averages out by that number. But it is a bad stat inside of a bad way of thinking about the business.
    As I have always said, if a studio could sell tickets for $30 and be assured that they would have the same revenue plus $1, they would do that. They don’t care about ticket sales in that way. AND the “long-term health prospects for the industry” are certainly not an issue of numbers of tickets sold.
    Theatrical is not just an ad for DVD, but the average studio movie has more money coming in through all revenue streams than ever in history. The threat to the future health is not fewer tickets so… it’s cost of production. The danger ahead in terms of sales is not theatrical, but cost and longevity of ownership.
    I have argued for a long time that the industry’s lack of concern over theatrical revenue is only a problem because it is now the highest per-viewer expenditure in the industry. The revenue model for ownership will chamge many times in the decades to come, all seeking to maximize overall gross and net. But theatrical viewing is the one arena that people are willing to pay a premium for and which can only be delivered in one way.

  8. Joe Leydon says:

    David: I see where you’re coming from regarding ancillary revenue streams. (I would not be at all surprised to learn that, by now, even Howard the Duck is in the black.) And I agree that most of what we assume we “know” about b.o. grosses may be b.s. (While doing research in the Variety archives recently, I discovered that Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain, a movie long and widely dismissed as a flop, actually was No. 7 on the list of top ten grossing movies of 1966.) Still, I can’t help wondering whether we place too much importance on weekly (or even yearly) b.o. figures, and are too easily impressed by stats that only appear to indicate how deeply a movie has penetrated into our collective pop culture consciousness.

  9. Wrecktum says:

    It would be nice if distributors were told by exhibitors how many tickets are being bought, but, sadly, they never see that info. All the studios ever see is straight dollars and cents. Which, as you say, is fine and dandy because that’s all they really care about.

  10. David Poland says:

    I agree completely, Joe… especially this summer. Does anyone out there still feel the impact of any of the massive openers so far? Yet, for the week after opening, you would think that the world had changed in some profound way.
    Has anyone seriously discussed any of the Big Three in the last month? Haven’t we already forgotten Transformers? And is Harry Potter any more impactful after that huge 5-day?
    People do talk about Knocked Up and The Rat… but that’s really about it amongst the studio stuff, no? Even Hairspray hasn’t really popped culturally, even though some were surprised by the opening. There is more writing about Once and Waitress than about almost any other movies… and 3 million people haven’t seen both movies combined!

  11. Joe Leydon says:

    David: This is weird, but I was discussing that very topic with my film history students this weekend. Seriously: I noted that, even though much is written about edgy, envelope-pushing and extremely influential movies released during the so-called Holywood Renaissance — roughtly, from 1967 to 1980 – if you actually go back and look at the top-grossing movies of that period, you’ll see titles like The Love Bug, Airport, Love Story, The Towering Inferno and Airport. And then I asked: How many people here have ever seen The Towering Inferno? Only one student (not surprisingly, a guy in his 30s, older than most others in the class) raised his hand.
    Something else to consider: There was a time when movies like Bonnie and Clyde and Annie Hall sparked fashion trends. How many movies have enough long-term influence to do that anymore?

  12. Noah says:

    Devil Wears Prada and Sex and the City. Although the later is a TV show.

  13. Joe Leydon says:

    Noah: I think you hit the nail on the head — TV shows loom much larger in our pop culture consciousness these days.

  14. Noah says:

    Yeah, I think it all goes back to the Lumiere Brothers versus Thomas Edison. The Lumieres projected their films onto big screens while Edison invented a smaller viewfinder with which individuals could watch moving images. The Lumieres’ idea of moviegoing being a shared experience had its time, now it seems like Edison’s idea of viewing pictures by one’s self was prescient.

  15. mutinyco says:

    Joe, you’ve actually hit on something that goes against the common myth. Jaws didn’t alter the content of movies, simply the manner in which they were marketed (TV) and distributed (front-loaded). The top-grossing movies were always big B-movies. It was the combination of the new release strategies mixed with the increasingly bloated and under-performing productions by top directors that collided.

  16. movielocke says:

    the death knell of the studiosystem was really the Paramount decision in 1948, that’s when studios like Fox decided to essentially stop production on B pictures and clear out huge swaths of their permanent staff of film craftsmen and craftswomen. You had the low budget affairs like AIP take over B Pictures just as driveins changed distribution patterns. Meanwhile A pictures (which were suddenly the majority of studio product) changed the way they were seen with widescreen, 70mm and roadshows, for example. But since the studios were producing much less content the risk was greater every year, until you got to the point in the 60s where the moguls were retired or dead when some big pictures started to fail, like Doctor Doolittle and Cleopatra (luckily Sound of Music saved Fox from going the way of RKO, and Cleopatra did make decent money, just not in comparison to it’s budget (inflation adjusted to 300 mil+ in todays dollars)). Right about this time, the new generation of executives started coming in with pictures with B-genre gangster or horror stories (Bonnie and Clyde, Exorcist, Godfather, Jaws) but made with A list effort and an exciting new panache to their style and suddenly the studios realized maybe they were stupid to put all their eggs in the prestige basket, there was apparently a lot of money to be made in the pulp genres they’d let AIP and other low budget affairs dominate for the past couple decades. combined with the new release styles and advertising methods, the new generation of executives found a way to keep filmmaking alive and profitable. Jaws (or Star Wars) didn’t ‘ruin’ movies, they were part of a larger trend of adaptive survival decisions made in the tumultuous wake of the long, slow death of the vertically integrated studios.

  17. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t know if “the top-grossing movies were always big B-movies” is completely accurate. It depends on what you define as a B-movie.

  18. On the fashion aspect, I’d argue that (funnily enough) the music industry is more responsible for fashion trends than either of the visual mediums. What movies of the last two decades can claim to being as influential in that respect than Madonna circa “Like a Virgin” or Nirvana grunge or any other examples?
    Dave mentioned earlier about how unradical the grosses of the threequels have been even though they all made over $300mil. I remember wonderful back when Shrek the Third opened to over $100mil if it was the quietest $100mil ever (debut gross or cumulative). I honestly don’t know a single person either here in Australia or overseas who has seen that movie other than people on places like this. And even then I don’t remember anyone ever discussing it.

  19. Oh, and I still can’t get over Halloween‘s release date. Just… unbelievable.

  20. Josh Massey says:

    Seriously, what was the last movie to spark any kind of a fashion trend? Risky Business? (No, I don’t think Prada made anybody dress differently; it was just about fashion.)
    You have the music examples above, “Friends” made a nation of girls get Jennifer Aniston’s haircut, … but I’m really coming up blank with film examples.

  21. Joe Leydon says:

    Mutiny: I think Jaws actually did have a profound effect on movie content. Decision-makers looked at its successful launch, and realized (a) how efficient it is to release movies in such a manner (everywhere at once, backed by big TV buy), and (b) how much money can be made very, very quickly by “front-loading.” The catch? Well, what kind of movies are easiest to advertise in 15-, 30- and 60-second TV spots? Give you a clue: Not very complex ones.
    That, of course, is a gross simplification. There are many other factors that, I agree, must be weighed when describing (and/or derycing) the content of contemprary film. (There is, arguably, the overall infantilization of pop culture to be considered.) But I don’t think you can underestimate the impact of Jaws — and, not so long afterwards, Star Wars. For better or worse…
    BTW: If you ever get the chance, take a look at the doc A Decade Under the Influence.

  22. Eric says:

    Well, I tried to grow the Bill the Butcher mustache after seeing Gangs of New York, if that counts, but I didn’t get very far.

  23. Eric says:

    When considering front-loading and first-weekend hype, I think we also have to recognize that the real benefit for the studios is that they get away with selling some really awful movies. You get the money before word gets around that the movie is terrible. They can’t all be as awesome as Jaws.
    Think about it: Would Fantastic Four 2 have worked as a platform release? Of course not.

  24. Joe Leydon says:

    Eric: I agree. It’s more or less what AIP used to do when it opened, say, I was a Teen-Age Werewolf on the same weekend throughout a region, then took the monmey and ran before the bad word of mouth spread. Only now, it’s on a much larger scale.

  25. mutinyco says:

    My point was… if you look at the movies you cited earlier — The Towering Inferno, Airport — as far as I’m concerned, those are B-movies. B-movies with all-star casts.
    Movielocke is right. Movies like The Godfather and The Exorcist are, like Jaws, B-movies created with A-list talent. And if I’m not mistaken, both of those films had front-load releases as well. And furthermore, they were the highest grosing films of all time upon their respective releases.
    As far as content influence, with a few initial exceptions like Superman and Star Trek, it wasn’t until around 1984 that you really started to see the blossoming of the modern popcorn movie — 9 years AFTER Jaws. And by ’84, Spielberg had already directed Close Encounters, Raiders and E.T., and Lucas had completed the first Star Wars trilogy. It wasn’t Jaws and Star Wars by themselves — they were cultural phenomena — so much as the continued success of their directors’ movies that led the way.
    That and the fact that the corporations had taken over and the executives running things had come from TV. The corporations wanted profit, the TV guys understood simple, pleasing content.

  26. jeffmcm says:

    Airport looks like a B-movie to us today (mostly thanks to Airplane!), but at the time it was an A-movie – all-star cast, serious (if melodramatic) content, prestige studio treatment, and it got a Best Picture nomination.
    On the other hand, I Was a Teenage Werewolf is one of the best of its type of movies. Better to use, say, The Unearthly or The Giant Gila Monster as an example.

  27. Jerry Colvin says:

    Earlier today, I watched Towering Inferno recorded from HDNet and got caught up in despite myself… Surprised to find Bobby Brady outside his sitcom house.

  28. movielocke says:

    And it wasn’t really that long ago in the pre-weinstein days when films like the Fugitive could be nominated for best picture, too bad that was stopped and now fun films have to be epics to get nominated.

  29. movielocke says:

    that was really a crock of shit, what I just said, wasn’t it?
    I was thinking of the fugitive as simply the most unlikely “B” film to be nominated in today’s (or the last decade’s) atmosphere of what is nominateable, but certainly there were non-indy films whose primary purpose was to be entertaining and were neither epics nor musicals that were also nominated in the time since The Fugitive was nominated.
    Jerry Maguire
    As Good as it Gets
    Sixth Sense
    The Departed

  30. I still get a smile whenever I remember Babe is a Best Picture nominee. BABE! An aussie family film about a talking pig! Crazy.

  31. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Will Rob Zombie’s Halloween count as a summer movie since it opens on August 31st?
    Yes. Summer season runs from 1st Friday in May through Labor Day; this year it is a period of exactly 4 months, May 4-September 3.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

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.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon