MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

NYT Hacks Up The Box Office Year… Again

Ah, The Paper Of Wreckord.
Just when Hollywood thought it was safe to get back into the sanity of industry coverage, along comes Brooks Barnes

Be Sociable, Share!

22 Responses to “NYT Hacks Up The Box Office Year… Again”

  1. Joe Leydon says:

    See, it’s like I’ve always said: Variety is better than the New York Times. Even David thinks so.

  2. David Poland says:

    Uh, no.
    But there are things in Variety that are completely legit… and things that are suck up pieces… and most grown-ups know the difference.
    Actually, Variety has been much worse than anyone lately about stealing stories and posting as their own and refusing to link to those they see as competition… especially MCN and this very blog.
    But international box office? Legit.

  3. anghus says:

    this year seemed far better. if it wasn’t for the strike, there’d be something to celebrate. Hell, the holiday season could post 3 movies that top 200 million.
    And this year, only one film in the top 10 made less than 200 million domestic. Last year, only the top 6 films made over 200 million, and only one film passed 300 million. Mind you, it was Dead Man’s Chest at it made 420+ million, but the dollars were spread out over more movies this year, and i think that’s the sign that people are liking what they’re seeing. It’s not movie dominating, but a lot of different films each getting a nice piece of the pie.

  4. The Big Perm says:

    Since adjusting for inflation is a sucker’s game, this year will have nothing on twenty five years from now when ticket prices are tenfold. Think of all of those 900 million dollar grossers! Jaws is going to look like the bomb it was.

  5. Joe Leydon says:

    Also, Variety has hunkier film critics. Or so I’ve been told.

  6. David Poland says:

    There is that.

  7. Tofu says:

    Excellent. When I read that story this morning, I couldn’t help but think this was an easy target for Poland. New York Times + Box Office + Wrong On Everything = A worthwhile David post more often than not.
    My mouth pretty much dropped to the floor when I read the angle of the story, complete with droopy eyed Tommy Lee Jones. This paper is either hellbent on making the industry look down, or making Fox look good… Or both.

  8. anghus says:

    you know, i used to be the guy who said that the biased media was something of an urban myth, but as i get older i believe it more and more.
    They exist to tear everyone down, patting them on the back with one hand and stabbing them in the back with the other.

  9. movielocke says:

    hmm anghus, your comment made me think of this bit from Lucas’ VF interview
    “I think we got a great movie. I know the critics are going to hate it. They already hate it. So there

  10. jeffmcm says:

    Is the top ten order based on ticket sales different from the order based on box office?

  11. movielocke says:

    Yes, jeff, 2007 is the biggest year ever at box office but eighth in overall ticket sales. at current prices a year will need to sell about 1.43 billion tickets to cross the 10 billion gross mark:
    2007 earned $9.7 billion from about 1.422 billion admissions, the eighth best year of ticket sales since the 1950s.
    ticket sales plus respective year’s top three grossers
    #1 2002 1.607 billion (Spidey 1, ‘Two Towers’, ‘Attack of the Clones’)
    #2 2003 1.542 billion (‘Return of the King’, “Finding Nemo”, Pirates 1)
    #3 2004 1.522 billion (“Shrek 2”, Spidey 2, ‘The Passion’)
    #4 1998 1.482 billion (‘Private Ryan’, “Armageddon”, ‘Something About Mary’)
    #5 2001 1.481 billion (Harry Potter 1, ‘Fellowship of the Ring’, “Shrek”)
    #6 1999 1.476 billion (‘Phantom Menace’, “The Sixth Sense”, “Toy Story 2”)
    #7 2000 1.435 billion (‘The Grinch’, “Cast Away”, M:I-2)
    #8 2007 1.422 billion (Spidey 3, Shrek 3, “Transformers”)
    #9 2006 1.420 billion (Pirates 2, “Night at the Museum”, “Cars”)
    #10 2005 1.398 billion (‘Revenge of the Sith’, ‘Narnia’, Harry Potter 4)
    (figures from the Media By Numbers site)

  12. movielocke says:

    and btw, I saw that info in a forum, it wasn’t my leg work gathering the stats.

  13. David Poland says:

    Thing is, Movielocke, the industry doesn’t seek to focus exclusively on ticket sales either. The reason for the shortened window is revenue, period. Ticket sales just aren’t a relevant measure… all the more when you don’t have the rest of the revenue numbers to offer.
    And besides all of that… they are 100% estimated based on the average ticket price than MPAA offers each year. There is no public stat for actual tickets sold. So a movie like No Country, for its $40 million gross, probably sold a lot fewer tickets than a family movie with a $40 million gross because of kids prices and more emphasis on matinees. But there is no way to really know.
    If someone had the data and could seriously srudy ticket sales trends versus DVD sales and TV viewership, etc, great. But until then, it’s just more bullshit under the bridge.

  14. jeffmcm says:

    That wasn’t my question, I was asking if the top ten movies based on ticket sales this year are still Spider-Man 3, Shrek 3, Transformers, etc.
    I’d say that partial info is better than no info where we all just take the studio accountants’ words for everything.

  15. Sunday Silence says:

    In your post about the NYT story you used the words, “anus”, “feces” and “shit” (twice). A Freudian could have a field day with that.

  16. David Poland says:

    Because… the piece is shitty?

  17. Well, if you take into effect IMAX tickets cost more, matinees cost less (right? Australia doesn’t have matinees), etc then I’m sure there’s a little discrepency between box office and tickets sold but I can’t imagine there being much.
    However, I would like to know what happens to the money studios make from sneaks? Do they add it to another film or what? That’s surely a few mil every year.

  18. movielocke says:

    “If someone had the data and could seriously srudy ticket sales trends versus DVD sales and TV viewership, etc, great. But until then, it’s just more bullshit under the bridge”
    Isn’t that sort of what Motion Picture Investor does with it’s KPI index?
    but yeah you’re right, since ticket sales are derived from the BO gross number rather than a separate calculation it’s simply as bullshit a number as accountants spinning that Fellowship of the Ring wasn’t profitable.
    really the ticket sales number is still looking at the gross number from a different perspective. Unfortunately it’s a perspective that allows some, such as the NYT, to skew the numbers in an inappropriate direction.

  19. Skyblade says:

    Imagine how rough it’ll be a year from now when the studios don’t have sequels to 400 million earning installments to glom inertia off of.

  20. doug r says:

    I’m sure all theater chains know exactly how many tickets they sell, it’s just getting the data from them that’s the problem. Then we might know ACTUAL grosses….nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

  21. David Poland says:

    But the thing is… NO ONE CARES… except people who want to obsess on that stat. It doesn’t do anyone any good, except as an odd piece of marketing info. But as is proved each week, the smartest people in this business can’t track ho movies will do to the level of ticket sales.
    The only times you will hear ticket sales invoked by studios is when they are explaining why a family film was even more impressive or even less problematic because they sold so many kids’ tickets.

  22. jeffmcm says:

    Ah, the usual ‘nothing matters’ argument.

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