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David Poland

By David Poland

More Fake News

I don’t mind Paramount pushing out new stats to promote a movie. “Most Profitable Movie Ever” would be a more significant stat than “Best Friday Matinee Gross For A Comedy Starring Hermaphrodites”… if it were true.
“Most Profitable Movie By Percentage, Based On Publicized And Obviously False Production Cost” wouldn’t probably play as well. But I don’t blame Paramount or the movie, Paranormal Activity, for selling this lie of language. It is the media that sells this stuff with misleading headlines who should be embarrassed (and/or publicly flogged).
The most profitable movies released in 2009 to-date will be, by a distance, The Hangover, Transformers 2, Ice Age 3, and Harry Potter VI. Paranormal Activity will be very, very profitable, along the numbers of Taken.
Again… the enthusiasm is what drives this movie. And the media, which sells a movie like to a wider-than-normal audience, much more than Twitter or even TV ads or trailers, can be manipulated. But when we start lying outright in headlines, it really pisses me off. People want to get angry over The Hollywood Film Awards or The Golden Globes, but the same people love to roll over for stuff like this.
I apologize again if this feels like a slam on this specific movie or the publicity dept at Par. It’s not. Never has a movie’s actual content been more irrelevant to its gross. And the publicity and marketing has been brilliant in selling this film with similar skills to see a Roland Emmerich show-up-to-see-landmarks-explode film.
But when media wonders why journalism is dying, it needs to ask Walt Kelly, not just Craigslist.

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29 Responses to “More Fake News”

  1. Krazy Eyes says:

    How are you measuring profitability in your numbers?
    I don’t mind Paramount using ROI as a gauge of profitability (after all, this is the benchmark which nearly all investments use), but I agree the numbers used in their math are incredibly lazy.
    I remember $15,000 being thrown around as the budget of this film long before the tinkering with the script, aborted remake development, reported ending reshoots, and consultations with Spielberg, etc. Surely this wasn’t all “free”?

  2. Joe Leydon says:

    Still, the question remains: When are we gonna see a video of the shoe-eating?

  3. EthanG says:

    Worldwide I would think it would go: Harry Potter, Ice Age 3, Transformers 2, Up, (Box office mojo’s numbers are way behind…it’s blown thru $600 million worldwide with a clear track to 700 million) The Hangover and then probably “The Proposal…” but point taken.
    They should have just sold it as most profitable horror movie of the decade…it will pass Saw 2 in that department soon enough.

  4. EthanG says:

    On second glance, “Ice Age 3” might be number 1…I just have a hard time believing it was made for less money than “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” and half as much as “Up,” no matter how shitty it was.

  5. LYT says:

    “Never has a movie’s actual content been more irrelevant to its gross.”
    Really? If it were, let’s say, a drama about an immigrant making his way through the cold, hard welfare system in the big city…they could have marketed it the same way and made similar amounts of cash?
    I think the only other kind of movie that could have done this, honestly, is a truly hilarious comedy that somehow catches the zeitgeist in a new way.

  6. movielocke says:

    not to mention, I wonder how many people took deferred pay, and I wonder if the deferred folk are actually going to be paid or if paramount will try to get away with not paying the grips/pas their likely $100 day rate (which is still about as cheap as you get). Not to mention that most of the higher level talent (DP, Editor, Gaff, Art Director, Costumes, producers, AD, etc etc) probably also took deferred pay.
    I’m just curious how badly the crew is getting screwed so paramount can cling to their 15 grand number. And does anyone really think that 15 includes sweetening and online? I don’t think so. Not to mention all the other costs of reshoots etc.

  7. Classic. The second I saw that “Breaking News” alert about “Paranormal Activity,” I thought “how will David spin this? How will he poo-poo what is an unabashed hit movie that is making the studio WAY more than they put into it.”
    Thanks for not disappointing me, David. And to echo Joe’s statements….Nike or work boot?

  8. jeffmcm says:

    “Never has a movie’s actual content been more irrelevant to its gross.”
    Sorry to add onto the dogpile on this one, but I disagree. The movie would have died in a couple of weeks if it hadn’t been the case that people (not all people, but enough people) liked what they saw and told their friends and word of mouth spread.
    I mean, Blair Witch 2 got a lot of hype, opened to $13 million, and dropped like a rock in weekend 2. Hype can buy you an opening, but it can’t buy you legs.

  9. Hopscotch says:

    Well the latest, much more in depth Avatar trailer debuted.
    Anyone else a little, I dunno, just not that stoked anymore. It looks somewhat routine. The nature verses the machine part. The “you still playing on the same team” part. Some of the visuals look dazzling. Long story short, I’m less thrilled now.

  10. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Glad to see somebody dissing “Avatar”. Fox must have rushed that trailer to blunt the growing suspicion that the movie is another “Ferngully”.
    Speaking of Fake News, the Liberal Media fell all over themselves for the Michael Jackson fakeumentary. I was on less than a half-hour ago and Colpix had a banner ad for “This Is It” with the big bold legend “Tickets Still Available”.

  11. Telemachos says:

    Sorry guys, I think the new AVATAR trailer is terrific. It’s on another scale from any other action film in recent memory.

  12. jeffmcm says:

    I will NOT have anyone speak disparagingly of Ferngully!

  13. IOIOIOI says:
    He’s the Nostalgia Critic. He remembers it because we sure as fuck don’t WANT TOO!

  14. LYT says:

    I think I read that the two lead actors in Paranormal got paid $500 apiece.
    More than I’ve ever made on a movie, at least.

  15. jeffmcm says:

    Plus copies and credits!

  16. LYT says:

    Haven’t seen the theatrical cut yet, Jeff…but I’m hearing that there aren’t actually any credits. True?
    Certainly weren’t any on the festival cut.

  17. There were no credits when I saw it….just 30 achingly freaky seconds of black screened silence where everyone in the theater was waiting for something to scare the shit out of them.

  18. MarkVH says:

    The Avatar trailer looks pretty strong, and gives good indication that this will be very much in line with Cameron’s early work. Meaning it’ll underscore the fact that A) Nobody in the world beats Cameron when it comes to sci-fi action stuff and B) dude can’t write dialogue worth a damn. Either way, looks good.

  19. Telemachos says:

    Cameron’s dialogue has always been cheesy as hell, that’s true. However, it’s also usually bluntly effective and for someone who’s been dubbed “a crappy writer” he’s done more than his share at contributing awesome one-liners to the cinema lexicon.

  20. Wrecktum says:

    “There were no credits when I saw it….just 30 achingly freaky seconds of black screened silence where everyone in the theater was waiting for something to scare the shit out of them.”
    Or, in my case, people yelling “I want my money back,” mumbling “What a waste of 90 minutes” and looking at each other wondering where the hell the credits were and whether they should leave en masse with the lights still down. Which they did. Which is dangerous.

  21. jeffmcm says:

    Hmm, project much?

  22. Wrecktum says:

    Um, no. Just telling you what happened. Why wouldn’t you believe me? Do I have a reputation for lying?

  23. jeffmcm says:

    All I know is, your audience apparently had a very different reaction than my audience had. Different demographics? Time of day? Part of the country?

  24. Wrecktum says:

    L.A. Saturday afternoon. Two weekends ago. Mostly 25+, split evenly male/female. Smallish house (approx. 120 seats). Maybe 75% full.
    Audience reaction was muted throughout. Catcalls, grumbling and confusion at the end. The girl sitting to my left (who’d seen the film before) had to explain to her friends that there weren’t any credits and that it was OK to leave. Several people thought the film was broken. General reaction seemed to be that the film amateurish and, more importantly, wasn’t scary.

  25. jeffmcm says:

    Yeah, I saw it in Los Angeles on a Thursday night also two weekends ago, also probably in with an audience that was largely 21-35, in a big house at The Grove. And this audience ate it up, completely with it from beginning to end.
    If you can explain such a widely divergent audience response, I’d be interested to hear it.
    Thankfully, the film is far from amateurish and quite scary, so the problem was with your audience, not mine. (yes, that’s half-ironic).

  26. LYT says:

    “If you can explain such a widely divergent audience response, I’d be interested to hear it.”
    Not too hard, I don’t think.
    Saturday afternoon audience is more likely to be casual filmgoers. Thursday night, primarily hardcore movie lovers.
    Hell, even in high school, I tried to avoid the weekend crowd and see movies on school nights.

  27. Telemachos says:

    I’m not sure that’s fully it either. My crowd — Saturday evening at the Sherman Oaks Arclight — was the very definition of suburban casual moviegoers, and they ate it up.

  28. The Big Perm says:

    Speaking of horror, I watched Trick R Treat last night. We all thought it was “okay,” but not much more than that. Surely there was money to be made in theatrical. But I totally don’t see the nerd hype on this one. It was a relatively lazy, kind of stupid movie that looked great and had some fun performances.

  29. jeffmcm says:

    I agree with that re: Trick r Treat.

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