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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by OverKlady

Weekend Estimates 2018-05-06 at 11.04.36 AM

What can one say?

Avengers: Infinity War isn’t the biggest anything.

The media has become sick with its endless need for everything to be a horse race. Ten days into its run, Infinity War is the fifteenth highest grossing film ever, both domestically and worldwide. It’s a massive success, supported by many other massive successes. We are now in the stage of the film’s theatrical life that will be driven by consumer word-of-mouth and as the best of the three or four Avengers films (I count Civil War), it should be strong for at least the next month.

Another sickness is “reporting” on box office from the perspective of an inflexible agenda.

Have you read any stories about how IP has taken over Hollywood? (Rhetorical question… these stories are unavoidable and relentless.)

And have you read any stories this year about the uptick in successful originals? No?!?! Really?!?! Surprise.

Analysis of this gets sticky. But if one is to be fair, the changes are obvious. (I hate year-vs-year comparisons seeking to make broad comments about how the industry is changing. Four years is about the minimum for me. But I am speaking to how media is covering all this and it is, at its conceptual core, stupid.)

These stats are all based on the year to May 5 and with domestic grosses over $40 million.

2017 Sequels – 9
2018 Sequels – 5

2017 Non-Sequel IP Films (inc Blumhouse & Tyler Perry) – 5
2018 Non-Sequel IP Films – 6

2017 Originals (inc Blumhouse/TP) – 5
2018 Originals – 9

2017 Productions Over $100m – 10
2018 Productions Over $100m – 6 (with Tomb Raider claiming under… make it 7 if you don’t buy that)

2017 Gross As Of May 5 (roughly) – $2.45b
2018 Gross As Of May 5 – $2.54b

That’s about a 4% bump from this time last year. The overall year, according to Mojo, is 5.5%. So there must be some uptick below my $40m domestic Mendoza line as well.

So where are the news stories about how this year is kicking ass and doing it with fewer sequels and less IP? Brooks? Pam? Brent? Anthony? Ben?

There is a real chance that 2018 will be the first $12 billion year at the domestic box office.

How will the media explain that theatrical is dead at the end of this year?

Yes, the tide towards a majority of big films being all-IP, all-the-time is coming. It’s summer. This summer offers 12 sequels and 4 reboots/spin-offs/whatever, plus Teen Titans Go. But there are more than 22 (I don’t believe everything saying it will open wide will open) originals opening wide this summer.

The biggest titles are going to be the sequels. No question. But the majority – even in the summer – will be originals. And of those, only Skyscraper is a big-budget, franchise-launching effort.

Next weekend, two major studios release two non-IP movies wide, Breaking in and Life of the Party. Avengers will win for the third weekend in a row. But both newcomers should open in the 20s, based on the history of the talent. I understand that this isn’t what film writers are looking for… they want shiny objects that draw lazy “wow” hits. But these writers are creating a falsehood when they minimize mid-range movie success in favor of endless coverage of the mega-movies (rarely mentioning their mega-price tags) while claiming that there is no mid-range business anymore. Just because they refuse to cover the profitable middle does not mean that it doesn’t exist and that it is not a key part of the annual profitability of every studio except Disney.

And I will tell you what… when the Disney backlash comes – and it will – that will be bullshit too.

Theatrical is a mature business. It isn’t an ocean. It is a lake. Lakes have waves, too. But they tend to be a lot less volatile. And I know, volatile is where the fun is.

We are in stupid times.

Netflix’s market cap is $140 billion. Paramount (aka Viacom B) is $12.5 billion.

Objectively, in the long view, Paramount’s assets today are worth more than Netflix’s actual assets. But the stock market values Netflix at more than ten times what it values Paramount.

Why? Because Netflix has a stable revenue stream and the market fantasizes growth in the future. Paramount has been treading water as a studio for a decade-plus and has been unsuccessful in creating a path to its own future.

If you value a major studio’s library (inc Paramount TV. Nickelodeon, etc.) at $400 million a year for a streaming company to lease, Paramount’s current stock value is just over 30 years of leasing.

Why aren’t Netflix or Sony fighting to purchase bargain-basement Paramount before it reunites with CBS, where it will become viable competition? Because they are missing the value.

Netflix is not actually in the film business and reiterated this through its CEO this week, who signaled that they were getting out of the Cannes business forever. They don’t need Paramount. They don’t need the headache of owning and operating an actual movie studio. At least, they don’t need it right now. They are focused on creating their own content. And what no one wants to say out loud is that the further down that path they go, the more they are susceptible to the slings and arrows of every other content-driven business in the market… and the more easily the current library-heavy companies will be able to compete.

Sony? They want to sell their entertainment side and might be shy about potential regulatory limitations created by the gonzo Trump administration that would embarrass them and limit their ability to compete freely in the U.S. market.

By the way, the Fox film and TV market cap is half of Netflix’s. Insane. But Disney is not getting ripped off, buying most of Fox. This deal works for both sides (aside from the laid-off workers).

CBS/Paramount’s market cap will be in the low 30s when they are finally put back together. But I would expect Les Moonves to double that in less than five years by mining the value that exist, ignoring the ones that have lost their weight, and going hard after Netflix and DisneyOTT (and Hulu and Amazon) immediately. Moonves has already learned lessons from the mediocrity that CBS’s OTT is. He knows that you can’t sell people what they already have for free and ask for them to pay for it.

Theatrical is a healthy business that should be supported and upgraded wherever and whenever possible.

OTT is a business in its infancy and will be the norm for home entertainment for decades to come.

There is nothing incompatible about these ideas.

Everyone is obsessed by Disney, which has an amazing situation that no one can recreate.

But Universal is the studio that should be examined.

Universal has released 71 films in the last four years and all four of those years have been among the five most profitable years in the studio’s history.

Here is how the domestic grosses break down by category…

IP/Non-Animated Sequels (15) – $2.42 billion
Animation (4) – $1.2 billion
Horror (18) – $1.14 billion
Comedy (18) – $1.2 billion
Drama (16) – $680 million

So, the obvious questions:

1. Why doesn’t Universal make more animation when they can’t seem to miss?

Answer: Because the limited output has something to do with the success. Only 19 animated films have ever topped $260 million domestic. Universal’s last four Illumination films are four of them and Despicable 2 is their fifth. Pixar has seven. Disney has four. And DreamWorks has three. Universal acquired DreamWorks Animation (now, just “DreamWorks”) and so they have eight titles and Disney has 11.

History has shown that Pixar at one film a year is optimal. Same for every other animation studio. Expansion undeniably thins the quality of the output and in animation, which is the leggiest of the genres and thus, most reliant on word-of-mouth and repeat business, quality (as defined by the audience, not critics) matters a lot.

2. Why not make more IP-driven product and sequels, though the track record is not nearly as strong as animation?

Answer: Because it is also a unique challenge.

2 Fast & Furiouses
5 Curtain Droppers: 2 Pitch Perfects, 3 Fifty Shades
2 Sequels That Probably Dead-Ended: Ted, Snow White
2 Sequels On Life Support: Jason Bourne, Pacific Rim
1 Smash Hit Relaunch: Jurassic World
1 Disastrous Relaunch: The Mummy
1 Output Deal: The Great Wall
1 International-Only Hit: Warcraft

So where to go from here with these films?

Fast & Furious and Jurassic are on the high shelf with animation.

The Universal Monster re-launch ends… again… the second failure to launch in the last 15 years. When will they try again?

There will be some kind of 50 Shades spin-off. Jason Bourne might be over… maybe they will try again. Pac Rim is an issue of Legendary, where they have a lot of issues.

Not a lot there. If you look at the current upcoming schedule for the studio, it’s a F&F film for three years straight (2019-21), four animated sequels in 2020, an attempt to launch a Pokemon franchise next year, and lots and lots of comedy and horror (at least five a year from Blumhouse and on the comedy side, Will Packer, in 2019 and 2020). There are FOUR untitled Universal event films in 2020.

3. Will they ever make a drama again?

Answer: I’m sure.

Yes, dramas make less money for the studio than more “marketable” movies and the biggest worldwide grossing drama in these last three years (Straight Outta Compton) “only” grossed $202 million. But that film was also a lot more profitable for Universal than Jason Bourne, which grossed twice as much.

If you want to make $70 million dramas, you are kinda screwed… even at Netflix. There is no one in that business right now.

Then again… no idea what the budget on First Man is. But I bet it is too high to make Universal execs comfortable. They may end up with a win anyway, but the 23 years since Apollo 13 did $355 million worldwide is a long time. And Universal is also betting on Bob Zemeckis for a drama based on 2010 documentary Marwencol, which is a great thing to do, but no lock at the box office. Those are on the slate for this year. What they mean for years moving forward…?

Everything is off the central examination of the weekend’s box office. But there wasn’t much worth saying about it. Overboard did better than should have been expected… still, meh. Focus couldn’t figure out how to sell Tully, even though they really liked the film. Just not a very interesting weekend.

Happy Seis de Mayo!!!

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57 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by OverKlady”

  1. BO Sock Puppet says:

    –56%!! With tentpoles dropping one after another, from here on out, A:IW will be lucky to catch up to Black Panther.

  2. EtGuild2 says:

    Expect the final to go up again. It looks like some funny business is going on between the Friday and weekend numbers.

    Regardless: worldwide will be at $1.2 billion tomorrow. I wouldn’t rule out $2 billion.

    Domestically, catching BLACK PANTHER remains far from a sure thing.

  3. EtGuild2 says:

    BO Sock Puppet: I’m as glad as the next guy that Gabrielle Union is finally getting a lead role in BREAKING IN, but I wouldn’t call that a tentpole. Likewise, I adore Melissa McCarthy, but the collabs with her hubby always end up on the lower end of her spectrum.

    Furthermore, I’m intrigued by the prospect of another Shailene Woodley weepie, but have to say I think Johnny Knoxville is a tad past his prime.

    What I’m getting at is that in the next four weekends, there’s really two weekends with tentpoles.

  4. Stella's Boy says:

    That Johnny Knoxville movie looks like the worst movie of the summer of 2002. One of the worst trailers I’ve ever seen. Really didn’t think Overboard would flirt with $15 million.

  5. BO Sock Puppet says:

    Two tentpoles like a Star Wars movie and another superhero favorite will be enough to drop the sails. Not an MCU hater, just noting how a teamup movie could top out behind a formerly second tier character. Interesting dynamic going forward.

    And if SOLO turns out to be the rip-snorting Star Wars yarn everyone wanted out of the lumbering, dissatisfying LAST JEDI, it could offer the summer sesh a Star Wars movie with Ep. 7-style legs.

  6. EtGuild2 says:

    Between reports of disastrous screenings (DEADPOOL 2) and a lead who it’s been rumored is a better fit for a high school theater production than a major motion picture (SOLO), both of those movies have major questions to resolve.

    Personally, I just think the “competitive environment” for IW has been overhyped and it’ll sink or swim on its own. Two tentpoles over 5 weeks, both with supposed issues.

  7. That Guy says:

    People act like Alden Ehrenreich hasn’t been in a movie before. He’s a solid actor, he just doesn’t sound or look like Harrison Ford. Which is a problem for the movie(by some lights) but it’s the studio’s fault for hiring him, not his.

  8. EtGuild2 says:

    For me, RULES DON’T APPLY was so stilted, HAIL CAESAR! was such an oddball and BEAUTIFUL CREATURES was so forgettable that I can’t tell if he can act or not.

    He was in STOKER and BLUE JASMINE apparently? Had to jog my memory to place him in those.

  9. Chucky says:

    Finally, the annual Summer Season of Stealin’ is underway! Hollywood loves to steal your money and your intelligence at the same time.

    “Tully” deservedly stiffed because Academy Award Winner above an actor’s name screams Box Office Loser. Georgia Rule!

    As for the latest overblown comic book movie, ain’t nothin’ like dumb fanboys with mommy’s plastic.

  10. Sideshow Bill says:

    Not to go all JSP on people but I had an absolute blast at INFINITY WAR. Chunky can suck my grundle.

    I’m allowed to have dumb fun at the movies. You’ll have to take that right from my cold, dead, adamentium claws.

  11. movieman says:

    Et tu, Ethan!?
    I’ve been an Alden Ehrenreich fan since Coppola’s “Tetro.”
    Weirdly, he reminded me of a young Emile Hirsch at the time…but hasn’t remotely resembled Hirsch since, lol.
    Never understood why he didn’t break out sooner. Always chalked it up to bad luck/timing.
    Hope “Solo” does for him what “GOTG” did for Chris Pratt.
    Btw, I love “Rules Don’t Apply” and thought “Beautiful Creatures”–principally due to Ehrenreich and Alice Englert–was one of the better YA films of recent vintage.

  12. palmtree says:

    I’m having a hard time believing Avengers can top Black Panther domestically. A 3.0 multiple was predicated on big weekend holds before competition came along. But a 56% hold isn’t helping. Even if you subtract the $39m from the Thursday before opening screenings, you still end up with a hold of 51%.

    However, Disney probably isn’t worried with international numbers that seem assured to top Black Panther.

    Meanwhile, Black Panther seems like it’s got the juice to get to $700m. Incredible.

  13. Hcat says:

    My Stars what a massacre however will Disney keep the lights one?

    Are we doing this thing again where a film makes more than all but five or six others domestically and we start calling it a disappointment?

    Comparing Avengers unfavorably to Panther dismisses both Infinity Wars quantitative achievement and Panthers Qualitative achievement. Panther didn’t hit those heights because he was a marquee character but because the film was head and shoulders above most anything in the genre. No series or filmmaker or studio is going to hit that mark each time.

    Look when Disney fucks up no one is more gleeful than me, but boy is this not it.

  14. LBB says:

    I used my own grown-up plastic (debit card so not just piling on debt) to see A:IW this weekend. But, sure, yeah. A success you hate is always the fault of some stereotype you make up in your head.

    I do feel bad for Alden E. Loved him in CAESAR. It was one of those “keep your eye on that guy” performances. When he was announced for SOLO it made some sense. But it’s now which means your big break entail you getting shit on before anyone sees what you did. We live in magical times.

    It’s been a busy few weeks here so looking forward to contributing some cash to QUIET PLACE this week.

  15. JS Partisan says:

    HC, it’s LeBron level stuff. No one else has ever been on LeBron’s level, and that’s like Marvel Studios. If Infinity War doesn’t beat Bkack Panther, then that’s a problem. It’s a good problem to have, but it just doesn’t look good. It even looks worse given… Spoiler.

    Again, Marvel Studios is in a good and bad situation. Making more than the Last Jedi… Twice? Good. Your team up movie not making as much domestically as a standalone? Eh. Not great? Again. It’s LeBron stuff. Going to the finals eight times is amazing. Winning it only three times? Still awesome, but you get weird stats. Whatever it is… It’s still winning on some level!

    And hi Dave…. And wahhhhhhhhhhh. It’s the biggest opening ever, so Infinity War already has some stats. The rest of what you write.. Especially about Netflix and Paramount is interesting, but off. Paramount has Star Trek, and what else? A bunch of seventies films, that mean jack and squat in these times. Their library doesn’t matter, and in turn neither does Paramount. Again, I don’t feel this way, but Paramount has been run in such a way, that they made it unimportant. They have their own Conjuring now, so I guess that makes them more important than anything Disney is doing. Yup.

    And Aiden will be fine in Solo. Harrison signed off, and I imagine that will become a bigger story pretty soon. I do love Iger will mortgage Marvel Studios and Black Panther to leverage ticket stories that seem to be about as credible as a wrestler’s worked height for Solo.

  16. palmtree says:

    Hcat, it’s not a disappointment. It’s just a horse race interesting for those of us who wonder how far it’ll go record-wise. Not beating Black Panther is just unprecedented so it’s a tea leaf that needs deciphering. That’s all.

  17. Michael Bergeron says:

    don’t know about you but I bought a bunch of John Wayne VHS/DVDs at an estate sale and have been grooving on The War Wagon and Rio Lobo over the last day, The Alamo, Red River and others are in queue

  18. Stella's Boy says:

    But the general consensus is that Black Panther is a better movie than Infinity War right? So it would be sort of fitting for the better movie to make more money?

    Jim Halpert is here to save Paramount and by 2022 we’ll be seeing the release of A Quiet Place 4: Before the Quiet.

  19. Hcat says:

    Paramount better hurry with the Quiet Place sequels because a ton of copycat features are in development. Warners has A Dark Place nearing greenlight, it will be an attempt to recreate the unbalanced sensory experience by having having nothing but a blank screen and screaming, I think they are trying to get the budget under $70 mil.

    I always thought Lionsgate should make a play for Paramount. Historically they have swallowed bigger fish (Artisan, Summit) and taken on their attributes. CBS would likely insist on keeping the television franchises (SpongeBob, the Desilus) and they could split the cable channels down the middle but Lionsgate could properly exploit the library (right now I think Par contracts their dvd catalog through Warners) and give the studio a shot in the arm as far as increased production. Paramount is slowly turning into LG anyway, why not combine the two?

    Palm, I admit that I was probably hyperbolic when it came to my response to others responses, but after some of the silliness I read over Jedi grosses (and I don’t want to redebate that), I was worried that we going to get to the point where 677 million dollars (where IW is heading if the 50% drops continue) will be seen as a misstep. I certainly wouldn’t dismiss anyone enjoying the horse race. That’s why I am here myself.

  20. palmtree says:

    “So it would be sort of fitting for the better movie to make more money?”

    Yes, that’s how things should work. But what I find interesting is that people are walking out of Avengers having a real emotional experience. And I don’t want to debate if it’s a good movie or not, just that it is entirely the kind of movie they needed to make, one that is getting audiences talking and feeling and wondering what’s next. So I don’t think of Avengers as a misstep at all. And opening a week earlier was a brilliant move that will pay off.

    But we’re in a situation now where a movie that opened in February could outgross, well, everything including summer releases. That just blows my mind.

  21. Bulldog says:

    It’s kind of semantics really if IW does not beat BP. BP was never forecast to make $700m. If it had $400m it would have still been viewed as a great success like Wonder Woman. If IW did not make those numbers, or even Civil War numbers, or even Ultron numbers, then deservedly, the knives would be out.

    Just like no one forecasted that BP would do $700m, prior to BP, most were saying IW would land in the $600m-$675m range and that would be fine. Now we are looking at IW numbers through BP tinted glasses.

  22. Bulldog says:

    @Hcat: “I was worried that we going to get to the point where 677 million dollars (where IW is heading if the 50% drops continue) will be seen as a misstep.”

    But 50% drops is hardly ever the pattern for any movie, even big ones. The second weekend drop is almost always the biggest and then the drops are consistently in the 40s and 30s.

    When you look at every movie in Mojo’s Opening Weekend Showdown, they all had $250m left in the tank after the 2nd weekend, and that’s including The Last Jedi which had the worst legs of the lot. So I think we are in for a nail biter between IW and BP.

  23. Hcat says:

    Bulldog, I was only using 50 drops because it is the easiest to determine without a calculator, and you are right that they can stretch the run out a bit. And yes if Infinity beats Panther domestically is still up in the air, and to be honest I don’t care where Infinity ends up as long as its not spun into the lost column because the BO heights it reached were a hair less dizzying than another film.

    And on the other side of the spectrum its been a few weeks since I marveled at the success of Death of Stalin so…..Holy Shit look how well Death of Stalin has done!!!!

  24. Hcat says:

    Love that you highlighted Universal above David. They have consistently been challenging Disney with the exact opposite strategy. A pipeline of small films created by a cadre of production companies (Blumhouse, Working Title, Packer, Illimination, a few Amblin) leading to large but though not always Disney size grosses. They seem to be still working by the eighties/nineties model, spend 25-50 make 150 to 250 worldwide, count the money. You still have your Furious and Jurrasic size tentpoles but don’t subscribe to the endless summer template that Warners and Disney seem to follow. Its the equivalent of having a deep bench.

    The reason I am writing this now is that Comcast put the shot across the bow on grabbing Fox from the clutches of Disney. Of all the stewards of Uni (of which there have been many in the past 30 years) Comcast seems to have been the most hands off and while I don’t know what happens behind the scenes, no one got fired last year even though they didn’t grow grow grow. While it would be nice to have Fox content available on a subscription basis (though that’s sort of available with HBOGO, and an eventuality anywhere it lands) I have to think Comcast would simply let Fox be Fox, more likely to keep Searchlight active (though I think Disney would do this as well), and not steer them toward projects simply to create merchandising and theme park opportunities.

    I know there will be gnashing of teeth regarding the Marvel universe, but the health of the overall industry is all I am really caring about and if it has to shrink into just a few companies, this is the pairing I would prefer.

  25. JS Partisan says:

    Comcast isn’t beating Disney, and we still have zero idea what’s happening with Fox inside of Disney. Bob Iger wants a legacy. Securing Fox, reuniting Marvel film properties, and walking with 400m is what will get that deal done.

    What concerns me more, and always will in this deal is Fox the network. Disney can’t own two networks, so who takes over the network and airs the Fox TV content owned by Disney on the Fox network?

    One last thing: one of the Murdochs wants in on Disney. He seemingly wants to redeem his last name, and going to Comcast doesn’t fix that situation for him.

  26. Hcat says:

    The Fox network will remain with the Murdochs under newscorp along with Foxnews. The Fox TV studio will continue to sell their shows to the network, but Newscorp will have no financial interest in keeping Last Man on Earth on television anymore. How this changes programming on Fox will be interesting (or nauseating) to watch. I would expect a return to things like who wants to marry a millionaire and other cheap one shots. But honestly is there anything on the network now?

    And I would think Comcast has as much or more at stake than Disney has. Disney creating its OTT with ESPN and Fox content along with the Disney content for the kiddies could create a viewing option could poach a great number of Netflix and Comcast subscribers. Any shift in content to OTT will only increase the number of cord cutters. I’m sure Comcast is looking into their own OTT to pick up those who drop their cable service, but that’s getting to be an increasingly competitive field, and with Disney doing their own, Warners being pursued by ATT, Fox is really the only Plum left and would tip the scales for whoever gets it.

  27. Stella's Boy says:

    Fox is going to reboot Home Improvement or Last Man Standing. That’s what there will be more of on Fox going forward. There’s definitely not much on that network right now. I worry about FX. They are killing it. So much good stuff on FX.

  28. JS Partisan says:

    I know all of that, HC. It’s still a mess, and do you just watch CBS? There’s a lot of quality programming on Fox. Losing it? Would piss a lot of people off. Not all of the people Comcast would piss off. If they keep Marvel from uniting on film. I understand the ramifications of all of this for jobs and the industry, but on the ground? Comcast is just going to piss off more people than just their customers by denying what millions of people want. if Comcast wins it? They better sell off every Marvel property they have. But again, Murdoch wants his sons a part of Disney, and not Universal. He has 40 percent of the vote, so it’s going to take a lot of carousing to get that board to overcome that 40 percent.

    SB, the execs at FX are some of the most desirable parts of the deal for Disney. I doubt they’d just throw those networks away.

  29. Hcat says:

    The CBS crack made me smile. I may be grumpy but I’m not old. To be honest the last show I watched on CBS might have been the first couple seasons of Murphy Brown. I don’t watch too much television anymore, I concentrate on movies (though I do love me some Good Place and need to check out the Fargos). The only show I recognize on being on the network that has been raved about the last few years was Empire and that seemed to fade a bit.

    As for FX, that along with the television catalog are the drivers of the deal. Hip bingeable shows like Americans and Horror Story that can attract the people writing the subscription checks. Having those and access to all the Xfiles, Buffy, 24, Mash, and 7 thousand hours of the Simpsons available at the touch of a button will drive some traffic. So whoever picks up the company isn’t going to fiddle with FX.

  30. Stella's Boy says:

    The Americans is an absolutely brilliant show, but I’m not sure it’s hip and the ratings aren’t very good. I get your point though.

  31. JS Partisan says:

    Just to put it out there: I adore Murphy Brown, and I’m very happy it’s coming back.

    Fox has Bob’s Burgers, and that’s enough of a reason to save it!

    The Americans is somewhat popular. It helped Rhys marry Keri Russell, so that’s a plus!

  32. Hcat says:

    I am shocked when I come across the ratings for Americans and a score of other cable shows, some of them aren’t even clearing a million viewers. I know they repeat them throughout the week and staggered viewing seems to have taken over but still, what can the multiple be to justify the cost and promotion of these series? Are ancillary and foreign that strong?

    As for its hipness, maybe I am not reading hip sites but the places I go (Vox, Slate, AV club) seem to go near GOT level apeshit when Americans returns each year. Based on the ratings its simply entertainment journalists watching and writing it up. There are no numbers for Handmaiden but I suspect its a somewhat similar situation.

  33. Stella's Boy says:

    I’m writing about this now hcat, for publication in a journal (hopefully). The way that success in TV is defined now and how overnight ratings are meaningless. It’s delayed viewing (L Plus 3 and L Plus 7 in most cases; NBC looks at numbers over a 35-day period) and social media engagement (Scream Queens got renewed because it was the most talked about show on social media according to one study). Prestige also matters. CW reviewed Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the lowest rated show on TV, because the critical acclaim caused critics and the industry to view the network in a different light. That has helped The Americans as well, as you mentioned. Which is great because it’s so damn good. Streaming plays a role. The ratings for Riverdale and Shameless went way, way up after both shows started streaming earlier seasons on Netflix. In some cases shows are doubling and tripling their numbers over a few days or a week. In the case of This Is Us, NBC says the ratings went from a 2.9 to 13 over a month. Sorry that was long but I’m really interested in this topic.

  34. Mike says:

    But if people are delay viewing, isn’t it likely that they’re skipping ads? How are these shows profitable at all?

  35. palmtree says:

    That wasn’t long at all. Super interesting, and nice to throw in a TV discussion.

    I’m a fan of The Americans, but I like that this is the final season. Also, I enjoyed Crazy Ex-Girlfriend but I think ending after 4 seasons is a good call too. It seems to me this could be a new paradigm where things are allowed to develop an audience via streaming, social media, etc. and then given a few seasons in which to flourish. It’s kinda like the UK model actually. Spaced only got 2 seasons, but they are masterpieces. And we don’t need every show to last 10 seasons, and speaking of Fox, the Simpsons ended a long time ago as far as I’m concerned.

  36. Hcat says:

    ‘Sorry that was long’

    I don’t think anyone anywhere is required to apologize for getting into the minutia of numbers in a post on the web.

    So yes there is the Netflix/amazon bump where people are exposed the series through streaming and then jump to live (I think Mad Men and Breaking Bad had similar bumps). But the Americans is in their fifth season or so any bump would have happened by now. The average for an episode is below what their normal viewership is so every time they air it they are actually driving down the numbers. I can’t imagine that prestige drives the reasoning. FX is an established brand, another season of a prestige show wont add that much to their cache (they would still be able to claim they were the network of the Americans) and they bring in more eyeballs when they go lower brow like Anarchy and Horror Story anyway.

    When you mention 2.9 to 13, what metric is that? Million of viewers, Share?

  37. Stella's Boy says:

    Those numbers are shares.

    I’ve done a lot of research into this, and prestige plans a role according to sources I’ve found. Todd VanDerWerff has written a lot about The Americans and the prestige factor in keeping it alive despite low ratings (I think Alan Sepinwall has as well; I know it’s not just VanDerWerff). Here’s one example:

  38. JS Partisan says:

    If you’re skipping commercials, then you’re watching the show on a subscription services. This mean that someone is getting paid.

  39. Hcat says:

    I get to skip commercials if I TiVo but not if I select on demand, not sure if the networks get. A cut of the TiVo revenue.

  40. LBB says:

    I’ve bought the last few seasons of Americans (and a few other series) which is a revenue stream that wasn’t around over a decade ago. I don’t know how much they reap from people who do that but I’m sure it’s not nothing. And for us, getting 8-10 hours of a show for a few dollars more than we spent to see Infinity War evens out.

    Americans benefited from having the network president as a fan of the show. Weisberg/Fields had always seen the show as a six-season story and Landgraaf famously said he kept the show on because he wanted to see how it ended. That doesn’t happen a lot, but I’m glad it happened here. (Artistically it was a bigger reward that him keeping SONS OF ANARCHY around because they gave his wife a gig.) Actually glad to see a lot of shows that don’t get watched by a lot of people (LEFTOVERS, REVIEW, etc.) at least getting a nominal wrap-up season instead of just getting the ax and disappearing.

  41. Mike says:

    I wish he had found a reason to keep Terriers around.

  42. Stella's Boy says:

    Same here. Terriers is my case study. I’m obsessed with it.

  43. Hcat says:

    If I recall Terriers dropped right after the first season of Justified and pulled about half of its numbers, and with Sons of Anarchy doing better still. Plus Walking Dead hit at the same time and raised the bar for basic cable ratings (I would think this is why AMC had Rubicon shuttered as well).

    So if Terriers wasn’t delivering the ratings or the prestige it was taking up valuable real estate (which I know is ironic given that they only had maybe three hours of original programing a week at the time). Having just axed Damages earlier in the year they couldn’t justify keeping a show with lower ratings and less critical appeal.

  44. Mike says:

    Oh, of course FX was in no way obligated to keep it and it made all the financial sense in the world to kill it. But it was still a great show and I would have loved to have seen a season 2. It was probably a year or two too early before Netflix and other companies started rescuing shows.

  45. LBB says:

    I would have loved hanging out with the Terriers characters more, but love that it ended on a great ambiguous note.

  46. Stella's Boy says:

    Terriers did not have the ratings. They were terrible and the title and ad campaign are still ridiculed. But it had the prestige. Critics went to bat for it big time. Wasn’t enough though Landgraf regrets canceling it. The discourse never let up and earlier this year Shawn Ryan said a reboot could happen.

  47. Mike says:

    I think when they were talking about critical support, I think they meant Emmy nominations. Didn’t it get cancelled right after the nominations came out?

    Yeah, Swawn Ryan has talked about rebooting it before. he talked about kickstarting it when the Veronica Mars movie happened, but nothing came of that.

  48. Stella's Boy says:

    It was canceled in early December 2010, two or three days after the finale aired. Is that when Emmy nominations come out? I know Ryan talks about reboots with some regularity. I just meant he continues to do so, and people continue to write about the show. And apparently Netflix viewing was strong, though it’s not streaming anymore.

  49. Mike says:

    Ha ha… I don’t know, I pay so little attention to the Emmys.

    Yeah, I think it’s great that they keep talking about a reboot. I just hope that someday they do it.

  50. Pete B says:

    I’m a firm believer that the name “Terriers” did no favors to that show. I’d ask people if they were watching and they’d say “is it about dogs?”

    Should have named it “Unlicensed” as they were unlicensed private investigators.

    At least Donal Logue got a steady payday with Gotham.

  51. Hcat says:

    Speaking about Logue’s payday, he had a decent run on some poorly rated sitcom on Fox years ago that lasted 5 or so years. I have no idea how much scale and residuals are for things of that nature, but starring in a sitcom for a few years would have you set for life right? If you weren’t stupid with money or sending it all to the scientologists?

    I remember a great story about Mila Kunis, when doing promotional work for Max Payne some exec was trying to get her to show as much skin as possible for a Maxim shoot, and when she refused he told her that if she didn’t cooperate she would have trouble finding work. She replied that she had been on a hit sitcom for the last decade and voicework on another for almost as long, she could retire if she wanted to.

  52. Stella's Boy says:

    Grounded for Life. Never saw it. Do you only get rich if it’s syndicated? I really don’t know all the ins and outs of how that works.

  53. Hcat says:

    I would think the payout is much greater once you hit syndication. Especially for something like 70s show that hit syndication like a tank a decade ago and is still rerun on cable multiple times a day (or Family Guy, which I am sure voice work pays less but makes up by volume since that show never seems to be not on somewhere). I would think McCarthy makes more on her Mike and Molly residuals than she does for a smaller film like St. Vincent or Can you Ever Forgive me.

    That had to be why Allen was so pissed Last Man Standing was cancelled, since it already hit syndication the guaranteed payout per episode would be much greater than finding a new project to do. If it is revived I would think he stands to take home more in a year than he would over the course of the rest of his career without it.

  54. Pete B. says:

    Since we’re discussing Fox and TV shows: just how crazy is the Lethal Weapon situation with Clayne Crawford? You axe the co-star of your 2nd highest rated show the day after the season finale airs, and are supposedly scrambling to find a replacement for Season 3.

    Tying into the above discussion, how many more seasons before syndication? And how many folks possibly out of work due to one asshole? Renewal would’ve been automatic if not for Crawford.

  55. Stella's Boy says:

    Yeah I’ve never seen the show but that’s pretty crazy Pete. One story I read said he angered Wayans so severely that Wayans all but refused to work with him anymore. Talk about wasting a golden opportunity. I’d never heard of the dude before a few weeks ago.

  56. Hcat says:

    Never saw the show but it looks like a throwback to the Stephen J Cannel days of television. Shouldn’t be to hard to tinker with.

    and to switch the topic to other Shane Black related news (though he has no ties to the show), just saw the teaser for the new Predator and boy there better be a lot more to the movie than that. Liked the first and third installments and will give Black a LOT of leeway especially coming off of loving The Good Guys, but this doesn’t show us even a glimpse of his personality. I was looking forward to this and was saddened when it was moved from summer, but this trailer certainly makes it look like a September 14th release.

  57. Stella's Boy says:

    The Predator might be my most anticipated movie of the year. It’s right at the very top. So yeah that’s a very underwhelming teaser. A kid opens a UPS package that has alien tech and an interrogation we’ve seen a million times. And not much else. The assassin line is about the only time I thought you could feel Black’s personality. Otherwise, very weak tease. I have faith in him though. Hoping it’s just Fox not having much material for a green band trailer.

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