Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Some Days You Just Can't Get Rid Of A Bomb

The Summer Blockbuster Movie Season is now officially over and the studios are sifting through the carnage, looting the corpses of big budget films that flopped as they try to figure out what the hell happened.

Not that there were no profitable blockbusters this year. Iron Man 3 grossed an astounding $1.2 BILLION dollars against its $200 million budget. Despicable Me 2, The Conjuring, Monsters University, Man Of Steel and (surprisingly) World War Z also made huge profits.

But for every film that grossed triple or quadruple its budget there were several that tanked miserably. R.I.P.D. for example (a film I actually liked) could only manage to gross an anemic $64 million (worldwide!) against its $130 million budget. White House Down, The Internship, After Earth, Red 2 and Turbo all grossed far less than needed to break even.

The Lone Ranger is probably the most famous bomb of the summer, although it did manage to gross $240 million against its $215 million budget. Keep in mind though that due to marketing and other costs, movies generally need to make back 2.5 times their budget before they begin to show a profit.

Hollywood is scrambling to try and make sense of this and understand why so many of their big budget tent pole pictures failed to connect with audiences. What was the reason, other than that some of them were just plain no good? Heck, that's no mystery. I can save them millions in market research and tell them right now what happened:

There's Too Many Damn Movies Released In The Summer!

Ever since the Summer of 1975 when a little $7 million dollar movie called Jaws premiered and grossed an astonishing $260 million (in 1975 dollars!), studios have been packing the cineplexes to the brim from May to August, hoping to grab even a small slice of that sweet blockbuster pie. Most of them fail. Badly.

In 2003 there were 22 movies released during Summer Blockbuster Season. This year there were 31 (a new record), which is just plain too many.

Think of it this way— I generally go see a movie once a week, which is far, far more often than the average citizen. So in Week 1, three new movies come out. I go see one. I'm now two movies in the hole. In Week 2, FOUR more movies come out. I go see another one, but now I'm FIVE movies behind. In Week 3, another three films debut. I go see another one, but there are still SEVEN movies out there that I want to see. And so it goes. There's no way I can ever catch up.

By the time August rolls around moviegoers are worn out by all these blockbusters beating them about the head. Unless the average citizen starts going to the movies four or five times a week (which is never going to happen) it's a given that some movies are going to fall by the wayside, no matter how good they might be.

There's way too much supply and not enough demand. It's really not that tough to figure out. Here's a tip, studio execs: Try making four or five movies next summer instead of twelve or fifteen. I bet you'll see your profits start rising. You're welcome.

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