A season of summer flopsPosted on August 15th, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
I’ve been a follower of films in this column for a decade and on my website for 16 years now. And while there are things I know — like the summer movie season will be full of action and things that go “boom” while the winter one will be full of Oscar contenders — for the life of me I can’t figure out why some movies are flops and some are hits.
It’s obvious why some movies flop, like last years RIPD or this year’s Need for Speed — they looked terrible. But why do movies like RoboCop from earlier this year or even Edge of Tomorrow from this summer flop when they actually looked interesting?
Is it all marketing related? Do people genuinely form their opinions around movies based on how they’re marketed? Were people concerned with the ads for RoboCop but liked the ads for Dawn of the Planets of the Apes and made that film a score?
Is it all based on who’s in the movie? Is it that Tom Cruise has a bad reputation that people stayed away from Tomorrow? Is it because Godzilla didn’t have any real stars in it, other than the big green meanie, and that was the reason it was a hit?
Honestly, I don’t know.
To me a movie like RoboCop doesn’t seem that different in marketing than a movie like Iron Man. Yet one of those movies flopped and the other was a massive hit. And a movie like Edge of Tomorrow to me seemed to have all the elements one would need to have a successful summer blockbuster — a star – check, vaguely sci-fi – check, lots of action – check, lots of booms – check… but it was rejected by the audience at the box office.
With movies like RoboCop and Edge of Tomorrow there seemed to be a conscientious with the movie going public that those films weren’t worth seeing while others like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past were. Now I’m not arguing that RoboCop, Edge of Tomorrow OR Captain America: The Winter Soldier or X-Men: Days of Future Past were or were not good films, just that at some point people decided to go see some of those films and not others.
And having seen both RoboCop and the latest Captain America I’m left scratching my head as to why.
Looking back, though, it is interesting to see what films people did go see in the theater and which ones they stayed home for but only discovered later. True Romance was a flop when it was released in 1993 being beaten out by such films like Super Mario Bros. and Cliffhanger. But 21 years later people are still talking about True Romance but Super Mario Bros. is only mentioned today as to how bad it was.
A flop from a 1994 was The Shawshank Redemption which after being discovered on VHS is still receiving accolades today. And 20 years later does anyone still talk about The Santa Clause, a mega-hit from that year?
I suppose the success of failure in movies has more to do with the timing of their release as much as how good the film is. If True Romance was released after Pulp Fiction and marketed as “written by Quentin Tarantino” then I’d guess that film would have been much more of a success. And maybe if Edge of Tomorrow was released after Jerry Maguire it too would have been a hit.
While I can understand that no matter what some films are just not going to find success at the box office, what I can’t understand is when people dismiss them without having seen the movie themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read or heard people talking about the problems of Prometheus or why TRON: Legacy isn’t a good film WITHOUT HAVING SEEN THEM. It’s like people read a review of the movie and don’t actually checkout the movie themselves to form their own opinion.
And while I might be guilty of this at times too, I do try to go into movies with an open mind and love being surprised when what I thought was going to be a stinker turns out to be a real gem.
I won’t let what other people think of movies warp my own personal experience of them.
Quotes of Note – Manhattan: “The Hive”Posted on August 12th, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
Reed Akley: “(I met him once,) Werner Heisenberg. He’s the world’s most brilliant scientific mind and he’s running Hitler’s bomb project. Never forget, that is the man you’re competing with.”
And Now, for something completely differentPosted on August 9th, 2014 | By: Mo Alexander
Yeah, I know, this isn’t a car blog. But something that has 707 Horsepower surely warrants being a bit dangerous, no?
With a 6.2 Supercharged Hemi engine, this thing eats electric cars for breakfast.
Quotes of Note – Halt and Catch Fire: “1984″Posted on August 4th, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
Joe MacMillan: “I’m not talking about money, I’m talking about legacy.”
Gordon Clark (describing Apple’s 1984 commercial): “The girl who looks like Cameron threw the sledgehammer into the screen and freed all the weird slave-people.”
Cameron Howe: “You’re not the future, you’re a footnote. For a while you had me fooled, I thought you had a heartbeat. It wasn’t a heartbeat, it was an echo. I loved you because you recited my own ideas back to me and pretended they were your own. You want to know the truth? You’re exactly who you were the day your mom let you fall off that roof. Just a sad little boy with a lot of wasted potential.”
Cameron Howe: “A lot of people are going to want us to fail. But that’s because we’re the future. And there’s nothing scarier than that.”
Gordon Clark: “So, what’s next?”
Guardians…Posted on August 3rd, 2014 | By: Mo Alexander
The expanse that is the modern Marvel movie megaversePosted on August 1st, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
Officially, the very first movie based on a Marvel comic book was the 1986 cult-classic Howard the Duck. But that movie flopped at the box office and was for many years an embarrassment to all those involved. (Though time heals all wounds and now Howard is available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download.) It would take 12 more years until the next movie based on a Marvel property, this time Blade in 1998, was released in US theaters that did quite well at the box office.
Still, Blade was less a superhero film and more a horror/action movie in the vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
What would kickoff the modern Marvel movie megaverse and restart a superhero movie craze was X-Men in 2000. Since then there has been a total of 31 Marvel superhero films encompassing at least three different movie universes.
20th Century Fox currently holds the rights to produce X-Men and Fantastic Four movies, meaning that these two properties could conceivably cross over and share storylines. Sony/Columbia Pictures holds the rights to the Spider-Man line of films. And Marvel Entertainment owns and produces movies from The Avengers to Captain America to Iron Man and the new Guardians of the Galaxy along with hundreds of other possible movie properties.
Unfortunately, this means that unless the issues with the rights changes, we’ll NEVER get to see Spider-Man as a part-time member of the Fantastic Four or Professor X and Tony Stark teaming up to fight Venom.
Still, no one at Marvel or Sony or 20th Century Fox can be complaining that much about this split. All in their superhero films have grossed something like 15+ billion in ticket sales alone, about $3.3 + billion of that is pure profit not including things like marketing. This year movies based on Marvel characters have grossed about $675 million at the box office, and the summer’s not over yet.
Looking at the slate of Marvel movies that have already been released to date, the most profitable of them are The Avengers (made $1.5 billion at the box office, about 6.9 times its budget), Iron Man 3 ($1.2 billion, 6.1), Spider-Man ($822 million, 5.9) and a tie with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Iron Man (5.9, $710 and $585 respectively).
While all this cash was being made at the box office, money spent to make the movies has also been going up too. The first X-Men movie cost about $75 million to make in 2000 (about $100 million today) and the latest X-Men: Days of Future Past cost about $200 million. Which means profit-wise the fist X-Men movie was actually MORE profitable than the most recent even though it made less at the box office!
Even movies that are widely considered failures were actually somewhat profitable. Daredevil made back about 2.3 times the amount of money spent to produce it, Elektra 1.3, Ghost Rider: Spirits of Vengeance 2.3. But who cares about making back millions on an investment when movies like The Avengers or Iron Man 3 are raking in billions.
Which, with all this money being made makes the fact that DC Comics hasn’t been producing movies based on their characters at the rate Marvel has a little odd. DC has produced the successful Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy of films and Man of Steel was successful last summer but that’s about it hit-wise. DC’s Green Lantern, Jonah Hex and Catwoman LOST something like a combined $180 million at the box office whereas Marvel movies almost never lose money.
Which leads me to the latest Marvel movie, Guardians of the Galaxy that’s currently in theaters. It’s Marvel’s first attempt at branching out from the superhero genera to something a little different. Guardians is one-third superhero and two thirds Star Wars movies mixed together. And if Guardians is a hit there’s no limit to other stories Marvel could bring to the big screen, from westerns like Rawhide Kid to a return to horror with Werewolf by Night or I could even see Captain Britain on the big screen too.
Meanwhile in the Batcave… DC readies their next film Batman vs. Superman that’s due in theaters in 2016. As for Marvel, between now and 2016 they have a total of up to SIX movies set to be released. I wonder who’s winning the movies race there?