SHOWBIZ*411 has a new article titled “Hollywood Ending: Big Studios Cutting Losses This Weekend, Pulling Flops From Theaters…” What does it say about the industry as a whole, if anything?
It’s a bizarre season in Hollywood. Almost nothing is “working,” and the studios can’t afford to waste any more money hoping things will turn around. They’re pulling flops from theaters earlier than usual.
It’s hard to understand why pulling flops actually helps. As The Movie Blog explains in their post Economics Of The Movie Theater – Where The Money Goes And Why It Costs Us So Much, the studios lease the right to exhibit films to theaters. The studio’s share of the profits decreases over time, as does attendance. The theater is earning a bigger share of a diminishing return. So what is the incentive for the studio to “pull” a flop? According to Mickey Lin, writing on Quora:
Studios received a share of the exhibition and so if a film isn’t performing, it is better to pull it from theaters and replace it with a better-performing film and quickly move the film to the auxiliary market so that the film can gross money from other type of distribution such as DVD, VOD, streaming, etc. The film might do well in the auxiliary market but the studios need to do it soon before a string of poor reviews/box office reception creates a perception that the film is not worth buying/renting/streaming.
This explanation still seems weak to me. If I cancel the lease I’ve granted you, why would you choose to sign anther lease with me? If the a film is underperforming, aren’t theaters within their rights to replace it with a film from another studio? If a film is pulled early, won’t this mean that people are less likely to buy the DVD or stream it?
This weekend, for example, Warner Bros. is putting out a white flag on “Blade Runner” after three tough weeks. They’ve cut the number of theaters showing Denis Villeneuve’s beautiful film by 855. So far, “Blade Runner” has made just $66 million. Audiences have not clamored to it. And now, week by week, Warners will quietly take it away.
This is too bad. The movie had a excellent A- score from first night audiences on Cinemascore. I’m planning to see it next weekend.
Warner’s isn’t alone. Universal is pulling Tom Cruise’s “American Made” from 539 locations after a month in release. The Doug Liman directed thriller has made just $43 million. Good reviews haven’t helped push Cruise fans to theaters. One problem was lack of promotion since Cruise wasn’t available. Also, audiences may have just soured on him after “The Mummy” and other flops. With both studios, it wasn’t for lack of trying.
I agree that the lack of marketing was a failure in this case. What is this film about? Why should I want to see it?
The biggest decease (de-crease, but pun intended here) is for the revived “Flatliners.” With just $16 million in the till, Sony would be better off paying people to see this turkey. They’re retreating from 1,433 theaters this weekend, leaving “Flatliners” to breathe on its own. It will be completely dead by Sunday.
The original Flatliners was a decent film. This one is a clear example of a failed sequel. First of all, the original was made in 1990, so few of its fans are going to be clamoring for the sequel. Second, the promotional material failed to make it look interesting. For its time, the original’s advertising worked well.
Also just about dead is the much praised “Battle of the Sexes,” Fox Searchlight couldn’t get anyone to go see it despite great reviews and excellent marketing. I’m actually dumbfounded that it’s made just $11 million. FS is killing off 849 screens. Ouch! And “Battle” was supposed to yield some awards action.
Warner’s, meantime, is facing more trouble than the other studios. Their “Geostorm” is going to be a disaster this weekend. And their “Lego Ninja” movie is leaving 951 theaters after $52 million and five weeks. Better to get out while they can.
Geostorm has a B- Cinemascore, which isn’t terrible. Having seen the previews (when I watched the Kingsmen last week), I wasn’t interested. Disaster movies generally suck.
And over all this weekend doesn’t look too promising for new films. “Geostorm” should be joined by “The Snowman” and in the kill bin by Sunday.
This is sad. Based on a bestselling novel by Jo Nesbo and starring Michael “Young Magneto” Fassbender, The Snowman should have been an easy win. But with a D on Cinemascore, it probably isn’t worth pirating. One question I have is why on earth the filmmakers chose to start with the 7th book in the Harry Hole detective series, not the first one (The Bat). Dumb!
PS Here’s an irony: The Weinstein Company’s “Wind River” is at $33 million. It cost around $15 million.
Why is this ironic? Weinstein’s ability to create successes has never been in question, only his professional ethics.
While I’ve long expected (and even hoped) that people will start punishing Hollywood for selling us garbage, the failure of well reviewed films like Blade Runner 2049 has surprised me a little. Are people sick of Hollywood in general, with their constant moralizing despite their own moral failings? One thing is certain: there has never been a year like 2017 before.