I’ve been digging through some of my film blog feeds and uncovered a few articles of interest. Enjoy.
It’s Not a Sequel, but It Might Seem Like One After the Ads
NY Times, April 24, 2007 – Very interesting article on the downfall of original material in theaters, and Disney/Pixar’s challenge of getting people to see their original films, mainly the upcoming Ratatouille versus known winners such as Spider-Man, Shrek, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
That originality is a dying value on the blockbuster end of the movie business is no secret. In the last five years, only about 20 percent of the films with more than $200 million in domestic ticket sales were purely original in concept, rather than a sequel or an adaptation of some pre-existing material like ”The Da Vinci Code.”
In the 1990s, originals accounted for more than twice that share, led by ”Titanic,” which took in more than $600 million at the box office after its release in 1997.
Pixar and Disney have enviable name recognition among moviegoers compared with virtually any other studio. But when an original like ”Ratatouille” costs roughly $100 million to make and perhaps half that to market in the United States alone, even they cannot trust viewers to show up without a painstaking introduction.
$78 million of red ink?
LA Times, April 15, 2007 – Very interesting insight into the financial world of Hollywood movies, illustrating how a movie (Sahara) opening at No. 1 with $122 million is considered one of the biggest flops in history. $2 million 46-second clip left on the editing room floor, $8 million star salary, $3.8 million for 10 screenwriters, and $237,386 in bribes are all found within.
Unlike most financial failures, “Sahara” performed reasonably well, ranking No. 1 after its opening weekend and generating $122 million in gross box-office sales. But the movie was saddled with exorbitant costs, including a $160-million production and $81.1 million in distribution expenses…
Cold cash came in handy. According to Account No. 3,600 of the “Sahara” budget, 16 “gratuity” or “courtesy” payments were made throughout Morocco. Six of the expenditures were “local bribes” in the amount of 65,000 dirham, or $7,559.
Experts in Hollywood accounting could not recall ever seeing a line item in a movie budget described as a bribe…
Other items include $23,250 for “Political/Mayoral support” in Erfoud and $40,688 “to halt river improvement project” in Azemmour. The latter payment was made to delay construction of a government sewage system that would have interrupted filming.
Plus! Product placement:
But with “Sahara,” some creative decisions apparently took promotional considerations into account. For example, producer Karen Baldwin demanded script changes to accommodate DaimlerChrysler because the German-American carmaker negotiated to have its Jeep trucks featured in the film. “You can’t have the truck get almost stuck,” Baldwin wrote in a March 2004 e-mail to “Sahara” executives. “I would bet that Jeep will have a heart attack when they see that. They want to show how well the Jeep handles and responds — not that it will get stuck in a tough situation.”
And Star Salaries:
McConaughey’s persistence paid off. He received an $8-million actor’s fee and $833,923 in what the budget called “star perks.” His company was paid $250,000 for his role as an executive producer. And his contract provided potential box-office bonuses and royalties from merchandising, video game and soundtrack revenues.
All for about 90 days of filming in Morocco, England and Spain.