Hollywood Business

The Reject Report - Large

The 1990s are so 13 years ago. At least, that was the attitude this weekend when two films with roots in the last decade of the 20th Century came, saw, and had their proverbial butts kicked by something that is very much 2010 and beyond. The Hunger Games made this third weekend in release its bitch, pulling out another $33.1m and breaking past the coveted $300m mark, tying with Revenge of the Sith as the sixth fastest film to do so. The Lionsgate film was also able in its third week of release to surpass every film in the Twilight franchise, but comparisons between the two were dead, buried, resurrected, and staked in the heart about two-and-a-half weeks ago. With an additional $157.1m in foreign markets – Australia and the UK rank highest with $16.7m and $15.7m, respectively – The Hunger Games if officially a worldwide, cinematic phenom, nearing the half billion mark. The “is he or isn’t he” game Gary Ross and Lionsgate seem to be playing for the sequel, Catching Fire, isn’t stopping audiences from packing theaters, and why should it. Uwe Boll could helm the follow-up, and it’d still bring in record-breaking coin. That’s getting way ahead of ourselves, though, so let’s back-track to the film that’s currently killing everything else in release. Literally killing them. Okay, not literally.

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The Reject Report - Large

Happy Easter, everybody. It’s the time of year for giving, for hollow, chocolate bunnies, and for Stifler to make some crude remark just before ingesting something disgusting. That’s right, it’s time for a reunion with the American Pie crew, and, like it or not, the movie is going to come out on top. It doesn’t matter that Katniss and her Hunger Games are still shooting strong. Never mind that the 2nd biggest movie of all time is getting a 3D update. All that’s moot when it comes to the financial strength behind dick jokes and bare breasts. So grab a chair, and heat up that warm, apple cobbler, check out this week’s Reject Report, and never let go. Not like Rose, though. She totally let go.

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Last year signaled a drop in tickets sold on domestic shores. Some theaters are responding by inflating their prices, but some Hollywood studios might be looking for a new audience altogether. BBC News is reporting on the new trend of big-budget filmmaking trying to get Chinese movie fans into seats. Of course, this comes alongside the growing trend of designing movies to appeal to the global audience. In a quick snapshot, the three highest grossing American movies to hit China were Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($170m), Kung Fu Panda 2 ($98m) and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($77m). Here’s how they broke down: Transformers 3‘s take in China was 18.8% of all foreign sales and 12.9% of the total. It was the second highest ticket-selling country behind the United States. Kung Fu Panda 2‘s take in China was 18.4% of all foreign sales and 13.8% of the total. It was also the second highest behind the United States. Pirates 3‘s take in China was 8.7% of all foreign sales and 7% of the total. It was the third highest behind the United States and Japan. There’s absolutely an emerging market here, but the bigger picture is the rest of the planet. China is starting to open its borders to American movies (allowing 34 foreign films entering their borders as opposed to 20 in years past), and it’s no surprise that studios are starting to notice there’s more money to be made by including Chinese actors and locations […]

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At a Regal Cinema in Rensselaer, New York, the price for a regular showing of The Lorax is $7.75 while the price for the 3D version of the movie is $13.75. That’s a considerable up-charge, and it’s one that consumers and film fans have gotten used to. Either you swallow the bitter pill of renting plastic glasses for an addition six bucks or you stick with the traditional 2D model to avoid the headache. Now, according to Joe Paletta, the CEO of Spotlight Theaters – a regional theater that has a handful of operations in Georgia, one in Connecticut and one in Florida – has written a brief piece for Screen Trade Magazine in which he states that they’ll most likely be folding the price of 3D tickets into the regular ticket prices. “Among the bigger changes will probably see the 3D-upcharge disappear. 3D charges will help increase the overall ticket-price but, as an industry, I think we’ll see a blend begin to emerge in 2012, where patrons will have a single price for both 2D and 3D films. 2D prices will increase and 3D prices will decrease.” My emphasis there is meant to spotlight the reality of the situation. What this means is that instead of paying $14 for 3D tickets or $8 for 2D tickets, everyone will end up paying $11 per ticket to split the difference. Now, clearly this won’t be across the board change, and Spotlight isn’t a giant outfit but it’s certainly an idea that […]

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Wish you could watch the Frank Darabont-scripted Indiana Jones 4? Dying to see Terry Gilliam’s Watchmen? Curious as to how a ton of great scripts got passed over before Tim Burton made his remake of Planet of the Apes? “Tales From Development Hell” author David Hughes joins us to dissect why we’re fascinated with stories of flicks that were never made, explains why At The Mountains of Madness got canned and explains how the big damned system of tentpole studio production works. Download Episode #125

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Directors and writers aren’t the only one with viewpoints on filmmaking, so we’re starting at the beginning and the bottom as two production assistants give us their stories and share their insights into starting out in Hollywood. Plus, Fat Guy Kevin Carr joins us to play Good News/Bad News and deliver his own TED Talk. Download This Episode

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There’s nothing like a loaded question to start the day, especially when tensions are consistently high about the piracy issue. Both sides are so committed to their positions that even people on the sideline and in the stands are feeling the heat rise off the field. SOPA was crushed by the sheer force of populism on the internet, and as the MPAA and internet service providers ready slower downloads for suspected pirates, the folks over at Paralegal (obvious movie fans judging by their name) are concerned with another question: doesn’t the movie industry have a hypocritical position toward piracy? They’ve created an infographic answering that question with a resounding, “Yes,” and since they included an image of the Borg, it qualifies for posting. There’s a ton of information here. Check it out for yourself:

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The Reject Report - Large

It took its second weekend – and even Saturday and Sunday of that – but Safe House slipped by the competition this President’s Day Weekend, just edging past The Vow‘s second weekend take and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance‘s debut. The Denzel Washington starrer might find itself down a notch when the actual numbers are revealed. When the numbers are this close, it could be anyone’s ballgame until all the numbers come in. For now, though, it remains at #1. This is Washington’s first film to hit #1 at the box office since American Gangster debuted in 2007 with $43.5m. Not surprisingly, that film remains Washington’s biggest domestic earner to date with $130.1m. Safe House‘s chances of toppling that are not completely out of reach. The film dropped just over 40% from last weekend. That’s not great, but it’s definitely below average. With a few more solid weekends such as this, the film could very easily get past that $130m mark. I’m sure Ryan Reynolds would appreciate that, as well.

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The Grey

Once again Liam Neeson stood up to the January graveyard slate of movies, and once again Liam Neeson took charge. The Grey took top honors this weekend, proving that the combination of Neeson and good, adult action is the way to go when you want to make some decent coin. It wasn’t up to the standards of films like Taken ($24.7m opening weekend in 2009) and Unknown ($21.8m opening weekend in 2011). Considering the R rating, the lack of star power outside of Neeson (Dermot Mulroney isn’t what he used to be, and the wolves themselves don’t have a great agent yet), and Joe Carnahan not being the golden boy when it comes to box office returns, The Grey‘s $20m is still a respectable debut. Neeson isn’t losing clout as quickly as Katherine Heigl, whose One For the Money came in at #3 with $11.7m. That’s slightly lower than expectations, but looking at Heigl’s track record, her opening numbers seem to be whittling down further and further. Since Killers in 2010, Heigl’s opening numbers have progressively gotten smaller and smaller, dropping from $15.8m to $14.5m for Life As We Know It in 2010 and $13m for New Year’s Eve early last month. A change of pace for Heigl might be in order, or, when all else fails, the DVD/Blu-Ray and VOD market is not a bad option to take.

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The Reject Report - Large

Not to be confused with Reject Report, The White, which is what happens after we do battle with the Balrog. Reject Report, The White is never NEVER wrong. But in our current form we have to take into account things like star power and demographics and mass appeal, the kinds of aspects that go into making a film financially successful. This week sees three new movies wanting that success and one Oscar contender expanding to wide release. Liam Neeson fights wolves, Sam Worthington faces a ledge, and Katherine Heigl takes on…money, I guess. I’m not really sure. Only one of these movies can be the victor while the other two scrounge for scraps to make up $10-15m. Not even worth the effort really. It’s the Reject Report, and you shall not pass. Okay, now you can pass. Go ahead.

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“There becomes this idea, this narrative that says, ‘Well, it’s going to be 13-30-year-old white men which is the target. Because we want to open.’ Because everyone makes their money opening weekend. Well that’s actually not the audience. There is an audience for all of this. We’ve just forgotten it.” That’s George Clooney discussing the condescension inherent in the mindset of some executives in the studio system. His comment comes after a question to newly minted double Oscar nominee Viola Davis (The Help) is asked in the Newsweek Oscar roundtable why this is her first starring role. The answer? “I’m a 46-year-old black woman who really doesn’t look like Halle Berry, and Halle Berry is having a hard time,” said Davis. A clever turn of phrase underlining the reality that there are few roles for women of a certain color and a certain age. It’s certainly a complex issue with any number of historical, social and artistic causes, but the numbers are certainly there.

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Although the real question keeping Hollywood awake in 2012 is “Does Winston Wolf clean up dead hookers on Yom Kippur?”, the fine folks over at HitFix have put forth a handful of queries of varying importance which filmmakers, studios and fans might have on their minds this year. It’s their 15 Questions Keeping Hollywood Awake in 2012. With concerns from Lindsay Lohan’s possible last chance to Joss Whedon’s first real shot with The Avengers, it’s an intriguing list that might prove 2012 to be both an endlessly fascinating and completely irrelevant year in the stories behind the movies. Will Smith, Found Footage, Hunger Games, Dark Knight Rises and more. HitFix has questions, and here are the answers:

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The Reject Report - Large

Not really sure how old time is, but this report is full of beauties, beasts, drug lords, and Queen Latifah. It’s the Reject Report, where we dive into the box office and sort out how much cash goes to which movies. Three films hit this week – two new and one re-release in 3D – each offering their own, diverse form of entertainment. Each film has its own strengths to pull in as much box office change as it can possibly get. While new films will be making their own money, it could very well be the Disney classic that takes the proverbial cake. And who’s going to contend with the Beast, really? The dude kicked Gaston’s ass.

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On January 11, 1991, the then-head of Disney studios, Jeffrey Katzenberg, circulated an incredibly important memo about the state of the movie industry and the products they were making. It was called, “The World is Changing: Some Thoughts on Our Business,” and it had a simple purpose: to locate the root of a growing problem and to take steps to avoid falling victim to it. Katzenberg began the memo by stating: “As we begin the new year, I strongly believe we are entering a period of great danger and even greater uncertainty. Events are unfolding within and without the movie industry that are extremely threatening to our studio.” As we begin a new year two decades after this memo was written, it’s critical to look back at the points Katzenberg made to see that his period of great danger is now our period of great danger, to note that the same events unfolding within and without the industry still threaten the entire studio system in 2012, and to predict our future based on the past.

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We can complain all we want, rationalize, or hope for the best, but the easiest way to stop the remake assault that studios have foisted upon audiences is not to pay for it. The studio system still hasn’t found a silver bullet for killing the monster of low attendance, and 2011 might have been the worst wake-up call they could get. Movie attendance fell by 4.4% from 2010, down to the lowest level since 1995. The problematic silver lining is that foreign sales are higher, which could result in even more broadly-appealing (and “appealing” is used generously here) movies that are generic and treat dialogue like a second-class citizen. On the losing side of the field (the one where producers aren’t having Gatorade dumped on them), are the remakes of 2011. Remakes are thought to be attractive because they come with built-in name recognition for audiences, and development has already been partially done for a story that’s already proven itself as a money-maker. For fans, they’re also infuriating because they signal both a lack of creativity coming out of an industry built on it and the potential (likely) bastardization of something we hold dear (and, yes, of course the original is still out there; it’s the principle of the thing). So it may come as pleasant news for some to see that remakes, regardless of their quality of genre, failed spectacularly at the box office this year. It’s the kind of thing that may just deter producers from trying to […]

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When I first saw the Hollywood Reporter piece on Melissa Rosenberg surpassing Linda Woolverton (The Lion King, Alice in Wonderland) as the highest-grossing female screenwriter, it took me a while to wrap my mind around it. After all, it’s the kind of statistic that only a baseball fan could love. It doesn’t take into account the thousands of other people and factors that go into making a film a world-wide financial smash, giving credit solely to the writer (and only if that writer has official credit on the movie). On the other hand, it’s the kind of fact that feels significant. That tells us a bit about the world we live in. Maybe in a way that upsets us. At its barest, it reveals that the female movie writer responsible for banking the most money did it mostly through the Twilight series – Step Up is the only non-Twilight property she’s credited for outside of her lengthy television resume. It also means she did it mostly through means of a book adaptation. After Breaking Dawn Part 1 topped $647m, her total landed at just over $2.56b.

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The Reject Report

There are only a few proven constants in the known universe. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, mixing Pop Rocks and Pepsi in your stomach will cause you to burst from the inside out (actually, this one hasn’t been proven), and the Twilight movies make a crap ton of money. And here we are again, ladies and germs, at the period of the box office year when Twi-hards feast their ever-loving eyes on yet another one. But this isn’t just another Twilight movie. This is the beginning of the end, the first of a two-parter that finishes off the franchise for good. Or, at least, until they reboot. I’m guessing it’ll make some dough this weekend. Aren’t you? It’s the Reject Report, and teen angst is eternal. At least, that’s what teens tell me.

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Boiling Point

Hollywood is a business. A big business. A ten billion dollar box office per year kind of business. While that is an impressive number, you also have to remember that I said “box office,” which is ignoring the home video market. If you include direct sales only, that’s another $5 billion. I swore that I would never do math again after college, so I’m not going to bother with rentals and licenses and all that shit. Suffice it to say, Hollywood is a big business. And they want to be bigger, like all businesses. Enter the shady world of rehashing. The repeated raping of your wallet. There was a time when it was as simple as releasing a Special Edition or Collector’s Edition of a movie. Now, films have two theatrical releases, get remastered in 3D and sent to theaters, and are then released on three to four separate DVD releases. As a super-fan, I’m excited to get Collector’s Editions – I’ll even double dip now and then, but the process has gone too far and offers too little.

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The Reject Report

What? Tintin? I know what you’re thinking. “I know we had Daylight Saving Time this morning, Jeremy, but you’re taking this “time travel” business a little too far, aren’t you?” You’ve probably notice we’re still at the beginning of November and haven’t been transported magically to December 21st when The Adventures of Tintin gets its US release, and you’d be both observant and right. However, Tintin, world figure that he is, got his release in several foreign markets on October 26th-28th. The ignorant American that I am didn’t bother to address this until now. Well, here you go, foreign markets. It’s your day to shine. The Adventures of Tintin has already pulled in $125.3m in foreign territories, pretty much guaranteeing its worldwide success well before its North American release. The film is already generated income from over 5000 locations in 21 foreign markets, but most of its dollars have come from the United Kingdom and France so far. It made $21 million from France last weekend and $10.9m from the UK. Spain and Germany were also big markets for the film, pulling over $10m from the locations combined.

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The Reject Report

Yes, we know. It’s a little early to be celebrating Christmas already. It’s actually a lot early to be celebrating Christmas, but what’s good enough for the weekend box office is good enough for the Reject Report. There is a Christmas movie hitting this weekend, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, and it’ll be looking to take dollars and laughs away from the other new release, Tower Heist. As much as we’d all like to see Brett Ratner go down in flames to the might of Harold & Kumar, that outcome might not be so foregone. Doesn’t matter to our Christmas spirit, though. We’ll still be singing carols and hanging out underneath the mistletoe. Alone. Practicing on the back of our hands. Oh, right, the box office.

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