Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mel at the Movies: talking dollars and sense

What a nice outcome at the Oscars! A sorta-kinda gay movie right there in the spotlight ... the award for Best Actor bestowed upon a performer in a gay role -- and richly deserved. Is the cinema-going public changing? Is there a shift in the mindset of your average popcorn-muncher in the fourth row?

Could be. Here's an interesting quote:

Jim Carey and Ewan McGregor play love interests in the upcoming movie I Love You Philip Morris which is based upon a real life incident about a man who falls in love with his cell mate while in jail and escapes four times in order to be with his lover. Some critics worry that the film will be a problematic sell given that it is an overtly gay love story. However, they do like the film.

Several straight actors have played gay, lesbian or trans characters over the last few decades without incident, and without any problem in their careers.

For Carey, this movie makes his first foray into doing so, but McGregor is an old hand at playing gay characters. Adding into that list are Tom Hanks, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, and a much longer list. The notion that audiences may not like a movie due to a gay, lesbian or trans story line may be old thinking. While Milk has not been a blockbusting success the same way, say, The Dark Knight has been, it certainly has achieved a certain amount of commercial success, and a great deal of critical acclaim.

From what I've learned about Philip Morris, I have a feeling the movie might be a tad bit too explicit for the average audience -- and this would explain the reticence of distributors to be involved. It costs a ton of money to strike the prints to get a movie out on the road; exhibitors have to believe they can break even or better.

Now, sometimes it's impossible to second-guess movies. Australia was initially supposed to rival Titanic, and then it was supposed to be the world's biggest ever flop, and now -- hey, it's showing critics and audiences alike that it has enough staying power to be out there earning, long after it was supposed to be getting stamped into the surfaces of a few million DVDs. However, it's not going to magically transform itself into a boxoffice success, though it might break even -- in which case, all the DVD dollars are frosting on the cake. And like The Man From Snowy River, his one will probably "go platinum" on disk.

Why? Well, because Australia cost the grand total of $130m to make, which is a fleabite these days, by comparison with the budgets of "big movies" like the Pirates of the Caribbean films. In the days of yore, it used to be that $1 in $3 of the boxoffice made its way home to the studio that put up the financing, so a movie that cost $130m to make would have to earn $390 to break even...

These days it's very, very different. To begin with, it's $1 in $5 of the boxoffice that dribbles back to the investor ... but increasingly, the studio, the distributor and even the exhibitor are all branches of the same company which, in any case, is owned by something like Gulf Western, Coca Cola, whatever.

So while various divisions of the company might be showing a loss, the parent "machine" that drives this multi-national juggernaut is sitting pretty ... and it gets better.

The DVD revenues associated with movies can, and do, outstrip their boxoffice potential. You have global boxoffice to think about; plus the network TV premier; cable TV; pay per view; the DVD release; the BlueRay release; the TV rerun(s); the Netflix subscription service; and whatever merchandizing you've been able to scare up along the way.

Any way you slice it, movies are huge business, even though box office figures the world over are far from attractive. There's a site which makes fascinating browsing: BoxOfficeMojo.com ... enter in, and prepared to be astounded.

Russel Crowe in A Good Year ... directed by Ridley Scott, himself a legend. Total boxoffice gross: just under $7.5m ... you're not reading that wrongly. Nor did I mistype it! $7,459,300.

Kathleen Turner in her absolute hay day in V.I. Warshawski -- if she can't put bums on seats, who can? $11,128,308.

Johnny Deep and Charlieze Thieron (and I wouldn't be in the slightest surprised if I don't know how to spell that!) ... same bums-on-seats remark. The Astronaut's Wife. $10, 672,566.

Let's face it: if only the top 2% of movies ever broke even, Hollywood would have collapsed by now! The truth? Boxoffice is only part of the picture, and not even a large part.

Australia is at just under $50m, and still earning at the boxoffice before they get stuck into all the rest. Hey guys ... it's not that bad, really.

Little is happening in this neck of the woods. The big news (and terms are relative!) is that I did two posts to Legends today, and here they are:


I haven't been able to look at Digital Kosmos for a week, and in this week I'll have to make a decision: gee, do I get five titles up on Amazon Kindle, or do I post to the photo blog. Duh. I'll get back to DK when time permits. Till them -- bear with me, guys!

Ciao for now,

No comments:

Post a Comment