HULK’S TAKE ON THE NATURE OF BOX OFFICE

February 2, 2011

HULK USUALLY NOT SPEND A LOT OF TIME THINKING ABOUT BOX OFFICE. HULK NOT SAYING CONVERSATION WITHOUT MERIT . JUST PROBABLY THAT THERE LOT A LOT PEOPLE MORE QUALIFIED TO ANALYZE. DAMON HOUX AT CHUD HAVE GREAT ONGOING COLUMN FOR ONE. BUT STILL, HULK FEEL HULK HAVE GOOD ARGUMENT FOR WHY BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE SUCH PREVALENT CONCERN FOR MOVIEGOERS.

WHEN FRAMING THE ARGUMENT FOR HOW PEOPLE RESPOND TO FILM’S SUCCESS/FAILURE AT BOX OFFICE, THERE ONE KEY USE OF LANGUAGE THAT EVERYBODY SEEM TO IGNORE (BESIDES VERB AND FIRST PERSON. HULK HAVE TROUBLE WITH THOSE)…. AND IT KIND OF HAVE TO DO WITH SPORTS…  BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE REALLY ABOUT “WINNERS” AND “LOSERS.”

IN SPORTS, THERE CLEAR/METHODICAL WINNERS AND LOSERS. THE RESULTS DETERMINED PURELY BY COMPARATIVE SCORES AND IT SO MUCH EASIER TO SAY WHICH ONE “BETTER” THAN OTHER. AND MORE OFTEN THEN NOT, A TEAM’S FINANCIAL SUCCESS DIRECTLY DEPENDENT ON THOSE RESULTS. WHEN A TEAM WIN, PEOPLE WANT TO WATCH IT. WHEN TEAM LOSE, PEOPLE STOP WATCHING. HULK KNOW THIS A SIMPLIFICATION, BUT IT PRETTY EVIDENT ONE.

AND WHAT BOX OFFICE STATISTICS FINALLY DO IS GIVE FILM A “SCORING SYSTEM.” AND PEOPLE’S RESPONSES AFTER THAT ONLY NATURAL. A MOVIE THAT PERFORM WELL SIMPLY A “WINNER.” PEOPLE WANT TO GO SEE THE “WINNER” JUST AS THEY WANT TO SEE A WINNING TEAM. THE SAME KIND OF THINKING APPLY TO “LOSERS.” NOBODY WANT GO WATCH A CRAPPY TEAM,  SO WHY THEY WANT TO WATCH A NON-SUCCESSFUL MOVIE?

THE LIONS = THE "THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH" OF FOOTBALL

OF COURSE THERE A MILLION REASONS THAT A MOVIE’S WORTH HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING DO WITH BOX OFFICE (SERIOUSLY, IT MOSTLY ABOUT MARKETING), BUT STILL THIS THE KIND OF THINKING THAT BECOME PREVALENT. THINK ABOUT ALL THE OVERLAPPING SIMILARITIES BETWEEN INTERNET-INCLINED MOVIE FANS AND SPORTS FANS. WHEN MOVIE (TEAM) YOU DON’T LIKE FOR SOME REASON DO POOR YOU TAKE COMFORT. SOME EVEN RELISH IN THE DEFEAT OF THE OPPOSING FANS BELOVED MOVIE (TEAM).  JUST IN THE SAME WAY, WHEN TRULY GREAT MOVIE NOT PERFORM AT BOX OFFICE, SOMETIMES AN AUDIENCE BECOMES MORE EMBLAZONED TO LOVING THEIR “UNDERDOG” PROPERTY. THEY LEARN EMBRACE THE “LOSER” STATUS AND MAKE IT PERSONALIZED. THEY ARE “HARDCORE FANS.” THEY WERE THERE “EVEN WHEN IT WAS BAD” (A FAVORITE A SPORT-DOM CRED CHECKS). THEY’RE NOT “BANDWAGON” FANS OF THE MOVIE.

THINK ABOUT THE RECENT BACKLASH AND BACKLASH-TO-THE-BACKLASH WITH EDGAR WRIGHT’S AMAZING “SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD.” DID THE PASSION OF PUBLIC RESPONSES REEK OF SIMILARITY TO THE RESPONSES OF SPORTS FANS? ON BOTH SIDES OF ARGUMENT? ABSOLUTELY IT DID. EVEN HULK GUILTY OF THIS.

HOW THIS NOT AWESOME?

OF COURSE, THIS REALLY NOT CONFINED TO SPORTS AND MOVIES. IT MORE HUMAN BEHAVIOR IN GENERAL. BUT THE REASON THIS ALL NEW TO MOVIES BECAUSE BOX OFFICE INFORMATION JUST NOW FINALLY BEING REPORTED IN LAST 15 YEARS. IT WASN’T THAT PEOPLE NOT INTERESTED IN DECADES BEFORE. IT JUST THAT THEY JUST DIDN’T KNOW. ALL THEY HAD WAS FOOTAGE OF LONG LINES OF MOVIE FANS WRAPPING AROUND THE BLOCK (HENCE TERM “BLOCKBUSTER”). AND THE PUBLIC WAS FASCINATED BY THAT STUFF.

IT JUST THAT WITHOUT THE ACTUAL BOX OFFICE INFORMATION, THE DIALOGUE OF MOVIES STAYED, WELL, A BIT MORE MEASURED. NATURALLY, AWARD SHOWS LIKE OSCARS BROUGHT OUT THE SPORTS-LIKE DIALOGUE, BUT REALLY IT WAS MOSTLY LIMITED TO THAT. FOR MOST PART, HULK WOULD SEE MOVIE AND IF HULK LIKED IT, HULK WOULD SHARE THAT WITH FRIENDS. THAT WAS THE DIALOGUE.

WHAT'S THIS MOVIE CALLED? SOUNDS STUPID.

BUT NOW BOX OFFICE INFORMATION HAVE CHANGE CONVERSATION.

PLEASE KNOW, THIS NOT INDICTMENT OF SPORTS EITHER. HULK ACTUALLY LOVE SPORTS VERY MUCH, BUT THE LINE OF THINKING AND TERMINOLOGY NOT SUITED FOR COMMENTARY ON ART AND COMMERCE (OR POLITICS EITHER, BUT THE EFFECTS OF SPORTS ON SOCIO-POLITICAL ARENAS A WHOLE OTHER AND MUCH MORE PROBLEMATIC DISCUSSION).

BOX OFFICE REALLY A FUNNY THING. HULK HAVE BENEFIT WORKING IN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY AND CAN TELL YOU THAT ALMOST ALL MOVIES MAKE MONEY EVENTUALLY. YES, EVEN WITH HUGE ADVERTISING BUDGETS.

FOR EXAMPLE, EVERY STUDIO HAVE A COMPLICATED FORMULA FOR EACH OF THEIR MOVIES (ONE BASED ON PAST MODELS/TRACKING INFORMATION/RESTRUCTURING DEALS) WHERE AFTER JUST ONE DAY’S PERFORMANCE (FRIDAY NIGHT) THEY CAN GET A BALLPARK DOLLAR FIGURE FOR HOW MUCH MONEY THE MOVIE WILL EARN THE STUDIO. HULK NOT TALKING ABOUT FOR THEATRICAL RUN, BUT AFTER IT GO THROUGH ALL RENTALS/TELEVISION SALES/LICENSING AND USE. HULK TALKING ABOUT THE FINAL NUMBER YEARS DOWN THE LINE.

JUST IMAGINE ROOMS AND ROOMS LIKE THIS

THAT ORIGINALLY BLEW HULK’S MIND. HULK, LIKE MANY, MAY FORGET ABOUT A CERTAIN MOVIE , BUT THAT MOVIE HAVE LONG, LONG ECONOMIC TIMELINE. AND CLASSICS LIKE “BUTCH CASSIDY AND SUNDANCE KID” STILL RUMBLING AROUND MAKING LOTS OF EXTRA MONEY FOR WHICHEVER STUDIO OWNS RIGHTS. THAT WHY THEY MAKE THESE MOVIES YOU KNOW. BECAUSE ON LONG TIMELINE THEY ACTUALLY PRETTY GOOD BET.

BUT YOU ASK HULK “WHY THERE SO MUCH DIALOGUE OUT THERE ABOUT THESE FILMS NOT EVEN MAKING THEIR PRODUCTION BUDGET BACK?”

THAT SIMPLE. THERE A TON OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE “PERCENTAGE POINTS” ON THE PROFIT OF ANY GIVEN MOVIE AND SO OF COURSE STUDIO NOT WANT SHARE OUT THE “ACTUAL” PROFITS TO THESE MOVIES. STUDIOS EMPLOY HUNDREDS OF VERY, VERY TALENTED PEOPLE TO WORK THE ACCOUNTING AND MAKE IT SEEM LIKE THESE MOVIES NOT MAKING MONEY (FOR PERCENTAGE PAYOUTS/TAX PURPOSES) BUT ALSO DOING WELL ENOUGH TO PLEASE STOCKHOLDERS. IT VERY TRICKY THING, BUT YOU BE AMAZED.

THE POINT OF ALL THIS DISCUSSION BEING WE ACTUALLY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HOW MUCH A MOVIE ACTUALLY MAKING. WHICH MEAN BOX OFFICE FIGURES ALL THE MORE USELESS AND MAYBE NOT GIVE US “WINNERS” AND “LOSERS” WHATSOEVER. THERE SOME GREAT BUSINESS CONVERSATIONS TO BE HAVE, BUT THOSE OFTEN A VERY COMPLICATED NARRATIVE AND NEED HAVE LOTS OF INSIDE INFO.

SO, FOR MOST PART, JUST IGNORE THE BOX OFFICE.

JUST LIKE THE MOVIES YOU LIKE.

THEN TALK ABOUT IT WITH FRIEND.

IT THAT SIMPLE.

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5 Responses to “HULK’S TAKE ON THE NATURE OF BOX OFFICE”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sarah and platinumdepot, Film Crit HULK. Film Crit HULK said: HULK'S TAKE ON THE NATURE OF BOX OFFICE http://bit.ly/eDB6CE [...]

  2. John said

    You know, you were referencing studio formulas that predict a film’s cash flow- both box office and international/rentals/purchases/etc… Coupled with the sports analogy, I couldn’t help but think of the (outdated but still entertaining) “Moneyball”.

    Are you familiar with the book and (more importantly), are there books out there that delve into the statistics of box office success in the same way? Or even one that delves into what makes a film successful, statistically speaking (i.e. critics’ scores and the like)?

  3. mgss said

    HULK INDEED HAVE READ MONEYBALL! BETTER YET HULK LOVE ALL THE BILL JAMES BOOKS ON SABERMETRICS (THE ONES THAT BILLY BEAN USED AS BASICALLY “HOW TO” GUIDE WHEN BUILDING THOSE A’S TEAMS).

    THERE HAVE YET BE DEFINITIVE LOOK AT THE HOLLYWOOD ACCOUNTING SYSTEM (IT GREAT BOOK IF ANYONE OUT THERE EVER WANT WRITE). BUT EXCELLENT BOOK THAT DEAL WITH SUBJECT TANGENTIALLY = PETER BISKIND’S “DOWN AND DIRTY PICTURES”

  4. Daybreaker said

    HULK talked as though nothing was at stake but the pride. But for fans of serials, success means sequels with continuity and ample budgets, while failure means reduced budgets, radical changes or reboots, or the abandonment of the series.

    And box office is the main, promptly available information on “success”.

    Enough box office = more Serenity / Firefly, not enough means no more.

    Enough box office = more Narnia, not enough means no more. And no more means abandoning the series incomplete.

    With projects like Narnia, where it’s all about the subject matter, there is no substitute for carrying the story through to completion.

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