Comicscape: America's Got Powers/Super Crooks Comments -


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therockdltj 4/18/2012 2:48:02 PM

Its very obvious Joel doesn't know jack shit about what he is talking about and just comes up with bullshit!

joelr 4/18/2012 2:58:32 PM

Seriously, I'll say it again- Box Office Mojo, and other outlets, are posting the budgets the studios give them, and they are 99% of the time the production budget, which is before any marketing is factored in. Studios spend a TON of money on marketing a film, and in some cases it's almost equal to the production budget, and in a few cases exceeds it. This is common Hollywood practice. This is how it works. You can throw out that Box Office Mojo "Reported" a budget for XYZ film, but that's not how the business works. Get used to it.

You also need to understand what a "hit" is. Just because after all is said and done a movie eeks out $20-$30, or even $100 million doesn't make it a hit. Hunger Games is a hit. Even if you double the production budget when you add in marketing (and it's probably even more), that's barely scratching the surface of the over half a billion dollars it's made so far, and it's still going strong. This is what the studios want. This is what they dream of at night for every property they buy and turn into a film.

Yes, foreign box office saved Wanted from being a bomb, and is probably the only reason a sequel was being considered, but lets be realistic- A Wanted sequel will be in production limbo forever. The property has been filed away in the public's conciousness, and nobody is asking for it.

Studios want something that captures the public and is a runaway hit. When they buy a property like Kick-Ass or Wanted, they are banking on the fact that they are proven properties with a built-in domestic audience. Neither Wanted or Kick-Ass came even close to achieving that.

Wanted made $134 million domestically, it had a budget of $75 BEFORE marketing. The theater gets on average 30% of the gross. Add this all up, and Wanted is no where near the profitable franchise the studio hoped it would be.

"Kick-Ass didn't bust out of its unpopular superhero comedy confines nor did it match its hype, but it nonetheless delivered one of the highest-grossing starts ever for its sub-genre". I don't believe a studio looking for a franchise hit delivers a $30 Mil budget

Winning the "Vigilantie comic book comedy" sub-genre crown by default is not exactly an achievement. And you don't think studios modestly budget films they hope to be huge hits? Go back to what I just wrote about the Hunger Games, one of the most anticipated film franchises in recent memory was budgeted at $75 million. After all the hype and buzz Kick-Ass was an unquestionable bomb. I'm not sure why some of you are so adamant that these movies were successful. Let me reiterate- I'm not saying these movies are "bad", and I'm not saying you shouldn't like them, we're talking numbers and Hollywood accounting here. It's a different ball game.

I also believe my original point is still quite valid- Mark Millar (A writer who I really like) is a master at selling hype, but the end result to some of his projects migrating to the silver screen have been less than spectacular.

Boombatty 4/18/2012 4:26:18 PM

 "You also need to understand what a "hit" is."

I think I need you to enlighten me on that one because I believe we don't have the same understanding. What makes a hit a hit by your definition?  

Is it Domestic dollars?  That would be tough because a movie like "In time" made $37 Mil on a $40 Mil budget but made $173 Mil Worldwide, almost 4x it's budget (even with marketing it looks pretty profitable).

Is it Foreign Dollars? That too would be tough as 21 Jump Street made $121 Mil and counting at the box office against a budget of $42 Mil but only $37 Mil overseas (or $156 Mil total so far, also almost 4x).

Is it Worldwide?  Much better but still not perfect.  Worldwide the two movies above made about 4x their budget.  The biggest what if, per your replies, and I wouldn't disagree with you, is Marketing.  I seem to recall GI Joe made $300 Mil on a $175 Mil budget but that the true cost may have been $250 Mil if you include marketing.  The marketing is the grand what if.

The issue with Marketing is that a movie like GI Joe may have been extremely profitable as it had Burger King toys, 7-11 cups, a ton of Movie related Hasbro Toys, Video Games, Role Playing, etc. that may have made the $75 Mil Marketing investment worth it and probably why we have a sequel.  If they lost money like Disney did on John Carter then there is no way in hell it would get another chance.  The fact is alternate revenue streams for movies make up a lot of the value these cross-promotional type movies have (thank you George Lucas).

Is it Multiplier of Budget?  I think we are getting even closer here.  Pulp Fiction cost $8 Mil and made $214 Mil (split almost evenly Foreign & Domestic) which is almost 27 x it's budget (or @ 13x Domestic, 13x Foreign).  I think we might be on to something here.

Is it Multiplier Alternate Revenue Streams (- All costs including Budget  and Marketing)?

Probably.  But this presents the issue I had with the initial article.  The article mostly spoke to Domestic total and then discounted it by budget and marketing but did not take into the high Foreign or the Alternate Revenue Streams of $65 Mil (which is capped at 2009 so may be a bit higher by now).  Basically making a total of closer to $410 Million.  One could reasonable consider this a hit, even if we double the budget to $150 Mil although if we go a bit more realistic and make it a $100 Mil with marketing then we are talking a 4x gross (and DVD costs, including vendor sales, are very profitable). 

So back to my original question, Joel, what is your definition of a hit so I feel like we can get to the same place to start in our debate.  And sorry about all the haters, thats not what I am trying to do in our discussion here (although it does get kind of funny lol).

Hobbs 4/19/2012 6:23:04 AM

Wow, comics to movie budgets or profits?  I've said this before, this is the PERFECT topic for Mania to do a seperate article about.  No one out there takes the time to educate the movie audience on how everything makes or doesn't make money so they go off what is seen.  Honestly I would like to stay on comics but this is an interesting discussion.

As I understand it, Joel is correct. You need to add another 30% or so to the reported budget because studios don't report everything including marketing.  I may be wrong on this but I've read that Domestic studios take home 55% of the profit and 45% overseas so you are not making as much overseas as you think which is why they are pushing 3D like they are over there.  And last, studios don't take into consideration DVD sales or rentals when they release these on the big screen.  I think it's safe to say, if it's a modest hit or box office smash it will do well on DVD otherwise you don't know until it's on the shelf.  I do think they consider toys especially if it's something like a comic book movie but how much a thought that makes into the profit I do not know.

Boombatty 4/19/2012 7:49:22 AM

 I agree, but I think DVD is a real factor in the decision making process.  The reason being that studios do make presumptive expectations of these.  I remember Dreamworks or whomever released the Shrek 3 DVD taking a big stock hit bc they had originally planned for like 100 DVD sales and didn't come close (btw, I pulled the 100 million # out of my ass).  What I found interesting is that DVD sales are thought about from day 1 when buying a property bc certain genres can be predicted pretty well (sort of like how studios publish expectation ranges for a movie opening based on genre, marketing and # of theaters).  Horror for example tends to be a first week hit.  the drop offs from week 1 - 2 tend to be 60 % or more drops.

Wiseguy 4/19/2012 8:48:20 AM

I love this topic. But because the studios don't release all the info we're usually left guessing as to wether or not a film is a financial success unless of course it just kills and it's obviously a hit.

But I agree with joel here. Kick Ass definitely bombed for the studio. Yes the production budget was around 30mil. but it was produced independently. Lionsgate paid between 45 and 60mil for worldwide distribution rights so the financiers made money. Lionsgate then spent close to 30 mil for p&a domestically and God only knows how much for overseas.

The dvd sales which is another thing that is loosely estimated because the studios don't give out the info were about 25mil of which we have no idea what percentage goes to the retailer and the studio.

But after adding that up I just don't see a hit in any way shape or form. Sure it wasn't a flop for the ages but a flop it was....IMO

Lastly, yes Millar is all hype. One would think everything he's ever touched is gold and destined for greatness if we go by his words. He's had his moments, but the shock value that he relies on only lasts so long. Sooner or later you have to start writing something good and I think he already did that with Marvel, his time has passed says this observer.

joelr 4/19/2012 8:56:47 AM

Wow, a lot to cover here. I'll try to make it brief! :)

@Hobbs I'm glad you like the discussion, even if it is a bit off topic. I agree, the more in depth we can take things, the better it is for the site. There are way too many phoned in acticles out on the interwebs.

@Boombatty I don't see your comments as being a hater at all, I'm glad someone wants to actually discuss something, instead of just trolling.

To get to the heart of the matter I guess we just have to take Hollywood and the film business for the odd beast that it is. If you want a taste of the insanity look up "Hollywood Accounting".

For this discussion we've been having I've only been using Box Office numbers. No DVD sales/rentals or merchandising tie-ins. The reason being is:

A: When folks in the business are crowning a movie a hit or not, they are doing so by pure BO numbers. Do studios consider ancillary revenue with toys and fast food tie ins when deciding to make a movie? Absolutely, and the money they make off of that is definitely a factor for them. But, if a movie doesn't do well, and fails to capture the public's conciousness (like Prince of Persia), then it stands to reason that kids are not storming the local Toys R US to buy the action figures, and nor are they begging their parents to have lunch at Burger King to get a Gemma Arterton toy. Which is a shame, because that right there could turn a boy into a man.

B: DVD and home video sales come much later. Can strong DVD sales rescue a movie? Surely, just ask Austin Powers, but much like the BO numbers, what's reported is not what is actually made. A film can make $50 million on dvd, but you once again have to factor in marketing costs for the home release, plus manufacturing and distribution.

I know it's hard to bring up how fickle and cloak and dagger Hollywood can be, but what they consider a hit is not what your average person percieves as one. A little to even decent profit is not a hit in Hollywood terms. I may have been a little harsh on Wanted in my article, but after you add in the true budget and take away the theater's share, the movie did modestly by Hollywood standards. The other thing to consider that I mentioned in an early post is that Wanted has no legs, no one is asking for a sequel, it's all but forgotten in the summer movie lexicon. Hollywood doesn't just want a financial hit, they want a film to be a hit in the minds of the public. They want the zietgeist because that leads (of course) to more money.

Here's an example of a hit, and before you say it- yes, I'm using a very big film- The Dark Knight. It had a budget of $185 million, and as we know, you can pour on a ton of marketing on top of that, and take a nice percentage for the exhibitors... But it made a over a Billion dollars worldwide. It was such a hit that Warner Bros. handed Christopher Nolan a blank check and said "Go make whatever you want" (He went and made Inception), and we have a sequel hitting theaters in just a few short months. TDK never left the public's conciousness, it's as buzzed about to today as when it came out, and all of that throughput is pretty much garuanteed to make TDKR another Billion dollar landmark.  Wanted came and went, even if the studio banked $100 mil from it, what they really wanted was for it to curve bullets into our little hearts and have us gasping for more.

HunterRose 4/19/2012 6:20:47 PM

 To me, the definition of a "hit" is a movie that saturates the media so much that you start to hate it. Well, maybe not hate, but you get the picture. A genre hit is liked not just by us (the fanboys), but the general movie going masses that have never heard of the comic property until after the movies has been released.  I loved Kick-Ass. The majority of my co-workers didn't even know there was a movie out by that name. If they had started talking about it, then I would know it was a hit.

joelr 4/20/2012 8:03:08 AM

@HunterRose Absolutely, that's one of those intangible things that goes into making a "hit".

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