Monday, 27 October 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #185: Saw's Buzz, and Buzz Killers.


Mini-major Lionsgate Pictures put out a press release trumpeting that their Saw franchise is the biggest money making horror movie franchise of all time.

Now that can mean
one thing, and it can mean another thing entirely.

Purely dollar wise, I'm sure the still profitable Saw movies have made a body-bag full of cash. They have also been very inexpensively made, their budgets coming across as less than what's spent per film on keeping Brad Pitt's hair fashionably dishevelled, so they can be in profit usually by the end of the first weekend.

But, and this is a positively elephantine but, movie ticket prices are also a lot higher than they were in the glory days of the horror franchise of the late 70s through the 80s. The average movie ticket price these days is somewhere between $7.08 to $10 depending on where you live, while the average ticket price during the reigns of the
Halloween, Friday The 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street were between $2.51 per ticket, to $4.23 per ticket.

That's a pretty big difference.

And to top it all off, those horror films of the 80s, didn't have the massive 2,000-3,000 screen releases that the
Saw films enjoy. At their peak those other films would have been running on 500 screens maximum.

So I'd like to see the number crunchers adjust their estimates for inflation, per screen averages, and other data points I probably haven't considered, and
then compare and contrast, because those words "of all time" have a lot of weight too them, and shouldn't be tossed around lightly.

And if it comes out the same, then it's all well and good for them, but please, save us from the spin, it cheapens everything.


The long awaited movie version of Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic bestseller
The Road will be even longer awaited. The Weinstein Co. has bumped it back to 2009.

In fact, The Weinstein Co. has pretty much bumped almost all of its remaining 2008 release slate until next year
except for troubled, and producerless Oscar bait pic The Reader, and the raunchy Kevin Smith comedy Zack & Miri Make A Porno.

Joining The Road on the list of bumped pics includes the often controversial Star Wars geek comedy Fanboys, and the Mickey Rourke festival hit The Wrestler.

Now, what do those three films have in common?

All three were considered to have excellent buzz when they first appeared. Folks were talking Oscar nominations for The Road, and at least an acting nomination for Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler, which could revive his long suffering career, and even Fanboys, despite uneven reviews still had a lot of warm feeling among its target audience of sci-fi geeks.

But buzz doesn't last forever. A film that makes a splash at a major festival, gets a lot of good press, or inspires a grass-roots fan movement is definitely a "strike while the iron is hot" situation. You have to get that movie into theatres as soon as possible, or the iron will cool, audiences will get distracted, or even forget what got them excited in the first place. Competition for that precious disposable income is fierce, and getting fiercer, so any company has to take advantage of any edge it can get, and good buzz is as good an edge as you can get, especially when you're a smaller company with a long record of flops weighing it down.

Which is why I am amazed that people still try to do business with the Weintstein Company, since it appears to be no longer in the business of releasing movies, preferring to find excuses to not release movies.

Harvey, maybe it's time you found another line of work, because you don't seem interested in the movie biz anymore.

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