Friday, 22 June 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #922: Where Does All The Money Go?

Warner Bros. has put the kibosh to Johnny Depp's long awaited remake of the classic mystery comedy The Thin Man. Reports say that the studio was wary about committing over $100 million to make the movie in the wake of the box office failure Depp and Burton's Dark Shadows reboot.

Now can you see what was so freaking WRONG in the last sentence, and no, it has nothing to do with Dark Shadows being a flop.

What's so wrong with that last sentence was that up until the failure of Dark Shadows Warner Bros. was perfectly fine with spending $100 million on an adaptation of The Thin Man.

Perhaps I need to do some explaining...

If you don't know the Dashiell Hammett novel, or the 1940s movie franchise, The Thin Man centers on Nick and Nora Charles. Nick Charles is a retired private detective who quit the sleuthing game when he married the mega-rich heiress Nora. When the book and movie begins the couple are in New York for the holidays when they get mixed up in the disappearance of a wealthy inventor, the "Thin Man" of the title, who was a former client of Nick's.

The couple then drink and quip their way through the case, wrapping up in a classical "I've brought you all here because I'm about to name the murderer" finale. 
Both the book and the film were known for the great chemistry between the lead characters, and the actors playing them, the witty dialogue, and the collection of colorful odd-ball characters.

It's also known for the fact that the bulk of the action in both the book and the film takes place in Nick and Nora Charles' hotel suite, less than a handful of other locations, and has only about a little more than a dozen characters.

Now take a minute to think about all that you've read about this cancelled movie and ask yourself a simple question:



You could do a fairly faithful stage adaptation of the story with one set and get away with it.

Either they were going to piss away tens of millions of dollars that were not going to be seen on screen, or they were going add all sorts of expensive nonsense to transform it into some sort of Indiana Jones meets Michael Bay bullshit action fest like they did with Sherlock Holmes

That sort of film deserves to fail, so it was right for Warner Bros to shit-can it.


  1. Warner Bros: Making the right decision for the wrong reasons.

  2. Blast Hardcheese25/6/12 8:01 am

    My guess for the cost? Salaries. I'm sure Johnny Depp will cost you....let's say $40-50M to get your Nick. For Nora, either you get an unknown (which the suits will see as risky) or get another 'name' actress who can hopefully do the job. Names are expensive - call it $20-30M to get your Nora.

    So that's about $70-80M tied up in salaries for your two leads. So the 'actual' budget to make the stupid movie is really about $20-30M. Still plenty of scratch in NormalLand, but in MovieStudioLand that's hardly enough to get a couple of sets built.

  3. I include actor fees as part of the costs that aren't seen on screen. Personally, if I ran Warner Bros. I'd call Robert Downey jr. and the Coen Bros. and see if they were interested in it, if they were willing to do it cost-effectively for a cut of the profits.

  4. I'd also like to point out that, as you said, the original Thin Man film(s) were famous mostly for the chemistry between Powell and Loy. Johnny Depp, regardless of his asking price, is an actor notable for his complete lack of chemistry with anyone else onscreen with him at any time; he's a walking special effect. Which is probably why, at this particular time in cinema history, he has a career as a star and not a character actor of limited potential.