Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1033: The 3 Decisions of Warner Brothers

Today I have 3 stories that all involve decisions being made by Warner Brothers, 1 I can understand, 1 that I can sadly understand, and 1 I don't get at all.


Warner Brothers, as the parent company of New Line Cinema, passed on Dumb & Dumber To, the sequel to Dumb & Dumber reuniting the original stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels and the original's creators the Farrelly Brothers. 

But that's not the end of the story.

Now some folks are saying that Warner Brothers made a mistake passing on the picture. They say that the proposed $35 million budget would have made the film a sure thing considering the original made over $240 million at the box office on a $17 million budget.

Those people have their points. But if you look at it from the perspective of Warner Brothers you might think about it differently.

Yes, the first movie was an out-of-the-blue blockbuster that convinced Hollywood that the success of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective wasn't just a fluke.

However, as a franchise it's not exactly the golden child people think it is.

First, the original came out almost twenty years ago. That's 20 years of constant replay on cable television to wear it's become the equivalent of a test pattern on certain channels. Then there was the animated series, which lasted a season and was cancelled because no one watched it, then came the high school set prequel, which did okay compared to the production budget, but when you toss in P&A probably lost money, and then there's the people in the Dumb & Dumber franchise.

The Farrelly Brothers had two monster hits with  Dumb & Dumber and There's Something About Mary raking in a combined box office of nearly $600 million. But lately their record has been a bit more checkered. Some films did okay, some did poorly, but it was obvious that the near explosive success of the 90s is in the past.

Same with Jim Carrey. He had a run as Hollywood's golden fool, but the last 10 years have been a lot leaner. The costs of his films skyrocketed, often because of his salary, while the box office performance of his live action roles declined. While still capable of occasionally cracking $100 million, those that did, still probably lost money. Also, he's been actively alienating large swathes of the domestic ticket buying audience due to his public pronouncements on the evils of vaccinating children and gun ownership.

The audience doesn't see him as the loveable, rubber-faced clown like they used to. Now when they look at Jim Carrey they see a smug millionaire who seems to live in luxurious isolation completely out of touch with the real world.

That might make the audience a bit iffy on spending their hard earned money to see him as the goof from Dumb & Dumber again.


See this trailer...

Normally, I'd ask "Why?" but I know why.

The people running the studios are a pack of nutless wonders, and here is a movie that's just one big product placement toy-commercial that they think brain-dead children will flock to, dragging their money-bearing parents with them.

It's sad, but true.


Thomas Tull, the head honcho of film financier Legendary Pictures says he will have a decision on whether or not the company will renew their co-financing deal with Warner Brothers within the next 60 days.

The fact that he's considering moving on, and Warner Brothers isn't bathing him with offers of cash, hookers, and blow to stay illustrates a dissonance in how the studios operate.

The studio, though cash rich, love to "poor mouth," and make partnerships with outside financiers to make movies. However, since they don't really need those financiers they tend to treat them like red-headed step-children riding rented mules. This treatment, and the studio's bordering on felonious accounting practices, mean that the bulk of studio-financier relations end sourly and often in litigation.

By all accounts the Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures partnership has done pretty damn well. Especially when it comes to breathing new life into DC's comic franchises that Warner Brothers had allowed to be outshone by Marvel.

From what I've been able to gather the biggest complaint Warner Brothers had about this partnership was that Legendary's super efficient script-to-movie development process made them look bad.

The fact that they'd prefer to let Legendary go rather than learn from their success says a lot about the state of the studio system.

1 comment:

  1. Something else I read about the Legendary situation is that the studio people viewed Tull as simply a guy who writes checks, whereas he and his team see an increasing crative role for themselves, based on their track record. For example, Tull fired the producers who brought the "Godzilla" remake to them, and is being sued for having done so- a tussle over creative control, not financing. So maybe it's not that the sudio doesn't want to learn, it's that it doesn't want to share control- basically a turf issue, the oldest one in the book.