Friday, 27 December 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1104: Floptopsy 2013!

2013 was a rough year for flops, some were big and really painful, damaging and ending careers, while others were smaller but no less illuminating when we try to uncover the root causes. So let's take a look at some of the biggest, try to figure out what went wrong, and maybe try to prevent it…

BUDGET: $225-$250 million 

BOX OFFICE:  $260,502,115

When you include the marketing costs the film lost somewhere between $150-$200 million. It was the final nail in the coffin of the relationship between Disney and mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

Why did it flop so badly?

1. It was a Western. Audiences these days only seem to enjoy westerns that are like True Grit, historically believable, well written, well directed and well acted, and not overwrought special effects heavy fantasias. There are lots of examples from Wild Wild West to Jonah Hex, but Disney didn't seem to care.

2. The franchise needed an archaeologist to find it. Let's face it, it's been decades since the Lone Ranger and his life partner Tonto even graced reruns on a regular basis. The kiddie ticket buyers didn't know it, and didn't care about it.

3. All it promised was over indulgence. Everyone involved, except Army Hammer, seemed interested only doing things they thought were cool. Depp got to wear weird outfits and talk funny, director Verbinski got to do overwrought stunts, effects, and other business, and Bruckheimer got to show everyone that no one can spend money more loosely than he could. There seemed absolutely no interest in giving the audience a story they could enjoy.

47 Ronin
Estimated Budget: $175 million
Box Office: So far pretty crappy.

Here's the pitch, let's take a beloved historical epic from another culture about honour, duty and revenge, and turn it into a blown out fantastical monstrosity that will offend fans of the original work and bore the crap out of everyone else since it seems to have no story beyond a bunch of people in groovy outfits fighting CG monsters.

Folks have seen it before, and need some narrative meat on the digitally rendered bones.

Beautiful Creatures
Estimated Budget: $65 million
Box Office: $60 million

This flick, while with an all-star supporting cast, and based on a popular YA series, failed to click with the target audience who were busy being all wrapped up in The Hunger Games, and was lost amid all the Harry Potter imitators.

Estimated Budget: $35 million
Box Office: $13.7 million

Based on a best-selling corporate espionage thriller by Joseph Finder, but the film flopped probably because star Liam "I'm Thor's Brother" Hemsworth, came across as a bit of a non-entity, and it was released to compete against the summer's big budget blockbusters, which were bound to drown out any film that doesn't involve a super-hero.

White House Down
Estimated Budget: $150 million
Box Office: $205 million

Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx have been doing pretty good at the box office in recent years, but this incoherent exercise in property-damage porn from Roland Emmerich had too much familiarity and too little entertainment to connect with audiences.

Machete Kills
Estimated Budget: $33 million
Box Office: $15 million

The first Machete movie was a box office after-thought clearing $44 million internationally, barely breaking even, when you include marketing and distribution. Which means that despite the chatter over the stunt casting of people like Lindsay Lohan, Lady GaGa, and Charlie Sheen, and the crass faux-grindhouse faux-silliness, the franchise really doesn't amount to much.

Estimated Budget: $18 million
Box Office: $10.5 million

The film was essentially sold as a cheap imitation of bigger and better films, lacking the sleazy cheesecake novelty of Spring Breakers, or the promise of anything but a pretty stale story that's been done dozens of times before. 

Bullet to the Head
Estimated Budget: $55 million
Box Office: $9.4 million

Sly Stallone has been a novelty act for a very long time, and audiences can only really take the presence of an overly steroided senior citizen if he's doing something amid a crowd of other old school action movie novelty acts.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Estimated Budget: $30 million
Box Office: $22.5 million

The film just didn't look right from the get-go. The script had more passes from more writers than a virgin at the International Lothario Convention, and Jim Carrey didn't help with his very public stances on controversial issues ranging from vaccines to gun control.

After Earth
Estimated Budget: $110 million
Box Office: $243.8 million

The film came across as Will Smith trying to make his decidedly uncharismatic son a movie star, peppered with a lot of semi-Scientological chatter, and absolutely no attempt at any scientific verisimilitude.

The poor kid, possibly crippled by affluenza, couldn't even raise enough emotion to look anything more than mildly inconvenienced in the poster art.

Estimated Budget: $30 million
Box Office: $4 million

Spoiler alert. The entire film is premised on an elaborate revenge conspiracy that takes decades of criminal activity, dozens of people, and millions of dollars to trick a man into having sex with his daughter.

That was seen as an out-of-the-blue twist in the original, but a remake loses the novelty. Plus audiences are still iffy on the whole Josh Brolin as a leading man thing.

Estimated Budget: $130 million
Box Office: $78.3 million

Too much money was spent on adapting a comic book that very few outside of hardcore comic readers even heard of. The ad campaign can be summed up as "Guy from True Grit, and Guy From Green Lantern In Mash Up Of Men In Black With Ghostbusters With Lots of Boring CGI Carnage."

Jack the Giant Slayer
Estimated Budget: $195 million
Box Office: $197.5 million

A story everyone knows heavily laden with CGI that everyone has seen before. Not much of a selling point.

The Fifth Estate
Estimated Budget: $28 million
Box Office: $8.5 million

Ender's Game
Estimated Budget: $115 million
Box Office: $87.9 million

A cult sci-fi novel that's loaded with all sorts of discussion of morality, war, and the rights of man and the state gets sold as a form of Hunger Games in space with the CGI put front and centre. 

The problem is that CGI is only a selling point when the audience knows the franchise as a vehicle for telling entertaining stories. If they're not as familiar with the original source material, it looks like just another overblown knock-off. 

Battle of the Year
Estimated Budget: $20 million
Box Office: $13.7 million

Anyone who admits to seeing a movie as a starring vehicle for brat-bully Chris Brown should be publicly shamed.

Tyler Perry Presents Peeples
Estimated Budget: $15 million
Box Office: $9.3 million

No one man can be on top forever, and there's a point when putting your name on everything can be seen as ego stroking and eventually turn off even the most hard-core fans.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1103: Be Careful What You Wish For...

I'm sure you've probably heard about Phil Robertson of the A&E Network's flagship reality show Duck Dynasty. The bearded patriarch stated in an interview that he views homosexuality a sin, and while most media outlets said he compared it to bestiality, he actually compared to all sorts of sins, including heterosexual promiscuity, and he also said that the Bible says he had to love all people regardless of their sinning ways.

GLAAD freaked out, A&E panicked, and they suspended Roberston from the show, which will probably lead to its cancellation since the rest of the family won't go on without him, and they don't need A&E to be rich.

Around the same time a minor PR flack named Justine Sacco dropped the sort of tasteless "edgy" joke that a friend reminded me was like something Sarah Silverman gets paid to say on a daily basis.

Over the next 12 hours the joke was picked up by various websites and she was declared public enemy number one, and she lost her job, and probably won't be able to get another one for many, many years.

A little later Steve Martin made a joke on twitter, that, although I never saw it before it was deleted, was interpreted as some as racist. Martin has spent the time since then deleting the tweet, defending himself, and his livelihood, while apologizing profusely for giving anyone any offence.

Now folks are saying that this is a good thing. People must learn that words that offend or hurt the feelings of others have consequences, and that this is not censorship since it doesn't involve government action.

Well, be careful what you wish for, because it's happened before and folks weren't too keen on it when it did happen.

Now you might be furrowing your brow in a feeble attempt to understand, but give me a minute to explain.

The time I'm talking about occurred not that long ago, and has been clouded a lot by myth and misunderstanding.

I'm talking about the Hollywood Blacklist.

Now you might be tempted to say: "Hey, that's different, that was Senator Joe McCarthy, and the US Government doing that, not private citizens!"

And you would be mostly wrong.

In the late 1940s the House Un-American Activities Committee of the US Congress did investigate the leftist political views of people in show business. The Hollywood Ten were jailed for refusing to cooperate but that's not the whole story.

Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy's committee didn't target Hollywood in the way popular imagination claims he did. His bipartisan hearings were over government officials and military personnel working for the "reds," and it was others in the Democrat controlled who held hearings over Hollywood.

However, the government did not order the blacklist. Legally it couldn't enforce any sort of blacklist.

The blacklist was created by private "political action" groups who published pamphlets with titles like Red Channels, that pointed the finger at Hollywood people, and threatened boycotts and public protests shaming the whole corporation as "reds."

The studios, fearing the threatened boycotts and protests, and wanting to survive with a minimum of hassle just went along.

They had too much to lose by not going along.

People lost their livelihoods and had their dreams destroyed because someone declared that something they said, done, or believed in offended them.

Now some may say that it's different, but in reality, it's just window dressing. The folks waving the virtual  torches and pitchforks are saying that they're doing it to combat hate against the LGBT community, ethnic minorities, and other groups. 

That's all well and good, but remember, the publishers of Red Channels thought they were combating the hatred of democracy and the American way of life.

Yes, words have consequences but so does trying to squash words in the name of some political goal, no matter how noble you might think that goal is. 

If you don't like what someone says or believes, you can say that person is an asshole, and refuse to buy their product, or watch their shows. However, when you start demanding that people be fired, taken off the air, or otherwise publicly punished in the virtual stocks for what they said or believe, then you're treading on a thin tightrope. A lot of bad things can happen on a tightrope, you can fall off, it can be cut out from under you, or your enemies can use it to hang you.

So lesson is to pick your battles and be extremely careful what you wish for, because you might just get it, and then some.

And on that upbeat note I bid you all a Merry Christmas.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1102: This Post Was Written By Shia LaBeouf.

In case you've been living in a cave I'll give you the gist of the story.  Actor Shia LaBeouf made a short film about film critics and put it out online. In the time it took to watch it people were saying it was a rip-off of something done by cartoonist Daniel Clowes. LaBeouf apologized was accused of ripping off his apology and the pit of embarrassment got just a little bit deeper for him.

To be honest, I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often.

We live in the age of the actor being presented to us, the audience, as the culture's premiere creative force. If you go by just the mainstream media's coverage of most cultural issues, you might believe that actors are responsible for just about everything you see on stage and screen.

It's only a matter of time before the actors started believing it too.

That was total horse-hockey, but she believes it, because she's a celebrity, and no one really contradicts a celebrity to their face, and if you did, it still doesn't count because they only listen to other celebrities.

Which puts a whole new spin on Hollywood's obsession with remakes.

Maybe the studios aren't doing them because they're remakes, maybe Hollywood's stars are pitching them old movies as their own original ideas?

That's scarily plausible.

Anyhoo… Some actors are actually creative people. They write, they direct, they paint, they do music, and they do many other things without plagiarism.

Other actors though, are a different story.

Some actors are pretty much incapable of doing anything that isn't spoon fed to them by writers, directors, producers, and the members of their agency/managment /publicity machine. They exist solely as interpreters, a wonderful endeavour in itself if you're good at it, but it's not the same as creating something literally from nothing.

However, the combo of method acting mythology and the almost non-stop media adoration has convinced legions of interpreters that they are creators when they're not.

Some try their hands at creating, and when their magnum opii get laughed at they learn their lesson, and get back to being interpreters. 

Some try, get laughed at, and don't learn their lesson. 

And some, like Shia, commit plagiarism, and it is believable that it could be unintentional, and I'm assuming that only the intervention of most actor's management machine keeps such things from happening almost daily.

I guess you could say that I pity Mr. LaBeouf.

I'll still pick on him though, because it's a lot of fun.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1101: Call The Bomb Squad

Today I'm putting on my psychic hat, which is an oversized sombrero, and tapping beyond the realms of the five normal senses to peer through the mists of time and see into the future.

I'm am looking through time and space and I see… TWO BOMBS!

Whoa, that was scary… I guess I better tell you what I saw.

The first thing I saw was plans by Warner Brothers to reboot Gilligan's Island as a feature film starring vehicle for comic actor Josh Gad who is best known to New Yorkers and tourists for being in Broadway's Book of Mormon, and to the rest of the country as "that guy" from numerous movie comedies and as the "idiot son" from the flopped sitcom 1600 Penn.

Now I'm not talking about Vince Gilligan's Island, a magical place inhabited by aliens, conspiracies and meth-cooking science teachers, I'm talking the other Gilligan's Island.

The other Gilligan's Island was a bit of 1960s nonsense that succeeded thanks to the extreme stupidity of children and the severe limitations on entertainment choices that existed well into the 1990s.

If you don't remember it was a sitcom about a group of people who left Hawaii on a three hour tour with a mysteriously inordinate amount of luggage, get caught in a storm and end up stranded on a uninhabited island. Each episode had basically the same plot, the castaways would encounter someone, or something that might get them off the island. After some hijinks their chance to return to civilization and avoid their inevitable fate of cannibalism and murder would be ruined by Gilligan, the tour boat's fumbling, bumbling first mate.

The show lasted for three seasons, getting solid ratings, mostly with young audiences, but was canceled to make room for Gunsmoke's expanded run time.

The show enjoyed an after-life in syndication in the 1970s and 1980s where it was run in after school time-slots, and most kids only had three channels to choose from. This success led to some pretty horrible reunion specials, but eventually it faded into obscurity, buried by the rise in choice and quality in the television market, only a faint memory in the minds of late-baby-boomers.

So why is Warner Brothers doing a movie based on a show that has come to represent the low standards we used to suffer through because we didn't know any better?

Because they're scared.

Original concepts scare them, because a flop based on an original idea can get you fired. However, if you green-light a flop from something the company already owns, that was associated with success at sometime in the past, then you can claim that you did your due diligence and hedged your bets, so you can keep your bloated expense account.

Let's look at the other bomb I saw coming our way…

The Sundance Channel's announced that they're developing Cold Dead Hands, a drama series about a fictional head of the National Rifle Association.

For those who don't know the National Rifle Association or NRA was founded in 1871 by Civil War veterans out to promote marksmanship and gun safety.

From the 1870s to the 1960s the role changed, first into a front for pro-Union and African-American rights organisations to meet in hostile southern states without getting attacked by the Ku Klux Klan, to a powerful gun-rights lobby group and font of all evil for the political left.

Which brings me to the show.

The Sundance Channel, much like the Sundance Festival that spawned it, is seen by Mr. & Mrs. Average American viewer as basically something created by Hollywood to make Hollywood feel better about itself. This show reeks of the exact same thing, and will mostly likely fall into the trap of the OFFEND/BORE MATRIX.

You see, something as politically charged as a channel founded by Robert Redford producing a show about the NRA, can only fail. This is because those who don't think the NRA is the font of all evil will feel insulted and offended, and those who do think the NRA is the font of all evil will be bored, because it'll just be a regurgitation of everything they read about the NRA in the New Republic.

Why bother watching it?
So why did it get the green-light for at least a pilot?

The cynical version is that those who run the Sundance Channel must feel a need to give their street cred a boost with a noble failure, and get supportive pats on the back from their peers at the next political fundraiser at George Clooney's beach house.

The rose-coloured glasses version is that the people running the channel really think this will turn the American people completely for gun control. But no one in Hollywood is that rosy.

That's what I think, what do you think?

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1100: Weekend Wemake Woundup!

Got some remake news to discuss, so let's get started…


Fox has announced that they're joining forces with Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions to produce a remake of their 1974 hit adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1934 novel Murder On The Orient Express.

For those who have lived in a cave the Christie novel follows Belgian master detective Hercule Poirot going from Istanbul to Calais on the legendary Orient Express. The train gets trapped in the snow in the Balkans, a shady businessman with a shadier past is brutally murdered, and Poirot has to sort through a gallery of exotic suspects to get to the truth.

As previously mentioned it was first produced in 1974, directed by Sidney Lumet and had an all-star cast led by Albert Finney in the role of Poirot, and was a commercial and critical success. A second modern-dress adaptation was done for CBS TV in 2001, with Alfred Molina as Poirot, but it wasn't very well received.

The most recent adaptation was in 2010 as part of the ITV/WGBH-TV Poirot TV series which has been running off and on since the early 1990s. This version starred British actor David Suchet as Poirot.

Now I think it's interesting that blockbuster mavens like Fox and Scott are interested in a period film that despite its large cast, takes place almost entirely on a train. That could make it an affordable production if they don't go all "A-List" on the casting.

Speaking of casting…

The role of Poirot is a very tricky one to translate to film. He's a very odd character, an eccentric, anal-retentive, obsessive compulsive, egocentric genius with a thick Belgian accent and a tendency to malapropism with a hyper-fastidious fashion sense that is considered old fashioned by 1934, that makes him easy to parody and hard to portray straight.

Albert Finney got an Oscar nomination for it, and Peter Ustinov played a popular, if less eccentric, variation of the character on the big and little screen, but it was David Suchet who came to define the role pulling off the appearance, mannerisms, and charm of the character without looking ridiculous.

Of course that's if the producers have any notion to take this project remotely faithfully. There is always a good chance that they'll cast Will Smith as rapping  & ass kicking American detective "Hercules P" and change the Orient Express from a train to a spaceship full of aliens.


Paramount has signed comic actor Ed Helms to star as Lieutenant Frank Drebin in a reboot of the absurdist comedy classic The Naked Gun, which itself was a reboot of the prematurely canceled TV series Police Squad.

Now I find it interesting that they cast the star of the Hangover movies for this reboot, which was the complete opposite strategy that made the original so successful.

People don't remember what it was like to see Leslie Nielsen, the original Frank Drebin, play that character. Before his roles in Airplane! and Police Squad/Naked Gun Nielsen was best known as a dramatic actor in movies and especially television. He played serious, if not downright sombre, authority figures like senior cops, doctors, or sinister criminals.

He was not known for doing silly things, in fact his image, forged by decades of TV guest spots, was the exact opposite. So seeing him engaging in all that silliness was a refreshing novelty. It gave him a second career as an international box office star at an age when most actors are considering retirement.

People expect Ed Helms to do silly things, that's his image. That means no real surprises from this film, which doesn't bode well for its success. Which is sad when they could have done a straight up police procedural parody under another name, and not have the shadow of Nielsen hanging over it.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1099: We Have Another Question!

An anonymous reader who shall now be known as Dirty Dingus McGee asked a question…
I do have a tangental question in regards to the above mentioned movie (Disney/Pixar's Frozen).. why does it cost $150 MILLION to make a Computer Generated Cartoon?! $150 MILLION DOLLARS for an animation that w/ the assistance of computers 80% shown was done without the hand of man! Where the flub is all that dough going into?
Because computer generated cartoons depend heavily on the hands of humans.

Let's look at just some of the costs that went into making the movie.

Script development.

Music development. (Original songs, background score, etc.)


Cast salaries.

Recording time. (including engineer and technician salaries).

Art direction (character design, set and prop design).

Programming the characters, props & settings into the computers.

Tech research & development (Pixar developed new technology to animate realistic snow & ice).

Production staff salaries. (Paperwork must be done.)

Animation staff salaries. (Remember every pixel of every frame has to be put there by someone, probably multiple times as takes are changed and redone during production, this requires dozens, if not hundreds of people and they don't make minimum wage.)

Musician salaries.

Computer hardware & facilities that outstrips the entire computing power used by NASA in the 1990s.

Maintaining & repairing computer hardware.

And about a million other things that all cost money, and...

Many of these costs can stretch out over a period of several YEARS. Because the chief thing a budget buys a production is TIME, and animation, even computer animation takes a lot of time, and therefore money, to do on the scale and quality that Disney/Pixar is known for.

So while I can understand your shock, by Hollywood standards $150,000,000 is the new normal.

(Correction: I've been alerted that Pixar was not involved in this production. They were too busy making another sequel to Cars.)

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1098: Musicals, Apples & Apple Juice.

NBC recently had a ratings smash with The Sound of Music Live starring Carrie Underwood as Maria Von Trapp. Its success has spawned two things:

1. NBC is going to do a live musical next year, possibly a production of Cabaret starring Miley Cyrus as Sally Bowles, and David Hasselhoff as the Emcee.

2. People love to snark about how Carrie Underwood did a great job at singing the part, but her acting proved she was no Julie Andrews who starred in the 1965 movie version.

Now I decided right away to not snark about Carrie Underwood's acting, mainly because comparing her to Julie Andrews was not a case of comparing apples to oranges, but apples to apple juice.

Let me clarify.

Julie Andrews is the
Carrie Underwood is the
apple juice.

See, it's perfectly clear.

What? You still don't get what I'm getting at, you're not hep to my groove?

Fine, I'll explain some more.

Julie Andrews is an apple, because by the time she did the defining portrayal of Maria Von Trapp in 1965 she had been an experienced performer on Broadway and London's West End. She had training, and had been singing and performing since she was 10 years old.

Underwood is the apple juice since she has spent most of her career as just a singer, and her acting resume is comparatively thin, consisting of a few cameos, usually as a variation of herself. It also took a hell of a lot of courage to dive into performing a musical, one of the toughest gigs in acting, broadcast live to the world, something that's only been done rarely since the early 1950s.

Now do you see what I'm getting at?

Experience, talent, and the comfort of shooting a feature film with multiple takes makes Julie Andrews the apple, a complete package as a performer.

Inexperience, a lack of training, doing it on live TV with no second takes, but a strong singing voice made Carrie Underwood the apple juice. Sweet,  pleasant, reminds you of apples, but not really a complete apple, just part of one.

And that's why I cut Ms. Underwood some slack.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1097: We Have A Question...

Hello everyone, glad you could make it.

Sorry for the light blogging lately, a mix of slow news, Christmas duties & extreme sloth on my part.

Anyhoo… we have a question.
The author composing his answer

The question came up in reference to a piece someone did on the decline of movie poster art, and I mentioned that a lot of fan-made poster art was much more interesting than the professional graphics coming from the studios, who seem scared of doing anything more than just showing you the reason the movie got made.* 

That inspired this question:

Nate Winchester-  
Why can't studios utilize fans better?  Like getting fans to make better posters for the movie?  There's a lot of work out there being done for beloved properties that the studios could probably get for a song (win a contest, get your name in lights!) yet they don't bother with it.  Purely cliquish behavior or something more?

It's a bit of cliquish behaviour, but there is something more to it all. Let's break it down into easily edible chunks.

1. UNIONS: Most jobs in Hollywood are covered and regulated by various guilds, unions, and associations. Many are closed shops that required you to have qualified credits to become a member, but you can't get qualified credits without membership. Something that might result in someone who isn't already in the industry having the precious "in" to enter the industry without them making the final decision is simply not done. They have to protect their membership and their jobs.

2. WORK: Sorting through all the fan-made submissions, past the rip offs, the ones made from the artist's own faeces, the ones done in crayon, and the just plain bad ones, to find the real gems is a hell of a lot of work.

Everyone is Hollywood is way too busy to do that.

That's a fact because that's what they tell you. Time is money, and they don't have the time or the money, or the calories to burn doing that.

Then there's…

3. LEGAL: Let's imagine that you're doing a poster contest for fans of a specific franchise. Winner gets a nice cheque and their posters in theatres worldwide.

Fan A wins the grand prize. Hurray for Fan A, right?

Not if Fan B thinks that Fan A's work was a rip-off of his work.

It doesn't matter is Fan B's poster looked nothing like Fan A's because Fan B's lawyer has filed the $50 million lawsuit in Podunk County where juries are notorious for awarding fat judgements on behalf of the "little guy" whether they deserve it or not. This means that the studio has to either fight it, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and risk losing huge, or settle for hundreds of thousands of dollars to make Fan B go away.

Best to keep everything in house with people who are already in the industry and avoid that potential trap completely.


*Glamour shots of the movie's stars, shots of comic book heroes in dramatic poses, or the use of the same composition used in a dozen earlier posters.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1096: Methinks He Doth Shill Too Much...

Congratulations to Will Ferrell.

He has done what you might think of as the impossible, he has officially made me totally sick and tired of a movie before it was even released.

That movie is Anchorman 2, the sequel to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and he is shilling it on a level unseen in living memory. He's going on local news programs "guest anchoring" in the character of Ron Burgundy, doing interviews in the character of Ron Burgundy, and essentially making himself an almost constant presence in the media sphere.

Now some are saying that it's because Will Ferrell is dedicated to his work and wants everyone to know how wonderful this movie is going to be.

I disagree.

I think it's desperation on the part of Ferrell and the studio.

Need proof?

Look at Ferrell's box office record, it's a mixed bag with some huge flops, like Land of the Lost, and some hits that range from big like Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby ($178 million), to modest like The Campaign ($86,000).

But there's a catch.

And it's a big catch.

That catch is money.

Remember this little formula when it comes to determining if a film is a money-maker or not.

The theatres keep 50% of the box office receipts. What's left is called the "Rental" and goes to the distributor/studio who paid for the movie.

For a film to make a profit it has to beat not only its production budget, but also its marketing budget, which can be in the tens of millions of dollars.

The average Will Ferrell comedy has an average budget of between $70 million to $100 million, and an average marketing budget of anywhere between $30 million to $70 million.

This means that a film has to pull in at least twice its production budget to break even, and three times its production budget to be considered a hit.

That means that at best Will Ferrell's biggest hits have broken even at best, and lost money most of the time. In fact, I suspect the last Will Ferrell film to pull a real profit was…

It was a small film by studio standards with a budget of only $26 million and a comparatively modest marketing budget since the studio treated it as an afterthought, and it pulled in just under $90 million making it a sleeper moneymaker, and its second life on home video and cable reruns only added to its mystique.

Ferrell has a lot to lose if the studios realize that he doesn't put butts in seats the way he claims, and that his biggest moneymakers, Elf and Anchorman 1, may have been more more flukes than anything else.