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