I had some personal matters to attend to last weekend which prevented me from going. Christel’s birthday is on Friday so this weekend will probably be spent spoiling her more than she already is.
He’s a Little Monster? Respect.
One of the ways the studios survive box office flops is that it’s not all their own money.
Hollywood and Film Financiers: A Torrid Love Affair Hits a Rocky Road
At the stroke of midnight on July 18, the slate financing deal between Sony Pictures and LStar Capital came to an unceremonious and premature end when LStar didn’t send in the money covering its 25 percent investment, amounting to $12.5 million, in The Emoji Movie, which opens July 28.
It was just the latest crack-up in the ongoing, and often contentious, relationship between outside money and Hollywood. All the major studios — except for Disney — rely on third-party money to partially bankroll many of their movies, especially big-budget projects. But as the box office serves up an increasing number of misses, some key investors are retreating altogether, like LStar, or finding themselves in financial straits, as is the case with Village Roadshow Pictures. China is an expanding source of financing, but as the Chinese government puts a hold on money leaving the country, studios — like Paramount, which has been counting on a $1 billion slate deal — could be left in the lurch.
Hollywood has a long history of attracting new investors, only to see them look for the door when they become disillusioned. The allure of the bright lights fades as the reality of how tough the film business can be sets in.
“Slate deals are a good way to spread the risk around,” says Wall Street analyst Eric Handler of MKM Partners. "But rarely has the performance of these funds over the past 10 years been profitable. Some call it dumb money. You saw Wall Street funds, Japan money, German funds and then China, where there’s now a crackdown."
Does this mean that the studios could start putting out less films? Or is it simply a given that they’ll make up their funding elsewhere?
It’s likely it’ll carry on as normal as new people get enticed by the glamour. I suppose it’s a bit like sports teams, they burn through millionaires who mostly end up losing money because they love the idea of having their own football team.
How ‘47 Meters Down’ Went From Potential Home Video Obscurity to $40M-Plus Box-Office Hit
When 47 Meters Down was released on June 16, the shark thriller, in which Mandy Moore and Claire Holt star as two sisters on a diving expedition gone horribly wrong, took an unexpectedly large bite out of the domestic box office.
Its opening weekend of $12 million wasn’t at all bad for a $5 million to $6 million indie — shot by writer-director Johannes Roberts, mostly in a water tank in the decidedly unglamorous British town of Basildon (exteriors were done in the Dominican Republic) — and a film that had unceremoniously been served a C rating by CinemaScore.
The following week, 47 Meters Down didn’t just manage to avoid sinking, but actually rose a place — from fifth to fourth, leapfrogging All Eyez on Me, while week three saw the film drop just 34 percent, the best hold of any film in the top 10. A month from launch, it currently boasts a domestic haul of more than $42 million, a major achievement given its early tracking of around $13 million to $14 million.
“But there was never any theatrical release commitment or requirement under their deal,” says Godfrey. “The film was made at a budget that was really positioned as a high-end home entertainment movie with the potential for theatrical.”
However, after the film was shot in 2015, the positive reaction from test screenings convinced Fyzz — which Godfrey set up in 2010 with Robert Jones — that 47 Meters Down deserved a shot in cinemas.
Adding to the complications, June 2016 also saw the release of another shark survival thriller. The Shallows, starring Blake Lively, did phenomenal business, earning some $55 domestically ($119 million worldwide) off a $17 million budget.
Enter Entertainment Studios, the TV production and distribution banner of former stand-up Byron Allen. Allen had established the company in 1993, initially to make comedy shows, but it had grown over the years to become the largest independent producer/distributor of first-run syndicated programming for broadcast TV. In October 2015, it made a major move into film with the acquisition of indie distributor Freestyle Releasing.
Following weeks of discussions, on the exact day of the original release on Aug. 2, 2016 and as DVDs were in trucks and on their way to stores (in some cases they were already on shop shelves), a deal was finally closed between Dimension and Entertainment Studios — reportedly for seven figures — that would alter the course for 47 Meters Down.
Not only was Entertainment Studios prepared to wait until June 2017, but it backed up its commitment to 47 Meters Down with a promise of a 2,500-screen launch and major P&A spend (Godfrey says the company spent more than $30 million on the release).
Like any true thriller, it wasn’t exactly a smooth ride to get there. Godfrey admits that he had a “dramatic few days,” and the film’s foreign sales agent, Altitude, had to jump on the phones to convince the foreign buyers — which included eOne in the U.K. and Square One in Germany — to come on board and hold off on the film’s release.
“If you make an investment in 2013, 2014 to buy a movie, thinking you’re getting it in 2016, then are held back for another year, that can create massive problems for your internal cash flow and budgeting,” he admits. “So we’re very grateful.”
Looking back now, the decision to wait also benefited from some good fortune, with Mandy Moore receiving a sizeable career boost thanks to NBC’s acclaimed This Is Us.
“It’s a great story,” says Godfrey, who is now working on upcoming Fyzz productions including the Rosamund Pike, Joel Kinnaman and Clive Owen-starring Three Seconds, as well as Final Score, starring Dave Bautista and Pierce Brosnan, alongside its slate of investments, which he says will hit around $150 million this year (recent films include Wind River and Martin Scorsese’s Silence).
"We’re not pretending this is the best film ever made, but it’s a fun summer thrill ride. And everyone’s made money, everyone’s won. The conversation now starts about whether there’ll be another one."
As to whether there will be a sequel to 47 Meters Down, Godfrey says: "It looks like we’re working toward it."
A co-worker has seen it, and wasn’t really impressed, but they’ve done a fine job making it into a successful release.
It actually got released on DVD in some places before they had it recalled; people are trying to get crazy money for copies on eBay:
At $26.75 a Movie Ticket, Luxury `Dunkirk’ Gives Hollywood Hope
At $26.75 each, tickets for 70-millimeter screenings of “Dunkirk” at Universal City in Los Angeles are among the most expensive in the country. Splurge for popcorn and a soda and you’re in for more than $40.
Yet the moviegoing elite has been clamoring to see the World War II epic on 125 specially outfitted U.S. theaters designed to show the feature the way director Christopher Nolan wanted – on an extra big screen using conventional film projectors that render better pictures than today’s digital variety. No 3-D glasses, no vibrating chairs.
The turnout shows some fans are willing to pay up for movies that deliver the visual goods and the drama. For the opening weekend, sales at Imax Corp.'s 31 specially outfitted 70-millimeter theaters were more than double what the company’s regular screens brought in. Imax accounted for a quarter of domestic sales for “Dunkirk,” according to company executives who said on a call Wednesday they’re starting to de-emphasize once-popular 3-D movies.
“This is something you have got to experience in the theater,” Craig Dehmel, head of global distribution at Imax, said in an interview. "We will run ‘Dunkirk’ on Imax screens into August and will continue to play it throughout the month, as long as moviegoers continue to seek it out."
The high price for “Dunkirk,” which averages $15 per ticket across all Imax locations, is a rare bit of good news for exhibitors, who’ve suffered falling attendance during a summer of lackluster movie releases. Because of stagnant domestic box-office sales in recent years, studios are pushing to bring new movies into homes sooner, potentially cutting the three months of exclusivity theaters enjoy. Most of the theater stocks are down this year.
That’s despite big investments in bigger screens, plush seating, improved sound, and digital projectors that both lower costs and enable the new generation of 3-D superhero and animated films.
Theater owners and Hollywood studios have been looking for innovative ways to draw movie fans from the comfort of their homes as digital distributors like Netflix start to make their own movies. Imax shares fell 3.4% Thursday after missing second-quarter revenue estimates on Wednesday, a shortfall the company attributed to a poor slate of films.
The downside for filmmakers is the cameras are much larger and the cost of producing film reels is high. Most cinemas have moved to digital projectors, and movies captured on digital cameras. And with $126.5 million from theaters thus far, according to Box Office Mojo, “Dunkirk” is only a modest hit, especially considering its budget of $150 million. The film topped the box office last weekend and is expected to return in second place this weekend.
On Thursday night, the 70-millimeter screening at Universal CityWalk was almost sold out. In all, Time Warner’s Warner Bros. arranged for 155 theaters around the world to show the special large-screen version of “Dunkirk” with conventional film projectors. In Los Angeles, the price was almost four times the average movie price of $8.94, according to data from National Association of Theatre Operators.
“The consumer is willing to pay for a premium experience,” said Jeff Goldstein, head of domestic distribution at distributor Warner Bros. “The consumer is going after something they can’t experience elsewhere.”
Interesting but worrying that (IMO) the exhibitors are drawing the same conclusion they did over the return of 3D, and for the same reasons.
“The consumer is willing to pay for a premium experience,” said Jeff Goldstein, head of domestic distribution at distributor Warner Bros. "The consumer is going after something they can’t experience elsewhere.
Some consumers and for some films.
They’re seeing a boost in attendance for a movie, in a particular format, and convincing themselves that other movies can get the same boost if they copy the format. So where once they wanted as many films in 3d as possible, now it seems they’re going to want more films in 70mm/Imax.
And the reason they want this is because the alternative is an acceptance that cinema attendance will continue to drop. No-one wants to believe that their business is going to be a casualty of a changing world.
Cinema was cheap and it had no competition. But now neither of those things is true and, rather than try to lower ticket costs, they’re looking for any way they can justify higher prices.
I love going to the cinema but I’m increasingly skipping theatrical for some films and looking for cheaper tickets for the rest.
I don’t think I’m the only one doing that and bringing back 70mm isn’t going to reverse the trend.
Yup exactly. I will be seeing Dunkirk in Imax later this week because Nolan has spent a huge effort in preparing the movie for that format and I consider him one of the best directors working. I’m not going to translate that into seeing every film in that more expensive format. In fact the last one I did was Star Wars: TFA which was 18 months ago.
I’m still planning to wait and watch Dunkirk on my iPad sometime in the winter.
I’m surprised, I thought you’d just go for a phone. Thus proving the ‘widescreen’ argument.
I’m saving it for my Apple Watch.
An interesting article in GQ interviewing a collection of filmmakers (photographed in sharp clothes, complete with where you can buy them, because it’s GQ). They cover a lot of ground but I thought this bit from Edgar Wright was interesting;
Wright: It’s a Trojan Horse effect. The studio has been very supportive of Baby Driver, but the general sense is that with the more original, cutting-edge, idiosyncratic things in the film they’re like, “That’s all great, but can we cut together a trailer with car chases and shootouts?” They were very specific about it: “We need five trailer shots.” If you can give people a commercial trailer then you can sneak in all this other stuff.
And then he follows that up with;
Wright: By the way, when we started screening Baby Driver— after hammering us about “What are the action shots? What are the trailer shots?”—now they were all saying, “The action’s great, but how can we get across some of the more original parts of the movie?” You get the feeling that they’re always hedging against the movie being terrible. They think, “Well, listen, if the movie’s a bomb, at least we can cut this together, or make a poster?” I try to be much more optimistic. Like, “But what if the movie is good?”
Which is nice on his part, but he’s not paying for it. They’re footing the bill so they’re hoping for the best, but definitely preparing for the worst.
Absolutely they footbthe bill, and more often than not movies are losing propositions if they’re new properties. It’s hard to sell new, as at the end of the day going to the cinema is a big deal for most families.
It’s always going to be the way though, there’s always a bit of a battle between the art and commerce sides. The money men have to think like that but if the director went in with the mindset his film might fail that would probably be pretty disastrous too.
Ying and yang.
At least in this instance they seem to have reached the right balance as the movie has had great reviews and it’s currently grossing 4 times its budget.
I wonder if in Renaissance times artists were promising great works of sculpture and paintings that would amaze and then they delivered the 16th century equivalent of the Lone Ranger.
Sure and then their benefactor had them put to death.
I would definitely want to watch a movie about this scenario.
It’d be like a 16th century version of Ed Wood.