Sunday, March 23, 2014

Analyst Porn

Mr. Peabody and Sherman is already a flop. A stock guy told me so.

... “Analyst: ‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman‘ May Cause $84 Million Write-Down at DreamWorks Animation" presents the opinions of one media analyst as gospel. I would argue that the problem with pieces like this, especially when dealing with films whose overall box office fate is very much up in the air and especially when the opinion of “ media analysts” is trumped as “news”, is that they create the impression of failure right out of the gate, which in turn has a negative influence on the people who read said articles. If you tell people that 300: Rise of an Empire and/or Mr. Peabody and Sherman are disappointments after opening weekend, it creates an impression in the would-be viewer’s mind that said films are not worth their time. ...

The $32 million debut of Mr. Peabody and Sherman is not good news, but its analysis must take into account the somewhat surprising legs of Warner Bros.’ The LEGO Movie and Walt Disney’s un-killable Frozen from last November. We have little idea of how the film will play out both domestically (I seem to be in the minority in disliking it) and internationally. The fact that 20th Century Fox is opening their next Blue Sky animated film, Rio 2, in much of the world starting March 20th in advance of its April 11th domestic debut won’t help and Mr. Peabody and Sherman will be open in most of its territories by March 27th. I wouldn’t be terribly optimistic about Mr. Peabody and Sherman‘s box office chances, but nor would I shout that it’s a massive bomb just after its not-great domestic opening weekend. ...

I think Fox is ill-advised to roll out its wholly-owned Rio 2 so close to P & S, but what do I know? They want to depress grosses of films in which they have a stake, up to them. (P & S's second weekend first-place finish clearly means nothing.)

The issue for DWA is, until they're more broadly diversified, every time they release a picture DreamWorks staffers will be biting their nails, worrying about those first weekend grosses. It's kind of difficult to hit a four-bagger every time you come to bat, but where else except Cartoonland is a $300 million global gross considered awful? (I guess in a business segment where you've convinced people that $500 million and up is the norm.)

H/t President Emeritus Tom Sito.

4 comments:

Bob Foster said...

Scott Mendelson is exactly right. Well said, well done.

I'll add this about media analysts and box office pundits:

Dear Box Office Pundit:

Apparently the only movies worth seeing are those that are #1 at the box office and only if they make $85 million opening weekend and crush the competition thereafter. Nothing else is worthy of consideration and might as well vacate the theaters and turn the venue over to the current #1 movie du jour so it can become a bigger #1.

Pretty much every weekend a new picture is released and, shockingly, it's usually #1 at the box office. Until next weekend when a new movie is released. What lunacy.

Y'know, most movies are pretty damn good. Even #2, #3 and #10. They can't all be #1, and the viewing audience can't go to all of them opening night. Sometimes they go see the other movies they want to see on Monday, or maybe next weekend. Just because an excellent movie came out the same day as another excellent movie doesn't mean one of them sucks. It just means there were two excellent movies that came out at the same time.

At the Academy Awards™, what the difference between #1 and #2, 3, 4, 5? One vote? Does that make #2 a crappy movie?

I've made viewing choices, deciding to go see one movie one weekend and another movie next weekend. Sometimes the movie I choose to see the second weekend is so good, I'll go see it again, and take a friend. Why is it the only barometer of excellence is box office totals? 12 Years a Slave didn't make nearly as much at the box office as some other great movies last year, but, boy, did it deserve the Oscar™ for Best Picture! It was a much better movie than most of the big box office earners - it just didn't make as much. (A paltry $172 million on a budget of about $20 million.)

Should we stop making great movies because they might not be #1 at the box office?

How does one get to be a Box Office Pundit anyway? Do they go to Pundit School and get a Master's Degree in Box Office Punditry? An MBOP? I guess that would qualify someone to foresee the impending failure of a movie more than any of the hundreds of excellent writers, artists, actors, directors and producers who've actually been making movies for a lot of years. How does one windy pundit with too much public access outweigh the thoughts and opinions of all those people who go see movies having never heard of said pundit, much less never read any of his gaseous jibber-jabber?

Makes you wonder how movie studios manage to survive with all the box office flops they crank out.

Floyd Norman said...

Well said, Bob.

What a crazy business, eh? I often wonder why studios keep making movies since all of them appear to be money losers? Films that gross millions are deemed flops. It would appear we've entered a new kind of box office insanity where only the opening weekend matters.

Moronic.

Jerry Beck said...

I posted this comment on Facebook a few days ago, but its worth repeating here: Hollywood "pundits" traditionally make predictions based on a film's opening day performance. However, families (and younger kids) don't run out to see animated films on Friday afternoon. MR. Peabody is going to gross well over $200 million (combined domestic and international) by later this week - and please do not forget that theatrical is the tip of the iceberg as far as future revenues are concerned (TV, DVD, Netflix, etc.).

Have you ever noticed when an animated film comes in anything less than #1 at the box office on the week it first opens, it's declared a failure.

On the other hand, when an animated film comes in at #1 on its opening week (especially non-Disney or Pixar) it is treated as a complete surprise.

Hollywood is not rooting for animation to "win". We are second class citizens. We have to work double/triple hard to earn our keep.

Jeremy Darensbourg said...

In Hollywood today, it's ALL about "Franchise"! Hunger Games, Hobbit, Anything Marvel, Spider-Man, James Bond, Fast & Furious, Transformers, ect. Animation is no different. Shrek, Madagascar, Kung-Fu Panda, HttyD, Toy Story, Cars, Monsters Inc./U, Nemo, Ice Age, & of course Minions! It's hard to release a new film with no franchise connections & it being a massive hit. Gravity & Inception are your best examples of this. What Peabody is going through now is no different than what Disney Animation went through with Chicken Little & Meet the Robinsons & Bolt. Also, even Dreamworks lesser past films like Bee Movie, Turbo & Over the Hedge & Megamind. Look what happened to The Lone Ranger, After Earth & R.I.P.D last year. Sucess is not a guarantee if your not connected to a major franchise today.

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