Last Thoughts On The Film Year
Things have been a little mini-hectic, but not in particularly exciting ways. The wife and I are heading to New York tomorrow to see my family, so everything has been a process of gearing toward that -- getting a late rush of work done, making sure Christmas presents and such are taken care of, attending to all of the random details of the season.
So don't expect a new post here until the new year, though after that hopefully they will be very regular again.
Otherwise, a few film thoughts:
It's a bit strange the lack of huge blockbusters this Christmas season -- there is no Lord of the Rings-level hit, no Narnia, no Harry Potter, not even a King Kong. Instead, we get things coming out like Night at the Museum, which looks like Jumanji, complete with an overacting Robin Williams. Or We Are Marshall, which is supposed to be rousing but just seems a bit too depressing at its core. And it's hard to imagine The Good German or The Good Shepherd breaking $50 million gross for their whole runs.
So that leaves Rocky Balboa, which is apparently male comfort food -- you know what you are going to get, there's some punching, and word is that it doesn't suck as badly as Rocky V. Even though we know it probably does.
One of the reasons that I like studying box office is that it is a good indicator of what producers will be looking for, but the news in the last few months has been a little odd. Children's movies always seemed a bit automatic, but now there are so many cartoons that it is diluting that (while though Happy Feet did well, it also cost $100 million). Charlotte's Web opened at $11.4 million in its first three days; it cost a reported $85 million. Ouch.
In fact, the reported budgets for a lot of the movies out right now are kind of scary, especially since few of them seem like they will make the money back. I'm sure the new Bond movie will turn a profit, but it cost $150 million. The Holiday cost $85 million; what the hell did they spend that on? And this is without advertising costs.
Flushed Away cost $149 million. Yikes. It has made about $70 million U.S. box office. They are going to have to sell a lot of DVDs.
Though at budgets like these, someone is getting paid.
Blood Diamond cost $100 million, and has made $18.2 million in 10 days. It'll probably do some worldwide business, but it's hard to see it turning much of a profit. Between this and Catch A Fire, which didn't make much at all, it's not a good time to be shopping around serious thrillers set in Africa.
Apocalypto cost a reasonable $40 million, but it looks likely to top out at less than $50 million in the U.S. box office. The Nativity Story only cost $35 million, but it has only made $18 million in its first 17 days.
A lot of movies completely tanked this fall. Fast Food Nation was a complete flop. Few people cared about Tenacious D. Turistas made it clear that movies like that are no longer automatic hits. The Fountain bombed. A Good Year has only made $7 million. Flyboys, which cost $60 million, made $13 million.
Bobby isn't doing much of anything; neither are For Your Consideration or The History Boys. Little Children, despite a lot of good reviews, has only made $2 million. The Last King of Scotland has only made $3.5 million, and it's on its way down. The Nicole Kidman movie Fur won't break $250,000.
So what made money? Borat made $122 million -- and only cost $18 million. Little Miss Sunshine made $59 million, and only cost $8 million. So comedies are largely doing well; even The Santa Clause 3 has made $80 million.
The Departed did well. The Prestige did okay. The Queen has made $25 million, and can't have cost much. Stranger Than Fiction did okay. Deja Vu will probably make money after the worldwide gross is figured in.
The Pursuit of Happyness may wind up being the sleeper hit of the season, and its $55 million budget seems practically reasonable.
But there just isn't a whole lot out there to get thrilled about. Dreamgirls is supposed to be solid, though it doesn't have the buzz it had a few weeks ago. Children of Men still looks interesting, but no one is talking about it for any prizes any more. Letters From Iwo Jima is supposed to be good.
Hopefully 2007 will be better. Until then, have a safe holiday season, and don't eat the fruitcake.