Maybe The Answer To The $200 Million Movie Question Is To Not Focus On $200 Million Movies?

from the what-happens-when-you-get-formulaic dept

For almost a decade, we've been dealing with variations on the question an executive from NBC Universal once asked me during a panel discussion about copyright: "But how will we keep being able to make $200 million movies?" As we've explained over and over in the years since, that's a ridiculous question. Would anyone in the tech industry ever ask "but how will we continue to make our $5,000 computers?" Of course not, because the focus is on making something profitable that's good and serves a need. Focusing on the cost is exactly the wrong way to go about things. That doesn't mean that no movies should cost $200 million. If you can come up with a movie that can make more than that in response, then sure. But Hollywood seems built not around figuring out how to make something profitable, but by following a formula. And part of that formula is "every summer we release some big budget, action-packed ~$200 million films that we call blockbusters" and that's the focus.

Except, when you follow a formula that says "we do this because this is what we do" rather than "how can we create something that people will like and will bring in more money than we spend?" (Yes, I recognize this is simplifying things, like skipping over Hollywood accounting, where films are designed to "lose money" even as the studios make money on them).

Of course, some filmmakers long ago realized how problematic this is. George Lucas declared the death of the $200 million movie back in 2006 and just recently Steven Spielberg joined Lucas in making similar remarks. Spielberg noted:
"That's the big danger, and there's eventually going to be an implosion – or a big meltdown," Spielberg said. "There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm."
And it may already be happening. The NY Times is noting that six big budget "blockbuster" movies in a row are looking like complete flops:
With extremely weak domestic ticket sales over the weekend for “R.I.P.D.” and “Turbo,” Hollywood has now sustained six big-budget duds since May 1, the start of the film industry’s high-stakes summer season. The other failing movies have been “After Earth,” “White House Down,” “Pacific Rim” and “The Lone Ranger.”
Each of those films was well over $100 million to make, with a few breaking that magical $200 million. A big part of the problem? These movies are all just formulaic retreads of the past -- playing on the stupid idea that "well, we need a $200 million movie, so how do we make one?"
Studios have also tried to sell most of these as “original,” which in Hollywood-speak means not a sequel or a remake. In reality, movie companies have largely just reassembled familiar parts. “Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.” “The Lone Ranger” was “Pirates of the Caribbean” in Old West drag. “R.I.P.D.” was “Men in Black” lite.
Meanwhile, the movies that are doing well are the lower budget films.
Moviegoers are pushing back. The No. 1 movie in North America over the weekend was “The Conjuring,” a period haunted house film that cost Warner Brothers $20 million to make and received stellar reviews. It took in $41.5 million, according to box office estimates compiled by Hollywood.com.
Of course, Hollywood folks will point out that you never really know how a movie is going to do, and it's something of a crapshoot. Indeed, but in that case aren't you better off testing your luck with 10 $20 million movies rather than dumping $200 million all into one boring retread?

Again, the idea is not that there should never be $200 million movies -- but it's long past the time that Hollywood focused on "how to make $200 million movies" which leads to an awful lot of formulaic stuff that the public appears to be sick of watching. Instead, it's time to focus on how to make good profitable movies. That usually doesn't involve following a formula, but rather finding quality content, and figuring out how to make it efficiently, not how to keep ratcheting up the budget just to fit it into some pigeonhole about what a "summer blockbuster" has to look like.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:51am

    Mother of God...

    Hey, everyone. Can you hear that sound? That's the sound of millions of OOTBs screaming out in terror...and then suddenly silenced.

    Boom. Death Star shot....

     

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  2.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:54am

    Re: Mother of God...

    That is exactly what I thought when I saw the title.

    Great minds and all that.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:55am

    Re: Mother of God...

    Don't you mean Hollywood Star Laser?

     

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  4.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:56am

    $200 million movies are irrelevant. The best movies I have ever seen have had a fraction of that budget because they actually focus on what is important - story, acting, direction etc.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:56am

    Re: Mother of God...

    I'm sorry, this is totally off-topic...but:

    http://www.bugmartini.com/comics/mother-of-god/

     

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  6.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:02am

    What?

    Instead, it's time to focus on how to make good profitable movies.

    There are no profitable movies.

     

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  7.  
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    Mark Harrill (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:05am

    Re: What?

    Only Zuul!

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:07am

    I watched a horrible remake the other night, the worst part is I paid 5 $ to rent it, I want to sue the studio that made it for my 5@ dollars back, and Punitive damages. What price do you put one 2 hours of your life?

     

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    The.Watcher, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:09am

    "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    Um... no? Pac Rim is an homage to Evangelion and Kaiju films. Granted, the trailers sucked, but the film itself is an entire universe better than Michael Bay's POS. Did the writer truly try to compare Guillermo del Toro with Michael Bay?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:11am

    Hollywood is a victim of its own success.

     

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  11.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:13am

    Re:

    Which one? Most remakes tend to be horrible.

     

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  12.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:13am

    Re:

    Hollywood is a victim of it's own stubbornness

     

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  13.  
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    Argonel (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:18am

    Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    Why not compare them. They are both humans and consume oxygen. Of course one is a talented director who creates visually stunning movies and the other is a hack that blows stuff up.

    Comparable is not the same as equal. I think everyone will agree with the comparison the Del Toro is a much better director than Bay.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:23am

    The 200 million dollar question is flawed. Nobody cares about how much it costs other than the guy writing the check.

    All people care about is the end result. What Hollywood should be pondering is how can they slash their budget and still achieve the same result. Basically, how to become more efficient.

    Companies that actually produce things do this all the time. If they didn't, they wouldn't survive.

     

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    Atkray (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:28am

    Re:

    Hollywood is not a victim in any sense of the word.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:31am

    I caught Pacific Rim and found it to be a rehash of Top Gun with giant robots. That got me thinking of all the recent movies that were released. The only way for any recent blockbuster can be considered new or fresh is the movie goer needs to be under 12 years old. It seems that hollywood writers shot their load 30-40 years ago and now rely on releasing the same story with better technology.

     

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    John Doe, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:34am

    Cost of doing business?

    Of course, Hollywood folks will point out that you never really know how a movie is going to do, and it's something of a crapshoot.

    Isn't this how it is with any business? How can anyone really know their product will succeed? Seems Hollywood things strict copyright enforcement somehow guarantees success.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:35am

    When there are four or five Nazi movies in one year it becomes clear someone is cheating originality.

     

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    John Doe, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:36am

    Re:

    Hollywood only makes victims, they are not victims themselves.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:37am

    But focusing on making a profit is for the little people!

    Make movies with the goal of being profitable, instead of fitting a $200 million dollar formula Mike?

    But that's... what little people do who can't demand the government pass new laws to protect their failed business models!

    What's next, you'll tell us to adapt to the Internet?!? Are you out of your mind?!?

     

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  21.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:39am

    Hollywood just can't discern the difference between making movies and paying politicians.

    Their philosophy is if they throw money at it, it will do what they want.

    My mind is thoroughly boggled on the fact that they continue to think that this model is sustainable...as in if they keep pumping money into something, they'll sure see a nice fat return on it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:40am

    Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    Evangelion did not create mecha in any way, shape or form.

     

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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:40am

    Re:

    "The only way for any recent blockbuster can be considered new or fresh is the movie goer needs to be under 12 years old."

    This is probably partly why they make so many movies that were meant to be rated "R", PG-13.

     

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  24.  
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    RyanNerd (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:41am

    Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    Haven't seen the movie yet. But from the trailers it would seem to me to share the same DNA as transformers.
    Basically giant robots beating the crap out of each other.
    Like I said I've not seen the movie so maybe I've got it wrong and this is actually a well acted and directed film with a strong story.
    From the trailers it appeared to me to be Battlefield Los Angeles meets the Transformers.

     

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    arkiel (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:48am

    If we're doing the DNA metaphor, Pacific Rim and Transformers share the genes that determine hair, skin, and eye color. Everything else is different. The only similarity is that Yaegers look complicated, though in a that appears functional rather than needlessly complicated. There are no giant robot battles (robot versus giant monster, though). The story is light, the world is vivid, people make some weird-ass decisions. This is a movie that should not (and probably won't, after international and media sells) fail.

    It'll probably top off at more than 200mil eventually. May cap out at 600mil.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    Nope. Not giant robots beating the crap out of each other. Giant robots beating the crap out of interdimensional giant monsters. If it looked more like Transformers than Evangelion, then that is a problem with the trailers, because it was certainly modeled more with that.

    Plus a little bit of Independence Day.

    In any case, everything is derivative of something else. Even "original" stories build off of ideas that came before. The question is: What does the new story add to the mix? And even if it doesn't add anything, but is entertaining nonetheless, why should it matter if it is derivative?

     

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    crade (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    Giant robots that are about the same size as the tranformers robots and could be easily mistaken for them at a glance no less.

    Actually, I'd say if the movie isn't identical to transformers then the preview is pretty misleading.

     

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  28.  
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    Dirkmaster (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: Mother of God...

    and alas, this is even MORE off-topic, but this is what *I* think of whenever I hear "Mother of God!"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJnqT3qqEDc

     

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  29.  
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    S. T. Stone, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:00pm

    Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    The phrase ‘seemed to share’ would indicate that people focused on the whole ‘giant robots’ aspect of the ads and trailers, and since Transformers had giant robots…

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    I was going to go see a couple of these movies that bombed, but when the big blockbusters started bombing one weekend after another, I decided to join in and do my part to help make a few more bomb.

     

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  31.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    Re: What?

    Since no Hollywood movie -- ever -- has been profitable, maybe they should just stop making them.

     

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  32.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    Hollywood is a victim of its own excess.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    How much do these movies cost when you adjust for reality and take the accounting tricks out of the mix?

     

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  34.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    Re:

    How can you call them a success when no movie ever makes any money?

     

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    crade (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    If it's entertaining to you, then it doesn't matter to you that it's derivitive, but apparently many people don't agree with you and get bored of watching the same thing over and over again with unimportant and uninteresting (in their opinion of course) differences, and so they didn't go watch it.

    Also, you are in denial.. You have to look pretty hard at the robots to be able to tell they are new terrible looking giant robots instead of the same ones they used in transformers.. If they were trying to channel japanese manga, in that robot design, they didn't. They channeled the horrible version transformers from the michael bay movies.

     

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  36.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re:

    If you try to add in a reality adjustment to anything in Hollywood, your calculator only displays "ERROR".

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:14pm

    Re:

    Did they ever come back from the last writers strike? lol

     

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  38.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:15pm

    Re:

    I'll just wait until they are on Netflix or Amazon prime.

    If Google had a monthly subscription model like Netflix, or yearly like Amazon prime, I would look at that too.

    Dear Hollywood,

    If your movie isn't on one of these, I'm not going to watch it. I don't have time to watch all the stuff that is there already, so don't worry that I'll get bored waiting for your precious movie.

     

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  39.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:16pm

    Re:

    The only way to get Hollywood to stop making big dumb movies is for people to stop going to see big dumb movies.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:17pm

    Re:

    I think they spend 1 million making a crappy movie then 199 million trying to con people into thinking its a good movie.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Re:

    There are only 4 movies in the top 10 grossing films of 2013 with a PG rating. If you take the top 20 there are a total of 6 movies. Last year there were only 5 in the top 20 and only 2 in the top 10. That hardly adds up to many films.

    But the kids movies were never meant to be the go-to action movies of the year. The Lone Ranger, White House Down and After Earth were marketed as the beginning of the summer box office blockbusters and they aren't pulling their weight.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re:

    Like is happening right now?

     

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    PRMan, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    Re:

    Hey, Avengers was great and cost $200 million and with all those big name actors and special effects, it would be tough to do it otherwise. But spending that kind of money on R.I.P.D. is just asking for it. I'm a comic book fan and I have never heard of R.I.P.D. the comic book. When you have that little name recognition

    And the Turbo trailer got a resounding thud in the preview I went to. People don't like snails. You can't make everything cute and fuzzy just because you try. And a snail racing in the Indy 500? That just doesn't make any sense. Why would I go see such nonsense?

    And Planes will be the next big budget movie to join this list, because that trailer looked awful as well.

    The Wolverine looks good. Hopefully they don't screw up the ending this time (like X3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine).

     

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  44.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yep, maybe change is finally happening.

     

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  45.  
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    PRMan, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re:

    Hollywood is a victim of its own EXECS.

     

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  46.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:26pm

    Re:

    So you say its worth checking out?

    Too bad there's no legal way to do so without going through the facemelting heat, buying an overpriced ticket, having very limited and obscenely expensive snack options, sitting through lectures and advertisements, and missing parts if I need a break for a piss, or from the uncomfortable chairs, or if someone brings their 2-year old and can't control them or politely leave the theater when they throw a tantrum.

    I'd gladly pay a few bucks if I could download it and watch at my leisure at home. But since I can't... well, guess I'll torrent it.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Mother of God...

    Did Mike just invent a way to make a Death Star to shoot down OOTB? Well, I won't complain either way!

     

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  48.  
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    PRMan, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re:

    Not hardly. The really do spend $175 million making the crappy movie and then $25 million to advertise it.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:34pm

    I've gotten to where I really don't care what Hollydud puts out. At best there are one maybe two movies a year that are worth going to see. The rest is garbage and rehashes of what made a buck.

    The theater experience is so terrible that I don't want to experience it anymore. Commercials shoved down my throat on my dime? Hey look to someone else to pay for that cause I'm not going.

    Don't even count the cost of going to see a movie, it's outrageous and highway robbery.

    I've reached the point I am totally turned off by the thought of going to a movie theater where they want to eyeball you in the dark, just in case you aren't watching the movie but doing something else. While I have never, ever, even thought of such actions, still I find that it is an extreme distraction.

    Hollydud lost me long ago and I am not likely to return without major changes.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:35pm

    "But ... Piracy!"

    I'm really disappoointed in this article - no where is there anything about a studio exec (or the MPAA) screaming about piracy being the reason that the movies didn't go over.

     

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  51.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:38pm

    Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    It's all just Godzilla. It's the grand-daddy of both of them. They all come from the same cultural roots. That whole "DNA" thing. If there's a little overlap then it really shouldn't be that surprising.

    Although you do look retarded if you're only capable of making comparisons to 2nd generation American knockoffs like the modern Transformers movies.

     

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  52.  
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    Metaman (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    When i see the jaeger it looks nothing like a transformer besides the transformer line it could be said is a take from Gundam which aired in 79

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: What?

    Profitability is relative. These companies are altruistic monoliths of modern culture. They are prepared to lose money on large movies, just to improve humanity! So many jobs depend on those 200 million movies. Waste is just money used for something other than what is needed. It is perfectly fine for a few of the higerups to make slightly more than the average POTUS. The lifestyle of those will make many american jobs anyway, so just go nuts!

     

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  54.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:44pm

    Now all we need is for lower-budget movies to be a success

    Like say the Jadallah Brothers' horror movie Entity, the first professional attempt at making a film based on Victor-Surge's Slenderman and the creature's expanded mythos [it's coming out sometime this summer if I remember the trailers correctly].

    ...Actually, I take that back. A big name studio getting its hooks into Slenderman would not bode well for the Internet community (especially those in the Creepypasta realm). They'd probably try to claim copyright over the character or some crazy b.s., even though Slenderman has an owner, and therefore is already copyrighted.

     

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  55.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:50pm

    Okay, where the fuck are the trolls? My theory as to their absence is that Mike mentioned $200 million, not $100 mil, OOTB's favourite number. Apparently that's enough of a difference to hasn't_got_a_clue.

     

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  56.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re:

    I wouldn't know about Avengers, as I've not seen it (or any other recent comic book movies, for that matter. I suppose Batman and Superman just got me tired of the whole genre). I did see the trailer for Turbo, and it looks completely inane.

    It's possible to make excellent big budget movies -- I've seen them! However, as a rule of thumb the quality of a movie tends to be inversely proportional to how much it cost to make.

    You can also use a variant of the "adjective rule" (the more adjectives used in a product description, the crappier the product) for movies: the more big-name stars in it, the better the odds that it sucks.

     

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  57.  
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    Krish (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:02pm

    same for games

    The computer game

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    If it's entertaining to you, then it doesn't matter to you that it's derivitive, but apparently many people don't agree with you and get bored of watching the same thing over and over again with unimportant and uninteresting (in their opinion of course) differences, and so they didn't go watch it.

    I never claimed there was a universal standard as to what constitues "entertaining." Just that "derivative" and "entertaining" are not mutually exclusive categories. The fact that everything is derivative to some degree or another alone guarantees that.

     

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  59.  
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    Krish (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:03pm

    same for games

    The computer game industry is whining about the same problem these days.

     

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  60.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re:

    Avengers did well because while it was a superhero movie, of which there have been a good many recently, it wasn't a rehash, was directed well, and didn't actively mock the fans(Hello Transformers...)

    R.I.P.D. however... I saw one look at the trailer of that and immediately thought, 'eh, it looks okay, but I've already seen MIB, so I'll pass'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    If it looked more like Transformers than Evangelion, then that is a problem with the trailers


    Perhaps, but most people (like myself) have never heard of Evangelion, so it may also be a problem trying to explain something to a general audience, rather than a specific in-the-know subset.

    I thought it looked like Transformers, but my ignorance of Evangelion makes that inevitable.

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re:

    So you say its worth checking out?

    I recommend it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    What Hollywood should be pondering is how can they slash their budget and still achieve the same result.


    I would prefer that Hollywood learn how to make better movies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:12pm

    Re: same for games

    They are indeed, and they're full of shit for the exact same reasons.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    'a period haunted house film that cost Warner Brothers $20 million to make and received stellar reviews. It took in $41.5 million, according to box office estimates compiled by Hollywood.com'

    but so far still hasn't made a profit! in fact, it hasn't made enough money yet to even pay the crew, let alone the star cast!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    wallow-T, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    interesting indies getting squeezed out?

    Over the last two summers, four movies went into my all-time favorites list:

    "Midnight in Paris," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Safety Not Guaranteed," and the best movie I'd seen in a decade, "Beasts of the Southern Wild." All low-cost art-house-circuit films, but at least they got made.

    This year, the art-house circuit doesn't seem to be offering much for me. Joss Whedon's Shakespeare movie and Pierce Brosnan's rom-com were decent, but no classics.

    Not sure where the next good movies are coming from. I've been seeing stories that independent film financing has been tough to come by.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:30pm

    Speaking of formulas

    Hollywood focused on "how to make $200 million movies" which leads to an awful lot of formulaic stuff that the public appears to be sick of watching.

    I just read an article about that "formula".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Is it?
    Because from where I stante Grown Ups 2 made a sh*tload of money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oops I meant stand.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    in soviet amerika, hollywood victimizes you ! ! !

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    identicon
    TimothyAWiseman, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:45pm

    Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    Agreed. I saw Pacific Rim and it was fantastic. I'm not sure I would go so far as to call it original, but it certainly did not follow Transformers.

    As to the core point, I agree. The focus should be on quality, not cost. Sometimes quality does come at a high price, but sometimes it does not (Let The Right One In was relatively cheap).

    And their problem is they aren't making many really intersting movies. I liked Pacific Rim, but I have no interest in RIPD or The Lone Ranger or many of the others out this summer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    icon
    9Blu (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    And this is why the movie is struggling domestically. Somehow they absolutely failed at marketing the movie. About a week before it came out the studio was freaking out because the movie's Q score was way lower than it should have been for a big tent pole movie like this. The movie wasn't on the general public's radar. I'd love to know how many millions of dollars they burned on the marketing budget.

    Good news (for the studio) is that it's making money overseas and hasn't even opened in China or Japan yet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    icon
    drewdad (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Re:

    Nice synopsis of the article....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    Actually comparing the trailier to Transformers has more validity than comparing it to most other movies as the visual effects where done by the SAME STUDIO.

    There is a very real possibility that many of the robots in the movie are just re-worked Transformers designs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    ... and those giant robots where created by the same visual effects team ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    ... and america, and the EU, and everywhere else they've got the claws in....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re: What?

    You don't sleep 4' above the covers do you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78.  
    icon
    Rich Fiscus (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 2:42pm

    Investing $200 million in anything is a gamble. Anybody who tells you otherwise is selling something - probably something they're asking $200 million for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79.  
    identicon
    Athe, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    A $200 million Evangelion blockbuster would solve the ignorance problem, wouldn't it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    identicon
    MojoBox, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 3:24pm

    Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    I saw Pacific Rim on Saturday. There was enough mindless, pointless CGI destruction to call it a relative, genealogically speaking, of Transformers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81.  
    icon
    Jeremy2020 (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    what about homage made you think he meant Evangelion created mecha?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82.  
    icon
    John85851 (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 3:50pm

    Then add in a screenplay formula and crank out hits

    It's interesting that I saw an article on Slate.com about how formulaic movies are becoming, simply because they're now following a specific formula:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2013/07/hollywood_and_blake_snyder_s_screenw riting_book_save_the_cat.html

    So, combine a formulaic script with empty CGI special effects and you get jaded audiences who won't see a movie.

    Anyway, the point from above still stands: why spend $200 million on a movie to make a 20% profit when you can make another "Blair Witch Project" for $25,000 and make a 10,000% profit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83.  
    identicon
    mica, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 5:39pm

    wtf mike?

    I thought it was pretty clear that RIPD is ghostbusters... MIB? Wtf Mike?

    Now a Jeff Bridges vs Bill Murray movie... There is something I'd pay to see.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84.  
    icon
    Alana (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 5:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Why are you implying that Transformers isn't a box office smash? Because, err, well, those movies still make a lot of money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 6:06pm

    Re:

    Or maybe he's still hiding under his desk, trembling for until the storm blows over.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 6:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    And the Transformers don't have the moves like jaeger.

    Moves like jaeger. Get it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 6:48pm

    "Pacific Rim" is a good movie and the 3-D effects are excellent. "After Earth" isn't exactly the best movie in the world, but it's not as bad as what some have made it out to be. "World War Z" is good. "The Purge" is cool (and maybe an idea whose time has come?).
    No mention about how "White House Down" appears to be a ripoff of "Olympus Has Fallen"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 7:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Mother of God...

    I always think, "Wait...God has a mother?! In what religion?!".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  89.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:22pm

    World war Z was more entertaining than expected (though twisting the main feature of the book: regular, slow Zombies turned into *swarming* Zombies! WTF?). But what did they do to make White House Down that expensive? Rebuild the entire building as a set?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 1:02am

    Re: Mother of God...

    Ironically, Star Wars itself cost significantly less than $200 million, even accounting for inflation...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 1:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Why are you implying that Transformers isn't a box office smash?"

    He didn't, he said:

    "wasn't a rehash, was directed well, and didn't actively mock the fans(Hello Transformers...)"

    None of this implies anything about the financial success, though if it had then these could be pointed at as being the problems. It may have been financially successful, but the Transformers series has been cynical, with each sequel rehashing the previous, has often come under fire for its directorial style that leaves many action sequences incomprehensible and has alienated fans of the source material. A profit doesn't change any of this.

    Movies like The Avengers remind people that blockbusters don't have to be soulless time fillers populated by idiots and cyphers, so it would be interesting to see how the next Transformers movie fares. I suspect not as well as the previous two, but we'll see if Bay manages to learn anything from either criticism of his previous work or from the successes of his competitors.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  92.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 1:16am

    Re: Re:

    Most, but certainly not all. However, I'd say that if you're going to pay full price rental for a remake without even checking reviews or seeing if it's on Netflix then caveat emptor applies. I hope AC's learned his lesson, since it's people who do that who make the crappy remakes enough money to encourage studios to make more...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  93.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 1:26am

    Re: Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    I loved Pacific Rim, but I can understand how people got confused. For example, I avoided most of the trailers, etc. as I'm tired of films being spoiled, but what I saw concentrated more on the robot vs. monster fighting rather than, say, the jaeger piloting method (human pilots with linked memories and minds) or the international rogue military structure. Of course if you take out the heart, the basic plot and the human piloting aspects, it will just look like another Transformers. It's obvious to any anime, kaiju or Del Toro fan how different it would be, but the marketers needed to get that across to the mainstream.

    But, it's great that it's still doing well. Nearly $200 million internationally by the end of this week, I suspect it will close with most of its budget made back then do well on DVD/Blu once word of mouth let's people know it's a movie worth watching.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  94.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 1:32am

    Re: Re:

    I'd prefer both. In fact, there's a very good argument that lower budgets and limitations improve movies by forcing directors to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions, while relatively unlimited resources causes laziness and mediocrity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  95.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 2:02am

    Re: Re:

    There's always exceptions and it's hardly a gospel source, but Rotten Tomatoes currently lists Grown Ups 2, Red 2 and R.I.P.D. as the only films in the US top 10 rated "rotten". That's 3 out of 10 movies that got bad overall reviews... not bad all considered.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  96.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 2:20am

    Re: interesting indies getting squeezed out?

    It depends on your tastes and whether you veer more toward drama or genre fare. I've heard lots of good things about Mud, Stoker and The Way Way Back, Upstream Color was... interesting, and you can't go wrong with Before Midnight if you liked the previous 2 films in the series (Before Sunset & Before Sunrise).

    Overall, it depends what you're looking for though. A lot of indie films are appearing on streaming or home video services rather than cinema screens due to the studios' dominance of those screens. It's telling that even among the ones you mentioned, two of your favourites were by established directors, one was from a name star and one had serious Oscar buzz.

    Smaller films don't get a look in quite often, hence the problem. The good movies are out there, you just might have to dig a bit deeper, or explore your DVD/streaming options rather than theatrical ones. Unless you really do have a good local arthouse cinema, in which case I'd say support then no matter what and you may run into some interesting surprises along the way...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  97.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 2:34am

    Re:

    "No mention about how "White House Down" appears to be a ripoff of "Olympus Has Fallen"?"

    Probably because it's not. Hollywood has a habit of having 2 major releases with similar plots in development at the same time with different studios (Armageddon vs. Deep Impact, Mirror Mirror vs Snow White and the Huntsman, The Prestige vs. The Illusionist, etc.).

    Both films were in production at the same time, Olympus just happened to beat its competitor to release.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  98.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    Now, comparing Bay to Uwe Boll, then we can have a conversation... :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  99.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 5:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    I think you're taking the Mick...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  100.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 5:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    It could be worse, it could be Atlantic Rim...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  101.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Jul 24th, 2013 @ 5:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Mother of God...

    Yes, God does have a mother -- The Virgin Mary.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  102.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Jul 24th, 2013 @ 5:26am

    Re: Re:

    "And the Turbo trailer got a resounding thud in the preview I went to. People don't like snails. You can't make everything cute and fuzzy just because you try. And a snail racing in the Indy 500? That just doesn't make any sense. Why would I go see such nonsense?"

    Turbo The Snail < Sonic The Hedgehog

    You know it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  103.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 5:32am

    Re:

    Believe me, those swarming zombies were scary! Bloody fast, and you really don't want them to catch you...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  104.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Jul 24th, 2013 @ 5:39am

    Re:

    Perhaps the question that needs to be asked is ...why? Why must they create these big-budget, in-your-face CG-fests? CG robots, monsters, comic characters and spaceships wrecking havor and blowing stuff up. It's redundant seeing the same formula over and over ad nausea.

    Even though a lot of horror/sci-fi/action flicks from the 70's-80's were done on meager budgets, that was a large part of their allure. It forced producers and directors to be creative in order to come up with the desired special effects, not to mention giving make-up/costume artists, stop-motion and moving graphic animators (scanimation!) a chance to showcase their skills. It was always interesting to see how they created those effects. Nowadays, that style of film-making has all but gone by the wayside. Literally everything is done with ham-fisted, artificial CG.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  105.  
    icon
    Mike-2 Alpha (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 5:45am

    Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    "Evangelion did not create mecha in any way, shape or form."

    True, but Pacific Rim still had a definite "Angels vs Evas" feel to it. Only with less teenage angst, and more slapping monsters in the face with boats.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  106.  
    identicon
    gnudist, Jul 24th, 2013 @ 6:35am

    Don't bother, they're liberals

    Actually cutting spending is blasphemy to them

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  107.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re:

    There's non-artificial CGI? Or even non-artificial non-computer special effects? But you're right about the special effects being home-made and more special.

    I still rememeber as a six-year-old being terrifed by the skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts. So when as an adult I had the opportunity to touch and handle one of the models, it was a definite nerdgasm for my inner six-year-old. Now, a whole generation will grow up never being able to really see, feel or otherwise experience their effects outside of the movies.

    That being said, well-done CGI effects are still awesome and great progress.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  108.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    there's a very good argument that lower budgets and limitations improve movies


    This is 100% supported by the evidence of the movies that have been produced.

    Also, it's not special to movies. In any business, it is very harmful to have too large of a budget.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  109.  
    icon
    sehlat (profile), Jul 24th, 2013 @ 11:51am

    Why $200 million dollar movies?

    Everybody overlooks the obvious reason: big budgets are a compensation for the size of executives' other equipment (wink, nudge).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  110.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2013 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "“Pacific Rim,” which featured giant robots, seemed to share DNA with “Transformers.”"

    Apparently not, if that's what Pacific Rim is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  111.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2013 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Then add in a screenplay formula and crank out hits

    Trouble is, if you've got $200 million that you need to invest, you have to make a lot of 's.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  112.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2013 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Re: Then add in a screenplay formula and crank out hits

    ...a lot of Blair Witch Project's.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  113.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 25th, 2013 @ 2:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Then add in a screenplay formula and crank out hits

    ...and most of those will fail to make back that level of money. But even if you have a *need* to invest $200 million and have somehow latched onto the entertainment industry as the way to do this despite the inherent high risks involved and lack of actual benefit to society or industry as a whole (can you say "money laundering"?), there's a middle ground.

    Take this year as an example: for $200 million, you could have made (to a pick a few non-"blockbuster" titles at random) The Conjuring, The Heat, Mama, Warm Bodies and Gangster Squad. Add the production budgets of those movies together and you still have $25 million to play with on other projects or marketing (the budgets range from $3 to $60 million). But you have already got back $430 million domestic gross with plenty of time to go for many of their theatrical runs (according to box office mojo), even not counting international, home releases and licensing. Or, you could dump the whole thing into Jack The Giant Slayer ($195 million budget) and only make back $65 million...

    There's definitely an appetite for movies at either end of the spectrum, but it's only the guys who dumped the whole $200 million on a single massive project that risk losing the lot in one go.

    If you have $200 million to invest, there's many better ways to do it than going "hey, let's blow the lot on CGI and marketing and see what hits!". You don't have to make 3000 Blair Witches, but you don't have to spend the GDP of a small country on one single project either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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