Voting at the Movies

“Hollywood makes shitty movies.” -Ron Meyer, NBC Universal Studios COO

Avatar made $2,782,275,172 in international ticket sales. Its budget was about $237 million. I’d be happy to give you a minute to let that settle in.

Welcome back. Movies are BIG business.

Studios produce different tiers of movies, which they have different expectations for. The tiers are defined by the budget they allocate to the making of different films. Let’s take the last couple Oscar-winners for Best Picture. The King’s Speech‘s budget was $15 million. Care to guess what The Artist had a budget of? $15 million.

Anomaly? Fine, we’ll go back another year. In 2010 The Hurt Locker won Best Picture. Its budget? $11 million. We all knew The Hurt Locker was shot on a small budget though. The year before was Slumdog Millionaire. Its budget? $15 million. You have to go back to 2007 before the budget of the Best Picture winning film takes a jump; and No Country for Old Men only had a budget of $25 million.

The purpose of these stats is to say that the little guys make damn good movies too. Hollywood today works a lot like our government. Things that are projected to help the bottom line get the most funding. And people love to bitch about how this means Hollywood continues to pump out more garbage. Well you know what? Hollywood is a business and if you quit going to shitty movies, they’ll quit making them.

In 2007, Norbit unfortunately came out. Norbit had a budget of $60 million (that’s about the same as No Country for Old Men+Slumdog Millionaire+The Hurt Locker for those of you keeping score at home). How in the world they used up $60 million to make it is beyond me. But you know what? It brought in $95 million in box office sales and then you can tack on DVD sales and royalties and all that mess. In the end DreamWorks doubled their investment.

Sidenote- I use that example because I spent one summer working at Blockbuster (RIP) and when Norbit was released on DVD it literally had an entire wall. I want to say that our store had between 60-80 copies. As some of you may remember, every few months stores would mark all of their used movies half off. Our store had something like 35 that were never once rented. Literally.

Ok back to the post…This year the following movies are being made with ridiculous budgets (this is just a few I could find the budgets for):

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter– $70 million

Battleship– $200 million

The Expendables 2– $100 million

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2– $131.5 million

Wrath of the Titans– $150 million

Guess what? If they didn’t know they were going to make money based on historical data, they wouldn’t be making these movies with such huge budgets.

I hate when I hear people say that there are no good movies out, when normally there are. They just don’t have astronomical budgets with $20 million advertising budgets.

Then there are the complaints everyone has about movie theater etiquette. From the small children to the phone answering…guess what people, that’s what you get when you vote for ignorant movies to be made! You get ignorant people sitting around you seeing the movies! If you go see the better movies when they come out, you are very rarely surrounded by ignorant people. I just went to go see The Avengers and had everything from little kids to idiots yelling stuff out throughout the movie. I’m not saying that The Avengers is an ignorant movie, but it does fall in the same category of what all the same yahoos are going to flock to.

There is an older theater that shows smaller movies in Memphis called Ridgeway Four that I frequent and I can honestly say I’ve never been disturbed once by a fellow movie-goer. In fact, when I went to see The Tree of Life there, I actually got bitched at because I super quickly checked a text message. I even had the screen brightness all the way down!

All of this is just to give you something to think about next time you go see the new Adam Sandler movie because you’re bored. It really isn’t much different from casting a vote for Hollywood to continue to make bad movies. They are going to put their money behind what sells.

Other recent movie posts

Netflix Streaming Suggestions: Part Eight

He Said, She Said: The Avengers


Posted on by Clayton Martin in Featured, Misc. Posts, Movies

3 Responses to Voting at the Movies

  1. malcolm

    I don’t understand the point of this article. The King’s Speech was shot on $15 million because that’s how much money it needed. Oscar nom-type movies usually don’t have to spend much money on special effects, so they don’t. They appeal to a relatively small percent of the public, so there are fewer of them than there are broader movies. You’re essentially saying “People! Align your preferences with mine! I saw ‘The Tree of Life’ in an independent theater!” which is cool I guess.

    • Clayton Martin

      That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m saying that people are always complaining that there are no good movies out but they go see them anyway and that just leads to more mediocre movies being made because Hollywood is still turning a profit. If you want more intelligent, thought-provoking movies to be made then that’s where you need to be spending your money when you go to the theater.

      I just don’t like the trend of Hollywood producers spending $1 million on a script and $99 million on special effects to cover up the lack of a script.

      And if The King’s Speech just needed $15 million, how do they spend $60 million on Norbit? And that’s just one example. I wonder what some of the people making smaller movies could do with a legitimate script AND a comparable budget. No movie NEEDS in excess of $25-30 million. If you are going to spend more that’s fine but they spend all their money on mediocre movies because that’s what people keep paying to see and then they bitch about how the movie sucked.

      Then there are the people who will just consistently go see sequels and prequels and remakes and then complain that they weren’t good. The argument is that if you are going to complain about the lack of quality movies being made stop seeing dumb movies. It’s a super simple idea but I hear it happening over and over and over.

      And the Tree of Life bit is just to say that if you’re going to intelligent movies that do appeal to a smaller percent of the public you will generally speaking have a better experience. That’s not me trying to pump myself up, that’s me sharing my personal experience.

  2. malcolm

    Sorry about the snarky post. That’s what happens when I try to communicate less than ten minutes after I wake up (which was at 11 am, feel free to judge).

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