Sunday, October 16, 2011

Film Industry Analyst CLUELESS on Why Box Office Down

Nikki Finke's weekend recap laments the 35% drop in Box Office grosses from a year ago in her article: Hollywood Worries About Weak Box Office.  A couple of key extracts followed by the analysis I posted in her comments section.

Seriously, do movie moguls get into showbiz just to greenlight unnecessary remakes of teen movies, prequels to horror movies, or unfunny comedies that humiliate big stars like Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Steve Martin? Apparently so, based on this weekend’s trio of major opening films. Maybe that’s why audiences are rebelling. Paramount’s rebooted Footloose was sucker-punched by DreamWorks/Disney’s bot-battling holdover Real Steal for No. 1. But the truly alarming news is how very weak the North American box office performed again.
Nikki goes to lament that TEENAGE BOYS, who normally prop up post summer box office have nothing they can go to or that appeals to them.  You would suppose a "Rock'em Sock'em Robots" movie would qualify, but I still accept her premise that there is nothing new THIS week.  A studio executive wants to know where all the boys who helped JACKASS open to $50 Million were last year and is 'deeply concerned.'  She recaps each top 10 movie including FOOTLOOSE describing the studio's promotion and publicity strategy:
There had been an extensive word-of-mouth screening program for young girls  during the summer at places like cheerleading camps and then a follow-up Facebook/Twitter campaign to get them talking about this virtual shot-by-shot update. Exit polls showed it appealed to females (75%) and  captured 28% of the teen market. As many as 60% of moviegoers were over age 25 and 46% over age 35 because of the nostalgia factor. As expected, the film with its more fundamentalism-friendly makeover played best in the Midwest, Southwest, and South: the American heartland which Hollywood generally derides as ‘flyover’ country. As a result, Paramount bought deeper in Southern/Middle American 30 local TV markets and outdoor to take advantage of this film’s appeal there. For instance, the studio put key art on over 1 million Greyhound bus jackets, with Footloose posters and counter cards at 90+ depots. I’m told the 20 highest grossing locations Friday were in Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Knoxville, Kansas City, and San Antonio.
Please read the whole article as it is very enlightening as to how Hollywood peddles it's pics.  But the preceding recap of REAL STEEL not only was eye-opening for me, it begged the question how Nikki (and every studio executive) could miss the message here:
Nice hold, and this feel-good film is now successfully marketing itself as family fare. Witness the +64% jump from Friday to Saturday because parents and kids were attending matinees.
My comment on her site was this:

Odd, Nikki didn't comment on COURAGEOUS ($21M cum) - made by a church (the kind ridiculed in the ORIGINAL Footloose), without any actors (and I mean NO actors) with a budget around $500,000 $2 Million.

The Footloose article accurately talks of the identity of "flyover" country but explains much. A) if the target audience is teen girls, what is with the Greyhound publicity? Targeting only RUN AWAY girls? And the studio's still don't seem to get that for a market like Kansas City, there are actually more conservative "fly over" types in Metro LA. Like 40 times more. If you ignore the PEOPLE and stereotype the market guess what you get?

Box Office Mojo Weekend Report - 10/14-16, 2011
You want a real shocker? Look at the theater by theater grosses for Courageous.

Yes, teen males is a key demographic. But frankly, Hollywood is out of ideas. Relying on sex, violence and horror to con kids out of their allowances ignores two things. First, like a narcotic, you have to exceed the previous dose to get the same "high." And there isn't anything the big screen can provide that can't be streamed 20X more by 4G from the web. Secondly,..well thirdly and fourthly too is Story, Story, Story. We are raising a generation of screenwriters who are truly uneducated and disconnected from the lives and nuances of "Real" people. And creativity (read non-remakes) comes from not just observing, but living it.

I guarantee you if every studio executive and writer cancelled his weekend at the buddhist retreat in Palm Springs and instead, spent it with an average US family (over 40% who go to church each week and over 75% who claim church membership) - they would be filled not only with fresh ideas for absurdities and drama of REAL life - but they would learn how to connect with their audiences better.

I AM NOT SAYING EVERY MOVIE needs to be religious, inspirational or even "family" orientated, but isn't it interesting that box office ROSE 64% when marketed to Americans with "family" values)

As reported in my article on Morgan Freeman's comments negatively impacting the opening of Dolphin Tale, Hollywood HAS reacted by making more family films because it is financially prudent for them to do so.  But every weekend the public votes with it's wallet by withholding ticket purchases, you would think the industry would offer up a new candidate.


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