By David Poland email@example.com
What Is Niche?: 2009 Edition
The spark started in yesterday’s box office conversation, based on the notion that the worst five performances against openings of more than $50m were “niche” films… this based on what seems to be the fact that Watchmen will be the worst multiple (under 2.13x) in history vs opening weekend ($55.2m open… under $117.6 total).
One of the five was Spider-Man 3, which as I quickly pointed out when called on it, was an anomaly. And it, obviously, is.
And so the discussion – occasionally interrupted by insanity – was about what “niche” means now… would it include Indiana Jones, etc.
So here is my take… and as always, you are welcome to offer yours (hopefully, without the insanity):
Niche is when you can see that one portion of the audience clearly overwhelms all of the others… even when you hope that it will expand past that group. The idea of the “quadrant” has been around forever, but has really lost its meaning, as it is not nearly specific enough in the recent market. The “niche” is a section of a quadrant. It doesn’t have to be defined by age or sex, but when you look at each niche, they usually are one sex or the other, one age group that bulges outside of historic ideas, etc.
So… when Iron Man does expand past that niche, great for them. When The Incredible Hulk does not, it should not really be a surprise.
Historically, movies were made for a price that made films that cracked their niche to be hugely profitable. This is what has changed so dramatically. Because of the mega-success of some niche product, studios have chased those niches as though they were 3 or 4 quadrant draws.
The result of this is, in part, that a film that doesn