By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
The Math Of Marc Weinstock
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I know Marc socially… a little. I like Marc and his wife quite a lot.)
Yes, the blame at all studios starts with the marketing department, no matter how good or bad the films being marketed. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take a look.
Marketing executives, like movie stars, live and die on opening weekend. There is not word of mouth… just marketing and media… and media is (usually) somewhat meaningless.
Columbia Pictures has released 21 movies in the last two years under Marc Weinstock. Cloudy 2 and Captain Phillips are locked into their release slots and those campaigns will be credited – or discredited – to Weinstock.
In these last two years, only three films have opened to $50 million or better. Only the often-under-fire Fox has released as few in that period.
Overall, if the standard for a decent opening is $20 million, Columbia has split with 12 over $20m and 8 under (all wide releases).
But if you push it up to $30 million as your standard, it’s not a pretty picture. Only 6 films of 21 managed that. And they were Bond, Spider-Man, Men in Black, a Sandler sequel, and two unexpected hits, Hotel Transylvania and 21 Jump Street. All but those last two were expected… franchises.
The biggest opening of 2013 has been Grown-Ups 2 with $42.5 million… a $1m improvement on Grown-Ups, which in an increasingly front-loaded marketplace, led to $30m less at the domestic box office.
White House Down opened to $24.9 million… the worst Roland Emmerich wide opening since The Patriot, 13 years ago.
Amazing Spider-Man was dogged by the media for its soft domestic opening despite ending up with $750m worldwide.
Here Comes The Boom was, by far, the worst opening for Kevin James in his movie career.
The Meryl Streep romantic comedy for adults streak of four $20 million openings went back to 2006… until last summer’s Hope Springs. And that late summer grown-woman slot was held by Sony in 2011 by Sony with Eat Pray Love, which opened to $23 million.
Smurfs 2 opened to half the first film’s launch.
These are the things that eat away at a department. Give Marc the two horrible aging Sandler movies (That’s My Boy and Jack & Jill). give him dumps like Premium Rush and The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Even give him Ghost Rider 2, which opened to half the number of the first film, but was so genred up that it was a rough mainstream sell.
There are also 6 Tri-Star movies, which are under that job. Elysium opened $7m behind the surprise District 9, which had no movie stars. One Direction opened okay… not great. Looper is the one real success story in the last couple of years.
But you have to find a way to open a Will Smith movie – After Earth – with a big budget in the high 30s… and if you don’t, it better feel like the marketing tried too hard, not too little.
You have to protect the studio better on Total Recall.
On need to get a number that surprises in a positive way, not a relief way, on Amazing Spidey.
But most of all, with a lot of mediocre numbers, you need to have a couple of big positive surprises. And really, the closest to that was Bond. And I don’t know that anyone really believes that Bond marketing is a lot more than getting out of the way of the franchise (not unlike Batman, with due respect to Team Kroll). Like I wrote… Looper was a nice, solid surprise… near perfect execution. 21 Jump Street… nice win… well done. But then you have films like Hotel Transylvania, which had a strong opening for Sony Animation – a nice positive step up – but was 6th best in animation last year…. not a knock out.
Marc is strong and young and very smart and could well end up out of marketing to become a very successful producer or something else in or out of the business. He will do well wherever he lands. But while Sony may not have had the weakest marketing of the last couple of years… it was certainly in the bottom half. And it would have been easier to have Harry Potter and Avengers. But is this a shocking act of corporate blaming the easiest department to blame? Not so much. The door was opened. And the shoved him right out of it.
Will Sony marketing be the better for his exit? No one can know that until someone new comes in and is either a savant or a fuck up… or more likely, something boring in between. The more things change…
And given that the new corporate style seems to be pulling the rug out from under people, who knows what might happen at Sony next?