“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
~ James Gray
By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
17 Weeks Of Summer: Episode One – The Studios
There are 30 wide-release films due to be released by the 6 major studios in these 17 weeks of summer (May 2-August 24).And the majors haven’t done anything to change the popular media tune about an ongoing obsession with big, expensive movies.
MEGA MOVIES dominate the summer. 7 of the 30 studio releases are in this category, each with production budgets of over $150 million.
5/2/14 – Sony – The Amazing Spider-Man 2
5/16/14 – WB – Godzilla
5/23/14 – Fox – X-Men: Days of Future Past
5/30/14 – Disney – Maleficent
6/27/14 – Par – Transformers: Age of Extinction
7/18/14 – WB – Jupiter Ascending
8/1/14 – Disney – Guardians of the Galaxy
Each of these films will be looking for $200 million domestic at minimum. Coincidentally, there are no instances of seven $200 million-grossing movies in any one summer. However, there have been six such films in each of the last two summers.
Of course, in the 2014 marketplace, these films could underperform domestically and make up for it overseas. So don’t make the mistake of just writing any of these films off just because they look like they might land in the low 100s domestically. Under $100 million domestic and you can start shoveling dirt, though even then at the risk of being shocked by a 3x or 4X multiple overseas… which still might just get to breakeven, but not a writedown.
As you can see from the listing, the month of May is very, very competitive, while later mega-entries have a lot less direct mega-competition to fight off.
BIG MOVIES are also in play – five of them – looking to score some big numbers as well. What’s a Big Movie, as opposed to a Mega-movie? Budgets of $100-150 million. There are five of these, though to be completely fair, one of them – Luc Besson’s Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson – may be a bit under the $100 million mark.
The Big Movies are:
6/6/14 – WB – Edge of Tomorrow
7/11/14 -Fox – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
7/25/14 – Par – Hercules
8/8/14 – U – Lucy
8/8/14 – Par – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
As you can see, none of these films are going after the mega-game. The first of these films is Tom Cruise, waiting until after Memorial Day Weekend. And it’s more than a full month between that crapshoot until the second film in this category, the Apes sequel, which is 2 weeks clear of Transformers 4, and a week before the new film from The Wachowskis, which no one is overly afraid of at this point. The other three are sitting things out until the last push of the summer, just before and into August.
These films are all looking for a minimum of $100 million domestic to break even. Except for Ninja Turtles, which is a bit of an unknown, these films are all built for strong international returns. The first Apes movie did $480m worldwide. Cruise and The Rock are both very popular in action overseas. Lucy is actually made by Europeans and Johansson has Avengers cred.
COMEDIES are the second largest category.
There were six last summer. There are seven this summer, with two studios (Disney, Paramount) staying out of the category.
5/9/14 – U – Neighbors
5/23/14 – WB – Blended
5/30/14 – U – A Million Ways to Die in the West
6/13/14 – Sony – 22 Jump Street
7/2/14 – WB – Tammy
7/25/14 – Sony – Sex Tape
8/13/14 – Fox – Let’s Be Cops
Five of the six comedies from last summer did over $100 million domestic. So there is no reason to assume that this year is in any way overcrowded with comedies.
Though they have not all been rated yet, it’s safe to say that at least five of the seven will be rated R. Blended, the Sandler/Barrymore family comedy is PG-13 and we’ll see what Let’s Be Cops is. But this was true of last year’s line-up too. The only 2 PG-13 films were the Sandler and The Internship, which was really the only major studio comedy flop last summer.
As you can see, they are pretty well spread out. The only slotting without at least 2 weeks of space are Sandler vs McFarlane, though Memorial Day Weekend is the cause of this conflict and the two films are targeting very different demographics.
FAMILY FILMS are a bit thin this summer.
People have long associated summer with family films doing big business. But this summer, there are “only” two animated films and two small family films on either end of the season.
5/16/14 – Dis – Million Dollar Arm
6/13/14 – Fox – How to Train Your Dragon 2
7/18/14 – Dis – Planes: Fire and Rescue
8/8/14 – Dis – The Hundred-Foot Journey
Last summer, this category was good for just under $1 billion domestic. This summer, it would be a small miracle if this foursome delivers half of that.
The big hole is from Pixar, which decided to skip this summer fairly late in the game… which in animation leaves little room to shift for competitors. Nothing from Blue Sky either, though they are not expected every single summer.
But when people are writing their summer wrap-ups in August, expect a lot of scowls about the missed opportunity with the family audience.
WOMEN’S FILMS is a category that may draw some nasty tweets, just for its name. But what can you do?
And the fact that there are only two films that qualify for the category this summer? Even worse. Oh… and both films were directed by guys.
It’s Shailene Woodley vs Chloë Grace Moretz, just in case you were worried that there would be some new faces leading the way this summer. I’m sure both will be pretty good. I am a bit more excited for the August film because it’s been directed by an established doc director, RJ Cutler, making his fictional feature debut.
6/6/14 – Fox – The Fault in our Stars
8/22/14 – WB – If I Stay
OTHER is a place to put a couple high profile films, a couple low-profile films and one somewhere in the middle.
Do you know that there is a Clint Eastwood movie coming this summer? You probably would if you were working in the film business. His adaptation of the stage sensation, Jersey Boys, lands in June. WB won’t let you forget this… once they get past Godzilla.
Universal rolls out its sequel to a big success of a low-budget horror film with The Purge: Anarchy.
The middle movie is a biopic of James Brown, Get On Up, starring Chadwick Boseman and directed by Tate Taylor. That may sound better as, “the star of 42 and the director of The Help.” Who knows? Maybe it will be a surprise late summer shocker.
Into The Storm – “A group of high school students document the events and aftermath of a devastating tornado.” (That’s from imdb._ The biggest stars are Sarah Wayne Callies and Matt Walsh (“The Walking Dead” and “Veep”).
And finally, As Above, So Below… a Legendary-funded movie that doesn’t even have actors listed on the imdb page. So… we’ll see. I’m not mocking… just don’t know… maybe we’ll see it in the spring of 2015.
WB – Jersey Boys 6/20/14
U – The Purge: Anarchy 7/18/14
U – Get On Up 8/1/14
WB – Into The Storm 8/8/14
U – As Above, So Below 8/15/14
So what does all this mean?
Well, that’s another column, isn’t it?
Meanwhile, here is another way at looking at the summer… in simple order of date of release…
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Million Dollar Arm
X-Men: Days of Future Past
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Edge of Tomorrow
The Fault in our Stars
How to Train Your Dragon 2
22 Jump Street
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Planes: Fire and Rescue
The Purge: Anarchy
Guardians of the Galaxy
Get On Up
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Into The Storm
Let’s Be Cops
As Above, So Below
If I Stay