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The Hobbit Reviews have arrived and uh oh!

8 Dec
Director Peter Jackson at the World premiere o...

Director Peter Jackson at the World premiere of the third part of Lord of the Rings in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Certified Fresh logo.

A Certified Fresh logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Hobbit reviews have finally been posted and so far not so good. On the web site Rotten Tomatoes which which monitors the percentage of positive reviews by critics has The Hobbit at only 70% positive thus far.

The bigger issue is that of all the positive reviews mostly have come from internet critics, such as bloggers. For example this review is positive. I’d say it’s  a little early to hit the panic button, but I’m concerned. So far top critics, which is what Rotten Tomatoes calls critics like Roger Ebert and the New York Times critic A.O Scott, have been mixed in their praise. Only 1 out of 5 reviews counted thus far has been positive. Even that one was not high praise.

So far Roger Ebert hasn’t reviewed The Hobbit;he’ll probably do it next week.

The common theme of the negative reactions has been the movie is too stretched out and too long. This makes me concerned that Peter Jackson’s appendix excuse might just be a way of disguising it as a cash grab. Normally I can live with a movie being just a cash grab–if the movie is Taken 2 or Ice Age, not The Hobbit. Another thing that worries me is that Peter Jackson has become so obsessed with making technology on this film great that he forgot to care about the story.

I’m probably freaking out a little more than I need to right now because I’ve seen the 6 new clips from The Hobbit and they’re great. I probably should not freak out until more critics see the film, and I see it myself.  I’m planning on personally seeing it twice, once in Imax 3D and  the other time in the controversial 48 frames per second. Even having read the movie’s negative reviews of the format, I have to see it at least once in this format because honestly it’s worth at least giving it a try and I don’t get sick on roller coasters.

Even though I should wait, the reviews so far do give me some reason to worry. My fear is that the film is so poorly received that the box office for parts two and three suffer and the legacy of these movies held so high by Lord of the Rings is forever tarnished.

Roger Ebert, american film critic.

Roger Ebert, american film critic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Hobbit is Coming and the Box Office could be huge

3 Dec
The Hobbit (2012 film)

The Hobbit (2012 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Movie studios are running a week in advance:   

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is just two weeks away from release. This weekend coming up there is only one film being released which is a little romantic comedy, Playing for Keeps with Gerard Butler. The reason no other film is even being released is that every movie studio fears The Hobbit. 

Say you work at a movie studio and you see this weekend only has a minor Gerard Butler film being released three weekends before Christmas; they normally jump at the chance to release a big movie. The reason no one has is that they might get a solid opening weekend performance, but in its second weekend the film would likely lose at least half of its audience. The movie studio releasing the Gerard Butler film is hoping for a miracle that the film will be well received and serve as something called counter programming.

Counter programming is when there’s a big box office blockbuster devouring all the money. If people are getting sold out from the showing of the big box office blockbuster or are not a fan of those type of movies, then the Gerard Butler movie is a nice alternative for them. The problem is there’s also the Steven Spielberg film Lincoln and others that probably serve as better options for counter programming.

Early Box Office Forecast have The Hobbit opening to at least  $100 million:

It’s a little early to predict box office, but they’re already some very early rough box office estimates. Box office magazine predicts an opening weekend of $137 million.  So far no box office prediction with the movie still weeks away has it opening to under $100 million. Deadline predicts 106( you have scroll down a little and it’s on the right hand side). So far nobody thinks this won’t break the all time December opening weekend record set by I Am Legend.   

The premiere in New Zeland of The Hobbit was a success with over 100,000 people attending in the city of Wellington. So far no reviews of the film have been released, but it appears there will be some this week. Once reviews start to appear, we can get a better sense of what is to come with the film’s box office.

So what do you think right now The Hobbit’s  box office will be?

“There Was Never Just One”: The Current Franchise Era in Hollywood

19 Nov

“There was never just one”: this is the tagline to last summer’s remake of the Bourne franchise, which I believe is indicative of the current era of Hollywood big budget franchises. There can never be just one; in fact, the more the merrier. Remaking Bourne after a brilliant finale to the Matt Damon franchise–just to squeeze every last cent out of it–was not the only head scratcher of the year.

The Amazing Spiderman remade Spiderman five years after the last Tobey Maguire version and 10 years after the massively successful original that everyone has seen. The craziest part is that the movie made huge money ($260 million) at the box office. This feature of franchises leads to a large conflict in the things I value about being a box office nerd and moviegoer.

1. My appreciation for the business side of movie making

    

If I were a businessman in charge of a movie studio, why would I ever think I should just make one? If a movie makes $500 million with the first installment, then common knowledge of sequels tells us that while the next movie might not make as much, it will generate a higher opening weekend than the original. Now, foreign markets make sequels an even bigger no brainer.

Let’s say that of the $500 million made by the hypothetical movie, $160 million of it comes from domestic audiences and $340 million comes from foreign audiences. This is a 32%/68% ratio, which is now common. Then with the sequel that difference increases. If the sequel makes $700 million worldwide, the ratio is usually $200 million domestic and $500 million foreign–with every subsequent sequel that difference increases.

A great example is the Ice Age franchise. The first film’s domestic to foreign ratio was 46% domestic and 54% foreign. For the latest film, which was the fourth movie, the ratio is a mind-boggling 19% domestic and 81% foreign. What I appreciate about this business strategy is that the movie studio that owns the Ice Age franchise essentially has a cash crop on their hands.

Another business strategy I greatly admire is the Marvel cinematic universe. The Marvel cinematic universe is a collection of individual superhero movie franchises that combine to create a superhero team up film. There are four superheroes: Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America. Each super hero makes a movie that has loose ties to one another; then they come together as a team to make a movie.

What makes this such a genius strategy by Marvel is that each individual film makes around $400 million worldwide. Then the team up movie The Avengers makes at least $1 billion dollars. If you combine these movies, Marvel makes close to $3 billion and that doesn’t even include merchandising and DVD sales.

2. I’m obsessed with studying stats

I don’t know what it is about statistics, but studying numbers is so much fun to me. Then if you give me numbers for something that I love like movies, then you get why I love studying box office so much. For me the bigger the numbers, the better, and those usually come from the big franchise movies. If you look at the top opening weekends of all time they’re all sequels.

The reason sequels always have a higher opening weekend than original movies is their intense fan base. Original movies need a good reaction by audiences. Original movies tend to open more modestly, and if they have a strong enough audience reaction they get something called “legs.” Legs means they spend a longer time in theaters than franchise sequels, which tend to burn off audience demand quickly.

While seeing a movie with legs is fun (original films like Avatar and Inception are examples), the most fun comes from the freak openings that come from movie franchises.

3. I love movies as an art form

 

I honestly believe that movies can captivate us now more than ever. With the advances in modern technology and the large budgets, the opportunities for amazing out-of-body theater experiences are limitless. However all the money is going to franchises. While movie studios do care about the quality, they care more about protecting the brand than they do about creating the best movie possible.

The best movies come when directors are given a blank check and told to go make any movie they want. However there really are only a handful of directors who get that privilege. These directors, in my opinion, are Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese.

All of these directors needed to prove over a long period of time that they know how to make great movies that audiences want to see. The problem is that there are some great directors who know how to make blockbuster movies, but movie studios are forcing them into franchise hell. I’m thinking of directors like JJ Abrams, Brad Bird, and Joss Wheddon who are all stuck making franchise movies when they could be creating great unique films.

My point is that movie studios think they should never make just one, but maybe they should. Then we can get more risky and more creative movies then we are getting now.