Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

All the dirt. All the top secret stuff. Anything that has to do with the process of getting us to sit and watch something projected on the big screen.

Do you agree with Master Lucas? Is the "blockbuster" dead?

Yes, and the funeral will take place outside the chinise theatre!
14
35%
No, studios will keep making 200 million movies with a 1000000 million profit!
26
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Total votes : 40

Postby HeadlessCrane on Sun Mar 12, 2006 8:28 pm

If Lucas was quoted in context... I'd say that Lucas is talking out of his ass. What the fuck does he know? He also said that LOTR was only possible if he made it. He needs to get back to reality.

Blockbusters have been around since entertainment existed. Arenas. Stages. Movies. There has and always will be people who risk a lot of money to make a bigger spectacle than anyone has ever seen before.

It really sounds like PR for Lucas to bow out of big budget movies without losing face. It's like Demi Moore taking a break from movies to raise her children after have flop after flop. If he isn't playing some kind of game to begin with.
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Postby RogueScribner on Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:26 am

The need for studios to make money, and lots of it, will always trump art. The only true art that comes out of Hollywood is either self-financed or made by people with enough power and conviction to make it happen. Everything else is paint-by-numbers, some better than others.

As digital filmmaking becomes cheaper and cheaper, and as the information superhighway adds more and more places to grab a cup of coffee (boy this metaphor sucks), more voices will be heard. They all won't be worth hearing, but more will be heard and future movie watchers will be swimming in the amount of choices they can make.

This is not the end of the blockbuster, it's simply a shift in the status quo. If films could survive TV, if TV could survive cable, if films could survive TV, cable, and home video, then there's nothing to worry about. People will always want a night out. They'll always want to be entertained. People will always like seeing things get blowed up real good. It was true in the beginning, it's true now. All that changes is the price tag.
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Postby MasterWhedon on Wed Mar 15, 2006 1:22 pm

TIME has an interview with George Lucas up HERE where he talks about the future of, well, everything and anything we're facing in this brave new world of cinema.

A really great read.
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Postby jgraphix on Wed Mar 15, 2006 1:36 pm

Hmmm...that was a very interesting read..thanks MW.
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Postby The Vicar on Wed Mar 15, 2006 3:05 pm

I like the way Headlesscrane linked the old Roman arena form of blockbuster ( most notably some of the shit that Caligula had performed) to modern ( and not so modern) stage & film.

Look at what's taken over the "Theatre" in the last few decades....giant spectacles like Phantom, Starlight Express, Les Miserables, Lion King etal.

Blockbusters have been around in the film canon since Birth of a Nation.

Lucas is full of Wookie shit.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:43 pm

From Variety:
Hollywood busts the plan - Show business rarely adheres to rules

Peter Bart wrote:"Paranormal" crashed through the $150 million barrier recently, promptly inspiring its distributor, Paramount, to announce a new program of micro-budget pictures. The dubious conceit: That Hollywood can replicate the "Paranormal" phenomenon (its budget was $15,000).

Meanwhile, the exuberant reception accorded "Avatar" prompted its auteur, Jim Cameron, to reveal that he is prepping a program of films designed to exploit "Avatar's" breakthrough technology. Cameron did not specify whether the follow-up movies would aspire to "Avatar's" budgetary heights (Cameron's production cost totalled somewhere between $300 million and $400 million, depending on which accounting rules you follow).

If Avatar achieves something close to "Titanic"-like success, it will further reinforce the unique role that technology has played in Hollywood filmmaking. In most industries, technology has brought extraordinary cost savings, while in Hollywood it has created giant cost overruns.

One reason is that filmmakers have been incapable of curbing their appetites for effects that are "bigger" and "better." Another is that studio managements have proven extraordinarily inept about managing effects budgets or the outside contractors who violate them. Testifies the producer of one of the year's hit effects movies: "Dumb strategies by studio management added $35 million to my final costs."

Whether or not "Avatar" and "Paranormal" ever appear on a double bill, the two films dramatize the polarization of the Hollywood agenda. Studios are trying to nurture either very pricey franchise films or very inexpensive projects, often to the neglect of the "tweeners" that have racked up surprising numbers this past year. Executives find comfort in the fact that a conventional disaster movie like "2012" can gross almost $700 million around the world (two thirds of it from foreign markets). Its success reinforces basic corporate business strategies.

On the other hand, how do you account for a $460 million blockbuster like "The Hangover," a movie without star-casting or special effects or even an entirely coherent plot? Surely, "The Hangover" will go unrewarded with an Oscar, since comedy has traditionally been ignored by the Academy. But its success cannot be ignored by the studios for this key reason: It's a vivid reminder to the conglomerates that Hollywood has always defied efforts to come up with a business plan. Hits happen at any budget. And the double bill from hell will happen, too.


From Variety:
'Avatar' plot thickens
Peter Bart wrote:To some reviewers, movies will never be the same and, indeed, on some levels, they are right: James Cameron has raised the stakes both visually and financially. The care and feeding of tentpoles will now be even pricier and more precarious as rival filmmakers try to match Cameron and raise him one.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:20 am

THR 6/12/2013 :
Steven Spielberg Predicts 'Implosion' of Film Industry
George Lucas echoed Spielberg's sentiments at an event touting the opening of a new USC School of Cinematic Arts building, saying big changes are in store.
Paul Bond wrote:Steven Spielberg on Wednesday predicted an "implosion" in the film industry is inevitable, whereby a half dozen or so $250 million movies flop at the box office and alter the industry forever. What comes next -- or even before then -- will be price variances at movie theaters, where "you're gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you're probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln." He also said that Lincoln came "this close" to being an HBO movie instead of a theatrical release.

George Lucas agreed that massive changes are afoot, including film exhibition morphing somewhat into a Broadway play model, whereby fewer movies are released, they stay in theaters for a year and ticket prices are much higher. His prediction prompted Spielberg to recall that his 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial stayed in theaters for a year and four months.

The two legendary filmmakers, along with CNBC anchor Julia Boorstin and Microsoft president of interactive entertainment business Don Mattrick, were speaking at the University of Southern California as part of the festivities surrounding the official opening of the Interactive Media Building, three stories high and part of the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Lucas and Spielberg told USC students that they are learning about the industry at an extraordinary time of upheaval, where even proven talents find it difficult to get movies into theaters. Some ideas from young filmmakers "are too fringe-y for the movies," Spielberg said. "That's the big danger, and there's eventually going to be an implosion — or a big meltdown. There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm."

Lucas lamented the high cost of marketing movies and the urge to make them for the masses while ignoring niche audiences. He called cable television "much more adventurous" than film nowadays.

"I think eventually the Lincolns will go away and they're going to be on television," Lucas said. "As mine almost was," Spielberg interjected. "This close -- ask HBO -- this close."

"We're talking Lincoln and Red Tails -- we barely got them into theaters. You're talking about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas can't get their movie into a theater," Lucas said. "I got more people into Lincoln than you got into Red Tails," Spielberg joked.

Spielberg added that he had to co-own his own studio in order to get Lincoln into theaters.

"The pathway to get into theaters is really getting smaller and smaller," Lucas said.

Mattrick and Spielberg also praised Netflix, prompting Boorstin to ask Spielberg if he planned to make original content for the Internet streamer. "I have nothing to announce," said the director.

Lucas and Spielberg also spoke of vast differences between filmmaking and video games because the latter hasn't been able to tell stories and make consumers care about the characters. Which isn't to say the two worlds aren't connected. Spielberg, in fact, has teamed with Microsoft to make a "TV" show for Xbox 360 based on the game Halo and he is making a movie based on the Electronic Arts game Need for Speed.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby Fievel on Fri Sep 06, 2013 7:50 am

Lucas lamented the high cost of marketing movies


From the guy who whored every prequel film out to whatever merchandising avenue possible........ :roll:
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:03 am

Fievel wrote:
Lucas lamented the high cost of marketing movies


From the guy who whored every prequel film out to whatever merchandising avenue possible........ :roll:


hey, he's talking about marketing, not merchandising. marketing COSTS money, merchandising MAKES money.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby Fievel on Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:13 am

TheBaxter wrote:
Fievel wrote:
Lucas lamented the high cost of marketing movies


From the guy who whored every prequel film out to whatever merchandising avenue possible........ :roll:


hey, he's talking about marketing, not merchandising. marketing COSTS money, merchandising MAKES money.


When you slap Jar-Jar's face all over Pepsi cans and bags of Doritos to the point that you can't go into a grocery store without being attacked by cardboard standees of Clones/Chewbacca/Maul/Yoda/etc. ........ then it doesn't matter how money exchanges hands, it is most definitely marketing.

Now maybe he's talking about something like Red Tails, which was going to have a limited audience to start. He knew going in that his returns would be infinitely small compared to the 93487% profit he made off of the prequels. But honestly - I don't remember seeing any commercials on TV for that movie. Everything I saw was online. Is he at the point now where if there is no profit, it's just too expensive? Is that what's keeping him from those "smaller, personal films" he was going to direct after the prequels were over? Or is he just lazy? Or was that talk all a smokescreen while he was finishing his notes for Ep. 7-9 before the sale to Disney?
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:23 pm

Fievel wrote:
TheBaxter wrote:
Fievel wrote:
Lucas lamented the high cost of marketing movies


From the guy who whored every prequel film out to whatever merchandising avenue possible........ :roll:


hey, he's talking about marketing, not merchandising. marketing COSTS money, merchandising MAKES money.


When you slap Jar-Jar's face all over Pepsi cans and bags of Doritos to the point that you can't go into a grocery store without being attacked by cardboard standees of Clones/Chewbacca/Maul/Yoda/etc. ........ then it doesn't matter how money exchanges hands, it is most definitely marketing.


that's the genius of lucas... most people have to pay to advertise their product. lucas gets companies to pay HIM to advertise his product for him.

sadly, while lucas is a merchandising genius, whatever filmmaking genius he had left him long ago, as the prequels clearly demonstrated.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby Pacino86845 on Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:34 pm

Fievel wrote:Is that what's keeping him from those "smaller, personal films" he was going to direct after the prequels were over? Or is he just lazy? Or was that talk all a smokescreen while he was finishing his notes for Ep. 7-9 before the sale to Disney?


He eventually said he was dropping film directing altogether... sometime between Red Tails' poor reception and selling Lucasfilm off to Disney.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby Tyrone_Shoelaces on Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:46 pm

He also just had a baby with his new wife so I imagine his priorities are elsewhere at the moment.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:07 am

Jeffrey Katzenberg Predicts 3-Week Theatrical Window in Future
Alexandra Cheney wrote:“I think the model will change and you won’t pay for the window of availability. A movie will come out and you will have 17 days, that’s exactly three weekends, which is 95% of the revenue for 98% of movies. On the 18th day, these movies will be available everywhere ubiquitously and you will pay for the size. A movie screen will be $15. A 75” TV will be $4.00. A smartphone will be $1.99. That enterprise that will exist throughout the world, when that happens, and it will happen, it will reinvent the enterprise of movies,” he told the crowd.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheBaxter on Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:21 am

TheButcher wrote:Jeffrey Katzenberg Predicts 3-Week Theatrical Window in Future
Alexandra Cheney wrote:“I think the model will change and you won’t pay for the window of availability. A movie will come out and you will have 17 days, that’s exactly three weekends, which is 95% of the revenue for 98% of movies. On the 18th day, these movies will be available everywhere ubiquitously and you will pay for the size. A movie screen will be $15. A 75” TV will be $4.00. A smartphone will be $1.99. That enterprise that will exist throughout the world, when that happens, and it will happen, it will reinvent the enterprise of movies,” he told the crowd.


3 weeks? hey, that's 2 weeks longer than John Carter.


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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby Spandau Belly on Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:12 am

I'm not really sure what big revolution in media Mr. Katzenberg is talking about. As far as I know, lots of movies are already available to see in cinemas and on home video at the same time and customers have a choice of how they choose to watch movies. Where I live you can still go see 12 YEARS A SLAVE and FROZEN even though they've both been available on home video for some time (I think well over a month). These movies stick around in cinemas because people are interested in seeing them and because they prefer to watch movies on the big screen.

Making movies available sooner on home video formats isn't going to "reinvent the enterprise of movies" :roll: it's just going to maybe put a few straggling cinemas out of business.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Mon Jun 16, 2014 4:33 am

What's causing sales for recent big films to drop sharply after their first weekend?
Steven Zeitchik wrote:"The Amazing Spider-Man 2," "Godzilla" and "X-Men: Days of Future Past" have all enjoyed big opening weekends in the last month, each earning between $90 million and $95 million in just their first three days.

But all of these movies have something else in common: a precipitous drop-off in ticket sales the following weekend.

"Spider-Man 2" saw its numbers drop 61% from its first weekend. "Godzilla" plummeted 67%. This past weekend, "X-Men" tumbled 64% from figures it posted in its first three days.

The conventional wisdom for most blockbuster movies has been that a drop of more than 50% is disappointing. If the number rises above 60%, the drop begins to look like a cliff dive.

It's part of what might be called a one-and-done moviegoing culture — films that, for all their firepower, quickly lose their dominance at the box office.

One Hollywood veteran who requested anonymity so as not to appear to be criticizing colleagues and competitors said that new movies may simply not be built to last; these branded action adventures are a kind of "empty-calorie cinema" that doesn't inspire long-term moviegoing.

Others have pointed to the advent of digital platforms and the ease with which these movies can be seen elsewhere. If one isn't a part of the opening-weekend phenomenon in theaters, better to wait for the movie on Redbox, Netflix or cable on-demand.
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Re: Is the summer movie season dead?

Postby TheButcher on Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:21 am

Vulture:
When It Comes to Box Office, the Entire Year Is Summer-Movie Season Now

The Dissolve:
The Summer Movie Season is dead
The Summer Movie Season as we know it died on November 7, 2013.

THR:
Box Office: Why Summer Starts in April Now
"There's less competition in play and a lot more room to hold."
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:10 pm

Variety:
‘Transformers’: How ‘Age of Extinction’ Plans to Dominate China

Variety:
‘Transformers 4′: Why the Box Office Smash is a Turning Point in China
Brent Lang wrote:China looms over the film industry, representing its best hope for growth at a time when nimbler competitors such as television and online video are siphoning away attention and audiences.

The world’s second largest film market cast a shadow over the move business this week, pumping up the global grosses of “Transformers: Age of Extinction” by injecting a record-breaking $90 million into its opening haul. That crushes the previous high-water market of $64.5 million for “Iron Man 3″ and nearly matches the $92.5 million that Chinese-made “Journey to the West” grossed in its first seven days of release.

In total, China contributed roughly half of the fourth “Transformers” film’s international gross and nearly matched its U.S. debut.

“It’s a turning point for the dynamic between Hollywood and China,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “This taps into a whole new potential in terms of what a movie can do when it opens at the same time in the U.S. and China.”

But “Transformers” wasn’t the only film demonstrating the profit potential of the People’s Republic and its population of 1.3 billion. Legendary Pictures announced that it was proceeding with a sequel to “Pacific Rim,” a film that was met with audience indifference stateside, but was rescued from financial disaster by Asian markets. In China alone, the monsters versus giant robots adventure picked up $114 million, more than it made in the United States. Were it not for that performance and the continued growth of the Chinese market it’s doubtful that “Pacific Rim 2″ would ever make it to theaters.



“It’s a new frontier,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “Anyone whose not already chasing China, should be.”

In other words, Optimus Prime just kicked off a Mandarin Gold Rush.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:20 am

THR:
Box Office: What's Behind Summer's Free Fall at the Multiplex (Analysis)
The Fourth of July saw historic lows, while revenue for the summer is down nearly 20 percent to date in North America.
Pamela McClintock wrote:Most Hollywood studios have come to rely heavily on big-budget tentpoles to anchor their summer slates, and this year is no different. But it will likely be the first summer since 2001 that no event title reaches $300 million at the North American box office, putting even more pressure on international results. In 2013, the season's first movie, Iron Man 3, took in $409 million domestically. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which kicked off this summer, struggled to get to $200 million.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Jul 07, 2014 11:32 am

maybe Iron Man 3 was just a much, much better film than Amazing Spiderman 2
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Mon Sep 01, 2014 5:21 pm

Box-Office Crash: What Caused Hollywood's Miserable Summer?
It's official: North American summer revenue barely cracks $4 billion, an eight-year low and down 15 percent from 2013
Pamela McClintock wrote:To understand the upside-down summer at the box office, consider that Sony's 22 Jump Street, made for about $50 million, ended up grossing nearly as much in North America as The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the studio's $200 million-plus tentpole that represents the type of movie on which Hollywood long has relied to drive summer slates. 22 Jump Street earned $193.3 million domestically, versus $202.8 million for the Spider-Man sequel (Neighbors, another R-rated comedy, also prospered).

All the usual rules were tossed out as comedies, female-fueled films and Guardians of the Galaxy, the season's top-grossing title despite being released in the dog days of August, were left to make up for underperforming franchise pics. "Ultimately, it comes down to content, and the content just wasn't as good as it has been in previous years," says entertainment analyst Eric Handler of MKM Partners. Adds one studio executive, "many of the tentpoles that underperformed were more of the same and way too long. People ate up Guardians because it was a departure from the norm."

Domestic revenue from May 2 through Labor Day came in at an estimated $4.05 billion, an eight-year low and, when accounting for inflation, a 17-year low. Moreover, revenue was down 15 percent from last summer's record $4.75 billion, while attendance tumbled more than 5 percent. Not one film has crossed $300 million domestically for the first time since 2001, though Guardians of the Galaxy will ultimately reach that mark (its domestic cume is just north of $280 million).

If there's any solace, it's that the international marketplace remains strong, although the World Cup hurt box office returns in key soccer markets. Nor were there major debacles akin to summer 2013 disasters The Lone Ranger and After Earth. Still, Sony appears to have put its Amazing Spider-Man franchise on ice after ASM2 topped out at $708.3 million, which included only $202.9 million domestic.

Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction also hit a franchise low in the U.S., but it has amassed north of $1.07 billion globally after becoming the top film of all time in China with $331 million. "There is no question the movie business is cyclical," says Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore. Age of Extinction's lengthy running time of 165 minutes no doubt hurt it in the U.S. (the previous installments were shorter).

Warner Bros., usually the dominant summer player, saw its revenue drop a massive 39.5 percent from 2013 as of Aug. 1. Godzilla, the studio's top earner, grossed $507.9 million globally, while Tom Cruise's big-budget Edge of Tomorrow finished with $364 million. Disappointments included Adam Sandler's Blended and Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys. "Our summer did not live up to our expectations," says Warners distribution chief Dan Fellman, "though Tammy will be profitable. We'll also have a very strong fourth quarter."

Disney, without a summer animated film for the first time in a decade, did great with Maleficent and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.

Fox, on a winning streak, will win the market-share honor thanks to X-Men: Days of Future Past ($745.4 million), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ($611.5 million) and The Fault in Our Stars ($286.5 million), among other titles. "All of our movies were fresh and well-received. That's ultimately what matters," said Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson. "Give the people more of what they want."

Females powered both Fault and Maleficent as well as Universal's Lucy, suggesting an underserved demo. Maleficent, a boon for star Angelina Jolie, grossed $748.7 million worldwide, the No. 2 title of the summer after Age of Extinction.

If there's a common refrain on Wall Street and in Hollywood as the season ends, it's that next summer will restore balance with Avengers: Age of Ultron, Fast & Furious 7, Pixar's Inside Out and Universal's Jurassic World. But with so many entertainment options now vying for eyeballs, the fear is that summer 2014 is the start of a new reality. "You have to answer two critical questions: Do I have to see it now? And do I have to see it on the big screen?" says Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn. "If the answer is 'no' to either, you are in trouble."
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Sat Jan 31, 2015 7:55 am

“All The Money Is In The Action Figures”:
George Lucas Slams Empty Hollywood Blockbusters
Kevin Jagernauth wrote:“I could see where things were headed. The toy business began to drive the [Lucasfilm] empire. It’s a shame. They make three times as much on toys as they do on films. It’s natural to make decisions that protect the toy business, but that’s not the best thing for making quality films,” former Lucasfilm insider and producer of the first two "Star Wars" films Gary Kurtz told Hero Complex in 2010. He also said “the first film and ‘Empire’ were about story and character, but I could see that George [Lucas] George’s priorities were changing.”

Whether intentionally or not, the massive success of "Star Wars" helped usher in the blockbuster film era, in which products associated with the movie are more lucrative than the film itself. And heading into "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back," one understands why Lucas couldn't resist the lucrative allure of toy sales. After all, he was financing the highly anticipated sequel independentallly, as well as using his own visual effects company on the production. Lucas' personal stakes were unbelievably high, and it would be natural to want those costs offset. But thirty-five years later, it's a bit rich to hear Lucas speak out so vehemently against an industry that he not only inadvertently spawned, but has continued to participate in and which has enriched him to near unprecedented levels.

Visiting the Sundance Film Festival this week, Lucas sat down with pal Robert Redford for a conversation and the "Star Wars" creator slammed Hollywood films. They are “more and more circus without any substance behind it,” he said (via Variety). “If you go into ‘Star Wars’ and see what’s going on there, there’s a lot more substance than circus.”

And he didn't stop there. Lucas also struck out at the very people who distributed and invested time and money into his pictures. “Studio executives generally are not the most sophisticated people in the world…you do not want to be oppressed by people who are not as smart as you are, and I’m dumb,” he said.

But Lucas isn't entirely lacking self awareness: he conceded the source of his massive wealth: “All the money is in the action figures.”

Last summer it was reported that in 2011 —with no movie in theaters— "Star Wars" merchandise earned $3 billion in sales. As you might guess, Disney is expecting even bigger figures by the time "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" arrives. So it seems that their $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm was a steal. Merchandising alone will help erase that debt, and the power of auxiliary avenues of profit is well known to Lucas, with Kurtz claiming that the end of 'Empire' was changed for the sake of the toys.

“We had an outline and George changed everything in it,” he said. “Instead of bittersweet and poignant, he wanted a euphoric ending with everybody happy. The original idea was that they would recover [the kidnapped] Han Solo in the early part of the story and that he would then die in the middle part of the film in a raid on an Imperial base. George then decided he didn’t want any of the principals killed. By that time, there were really big toy sales and that was a reason.”

Lucas seems to be in conflict with himself, wishing to been perceived as an artist and independent minded filmmaker and trying to distance himself from the very studio practices that more than comfortably padded his bottom line. And it's a bottom line that continues to grow, with Disney CEO Bob Iger confirming in a shareholder letter (via The Wrap), that the plans for the next 'Star Wars' movies haven't changed. “As one of the few people allowed to visit the set during filming… and one of the fewer who’s seen most of the footage… I can assure the millions of ‘Star Wars’ fans who have spent the last decade hoping for a new movie this one will be worth the wait," he wrote. "And it’s only the beginning of a new era of exceptional ‘Star Wars’ storytelling; next year, we’ll release our first standalone movie based on these characters, followed by ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ in 2017, and we’ll finish this trilogy with ‘Episode IX’ in 2019.”

And with that, we can probably expect a whole new wave of toys, video game, clothes, lunch boxes, pencil cases, bedsheets, snow globes, keychains and more. But can someone bring back C-3POs? Meanwhile, watch the entire Lucas/Redford conversation below (but you need to fast forward to about the 29 minute mark, fyi).

George Lucas Rips Hollywood, ‘Stupid’ Cat Videos at Sundance
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:04 am

CinemaCon Ushers in What Looks to Be a Blockbuster Year for Movies
Brent Lang wrote:Theater owners from around the world converge next week on CinemaCon, the annual exhibition tradeshow in Las Vegas, eager for studios to unveil the big gambles they’re taking on the latest comicbook movies and franchise fare.


While slot machines clang just out of earshot, and tourists huddle around blackjack tables, cinema execs will retreat inside the theater at Caesars Palace to get a sneak peek at clips from he likes of “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens,” “Jurassic World,” “Spectre” and “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.” It’s Hollywood’s equivalent of a royal flush.

On paper, they all look like smart bets; many industry analysts predict that 2015 will be the first year to cross $11 billion in domestic ticket sales.

“It looks like a big bounceback year,” said Robert Copple, president and chief operating officer of Cinemark. “It’s an incredible opportunity for me to see what’s coming not just this year, but into 2016 and beyond. That helps me know what my business is going to look like.”

What a difference 12 months makes. Last year’s CinemaCon was shrouded in a somber air, as evidence mounted that 2014’s crop of would-be blockbusters were welterweights. The pessimism proved well-founded, with the U.S. box office ending the year down 5.2% from 2013.

That hasn’t been the only pressure point of late. The threat of a shortened window between a film’s theatrical debut and its home-entertainment premiere has reignited tensions. Facing terror threats, Sony Pictures’ “The Interview” was pulled from all major circuits, then premiered on digital and on-demand platforms as well as in limited theatrical release.

Movie-theater owners and studio executives say “The Interview” was an anomaly, but that’s not the only bone of contention. Netflix is spending heavily on feature films like “Beasts of No Nation” and a sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” while premiering them simultaneously on its streaming service, or forgoing a theatrical release entirely. MGM’s “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” became available digitally just 46 days after theatrical release, a short window for a studio film.

But National Assn. of Theatre Owners CEO John Fithian, who helped craft the exhibition industry’s response to the last great windows crisis, argues this situation is different from the scuffle cinemas had with studios in 2011. In that case, four major studios were pushing to release films on DirecTV 60 days after they bowed in theaters, reducing the standard window by a month.

“The big public debates with major distributors aren’t happening,” he said. “The issues are on the periphery, with Netflix and other companies that offer content for the home, and don’t care about the theatrical experience.”

Netflix could prove to be just as disruptive when it comes to windowing as it was regarding the demise of DVDs and Blu-rays — it’s difficult to convince consumers to pay for something they can stream for a monthly subscription fee from the comfort of their own home.

That leads to generational challenges for studios: Younger viewers aren’t showing up at the same levels they once did, raising questions about the long-term viability of an entertainment form that must compete with videogames and cheaper online forms of entertainment.

To help differentiate the theatrical experience from the one widely available in living rooms, exhibitors have outfitted theaters with 3D projectors and reclining seats, while experimenting with alcoholic beverage service. In the short run, the results have been encouraging, helping boost earnings at major theater chains and offsetting the box office downturn.

“The industry is in very good shape,” said Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners. “You could even say it’s going through a renaissance. There are more concession options, and with reclining seats, facilities are more comfortable.”

Over four days in Sin City, theater owners will be treated to a steady diet of clip reels highlighting the previous year’s biggest moneymakers and previews of films to come — every one a blockbuster, if the studios are to be believed. There will also be full-on screenings of “Inside Out,” “Spy” and “Pitch Perfect 2,” as well as appearances from top talent.

The purpose is not so much to sell exhibitors on the pictures, since theaters book films far in advance, but rather to cheerlead for the industry. “There’s so much press about the all of these threats to theaters and the end of the business,” said president of the alternative programming and distribution division at Carmike Cinemas’ Bud Mayo. “It helps to have positive reinforcement.”

But it’s more than a quest for validation. Exhibitors come to CinemaCon to meet with colleagues, and check out a tradeshow boasting the latest developments in popcorn technology and amenities — from 4D seating that jerks and bucks along with the onscreen action to laser demonstrations that promise a crisper picture.

“It’s the place to be seen,” said Brock Bagby, director of programming and business development at B&B Theatres. “You get a lot of face time with a lot of people, and that gives you leads on new theater projects and potential partnerships.”

The hope is that not everything that happens in Vegas stays there.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:49 pm

Tonight kicks off the official summer movie season for 2015:
Your Yearly Reminder: Cinema = Still Not Dead
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Sat Jun 27, 2015 5:53 am

THR 6/26/2015:
Box Office: Moviegoing Isn't Extinct After All as Revenue Hits Record Levels
A hybrid pack of hits — including 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' and 'Jurassic World' — have helped set the North American box office revenue record at an all-time high of $5.3 billion year-to-date.
Pamela McClintock wrote:Universal is enjoying the best year in its history, and is No. 1 in marketshare. Two of its films, Furious 7 and Jurassic World, have already grossed north of $1 billion globally, or $1.51 billion and $1.02 billion, respectively. (It is also home to Fifty Shades of Grey and Pitch Perfect 2.) Disney is also prospering, with Ultron earning $1.38 billion globally.
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Spielberg says superheroes will go 'the way of the Western.'

Postby TheButcher on Thu Sep 03, 2015 8:15 pm

THR 9/2/2015:
Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks to Split From Disney, in Talks With Universal (Exclusive)
The director, whose rich deal will make him tens of millions of dollars from 'Jurassic World,' will part with Disney after the release of next summer's 'The BFG.'



AP September 2, 2015:
Fall Movie Preview: Spielberg plunges into the Cold War
JAKE COYLE wrote:AP: You caused a stir two years ago when you predicted Hollywood was headed toward an "implosion" because of the over-abundance of mega-budget movies. Do you still feel that way?

Spielberg:
I do. I still feel that way. We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western. It doesn't mean there won't be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns. Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I'm only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Wed Oct 14, 2015 10:04 am

Variety:
Does ‘Pan’s’ Box Office Bomb Spell the End for Origin Stories?
Brent Lang wrote:“Pan” was supposed to provide a fresh spin on the oft-told tale of the boy who could fly, but the pricey epic remained earthbound last weekend, opening to an anemic $15.3 million.

That disastrous start guarantees it will rank alongside other costly misses like “Jupiter Ascending” and “Tomorrowland” as one of the year’s biggest box office disasters. With an $150 million price tag, Warner Bros. could lose tens of millions on a film it hoped would kick off a new fantasy franchise.

When the dust settles and studio executives comb through the wreckage for clues about what doomed the adventure film, it appears that it will suffer from two fatal and seemingly contradictory flaws. “Pan” was both overly formulaic and too wild a deviation from J.M. Barrie’s beloved children’s classic to succeed.

The film’s narrative thrust — its “chosen one” story about a savior meant to liberate a people — keeps popping up in one Hollywood production after another. From “Star Wars” to “The Hunger Games,” the downtrodden are continually bumping into new emancipators, resulting in a stifling sense of deja vu.

Then there’s the origin story angle. Ever since “Batman Begins” was able to breath new life into the Dark Knight saga by taking audiences back to the time before Bruce Wayne donned the cape and cowl, studios have been loath to begin a story in medias res. But what was once a novel device has become generic. In the past decade, we’ve been treated to the early days of James Bond, Robin Hood, Maleficent, Dracula and countless masked avengers. Sometimes, as in the case of Spider-Man, we’ve been treated to two different actors reenacting a fateful spider bite. And coming films promise to fill us in on what makes everyone from Boba Fett to King Arthur tick. It may be time to catch up with a few of these figures in adulthood, or, in the case of Peter Pan, in peak Lost Boy form.

“It’s not to say they can’t be done right, but origin stories for stories people already know well are getting tired,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more movies that start with the characters already established.”

Warner Bros. declined to discuss “Pan’s” box office results on the record.

The movie business has an insatiable thirst for new intellectual property to exploit, and for a time, it appeared that injecting familiar fairy tales with the latest special effects was ripe territory to mine anew. The results have been mixed. While Disney has successfully built a business out of creating live action spin-offs and reboots of its classic animated films like “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty,” other studios have struggled to perfect the formula. Warner Bros. whiffed with “Jack the Giant Slayer,” Relativity offered up the forgettable “Mirror, Mirror,” and Universal achieved middling results with “Snow White and the Huntsman.” The last example did inspire a sequel on the strength of its overseas performance, but its $396.6 million global haul on a $170 million budget, means it likely had slender profit margins.

“Without the Disney seal of approval, audiences are a bit wary of these fairy tale adaptations,” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations.

It wasn’t just that “Pan” seemed hackneyed. The film managed the rare feat of also appearing to be too radical a departure from the elements that made earlier Peter Pan stories soar. From Hugh Jackman’s scenery chewing villain to a puzzling use of contemporary pop songs from Nirvana and the Ramones, the picture wasn’t sufficiently slavish to its source material. Meanwhile Joe Wright, a visually gifted director who brought a welcome verve to literary adaptations such as “Atonement,” adapted a Rococo production design that utilized shades of fuchsia and purple that should never be seen outside of a rave. Other film adaptations of Barrie’s work, such as Steven Spielberg’s “Hook” or Disney’s animated version, tweaked the story around the edges, but remained truer to its spirit.

“It veered off the Peter Pan path quite extensively and it was just too far left of center for a generation that grew up with ‘Hook’ and sees that as the definitive account,” said Bock.

The result was something for no one. Critics loathed the picture, handing it a lowly 25% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and families stayed away. A mere 23% of the opening weekend crowd were under voting age, roughly half the number a picture on this scale needs to succeed, while adults over the age of 25 made up 52% of ticketbuyers. Those who saw it liked it better than critics, handing it a B+ CinemaScore rating, but the competition may be too fierce for “Pan” to recover. Next weekend brings the release of “Goosebumps,” a loose adaptation of R.L. Stine’s popular children’s books, and “Hotel Transylvania 2” continues to attract big audiences into its fourth week of release.

With “Pan” poised to drown in an ocean of red ink, it will be a long time before Hollywood returns to Neverland.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Sat Nov 19, 2016 4:05 pm

TheButcher wrote:

THR:
Steven Spielberg Predicts 'Implosion' of Film Industry
George Lucas echoed Spielberg's sentiments at an event touting the opening of a new USC School of Cinematic Arts building, saying big changes are in store.

Forbes:
FORBES: Why Spielberg And Lucas Are Wrong About The Film Industry 'Implosion'


/film:
AMC Considers Charging More Money For Tickets To Big Tent Pole Movies
Peter Sciretta wrote:Remember when George Lucas and Steven Spielberg predicted Donald Trump would win the election and the United States would fall into a post-apocalyptic state of hell? Okay, maybe that wasn’t exactly what happened.

A few years back, the two legendary filmmakers predicted that some huge megabudget movies would come crashing to the ground causing an implosion of the Hollywood movie industry that would probably result in movie theaters moving to the “Broadway model” with moviegoers being charged more of a huge tentpole film than a smaller dramatic film.I don’t think we’ve hit the implosion point that they theorized about (although this Summer had its fair share of box office bombs), but big movie theater chains like AMC are beginning to consider this variable ticket price model.

The CFO of AMC Entertainment Craig Ramsey made comments during the MKM Partners Entertainment Leisure and Consumer Technology Conference suggesting that variable pricing might be in the future for the AMC Theatres cinema chain, citing the company’s acquisition of a European theater company that already does so:

They [Odeon & UCI] are further advanced in variable pricing, where tentpole movies are priced up on release. That’s something we’ve talked about in the U.S. We expect to learn a lot with what they’ve done. We think it will position us to start having those conversations about pricing opportunities in the U.S.


Spielberg and Lucas predicted this move in 2013. The director of Indiana Jones and E.T. theorized, “You’re gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you’re probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln.” Lucas added, if that happens, the bigger movies will play in theaters much longer, and smaller projects will go towards TV. “I think eventually the Lincolns will go away and they’re going to be on television,” Lucas said. Spielberg added “As mine almost was. This close — ask HBO — this close.” You can watch a video containing their comments here.

American movie theater chains have been aggressively raising the price of movie theater admission, through the guise of upgraded technology like 3D projection, Dolby Atmos sound or large IMAX-scale screens. AMC has been very successfully pushing their more luxury theater going experience AMX Prime which involves reclining seats and more.

But the big question is will audiences pay more for a big budget Hollywood spectacle without a substantial upgrade to the experience? I think that lowering the cost of indie and lower budget films could perhaps drive more people to the cinema, but I don’t believe they are discussing creating a lower tier of a ticket, but rather introducing a higher level to the mix.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:58 am

CES: Barry Diller Calls Hollywood Movies "Horrible Thing" Facing "Profound Dislocation"
The former Paramount chief turned digital mogul calls the movie industry "now a horrible thing called a tentpole business." He says streaming services and other internet players will be the way forward for consumers.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Sun May 14, 2017 3:29 am

Hollywood Braces for Big Decline at Summer Box Office
Pamela McClintock wrote:On paper, the lineup of tentpoles set to unfurl between early May and Labor Day looks impressive — Alien: Covenant, Wonder Woman and rebooted outings in the Alien, Spider-Man, Transformers, The Mummy and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises, to name a few.

But many Hollywood studio executives, after penciling in estimates for both their own and their rivals' titles, are forecasting a domestic dip from last year's $4.5 billion summer box-office season. One studio number cruncher puts the decline as high as 10 percent. Two others agree that, absent surprises, 2017 won't match 2016. If their pessimism is correct, this summer is shaping up to be the worst since 2014, when ticket sales plunged to $4.1 billion, a drop of more than 14 percent year-over-year and the sharpest downturn in three decades.

The summer box office got off to a strong start last weekend thanks to Disney and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but Hollywood is now bracing for what is likely to be the season's first major miss: King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword, which hits theaters Friday. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the movie cost Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow $175 million to make before marketing, yet is only tracking to open in the $25 million range. If so, King Arthur will need to do mighty business overseas.

"Worldwide grosses should be fine. It is domestic I'm concerned about," says box-office analyst Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations. Shrinking domestic theatrical revenue would make studios more reliant on overseas audiences at a time when exchange rates are not favorable and China is showing signs of a slowdown. In 2014, the summer stateside slip was offset by an annual 4 percent climb in international box office. However, overseas ticket sales in 2016 were slightly down for the first time in years.

A lackluster summer would also raise questions about the wisdom of releasing blockbusters that can often cost $200 million every weekend, or every other weekend, at least through most of July. "We saw what happened with the downturn of sequels last summer. If that happens again, studios will be forced to make sweeping changes," says Bock. "Bottom line, over the past two summers, the most talked-about entertainment was Stranger Things and Game of Thrones," two TV hits from Netflix and HBO, respectively. If this summer's slate can't attract throngs of ticket buyers, it may indicate U.S. audiences have grown weary of what have been Hollywood's most reliable products.

“Making movies for the broadest possible audience is getting tough,” adds 20th Century Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson, whose studio enjoyed a crucial victory when deciding to go a different route with Deadpool in 2016 and make the superhero film R-rated. It did the same with spring 2017 hit Logan.

Disney, of course, is the (very big) exception. Last summer, the studio, led by Alan Horn, cemented its standing as supreme ruler of the mega-blockbuster: Pixar's Finding Dory grossed $486.3 million domestic and topped $1 billion worldwide, and Marvel's Captain America: Civil War brought in $408.1 million domestic and $1.2 billion globally. Elsewhere, Universal and Illumination Entertainment's The Secret Life of Pets earned $368.4 million in the U.S. and $875.5 million worldwide, while Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment's Suicide Squad raked in $325 million domestic and $745.6 million globally.

But if the studio forecasters are right, the only film this summer with a sure shot of crossing $400 million in North America is Guardians Vol. 2, following its $146.5 million opening weekend in North America. The other near-certain colossus on the summer schedule is Universal and Illumination's Despicable Me 3 (June 30), which is projected to roughly match the $368 million brought in by its 2013 predecessor.

But beyond those, the calendar is filled with big question marks. Will the domestic haul of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26), the fifth film in the 14-year-old franchise, be more like $423 million for 2006's Dead Man's Chest or $241 million for 2011's On Stranger Tides? And will Sony and Marvel's Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7) — the third iteration of the franchise — match the $262 million debut of The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, or come in closer to The Amazing Spider-Man 2's $202.9 million in 2014? Similarly, can Paramount's Transformers: The Last Knight (June 21), the fifth movie in the decade-old series, cross the $300 million mark like the first three installments or top out closer to Age of Extinction's $245 million in 2014?

"The challenges are several," says Megan Colligan, Paramount's worldwide president of marketing and distribution. "And when a big movie is coming out every two weeks or so, you churn through your releases more quickly."

Also dampening the forecasts: There's no obvious tentpole slated in August, a month that launched Suicide Squad last year and the original Guardians of the Galaxy, which was 2014's biggest summer domestic hit with $333 million. "August is a downright ghost town compared with the previous three months," Bock says. "Let's hope the light shines upon The Dark Tower," the Stephen King adaptation from Sony opening Aug. 4, "because that is really the only film that can save August and pro­pel the domestic summer total toward $5 billion."

Adds Warners domestic distribution chief Jeff Goldstein: "The audience is much more fragmented these days. At the same time, there are always outliers in the summer, and revenue year-to-date is up 3.5 percent. Sometimes you hold your breath."

One of those outliers could be Christopher Nolan's World War II action-epic Dunkirk, which Warners opens July 21. Dunkirk stands apart from the summer's other big-budget event films in that it's original. There's also Paramount's Baywatch (May 25), an R-rated adaptation of the classic television series, while Alien: Covenant (May 19) and War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14), both from Fox, are both expected to be solid swings. There's also a bevy of non-event films that could help fill in any revenue deficit if they work, such as Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled and Kumail Nanjiani's The Big Sick (both open June 23), Edgar Wright's Baby Driver (June 28), Atomic Blonde (July 28), Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit (Aug. 4) and Steven Soderbergh's Logan Lucky (Aug. 18).

Box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of comScore is among those who remain optimistic: "Despite what will likely be a see-saw summer, I think we could even beat last year if the sequels connect with audiences this summer in a way that they clearly didn't in 2016. And don't count out these other films."
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:53 am

Movie Producers Feeling More Pressure: ‘Winners, Losers Are Bigger Than Ever’
Dave McNary wrote:Box office hits and misses carry more importance than ever, veteran Hollywood exec-turned-producer Doug Belgrad asserted Saturday to his producing brothers and sisters.

“Quality matters more than ever … Winners and losers are bigger than ever before,” Belgrad said during the “Financing Your Film” panel at the Fox lot as part of the Producers Guild of America’s ninth annual Produced By conference.

Belgrad joined PGA President Gary Lucchesi, Carla Hacken (“Hell or High Water”), Kevin Turen (“The Birth of a Nation”), and Rena Ronson, head of UTA Independent Film Group, for a panel that painted a picture of a movie industry that’s facing increased pressure to succeed amid fast-changing circumstances as it scrambles to retain its customer base. Belgrad, who departed Sony last year after eight years as head of its motion picture group, is developing “Peter Rabbit” and “Bad Boys 3.”

The conference comes with Universal having seen Tom Cruise’s “The Mummy” fizzling in the U.S. with a projected $30 million opening weekend while the international total will be $140 million. The reboot carries a $125 million price tag and has been selected as the launch title for the studio’s Dark Universe as a multi-movie franchise based on classic horror films.

Asked by moderator Lucchesi what the Monday morning meeting of Universal execs would be like, Belgrad responded simply, “It won’t be fun.”

At the same time, Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman” has continued to dazzle audiences as it dominates with a $53 million second weekend domestically, with prospects of hitting a 10-day total of $200 million — along with erasing the memory of recent flops like “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”

“The success of ‘Wonder Woman’ is more important to Warner Bros. than the failure of ‘King Arthur,'” Belgrad noted.

Panelists found cause for optimism in the success of mid-budget studio releases such as Lionsgate’s “La La Land,” Fox’s “Hidden Figures,” Warner’s “Sully,” and Paramount’s “Arrival.” Ronson said she’s particularly bullish on the upcoming Amy Schumer comedy “I Feel Pretty” and Kumail Nanjiani’s romantic comedy “The Big Sick,” which was made for $7.5 million and sold to Amazon Studios for $12 million. “The Big Sick” opens June 23.

“I think it’s going to be a big hit,” she added.

The panelists also noted the increasing role played by streaming service Netflix in producing and acquiring titles. Belgrad noted that there’s decreasing differentiation between film and TV.

“You have to be platform agnostic,” Turen noted. “But I don’t know if ‘Get Out’ would have become part of the cultural conversation if it had gone out on Netflix.”

Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” which had a $4.5 million price tag, has been massively profitable for Universal with nearly $250 million in worldwide box office.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:05 am

Bart & Fleming: ‘The Mummy’s Franchise Fail & 21st Century’s Top Films So Far
Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. wrote:
FLEMING: What is the long-term takeaway of the failure of Pirates Of The Caribbean and now The Mummy to incite any excitement among moviegoers, Peter? Maybe we need to wait for the next Transformers to be sure, but I would say that these committee-formulated summer studio franchises are facing what many felt was inevitable: they are hitting the wall, hard. So is the star system. Remember when a superstar’s presence could guarantee a big U.S. opening weekend?

BART: In “studio speak,” franchises are out and universes are in, in terms of production initiatives. Yet it’s hard to remember a moment when an initiative has met with as much skepticism as Universal’s Dark Universe line of genre movies (already dubbed “dim universe” by the New York Times). And the critical drubbing accorded The Mummy has turned up the noise.

FLEMING: Universal Pictures must have felt like its charmed franchise run would continue forever, with The Mummy sandwiched between the $1.2 billion-grossing The Fate Of The Furious and the upcoming Despicable Me 3. But this Mummy felt as stale as the lining of a sarcophagus; it had to be the studio’s most disappointing attempted franchise launch since Battleship. The stakes here are enormous for the studio. Universal signed big established stars for classic movie monster resuscitating, from Frankenstein to Bride Of Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, Dr Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man and The Creature From The Black Lagoon. I have never understood the enthusiasm, even when Guillermo del Toro explained it to me when he was entrusted with many of those properties. He said the classic literature origins were so indelible that there was plenty a filmmaker could to do to engage today’s audiences. To me, they all seem like slow-moving, dust-covered B&W relics locked in an era that has no relevance. I quite liked the last Mummy iteration, the playful Stephen Sommers-Brendan Fraser-Rachel Weisz films that spawned a theme park ride and launched Dwayne Johnson (who is now mentioned as a potential Wolf Man). Those Mummy movies borrowed the Indiana Jones romance model. What did the new Alex Kurtzman-directed iteration have, besides a game Tom Cruise? They could have made it scary, with a terrifying villain and ominous mummy henchmen. But it wasn’t that, at all. It wasn’t really a romance, either: we’re told early that Cruise’s character spent a night with Annabelle Wallis’s archaeologist and pissed her off by stealing a map. There were no onscreen sparks between them. Kurtzman could have made Sofia Boutella’s title character an exotic Cleopatra-like seductress — Boutella is capable of that, as evidenced by the Atomic Blonde trailer and her performances in Kingsmen and even last summer’s Star Trek. Then you could have understood why Cruise’s character would fall under her spell and why a future of immortality with her would be appealing. Instead, they made her an annoying, decaying, half-formed mess with tattooed symbols that made her look like the wife of the lead character in Memento. That left us with a bunch of pricey set pieces that could not compensate for the lack of real characters or tension or genuine scares. This launch of the Monsters line goes down as disappointing even if it covers its costs overseas the way that DC’s Batman V Superman did. Universal still has to convince us that, in an era where audiences are scared by terrific grounded fright films like Get Out, Split and Don’t Breathe or TV shows like The Walking Dead, that these monsters old enough to be public domain literary properties do likewise.

BART: I thought The Mummy was on its way to being an entertaining horror picture in its first hour. Then I could hear the studio shouting, ‘we have Tom Cruise; ‘let’s up the budget and the pyrotechnics.’ At that point, the movie began to spin out of control. It’s a mess. And it does not auger well for Universal’s future line-up of star-laden horror films like Bride of Frankenstein or The Invisible Man (Johnny Depp will be invisible).

FLEMING: Is it possible to breathe life into these musty old monsters? Even though the lack of humor and subtlety in his DC movies like Batman V Superman troubled me, Zack Snyder launched his career with a remake of Dawn of the Dead. Going in, I wondered: how can you make George Romero’s slow moving corpses seem menacing? The movie opened with Sarah Polley running from a zombie that just killed her husband. This corpse chased her like Usain Bolt running the 100 yard dash. That put me on the edge of my chair. Universal execs have done an exceptional job casting its Monster Universe: Javier Bardem for Frankenstein, Depp for Invisible Man, maybe Angelina Jolie for Bride of Frankenstein and possibly crying wolf with Johnson. But the formulaic pollination we see with Marvel and DC films won’t work here. Each of these movies better be scary as hell, or bear some stylistic genre signature all their own. If they are going to follow with Russell Crowe’s Doctor Jekyll (he debuted the character in The Mummy), use that actor’s estimable gifts of intensity and intimidation and physicality to make him the most terrifying sociopath since Hannibal Lecter. That would mean a better-drawn character than I saw last weekend, where Jekyll’s Hyde persona could be eradicated like the measles, with an inoculation.

BART: I’d go back to the drawing board and trace the problems of The Mummy. Let’s begin with the cast and the question: Do horror pictures need movie stars, or vice versa? Tom Cruise has been a star for almost forty years and I agree with Joe Morgenstern of The Wall St Journal that this is his worst role, spending most of the movie “getting beat up by an infestation of digital mummies.” Nor does the movie need him or Crowe, intoning pseudo-scientific nonsense as Dr. Jekyll (characters are tossed in just to set up further movies).

FLEMING: They might not be worthy of first dollar gross deals, but I like seeing stars. I enjoyed Crowe in The Nice Guys and like seeing him lend his commanding presence to populist fare like this, and I have been a fan of Cruise since Risky Business. The Mummy has prompted cynics to declare that Cruise is over. He isn’t, of course but the star system is, save for maybe Denzel Washington and Leonardo DiCaprio. Maybe it’s their careful selection process that has made them exceptions: Washington’s making his first ever sequel, The Equalizer. Like John Wick and Sicario, The Equalizer was a one-off that left audiences wanting more, which was how franchises like Die Hard and The Terminator got built. DiCaprio’s eyeing his own serial killer turn, but his will be the real life ghoulish doctor who terrorized the Chicago World’s Fair, with Martin Scorsese likely directing The Devil in the White City. There is no franchise there, but that seems more interesting to me than the umpteenth incarnation of Dr Jekyll.

I’m not sure why Cruise felt he needed another franchise, with Mission: Impossible in good standing, and I’m not sure what this means for a Top Gun sequel more than three decades after a hit that bore Tony Scott’s stylistic directorial imprint and came during the gung-ho Ronald Reagan presidency. Are global audiences going to line up for an homage to macho U.S. military might when Donald Trump is alienating both allies and enemies on Twitter, or will they have to minimize the Red White and Blue as was done with Wonder Woman? Cruise is still the longest running superstar act in Hollywood, and I know he likes barnstorming the world to promote his big movies. I recall him telling me that, growing up poor, he dreamed of visiting the countries he saw in movies, and petitioned studios to let him travel abroad doing press tours, so he could see these places. Believe it or not, he said studios fought him at first, when the priority was domestic receipts and video, and not foreign. His curiosity birthed the template of stars globally promoting their films, and he has never stopped tirelessly promoting his films like that. He made a mistake here, I think. But The Mummy was preceded by a trailer for American Made, the fact based drama where Cruise plays a pilot who flew drugs and weapons for the CIA and found himself up to his eyeballs with the likes of Manuel Noriego and Pablo Escobar, and all the danger that implies. That’s a Tom Cruise movie I want to see.

BART: At 54, Cruise faces issues similar to those of Brad Pitt and George Clooney, but he’s not handling them as well, committing himself to junk genres while his confreres are tackling quality projects. I miss the Cruise of Jerry Maguire and Rain Man and even Tropic Thunder. As for the studios, they’re not helping. Warner Bros is re-inventing its DC Universe and Sony its The Dark Tower universe based on Stephen King novels. But they’re all about high concepts, not character concepts; movie stars would do well to forage elsewhere in the intellectual property universe to keep their careers alive.

FLEMING: You are wrong, I hope, on The Dark Tower; excepting the Magnificent Seven remake and Blazing Saddles, how often do you see a Western franchise anchored by a black actor playing the lead gunslinger? This could be a breath of fresh air this summer. You always knock Clooney in these columns, but bringing him up allows me to establish the difference in this discussion. Clooney stopped chasing franchises after his Batman foray. Whether his movies work or not, his motives are purer and it has led to a great career not about making the most money possible. He empowered Gravity when it teetered after Robert Downey Jr dropped out and other male stars didn’t want to spend 15 minutes of screen time propping up Sandra Bullock. There is Syriana, Michael Clayton and Good Night and Good Luck. Clooney misfired in Tomorrowland, but you can’t fault an actor for buying into the vision of a great director like Brad Bird, much as you can’t fault Idris Elba’s The Dark Tower costar Matthew McConaughey for doing the same on Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.

BART: You leaped so quickly to George’s defense that I wonder what gift you sent for his newborn twins. What I was trying to do is illustrate a Cruise conundrum: other male stars like Clooney, Pitt and Washington are aging and becoming more interesting to watch. Cruise looks the same as he did 20 or 30 years ago.

FLEMING: When we talk about actors setting up franchises they don’t really need, I’ll be curious to see how Downey and Stephen Gaghan do with Dr. Dolittle. I guess the idea is to replace Iron Man, but to me it’s another idea that feels like a head scratcher because it has been again and again. Meanwhile, I just saw Baby Driver, this Edgar Wright-directed heist picture. After seeing Pirates and The Mummy, I was struck by the exhilaration of sitting in a theater, watching a well told story with distinctive characters and visual style and not knowing where it was all going. Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx playing deliciously awful people around this adorable getaway driver played by The Fault In Our Stars‘ Ansel Elgort. I hate to see studios lose money, but maybe they need to be reminded that sequels aren’t like Amazon stock certificates.

BART: I felt the same way, seeing The Big Sick.

FLEMING: People want to be surprised. The people at Universal are smart and I’m sure they’ll figure out how to hone the monster formula they’re so invested in, as Warner Bros brass did with Wonder Woman.

BART: In terms of movie archaeology, The Mummy became an instant ruin not only because of the critics but also because of Wonder Woman, which is a lot more fun to experience and which opened to $220 million worldwide (it held up well in its second weekend). Patty Jenkins won high plaudits for directing her super-heroine – ironically her first hit was titled Monster, starring Charlize Theron, but Jenkins was smart enough to steer clear of further monster movies.

FLEMING: My takeaway there is how unpredictable the movie business is, and how satisfying when things fall into place. After Jenkins guided Theron to her Best Actress Oscar playing the serial killer drama in Monster, how could it possibly have taken 14 years for her to get another movie to direct? You’d think another actor would say, I want an Oscar, too; get her! Jenkins only got Wonder Woman after another director dropped out, and boy did Warner Bros get lucky. I’ve heard she and Geoff Johns are working right now on a sequel take that they’ll likely bring to screenwriter Allan Heinberg to turn into a script. Jenkins has to make a deal, but you can bet it won’t take another 14 years for her to make another movie. This is a great Hollywood story, but it doesn’t adhere to any formula other than you gotta remember to tell a good story with characters you care about. Wonder Woman did that, and The Mummy did not.

BART: While I appreciate Wonder Woman’s qualities as entertainment, I am perplexed by the adulatory press response to the movie. Its opening triggered an almost Trump-ian tweet-storm – the most tweeted movie of the year. Meredith Woerner wrote in the Los Angeles Times that the “sight of female warriors kicking ass” was so empowering that she started to cry. Jenkins was hailed for “saving the DC universe.” In interviews, Jenkins said that, as a woman, she felt free to make Wonder Woman “vulnerable, loving and warm,” suggesting that male-directed superheroes have been downright chilly. Actress Gal Gadot, her star, also has found a loving press. “Daughter of Israel is a source of wonder,” headlined the Los Angeles Times. As a result, Wonder Woman has attracted more women than male ticket buyers – remarkable for superhero movies. Several pieces about the film predicted that it may empower many women to ask for a raise at work (the two ‘heavies’ in Wonder Women are older grey-haired guys who look like the typical workplace bosses). Still, Wonder Woman is a comic book character; perhaps Marissa Mayer’s $900,000 a week pay check during her years at Yahoo would provide more practical inspiration.

FLEMING: You could see signs of this when girls of every shape and size at last San Diego Comic-Con wore Wonder Woman outfits. I’m sure Jenkins did bring touches that a male director would have overlooked. Women have been waiting for an opportunity like this, and now we’ll see more because the movie is a hit. The Walking Dead samurai sword-swinging heroine Dania Gurira is expanding her badass warrior character from Black Panther to Avengers: Infinity War; and maybe this will goose to the start line another Mad Max that brings back Theron’s Furiosa character. I hope we see a version of this when Black Panther births the first freestanding black superhero movie character since Wesley Snipes in Blade, and that The Dark Tower also works with Elba in the lead. It’s important for studios to see rewards for thinking outside the box.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheBaxter on Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:10 am

they can talk about blockbusters and tentpoles and franchises and universes til their mouths pucker up.... the real answer to getting more people into their movies? make better movies.
today, EVERYTHING has to be big and huge and tied in to a million different other movies and tv shows and novelizations and whatnot. every new franchise-launching film has to spend half its runtime establishing the universe and the character's origin story, and then spend the next half setting up 50 more films they already have planned for that universe. somehow, a good, satisfying story ends up getting left out. and then they wonder why no one wants another one. every superhero movie has to be about SAVING THE WORLD FROM DESTRUCTION. pretty soon you run out of places to go with the tension or drama because you've already spent all your bullets. how do you top SAVING THE WORLD FROM DESTRUCTION except with another SAVING THE WORLD FROM DESTRUCTION plotline that inevitably feels tired and repetitive?
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby Peven on Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:11 pm

Transformers :-P
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby Peven on Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:17 pm

There Will be Blood is a great movie....how much $$ did it make compared to even the lowest earning Transformers movie? you can't blame the studios for the American public's Velveeta tastes. there are a lot more examples and stuff I could write to back up my argument but I think it would be superfluous to the point i'm making for anyone with at least half a brain.... :wink:
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheBaxter on Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:58 pm

There Will Be Blood cost about $25m to make and made about $40m. a 60% profit is nothing to sneeze at.
do you think The Mummy or the last POTC film will come anywhere near that profit margin? or even just make back the money they cost to produce? we'll see about the next Transformers film.
but that's apples and oranges anyway. i'm not saying studios should stop making big budget, tentpole movies and stick exclusively to making arthouse films. i'm saying they should make better blockbusters than the derivative crap they keep turning out now. they should pay more attention to the writing and good storytelling, instead of sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into CGI effects that look just like the CGI in every other blockbuster out there. they should make movies that have a beginning, a middle, and an end, without cluttering it up with trying to launch a bunch of other potential movies in the process. audiences are finally starting to catch on, and that's why these kinds of films aren't the automatic successes they used to be. you can still occasionally fool your way into a big opening weekend with enough marketing and hype, but in the long run, better movies will win out. the Marvel movies have generated sustained success in part because they've built up the goodwill of the audience due to the quality of some of the earlier films. if the quality continues to go down, though, then they will squander that goodwill and it will be reflected in diminished box office for future Marvel films.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby Peven on Sat Jun 17, 2017 11:59 am

I think the stars themselves are in a big way responsible for what we see, and do not see, in regards to "quality" cinema these days. look at the producing credits these days. not only do actors have a real influence in what projects get funded by attaching their names to them, they also are increasingly involved in making those funding decisions themselves. imo, with a lot of these star pet project movies they make in between big budget movies we see more examples of personal vanity projects that are more about fulfilling the stars' egos than producing smart drama that wouldn't otherwise get funding from big studios, biopics are a favorite, instead of giving us another "Taxi Driver" or "Midnight Cowboy", or "In the Heat of the Night", just a few examples off the top of my head that are GREAT movies but probably would get made today. even an outside the studio system type guy like Wes Anderson benefits from the choices of actors to submit to his style to be in his movies. I think one of the reasons why his movies are so good is that the actors are willing to buy into the idea that the sum of the movie as a whole is greater than sum of its parts and to leave their egos at the door, but just like in sports and music increasingly these days, in film we are seeing that talent is becoming more influential in how the industry is run.
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby TheButcher on Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:35 am

THR 3/25/2015:
Leonardo DiCaprio Makes How Much Per Movie? Hollywood's A-List Salaries Revealed
Stephen Galloway wrote:It has become conventional wisdom that stars aren't worth what they used to be. Maybe so — but that doesn't mean they're poorly paid. A survey of producers, agents and executives indicates that at least six actors are earning as much as $20 million a picture — right up there with the heyday of star salaries during the 1990s, when a handful of actors (including Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson and Tom Cruise) reached that magic number.

The $20 million club includes Robert Downey Jr., Leonardo DiCaprio, Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington and Matt Damon — depending on the type of movie they star in. Downey gets that number for the Iron Man films (plus a generous backend worth tens of millions more), and Damon will get it for his next Bourne venture, but neither came close with The Judge and The Monuments Men.

The top quote belongs to DiCaprio, who was paid $25 million up front for The Wolf of Wall Street. But this came with a catch: It also included his producing fee, and budget overruns meant he had to defer some of his salary.

Following the success of American Sniper and his three Oscar nominations as an actor, Bradley Cooper is expected to command $15 million to $20 million a picture — lifting him above the $15 million he got for the third Hangover. Ben Affleck and Channing Tatum could be in the ballpark for the right role. But Tatum might find that harder to come by for nonsequels, following the disappointment of Jupiter Ascending.

In the action category, Dwayne Johnson has become the go-to guy and can command $14 million to $15 million a studio picture. That's what he got for Hercules and the upcoming summer release San Andreas — though insiders say he made a lot less to be part of the ensemble cast of Furious 7.

Read More Leonardo DiCaprio's "Passion Project": Inside the Actor's Nearly 20-Year Quest to Play a Man With Multiple Personality Disorder
And not one but four women are in the $15 million-plus range: Bullock, Jolie, Melissa McCarthy and Jennifer Lawrence. Bullock remains the highest-earning actress after a spectacular deal for Gravity saw her make more than $70 million, once profits were factored into her pact, with $20 million up front against 20 percent of first-dollar gross. But that deal was signed before the current belt-tightening era. (She got about half as much, $10 million, for The Heat.) McCarthy can earn that amount for starring roles. Jolie earned more than $15 million for Disney's Maleficent, and sources say they expect her to be paid $20 million (her fee for Salt) in the event of a sequel. Lawrence earned $10 million for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and insiders believe she could easily get $15 million or more for another franchise film, though not for her current David O. Russell picture Joy.

A few big differences have emerged since the height of the big-star era, however.

Hardly anyone gets the type of massive back-end deal those stars received, when many were granted 20 percent of first-dollar gross. Today's backend nearly always comes after "cash-break-even," which means when a studio has recouped its costs, including whatever it spent for production and marketing.

Most major stars also are taking less up front, especially for nonfranchise films — hence Brad Pitt is getting a fee in the single-digit millions to star in Robert Zemeckis' upcoming World War II drama. "What Brad gets for a franchise film is different than what he gets for Inglourious Basterds," says one top agent. "These deals are much more back-loaded."v
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Re: Is the blockbuster dead? Master Lucas thinks so...

Postby Peven on Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:15 am

that doesn't address what is being discussed at all.
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