Ever wonder why a movie you really enjoyed just didn't take off and get the sequel it clearly deserved? It's actually different from what you might think it is. If you pay even a little attention to what's going on in the entertainment industry, it's easy to get buried underneath the box office information that seems meaningful, but ends up not being that reliable.
Truth be told the answer is not just a simple easy to follow formula because there are so many factors involved:
- Opening reviews and perceptions - First impressions can sometimes make or break a movie.
- Release date - Holiday release movie? Mid-week release? Competing against other blockbusters?
Shifting trends - If you start to make a movie based on 'recent' audience trends one year, people might not necessarily be interested in it when it is due for release the following year or so.
- Marketing - Hype can be a good thing, but if left too long then it can be a bad thing.
However, the rule of thumb seems to be that a movie needs to make twice its production budget globally before it is considered worthy of investing a franchise around it.
That's right, in this greedy capitalist-fuelled world breaking even is not enough anymore. It doesn't matter about whether a movie has a faithful, eager or even big audience following, if those sales figures don't meet the studios' standards then you're going to have end up kickstarting your own sequel or wait for the inevitable reboot.
So what does this mean for the Hollywood film industry? It basically means that only the really big well known franchises are likely to get the green-light. Shocker I know, but this does shed light on the influence behind the movie productions in that overall profits and sales are more important than reviews and what peoples' opinions of the movie actually are.
To give an example, there are many people (on the internet) who dislike everything Michael Bay makes and say things like "he ruined my childhood"; yet he continually and 'successfully' churns out the same type of movies because millions of people (including the haters) both domestic and international still go out to pay and watch it.
Also, some other things that are not highlighted as much as they should be is the fact that:
- The marketing and PR budget will most likely be around half of the actual production budget - If studios spend a lot on the budget it should be safe to say that they will ensure audiences will go see it by heavily advertising the movie.
- International sales are important - It makes sense given that there are more people outside of North America than within its borders. Thus there should be a larger income or at least a better chance of a movie succeeding because of international figures.
Evidently, only around a quarter of Avatar's box office was earned in North America, which shows how important the global picture actually is to Hollywood studios. That being said, domestic revenue does seem to be better than overseas revenue (when they get a lot of it), because the studios take a bigger cut.
I suppose the argument can be made that if Hollywood has 'high standards' then only 'quality' material is getting through the pipeline, right? Though, of course that is purely subjective and depends on your definition/perspective of their 'standards' and 'quality'. There are also some hidden gems out there that are not given a chance to really flourish because it was released under the radar or it didn't meet the big studios criteria to be produced by them in the first place.
Long story short, Hollywood's standards do affect the movie market and what we end up seeing on the big screen, no doubt about that. If you like blockbusters, superhero movies or whatever else is trending then I'm sure you love what Hollywood's capitalist interests have brought to the table. However, whether this a good or bad thing is still something to be debated because everyone has their own standards and tastes which do not necessarily correlate with Hollywood's.
So is there really a definitive right or wrong answer to the question and can we really predict a movie's 'success'?