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Entertainment Peter Bart: Hollywood Yearns For Budget-Bending Box Office Blast-Offs Of Former Summers

03:28  30 july  2021
03:28  30 july  2021 Source:   deadline.com

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Welcome to Hollywood 2021, with production starts hovering in the balance, careers in limbo and rumors pervading the ranks of the power players: Are lines being jumped in return for “donations”? Is the rollout of vaccinations as vexing as it seems? “I’m afraid to tell anyone what I do for a living,” confides one friend who recently became a Covid adviser on a streamer.

by Peter Bart . Deadline. With Emmy noise and streamer jokes now behind us, Hollywood ’s dwindling movie fraternity is left to ponder the bemusing lessons of Downton Abbey. First, the numbers: Though Downton is basically structured like an older-skewing streamer movie, its million box office take blew it past a re-cycled Rambo and a Brad Pitt thriller, at three times its budget . Next, the reviews: In a replay of what’s somewhat reminiscent of the “Green Book Syndrome,” elitist film critics either ignored Downton or disdained it as another “feel good” confection.

  Peter Bart: Hollywood Yearns For Budget-Bending Box Office Blast-Offs Of Former Summers © Everett

In case you hadn’t noticed, last weekend marked a rigorous box office rivalry between Old and Snake Eyes. Old won.

OK, Hollywood’s summer ain’t what it used to be. Hopefully, there are still filmgoers out there yearning for popcorn rather than pushbacks, but they’ll have to wait until autumn for Dune and a new Bond movie (No Time to Die).

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Meanwhile, Black Widow’s flaccid third week had box office nerds dialing back to Thor and Doctor Strange to find precedent in the fall-off derby. Sure, Disney was also playing Widow on its Disney+ service, but as one film veteran, Bill Mechanic, recently pointed out: “Dumping films into streaming is pure arrogance. Theaters should be nurtured, not destroyed.”

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When The Big Sick opens June 23, it will defy box office odds in several notable ways: The million rom-com has a problematic title, it stars a Pakistani stand-up who opened his publicity swing this week by urging college students to “have sex with an immigrant,” and it will platform in only two theaters in pursuit of critical support followed. Despite the odds, I think The Big Sick, edgy but warm-hearted, could become a major sleeper this summer , which would make FilmNation happy — it funded production — as well as Amazon, which laid out million for the film at Sundance earlier this year.

Some box office analysts believe there also should be greater focus on the female demo. They point to the remarkable success of Wonder Woman (or even Wonder), Girls Trip, Bad Moms and, course, Beauty and the Beast. Women are demanding more opportunity in decision-making positions; surely they While the domestic box office declined 2.4% last year, the worldwide returns increased by 3%, stoked importantly by China’s expanding ticket sales. But the very franchises that proved disappointing last summer in the U.S. performed well abroad. Hence the big question: Who does Hollywood make

Mechanic’s outburst carries a certain irony because, some 20 years ago, he led the way to the ultimate Hollywood summer – a slugfest of blockbusters with giant budgets and overzealous plot lines. Studios lost money, Mechanic lost his job running Fox and an important change in Hollywood’s lexicon took place: Studio chiefs and their bankers were suddenly talking about their “content,” not their movies.

To many, the change in terminology reflected a change in strategy. A new century had arrived and Hollywood had committed to a theory that mega budgets would automatically translate into mega box office. Especially if the “content” was recycled, not original.

Again, Fox was the leader in this domain. Independence Day had been a hit, so why not double the budget for its sequel? The same had been true of Speed 2, whose cost went from $37 million to $125 million. Meanwhile, Sony’s TriStar division decided to dust off the Godzilla franchise and Universal tossed more millions at Steven Spielberg for another Jurassic Park (The Lost World).

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Peter Bart . June 26, 2020, 1:45 AM·4 min read. When Kilar’s appointment at WarnerMedia was first announced, former associates described him to be a “product geek.” While that term has yet to be defined, it suggests one important challenge facing Kilar and his competitors: If consumers are baffled by the brands and also critical of the product, that could spell career problems for the product geeks, whomever they may be.

Peter Bart . November 26, 2019, 10:16 PM. As the bean counters lock their projections for 2020, Hollywood must cope with this question: How much is too much? Having demonstrated in years past that it can survive on too little, can the industry now thrive on too much? The major entertainment companies have rolled up some 0 billion in debt on content and deals – a streamers-fed “spending binge” that The Economist, the stolid British publication, likens to the railway boom of generations past.

If sequels were safe bets, what would happen if they were made side by side? From the outset, the plots of Armageddon, from Disney, and Deep Impact, from Fox, seemed alarmingly close. Both were disaster movies and disaster had worked for Speed and Independence Day. Both combined sci-fi elements with astronomical budgets (well over $200 million).

Joe Roth, then the production chief at Disney, was disturbed when he learned that Deep Impact would open first, but argued that he was creating a “space mission in which Bruce Willis would save the world.” Besides, two Wyatt Earp movies had succeeded the year before.

Since insiders were astonished by soaring budgets, attention now shifted to another ambitious project that seemed to defy all the rules. Titanic was not a sequel; its stars were young and relatively unproven. Would filmgoers rally behind a disaster movie when everyone already knew the details of its ending?

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Nonetheless, the Bond franchise has accounted for many hundreds of millions of dollars in box office muscle, and Bezos, as the world’s richest man, covets muscle. Amazon’s meek presence in Hollywood has always annoyed its boss, as Brad Stone.

Peter Bart . December 30, 2019, 12:53 PM. Hollywood ’s overall ticket sales were down about 4% last year, and a daunting percentage of its non-franchise offerings were disappointments – The Goldfinch, Charlie’s Angels and Richard Jewell, for example. Still, several “mid- budget ” films defied the skeptics: Rocketman, the Elton John biopic, grossed 5 million for Paramount, while Danny Boyle’s Yesterday capitalized on its Beatles afterglow to pull in 1 million for Universal.

Titanic was quietly shooting in a 10,000-gallon water tank in Ensenada, Mexico, but rumors about its budget overages already had inspired a weekly box in Daily Variety titled “Titanic Watch.” It depicted a sinking ship. As each production problem was elaborated, James Cameron, its combative director, angrily rebuffed all press inquiries. Presiding over the drama was Mechanic, normally a good natured, gracious man who now faced rumors that his disaster movie was itself a disaster.

Though ultimately fired, Mechanic had the last laugh. Titanic was, of course, a giant hit that dwarfed the performances of other disaster movies. Indeed, its worldwide acceptance reinforced the message that, despite all the intrigues, mega movies would now own the landscape. They were the “content” of the future.

In a summer weekend dominated by Old and Snake Eyes, Hollywood arguably needs robust showmanship — even an accidental instant sequel like Armageddon/Deep Impact. Or maybe a new Titanic. Budgets be damned.

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