Posts Tagged ‘Takers’

Worst Year? Numero Uno? Goin’ Bust?!

August 31st, 2010 Comments off


Worst Movie Year Ever?

Last month in the Wall Street Journal, pundit and scribe Joe Queenan raised a lot of hackles in Hollywood when he wrote an article asking whether 2010 was “The Worst Movie Year Ever?” The piece got a lot of play, and Queenan’s alternately comedic and sarcastic tone is entertaining, even if it’s unfair to the film industry. He points out (accurately) that big-budget tentpole films like “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” and “Robin Hood” were critically panned and commercial flops, but goes on to suggest “Inception,” the summer’s biggest non-animated hit, should be used to burrow into film execs’ minds and get them to stop making dreck like “Dinner for Schmucks.”

What Queenan doesn’t take into account is that nobody sets out to make a bad movie. (OK, maybe “Showgirls,” but it’s only good because it’s so bad, at least from a story standpoint…) “Dinner for Schmucks,” which may turn out to be the year’s biggest turkey, was based on a very successful French comedy, and clearly had studio support throughout its long gestation. “Grown Ups” has made $160 million, and follows Adam Sandler’s tried & true formula of delivering movies squarely aimed at his fan base, which obviously doesn’t include fussbudget Queenan. And Queenan’s lack of opinion on “Inception” speaks volumes: he can snipe about the summer’s misses, of which there have been a few, but he fails to give credit where credit is due. “Inception” is the top non-animated film of the summer, a cerebral $270 million hit with audiences (and most critics); the top animated film, “Toy Story 3,” comes out of the redoubtable Pixar studio, and has made more than $400 million domestically in addition to garnering some of the best reviews of the “Toy Story” franchise.

It seems like every year some pundit declares the year’s movie offerings as ‘the worst ever.’ Does 2010 stack up? Well, let’s put it this way: box office is up. If that seems like good news, you might want to stop reading right now…

It’s Liar’s Poker Again…

This past weekend’s final box office grosses have come in. Initially, Sunday’s ‘preliminary’ tally reported Lionsgate’s “The Last Exorcism” as the winner over Sony’s “Takers,” both of which opened over the weekend. Lionsgate reported $21.3 million versus Sony’s $21 million, giving ‘Exorcism’ the vaunted #1 spot. But, as we have written in the past, this process offers a lot of ‘wiggle room’ for studios to fudge their results for effect. That’s apparently what happened, because when the smoke cleared and the final numbers came in, the order was reversed: “Takers” was #1 with $20.5 million against “The Last Exorcism”‘s $20.3 million opening.

Where are YOU going…?

It certainly can be taken as a good sign that the box office gross is tracking up 1% this year from last year’s record $10 billion total. On the other hand, the fact that there have been a number of lackluster 3-D films inflating overall box office with higher ticket prices has hidden an alarming 4% drop in movie attendance in 2010. Combined with the unsustainable models of “Avatar” and “Paranormal Activity,” which helped elevate 2009’s box office to its record, it seems clear that expectations in Hollywood are out-of-whack with results. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out, and whether Hollywood can reverse this troubling moviegoer slump. Will technology and economic forces conspire to make Hollywood follow the old ‘record business’ into freefall?

But, then again, have you seen the slate of films due in 2011? They’re awesome, as we say here in Tinseltown. Trust me

Update: Back to the Futures!

June 23rd, 2010 Comments off

Back in late April we wrote about the future of Box Office Futures, especially in terms of the grandiose plans by two investment firms to open their own Futures Exchanges based on Box Office Futures Contracts. At the time, Hollywood was only just  beginning to chime in with its opposition, and has done so loudly and constantly ever since via its studios, labor unions, guilds and the Motion Picture Association of America. The end result has been draft legislation by the Senate Agriculture Committee, which has statutory control of  futures, that will ban the sale of box office derivative financial contracts, or B.O. futures.

The two financial firms involved, Cantor Fitzgerald of New York and Veriana’s  ‘Media Derivatives’ of Indiana, have lobbied hard for their plans, but they are seen as fighting an uphill battle against Hollywood’s well-oiled influence machine. But there may be hope yet in (and for) their futures: earlier this month, the Federal Commodities and Futures Trading Commission approved the first ever Box Office contract, for Sony Pictures’ Screen Gems release “Takers,” which opens August 20th. Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, remains adamant that a ban inserted in pending legislation will stop any B.O. futures trading. In spite of this (or perhaps because of it), Veriana topper Robert Swagger has stated that its planned exchange, called Trend Exchange, should be allowed to sell futures based on “Takers” because that contract received federal approval prior to any ban being officially enacted, thus it should be ‘grandfathered in’ even if a bill including a ban on selling futures is signed into law by the President.


It’s a sneaky – and not altogether unsound – argument. While the Senate version of the financial reform bill features a ban on Box Office futures trading, the House version does not, and the two versions must be reconciled before passing to the President. So perhaps the Trend Exchange has a chance. But don’t count Hollywood out. After all, when the chips are down and things are looking grim, Hollywood has a habit of having the cavalry ride to the rescue…