Box Office: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Weekend Box Office Expectation

On May 5th, 2017, Variety’s Dave McNary and JD Knapp reported on Marvel’s newest film to be released and 2017’s summer kickoff, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”, stating that on Thursday alone, the film received $17 million in gross, making it the third-largest title for Marvel after “Age of Ultron” ($27.6 million), and “Civil War” ($25 million). The film is also the biggest preview number so far for the year (McNary and Knapp 2017).

As a follow-up to the sleeper 2014 hit, the film has some large shoes to fill. The first film garnered record-breaking numbers- opening at $94 million ending up with $333 million in domestic gross and $440 million internationally (McNary and Knapp 2017).

““Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” opened in 53% of the international marketplace with $106 million last weekend and a foreign total of $167 million as of Thursday. It debuted in South Korea on Wednesday with $3.3 million ($4.4 million including previews) for the biggest opening day of 2017. The film opened with $2.8 million on Thursday in Russia, 41% ahead of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It’s launching in China on Friday, so the worldwide total this weekend should be in the $250 million range” (McNary and Knapp 2017).

So far, the film has impressed Rotten Tomatoes critics, who give the film 82%, but Disney, while wanting to impress the critics with the spectacle of the film, are hoping that this film helps the rest of the box office for the remainder of the year. Paul Dergarabedian a comScore senior media analyst, notes that 2016 was a bummer for the box office, but with the reboots, sequels, and original content coming this year, there is hope for a better box office.  “Year-to-date, 2017 has already seen $3.75 billion in the domestic box office as of May 3. That number is up 3.5% from the same time in 2016” (McNary and Knapp 2017).

Time will tell if the box office will gain what is expected for this film, most likely, there will be impressive numbers, but not exactly equally to that of the first film. The reason is because the film’s budget is $232 million, which means that if these predictions are correct, the film would have just made it’s budget. However, it needs to do much more than just barely surpass the budget, but to make a decent profit and do better than the original, which, according to history, is not exactly in the film’s favor. However, it is Marvel, but we shall certain keep our eyes on this as it develops.


Work Cited

McNary, Dave and Knapp, JD. “Box Office: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Heading for $150 Million Weekend in U.S.” Variety. N.p., 05 May 2017. Web. 05 May 2017.

Follow Up: WGA Strike Likely

Dave McNary of Variety reported on Sunday, April 30th, 2017, that leaders of the Writer’s Guild of America prepare for a strike to take place on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017. History will once again repeat itself as it did a decade ago, with picketing and rallies taking place at eight studios (McNary 2017). Chris Keyser, one of the chairmen of the WGA committee, notes that everyone is having anxiety over this:  “We’re asking everyone to live in the anxiety with us for the next few days.” Still though, there is hope for there to be negotiations between the WGA and AMPTP occurred Sunday, with a possible extension on midnight May 1st deadline, but this is unlikely.

An unofficial memo was sent out to the WGA from a strike organizer, and a spokesperson from WGA West clarified: “The Writers Guild has not issued any memos to members or updates on the status of negotiations.”

The memo calls for hope in negotiations but in case the negotiations fall through, the memo instructed recipients to gather any materials they had in the office, to invoice studios before Tuesday (May 2nd) for any money owed, and to prepare to strike.

This is main problem I personally have with unions, while I agree that every person should be paid a fair amount and that striking can be effective to gain certain rights and privileges; from an economic standpoint however, everyone loses when it comes to a strike. Persons participating in the strike lose a paycheck or receive a lower one depending on how long the strike goes, and businesses can lose profitable persons and ideas. There is a reason though that the WGA is hesitant. Clearly, no one wants to strike, but they feel that they do not have any choice in the matter. It all depends on what happens at midnight and then tomorrow. Hopefully, we shall not have a repeat of what occurred in 2007 with a standstill of production and the creation of mediocre prime-time programming.


Work Cited

McNary, Dave. “Memo Tells Writers Guild Captains to ‘Be Ready to Strike Tuesday’.” Variety. N.p., 30 Apr. 2017. Web. 01 May 2017.

Box Office Follow Up (Part 2): China’s Box Office Suffers Due to a Dismal March

Despite “King Kong: Skull Island” and “Beauty and the Beast” delivering box office success overseas, China still suffered in March. Variety’s Patrick Frater reported on April 3rd, 2017 that China’s box office revenue for March was $488 million (RMB 3.37 billion) which is 9% lower than March of last year. Admissions were also down from last year, with March 2016 bringing in 109 million while March 2017 received 101 million (Frater 2017).

Frater notes one of the reasons is due to online-ticket sales, which since the beginning of the year have been calculated separately from the total box office, making March appear weaker than it was: “Removing those from the calculation… with an adjusted gross figure of RMB3.11 billion ($451 million)” (Frater 2017).

The first quarter of 2017 was calculated to be equal to that of the first quarter of 2016, but again, removing the online-ticket sales creates a drop, with “a year-on-year drop of 6%. In terms of ticket sales, the first quarter of 2017 saw 411 million admissions, down 2% from the 418 million in 2016” (Frater 2017).

Patrick Frater attributes this drop in sales to two main factors. Firstly, in mid-2016, China reduced the subsidies provided to consumers by competing online-ticket sellers (i.e. Fandango), this drove up ticket prices (Frater 2017). Secondly,  there was “a weak crop of films, both Hollywood and local, in 2016. In order to keep the turnstiles spinning, Chinese regulators allowed in far more Hollywood films than in previous years” (Frater 2017). Weaknesses for 2017 seem to lie in more domestic territory however, as only films released during Chinese New Year seem to have an impact so far.

While Wanda Cinemas president John Zeng attempted to sound optimistic at CinemaCon, saying  “that growth would normalize at 15-20% per year” (Frater 2017), China’s box office appears to be in stagnation; hopefully, what can occur is a miracle with the summer releases to bring the growth back up to make China, and consequently the United States’ studios, a larger profit.


Work Cited

Frater, Patrick. “Weak March Means China Box Office Recovery Is Not Yet in Sight.” Variety. N.p., 03 Apr. 2017. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

Box Office Follow Up: “Beauty and the Beast” and “Kong: Skull Island”

Variety’s Dave McNary reported on Sunday, March 26th, 2017 that Disney’s live action remake, “Beauty and the Beast” amassed $207 million over its second weekend, making the total box office run of two weeks approximately $690 million.

Internationally, “Beauty and the Beast” grosses $119 million, followed closely by “Kong: Skull Isand” with $91 milion according to McNary, who states that the later film came out to be a big winner in China: “including $72.1 million in China for “Kong” with 13.9 million admissions from approximately 18,000 screens for a 71% share of the total box office and the second-biggest international opening in China this year after “Resident Evil” grossed a stunning $91 million” (McNary 2017).

This is good news for Legendary  Pictures, which just two weeks ago, was riding all of their hopes and dreams on “Kong”, well, it has paid off: ““Kong: Skull Island” has now taken in $258.6 million internationally and $133.5 million in the U.S for an impressive worldwide total of $392 million” (McNary 2017). This means that, in terms of box office, “Kong” has made a profit against its production budget of $185 million by doubling the returns. However, there could be many factors in this pursuit, resulting in either loss or gain at this point, as either result is fair game at this point, but we shall have to see how the numbers play out when the run is complete.

In terms of comparison, “Beauty” has trumped “Kong, surpassing it by $300 million, making “Beauty” among the top 100 of all time grossers, taking the 92nd spot. Disney noted that as of Sunday, March 25th, 2017, “Beauty and the Beast” is the fourth consecutive film to surpass the $600 million mark in terms of worldwide gross: “Doctor Strange” ($677,561,661), “Moana” ($617,080,355), and “Rouge One: A Star Wars Story” ($1,055,121,310) (McNary, BoxOfficeMojo 2017). If this is any indication that the Walt Disney Company is making smart business decisions, then perhaps nothing else is. Especially since over the weekend, Disney CEO Bob Iger extended his contract til 2019 (Masters 2017).

We’ll have to wait and see with Disney for how well the summer films will do. In terms of Legendary, hopefully “Kong” puts them in a more comfortable and easy state to push on and make something even more extraordinary in the coming years. Perhaps we shall see a resurgence in monster movies, at least, that’s the hope anyway.


Work Cited

“”Doctor Strange”, “Moana”, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.” Box Office Mojo. N.p., 25 Mar. 2017. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

Masters, Kim, and Bill Condon. “Bill Condon on the challenges of adapting a ‘tale as old as time’” Audio blog post. The Business. KCRW, 25 Mar. 2017. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

McNary, Dave. “‘Beauty and the Beast’ Nears $700 Million Worldwide, ‘Kong’ Strong Overseas.” Variety. N.p., 26 Mar. 2017. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

 

 

How Wang Jianlin May Have Killed the Chinese Film Market… and How “Kong: Skull Island” Could Save Us All

On March 14th, 2017, Variety’s Gene Maddaus and Brent Lang reported on a massive mistake left by China’s richest individual, Wang Jianlin, chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, who failed to pick up Dick Clark Productions (DCP) and faces trouble with Legendary Entertainment. Last fall, the Wanda Group agreed to pick up Dick Clark Productions, which syndicates the Golden Globes and the “Rockin’ New Years Eve” program was passed up last week for $1 billion, but after huge box office (BO) losses from Legendary, the deal was not struck (Maddaus and Lang 2017).

The stunning reversal is a major embarrassment for Wang and puts his conquest of Hollywood, once seemingly inevitable, in grave doubt. It also raises broader concerns about the future of Chinese investments in the U.S. entertainment business…(Maddaus and Lang 2017).

While some suggest that the DCP acquisition price was too high, others point to second thoughts on Wang’s part due to DCP not having full rights to the award shows, simply the rights to produce them – but close sources find the second theory to be ridiculous due to Wang hold a cocktail party with the Hollywood Foregin Press, suggesting Wang’s knowledge of HPFA’s rights to the Globes (Maddaus and Lang 2017).

The problem, according to these sources, is a change in government policy, as Maddaus and Lang state: “Foreign investment by Chinese firms soared to record heights in 2016, but in November the government began to tighten the reins…. under the new rules, the conglomerate could not move its domestic capital overseas” (Maddaus and Lang 2017).

Legendary Entertainment, which had been bought by Wang last year for a brow-raising #3.5 billion, has struggled with BO returns – recent failures “Warcraft” and “The Great Wall” have left Wang sort of funds, thus resulting in not enough money to purchase DCP (Maddaus and Lang 2017).

Despite all of this however, there is hope in “Kong: Skull Island”, which so far, has boasted a fantastic box office return, within the first week alone taking up half of the film’s budget. “The film debuted to $142.6 million worldwide last weekend, a hefty result save for its $185 million production budget. It will need to do well overseas in order to wind up in the black” (Maddaus and Lang 2017).

While once a non-risk box office return, with these recent troubles, China may have to be given up for companies looking to make an overseas profit; as media analyst Hal Vogel pointed out: “The game is going to get tougher to raise money, Hollywood may not want to find another source of financing, but the market conditions may be such that they have no choice” (Maddaus and Lang 2017).

Perhaps it is time then, to consider another market to appeal to, I hear that Japan and South Korea are promising.


Work Cited

Maddaus, Gene, and Brent Lang. “After Dick Clark Productions Deal Fails to Close, What’s Next for Dalian Wanda?” Variety. N.p., 14 Mar. 2017. Web. 14 Mar. 2017. <http://variety.com/2017/film/news/wanda-dick-clark-productions-deal-failure-hollywood-1202007964/&gt;.

Brad Grey Steps Down as CEO of Paramount

Variety‘s Brent Lang reported Wednesday afternoon that Brad Grey  has officially stepped down as CEO of Paramount. Grey, who was with the Company since 2005, oversaw the success of the “Transformer”, “Mission: Impossible”, and “Star Trek” franchises, but due to recent failures at the box office with “Ben Hur”, “Zoolander 2”, and “Monster Trucks”, has caused a downswing in output (Lang 2017).

“Paramount’s film output has shrunk dramatically in the past five years, and the studio posted a loss of $180 million during the most recent fiscal quarter and red ink of about $450 million for Viacom’s 2016 fiscal year” (Lang 2017).

Along with Paramount’s financial losses, Viacom, Paramount’s parent company, suffered corporate control against Philippe Dauman, former Viacom CEO  and Shari Redstone, daughter of Summer Redstone, Viacom’s controlling shareholder (Lang 2017).

Bob Bakish, Viacom’s current CEO, believes that Paramount is vital to Viacom’s revitalization, outlining a plan that illustrates making at least one or two films per year from MTV and Comedy Central while Paramount can create features to fuel television programming (Lang 2017).

What is needed in Paramount and Viacom is a revitalization of form. Turning to television as the answer might be a start, but certainly is not a long term solution. The problem with films fueling television is that television tie ins with film do not do particularly well in terms of ratings (see Disney’s attempt at a Tron television show to serve as a tie in to “Tron Legacy” (2010) as an example).

Only time will tell if this move will be a good investment – for now, it is best to hope that Paramount and Viacom will make the right business decisions to produce quality content.

Work Cited

Lang, Brent. “Brad Grey Officially Out at Paramount.” Variety. N.p., 22 Feb. 2017. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

If You Can’t Be Yourself, Be Batman: “The Lego Batman Movie” Makes an Impressive Run at the Friday Box Office

“The Lego Batman Movie” (McCay 2017) which was released on February 10th, 2017, made an impressive two week run on Friday, beating out three of the February 17th new releases: “Great Wall”, “Fist Fight”, and “A Cure for Wellness”.

According to a  Variety article by Seth Kelley, the animated comedy picked up a healthy figure for a film that is already breaking box office records. “$7.5 million 4,088 theaters on its way to a four-day estimate in the $38 million range” (Kelley 2017).

While “Great Wall”(Yimou 2017) picked up $5.9 million and “Fist Fight” (Keen 2017) $3.8 million, “A Cure for Wellness” (Verbinski 2016) did not have a great opening day in the United States, only gaining a measly $1.5 million. Variety reports that the film could be “on its way to an opening between $4 and $5 million that could leave it out of the top ten.”

“Great Wall”, which has already earned over $200 million overseas “including over $170 million in China since its release on Dec. 16… the film carries a $150 million budget — the most expensive movie ever shot in China ” (Kelley 2017). This is not only a healthy sign for the film, but is also a bit of a make up for the travesty that was “47 Ronin” (Rinsch 2013).

As for “A Cure for Wellness”, let us hope that the film can find a cure for the box office slump that it managed to catch over the weekend. For now, it is Batman that takes the weekend office and hopefully, this time next year, it will get an Oscar nomination as Best Animated Feature as revenge for “The Lego Movie” (Lord and Miller 2014).

Perhaps that is just wishful thinking at its best.

Work Cited

Kelley, Seth. “Box Office: ‘Lego Batman’ Blocks Trio of Newcomers to Win Friday.” Variety. Variety, 18 Feb. 2017. Web. 18 Feb. 2017. <http://variety.com/2017/film/news/box-office-lego-batman-great-wall-fist-fight-cure-for-wellness-1201992010/&gt;.

“Human Flow”: Participant Media and AC Films Collaborate with Ai Weiwei to Make Refugee Film

On February 10th, 2017, Robert Mitchell of Variety reported that on Friday at the Berlin Film Festival, Participant Media and AC Films partnered with Chinese filmmaker Ai Weiwei on his feature documentary, “Human Flow” (Mitchell 2017). Weiwei has described the work as a “big global study on refugees” over the past 12 months. The film is currently in post.

“There is no better place than being here in Berlin at this critical moment to announce this powerful film to a global audience,” said David Linde, CEO of Participant Media. “We are thrilled to be working with an artist and filmmaker of Ai Weiwei’s caliber and exceptional vision to tell this essential story” (Mitchell 2017).

The film explores the current refugee crises through interviews and footage from 22 countries and Ai says: “There is no refugee crisis, only a human crisis…We can see in dealing with refugees we lost our very basic values. ‘Human Flow’ is a personal journey, an attempt to understand the conditions of humanity in our days” (Mitchell 2017).

This documentary, which will be an essential part in understanding the refugee crisis, which is, as Mr. Weiwei described, a human crisis. For in the darkest hours of our existence, we seem to capture them in a meaningful and poetic way that pulls our hearts to being more Christlike to our fellow man. What is hoped for this film is not so much a political statement, or a protest in policy, but an understanding of the human conditions that led to this exodus of human being so that the policies can change to better assist these people. The fear is more political drama from documentaries such as this, and while they are important and necessary to the conversation, they have the ability to fall dangerously close to the echochambers from which they were birthed into.

Let us hope that this film educates in a manner that is not politically damning to one side or the other, but in a manner that let’s all who view it, understand the human condition and the heart, more.

Work Cited

Mitchell, Robert. “Berlinale: Ai Weiwei Teams With Participant Media and AC Films on Refugee Documentary.” Variety. N.p., 10 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

The Walt Disney Company: Wage Fixing and Antitrust Lawsuit

When one thinks of civil lawsuits, the name Walt Disney Company, does not come to mind very often. We do not usually think of The House of Mouse having anything to do with getting their hands dirty with anything. The creators of family friendly films for nearly a century found themselves in a class action lawsuit on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 along with Pixar, DreamWorks, LucasFilms, and ImageMovers (Johnson 2017).

Variety’s Ted Johnson reported on January 31st that “workers have reached a $100 million settlement with The Walt Disney Company, Pixar Animation Studios, LucasFilms, violated antitrust laws which conspired to fix animation wages with non-poaching agreements” (Johnson 2017).

The lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2014, was headed by Robert Nitsch, David Wentworth, and Georgia Cano who claim that the anti-poaching agreements between DreamWorks, Pixar, and The Walt Disney Company, among other organizations, go back to the 1980’s when George Lucas and Ed Catmull agreed to not gain employees from each other (Johnson 2017).

Something went wrong between 2004-2010 though, as animation and visual effects employees at Pixar, LucasFilms, DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc., The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Blue Sky, and Two Pic MC (formerly ImageMovers), seemed to have a swap-employee moment, or “raid” as Johnson says. At the same time, there were complaints with Adobe, Apple, and Google, as well as the aforementioned companies about fixed wages, in other words, employees were given a fixed wage for their work. This issue was taken to court in 2010 and the companies agrees to refrain from such policies for five years (Johnson 2017).

The Walt Disney Company is the last to settle with the hearing scheduled for March 9th in the San Jose District Court (Johnson 2017). This begs the question, how and why did this happen and what can be done to prevent this behavior in the future? I suppose we shall see the result of the case in March.

Work Cited

Johnson, Ted. “Variety.” Animation Workers Reach $100 Million Settlement With Disney in Wage-Fixing Suit. N.p., 31 Jan. 2017. Web. 3 Feb. 2017. <http://variety.com/2017/biz/news/disney-settlement-wage-fixing-anti-poaching-animation-1201975084/&gt;.

#disney #lawsuit #wagefixing #variety #animation

2017 Sundance Film Festival: The 2017 Political Festival

Variety Magazine, on January 24th, 2017, issued an article entitled “Winners and Losers From Sundance 2017 (So Far)” by Brent Lang and Ramin Setoodeh, in which they discuss the business side of the spectrum of the independent film festival, specifically, the issue of studios and disturbers buying films for distribution into the film market. They suggest that buyers were relatively unnerved at the films at the Festival this year due to the political nature and the weak independent film market that the Festival gave, resulting in unattractive films to the average audience member:

Buyers were griping that the movies being screened at this year’s gathering were aggressively uncommercial and that agents were pushing for wide releases and big paydays for films that will appeal only to small audiences…Buyers are underwhelmed by this year’s batch of films so far, calling it one of the weakest festivals in recent memory. (Lang & Setoodeh 2017).

In terms of business, the article mentions that due to film’s rising prices, big companies such as Netflix, Amazon, and Apple can pay large sums without any competition or worry about making profits at movie theaters: “Even PepsiCo was at this year’s festival looking for content to help it sell soft drinks. That has left more traditional companies like Sony Pictures Classics and Fox Searchlight struggling to offer competitive bids while still trying to make a profit” (Lang & Setoodeh 2017).

When it comes to the winners and the losers, one of the losers was the market, which, as mentioned previously, was underwhelming, with no big box office indie hit to be had so far (Lang & Setoodeh 2017). However, two huge winners were Amazon and Neflix. Netflix alone made eight films that premiered at the festival and Amazon scored a deal with The Big Sick (Showalter 2017) team (Lang & Setoodeh 2017).

In short, the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, while entertaining, was plagued with politics and un-marketable films. Hopefully, there shall be something marketable if the actual marketing is done correctly. A hopeful marketable film, The Nile Hilton Incident (Saleh 2017), while dealing with political turmoil in Egypt, with the centerpiece being on the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, was not inherently trying to push a political agenda, in actuality, the film was more than likely trying to suggest that politically political films (i.e. films that deal with politics while simultaneously making a political statement – usually a criticism about a certain policy or position) are not always the best solution with dealing with the current political situation of the world. The main character of the film, a corrupt cop, is investigating a murder case. The film noir genre film, which is expertly done, actually redeems the cop and suggests that even the most corrupt people can be saved and corrected. So with this example, hopefully other companies, such as Fox Searchlight and Miramax can find something to market to the audiences.

Works Cited

Lang, Brent, and Ramin Setoodeh. “Winners and Losers From Sundance 2017 (So Far).” Variety. N.p., 24 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.

Nord, Liz, Jon Fusco, and Oakley Anderson-Moore. “Re: Sundance 2017: The Good, The Bad, and The Weird.” Audio blog comment. NoFilmSchool. N.p., 26 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.

The Big Sick. Dir. Michael Showalter. Apatow Productions, 2017. Film.

The Nile Hilton Incident . Dir. Tarik Saleh. Atmo Productions, 2017. Film.