Monday, April 22, 2024

Hollywood’s Real Horror Story: Big Budget Flops Echo Spielberg, Lucas Prediction


A few weeks ago, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas said this would happen: multiple big studio flops each costing $150 million and up. This weekend brought us “RIPD” tanking completely, with a three day take of $12.7 million. The movie cost at least $150 million. “Red 2” did $18.5 million. Bruce Willis does not come cheap, and Helen Mirren gets a nice payday since her Oscar. Plus a strong ‘B’ cast and lots of special effects. “Red 2” is a fizzle. “Only God Forgives” with Ryan Gosling only played in 78 theaters. Still, it made about half as much as indie “Fruitvale Station,” which was in half as many theaters (34).

Get the picture?

This is Hollywood’s horror story of summer 2013. And the irony is that an actual horror movie, “The Conjuring,” took in a whopping $41 million. It cost around $25 million. Warner Bros., smarting from big failures like “Gangster Squad,” “Jack the Giant Slayer” and “Pacific Rim” (each in the $200-$250 mil range), took a page from Paramount’s “Paranormal Activity” playbook, and it worked.

Of course, WB has “Man of Steel” to boast about. Superman saved them again.

But we can’t forget “The Lone Ranger” and “After Earth,” big big bombs. Next comes “Elysium,” much rooted for at this point, the last chance to save the summer. For Sony, the next “Spiderman” can’t come fast enough.

Spielberg and Lucas warned us about this in June. Speaking at the opening of a media center, they caused a firestorm by predicting that a handful of failures costing $250 million would cause major changes in Hollywood. Also, charging more for 3D when the actual number of audience goers is less is not going to save the bottom line. This brutal summer isn’t over yet. There will be reverberations well into the rest of the year.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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