Home Movies 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 began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is 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.
4 replies to this post
  1. Per boxofficemojo, Jaden Smith’s sophomore effort as leading actor has earned $235,000,000 worldwide and doubled its production budget. Not a flop.

    Jaden’s box office take for After Earth is pretty much on course with his other movies: Pursuit of Happyness ($306,096,398), The Day the Earth Stood Still ($233,066,978), The Karate Kid ($359,091,618).

    Will Smith’s take as a supporting actor in After Earth is pretty much normal for him–Where the Day Takes You ($390,152), Made in America ($104,942,695), Six Degrees of Separation ($6,284,090), Legend of Bagger Vance ($39,235,486), Jersey Girl ($37,066,129), Shark Tale ($367,825,111).

    After Earth’s box office might have been higher without all the Scientology religious bigotry and slander, hypocritical nepotism accusations, and personal attacks on Jaden’s parentage. Oh well. I guess that’s Hollywood. The kid’s tough. He’s already shown that he can roll with the punches.

    Well done, both!

  2. i am VERY HAPPY to see these big budget films tank. Why? Maybe now Hollywood can focus on telling real stories about real human lives!

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