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Dilettante said on October 27th, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Interesting! I guess it’s refreshing that there is a diminished audience for the very bottom; although it’s worth noting that the *costs* of the truly terrible movies are also often lower by design. That is, the “___ Movie” parodies, the Madeas, the Cable Guy movies, etc., are so cheap to make that they may still be doing pretty well viewed on a profit basis, rather than box office receipts.

Also, nitpick: there’s a typo at the bottom of the JPG, “… it appears that that audiences…”

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Of course, the basic problem with any “do audiences prefer good movies to bad” argument is that there is an element of subjectivity to this thing- it’s not 100% subjective, but there’s room for debate on the quality of any film. It’s really hard to measure something that’s purely objective (i.e. how much money a film makes) against one that’s kind of wobbly.

(I’d say the “Crystal Skull effect” is more the split between critical consensus and Internet consensus.)

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Cookie McCool said on October 27th, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I watched the hell out of Postal for free, and it was worth every penny.

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The “Pajiba” link goes to a discussion of the Rand Paul Booting for some reason…?

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The “Pajiba” link goes to a discussion of the Rand Paul Booting for some reason…?

Fixed.

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Cool.

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It looks, to me, like each year has a spike around 80% and a spike around 40%. Indicating that films that the critics _love_ are not audience favourites, but films that the critics think are pretty darn spiffy do very well. And that films that the critics loathe also do badly, but films that the critics say are “well done, if you like _that_ kind of thing” also do well.

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I think you also have to look at DVD sales and rentals for something like this. The trouble with judging BO performance is that there’s always going to be a level of “Hey, that looks good/hey, that looks terrible” affecting whether people see something in the theater. A terrible movie with a great trailer or a lot of hype can score big, whereas an underpromoted great movie will take a while to build up word of mouth–the Crystal Skull/Caddyshack dichotomy Chris brings up.

That’s why, to me, the real thing that’s hurting movies is the incredible focus on opening weekend. The studios, more and more, want to dupe people into spending their money and then do a quick fade. I’m not really sure why that is, since word-of-mouth, long-playing hits seem to make more money in the long run. Which would you rather have released, if you were a movie studio: Iron Man 2, or Inception?

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The reason studios want big opening weekends and don’t care about long-term box office success has to do with the contracts signed between movie distributors and movie theaters. In rough terms, the longer a movie plays, the greater the percentage of the box office gross that goes to the theater instead of the studio.

So the studios have a very real financial incentive to kill that first weekend, and not much in it for them if a movie plays for six months. (In fact, it hurts them, because a theater playing a six-month-old movie is using a screen that could be devoted to a new release.)

Obviously, they don’t want a movie that’s outright terrible, because they also want to make some money on DVD. But in strict financial terms, they have a very good motive to try to pack all their punch into that first week.

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Any chance you could put one with better resolution on a filesharing site or something? This is neat but difficult to read.

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And no sooner do I post that than I realize I have “Fit to Width” on my browser; never mind.

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As Dilettante, I’d like to see the rating charted against the profit ratio rather than BO take. Of course that would be a whole different story, but it would be more meaningful to me.

It might turn out that movies with different budgets are dispersed evenly among the ratings deciles but I suspect that isn’t the case.

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@John Seavey: I actually did know about that, but then you have to ask, how did that arrangement get started in the first place? Why not just evenly split the take every week? It sounds like the theaters and the studios have been enjoying a rather one-sided relationship for a while now, I’m just not sure how that got started.

You’d have to think that splitting the cost consistently every week would be potentially good for the studios, too–having the impetus not to constantly hustle their product in and out of theaters, they wouldn’t have to grind out as much product, and of course they’d be more invested in the movies they DID make…so maybe they’d produce better product, or at least support it better.

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It got started primarily because studios have the upper hand in any negotiations; with the advent of home video, movie theaters really had to have fresh product in to keep people from going to Blockbuster instead of seeing a blockbuster. :) The only source of fresh product is the studios, which gave them leverage to negotiate favorable terms.

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If you’re talking about the profitability of making bad films, you should note that the top renters of any given week tend to be (a) high profile, thoroughly marketed films that were (b) subpar anyhow. GOOD high profile films often manage to get the word out and get a lot of their audience into the theatres. But rentals are where many expensive, famous pieces of crap have made a lot of their money. You can’t fault consumers for saying “I won’t spend $12 on Transformers 2 but I might spend $5” but those sorts of decisions are one reason why such movies get made.

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I disagree that the payment system means studios have a motive to pack all their punch in the first week. They do that because audiences have increasingly short attention spans for films; if anything, Hollywood is obsessed with rates of decline and getting a good one (they’ve got predicting it down almost to a science).

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keenerweiner said on November 1st, 2010 at 11:29 pm

I love everything you do, MGK. Also Christopher Walkens.

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