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The Flop Formula

Friday 28 June 2013, 10:30

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

World War Z and After Earth are predicted to be huge financial flops this summer  - but I see things differently.

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    Comment number 1.

    Just looked back if I can find a film that breaks the rule, but even Waterworld seems to have eventually turned a profit when you factor in DVD sales, as did Terminator Salvation, the second thing that came to mind. Huh, this may be a tough nut to crack.

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    Comment number 2.

    What about Cloud Atlas? Big Budget - Check. Visuals - Check. Not a Comedy - Check (whatever it was, it was not a comedy). A-List Star - Check. At least if one still considers Tom Hanks as one.

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    Comment number 3.

    The Golden Compass:

    $180M budget.
    Gorgeous visuals.
    Nicole Kidman's, Daniel Craig's and Ian McKellan's star power.
    Not a comedy.
    AND based on a beloved book.

    Still tanked...
    Because despite all the above, it just wasn't very good.

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    Comment number 4.

    As we know, a box-office flop is determined by bad word-of-mouth. Any big budget movie can reach No.1 through marketing, but only good word-of-mouth will keep it there and make it a hit. If World War Z and After Earth turn a profit, then they must have something going for them - pace and storyline being the two big box-tickers for me.

    As for "why doesn't Hollywood take more risks?" - that's simple... Hollywood doesn't trust, or even respect, its audience, still believing the majority of us will be turned off by a movie if it makes us think too much. They think if we fail to follow or understand what's happening on-screen, we'll get irritated and pass on a damning verdict to the wider world, thus, creating bad word-of-mouth. (I also have another theory about the intelligence of the modern-day Hollywood screenwriter [Christopher Nolan excepted] but I'll save that for another day).

    But there's also a flipside to Mark's question. Surely when Disney went with Taylor Kitsch and its very non-glam cast for John Carter, they WERE taking a risk and must have known it too. Unfortunately for them, it backfired big time - a mistake I don't think Hollywood will be making for many years to come - especially not on a film with a $300,000,000 budget!

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    Comment number 5.

    Got one! The 13th Warrior with Banderas. Made $63M on a $160M budget. Whatever the DVD sales may have been like, there's no way it made up that big of a gap. The only question is whether or not the media were writing how expensive it was at the time, which I really don't remember.


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