March 3, 2006

IF HOLLYWOOD LIKES IT WHY WOULD AN AUDIENCE?:

Few are likely to care whom the Oscar goes to (Christian Toto, 3/03/06, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

Forget about the Oscar bump -- this year's batch of Academy Award nominees will be lucky to escape the weekend without dragging down the Oscar telecast ratings to record lows.

Four of the five best picture nominees already have lost out on the ticket-sales boost associated with being a part of the golden five -- the racial drama "Crash" already was on DVD.

"Brokeback Mountain," the film favored to lasso the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday, actually saw its box office take shrink 8 percent the first full weekend after the nominations were announced, according to www.boxofficemojo.com.

Which was when people began to hear that it wasn't a Western.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 3, 2006 7:42 AM
Comments

I don't think I've seen any movie that is nominated for anything this year, but I know this--Paradise Now will win the Best Foreign Film award. There has never been anything more certain or predictable in the history of the world.

Posted by: b at March 3, 2006 10:42 AM

Brokeback Mountain made a nice amount of money ($76 million), considering it cost about $14 million to make the thing. That is a nice return. In addition, it benefited from a shrewd and inexpensive marketing campaign. It got loads of free publicity because of the controversial nature of the thing (although, I think that bridge has been burned and a gay-fishing movie or a gay-lumberjack movie isn't going to command as much free ink).

I didn't see Brokeback Mountain because: (1) I'm not gay (2) I'm not a straight woman.

This morning on Mike & Mike, Golick was asked by Eric C. about the Oscars and Golick hadn't seen any of the movies or knew the names of the actors/actresses. Even though he is an ex-jock, he is in the entertainment industry (although with several exceptions sports is still pretty apolitical). If Greenie were there, he probably would have seen more of the movies.

Posted by: pchuck at March 3, 2006 10:53 AM

With the exception of "Munich", all of this year's best picture nominees have been great box-office successes, and have earned their budgets back many times over. They were made on small budgets, and never aspired to blockbuster status, so comparing their box-office success to that of "Narnia" or "King Kong" makes no sense.

I can understand the aversion to these movies because of their politics, but to attack them for not making hundreds of millions in box-office revenue is absurd. Since when has the amount of money a film makes determined its quality?

Posted by: Mörkö at March 3, 2006 12:00 PM

Morko: Since when has the number of awards a film receives determined its quality?

Posted by: b at March 3, 2006 12:04 PM

b: Who said it does? Not me.

Posted by: Mörkö at March 3, 2006 12:11 PM

Morko: I don't understand what point you were trying to make. Who said that the amount of money a film makes determines quality? Not the article, and not the comments.

Posted by: b at March 3, 2006 12:21 PM

The amount of money they make is often the best indicator of quality. Look at the Top 10 for every one of the past 5 years and it's all family films, superhero/fantasy, and an occasional comedy.

Posted by: oj at March 3, 2006 12:36 PM

b: "Brokeback Mountain" and the other Oscar hopefuls have been criticized on this blog several times on the basis that they are not making as much money as the most popular films. Firstly, this is of course a logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum, and secondly it is misleading to say that these films are not commercially successful, as I demonstrated above. This is my beef with these posts about "Brokeback" et al.

Posted by: Mörkö at March 3, 2006 12:39 PM

m: The quality of a film takes a whole lot into account: popularity, box office, technical quality, acting, plot, writing, etc. Simply looking at the box office for a film is an error in determining quality; however, the Oscars aren't about quality either. They have their own agendas and they pursue them with vim and vigor. Narnia is a very good movie when looking at just about every factor, yet it is up for makeup, sound mixing and visual effects? Syriana is a bloody train wreck and it is nominated for Best Original Screenplay?

Posted by: pchuck at March 3, 2006 1:01 PM

oj: I disagree, top-grossing films are usually boring as hell because they are so PC and try to please everyone. Would you say that as a rule the absolutely best films of each year are among the most popular ones, and not among the less-touted, smaller budget ones?

Reading your movie reviews on this site, I see that you lavish praise on many obscure films, whereas there are only a few reviews of commercial hits. The same goes for your book reviews: there are more than a thousand of them, but the majority of bestsellers of recent years are not even reviewed and you seem to concentrate on small-audience books, that is, the literary equivalents of "Brokeback Mountain".

Posted by: Mörkö at March 3, 2006 1:26 PM

I have to agree with Mörkö to the extent that the real measure of financial success is ROI, not absolute gross. Better to make $70M on a $14M film than $300M on a $250M film.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 3, 2006 1:53 PM

AOG: But by Morko's standards the measure of success should be something more like the ratio of box office sales to investment, i.e. better to make $20M on a $1M investment than $200M on a $20M investment.

Morko: I don't think you're at all correct on the motivation of these posts. The point is that Hollywood & the critical establishment are touting these films and America is responding with a collective yawn. I've said many times here that America is so rich that Hollywood can rake in the dough without going for mass appeal. Hence no serious attempt has been made to make serious, high-quality movies that respectfully tell Biblical stories, as a follow-up to the success of The Passion, and no attempt to make movies showing the GWOT in a positive light. They can make plenty of money making other movies that won't get them shunned from fancy dinner parties.

Posted by: b at March 3, 2006 2:25 PM

On the other hand, the amount of hype needed to make sure a $250M film makes $300M, when applied to a $14M film should make more than $70M, unless you are saying that the return on hype is a only and always linearly proportional to the hype. In other words, a film costing $1M with "Brokeback Mtn."/"Naria" level of hype would return $51M.

The key for "Brokeback Mtn." was that unlike Disney, et. al., they didn't pay for the level of hype they got, and don't have to include that in the marketing costs of the film, unlike "Narnia".

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 3, 2006 2:34 PM

. . . top-grossing films are usually boring as hell because they are so PC and try to please everyone . . .

Hello? The Chronicles of Narnia, a Gospel allegory which is also a ripsnorting adventure, is politically correct? Or The Passion of the Christ? The Incredibles, which was very explicitly anti-PC, trying to "please everybody?" Are we seeing the same things?

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 3, 2006 2:58 PM

In fact, none of them are PC. Good triumphs over evil.

Posted by: oj at March 3, 2006 3:42 PM

b:

So, fittingly, aren't the only films that the Oscars should consider pornographic ones?

Posted by: oj at March 3, 2006 3:45 PM

Morko:

Folks hardly need me tell them that they should watch the Lord of the Rings, but it's easily the best thing Hollywood's done in recent years. The top 10 every year is pretty much excellent.

Posted by: oj at March 3, 2006 3:55 PM

Here is 2005's top grossing films:

1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
2 Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
3 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
4 War of the Worlds
5 King Kong
6 Madagascar
7 Mr. & Mrs. Smith
8 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
9 Batman Begins
10 Hitch

I liked #1-5, although I didn't pay to see #3 and in #4 the father-son subplot was terrible and the son should have died. I recall that my kids liked the penguins in #6. I read that #7-8 were horrid. I heard #9 was good and I'll pull a Sergeant Schultz on #10.

Just because I said that I liked them doesn't mean I thought they were good. I think only very few movies are good movies. I thought #3 & #5 were good movies.

Posted by: pchuck at March 3, 2006 4:52 PM

comments here have criticized the movies for their rancid politics and low entertainment value. quoting low box office numbers is used to support that opinion.

Posted by: toe at March 3, 2006 5:11 PM

How the heck did Star Wars not get nominated for Best Visual FX?

Friggin' Academy.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at March 4, 2006 6:19 AM

Brokeback Mountain lost me when I heard that it was a cowboy movie without any cows.

I am simply not that fond of sheep.

Posted by: J Baustian at March 5, 2006 3:20 AM
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