Stay with me for coverage of 6 Underground….
But first up, more of those pesky expensive budget movies.
Some readers might remember me complaining that $100 million movie budgets are stupid.
I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong. Heck, I’m old enough to realize we are wrong with our opinions far more times than we’re right.
Unfortunately, on this, it appears I’m closer to right than wrong.
In particular, I mentioned Ford v Ferrari ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ a movie that is in my current top 10 for 2019, so I am not throwing any shade — I liked it a lot — but questioned the $100 million budget being worthy for the type of movie. The lead actors were paid a reported $30 million of that $100 million, which, I suppose, good for them, but the remaining $70 million still seems like too much money for the end product.
I watched Black Christmas (1974) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ this week. Given, that was 45 years ago, but that budget was $600,000. Rocky ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ had a $1 million budget in the 70s. Marriage Story ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Great movie on Netflix, the budget $18 million (still seems somewhat high considering most of the movie is talking in common places like offices, apartments, etc), with probably 25%+ to the actors. Black Christmas (2019) reboot budget? $5 million. Kudos to Blumhouse for being more spendthrift and also for finally having a woman direct a film for their studio (Black Christmas (2019) is their first ever film directed by Sophia Takal).
Seriously, why can’t more movies be made with budgets under $10 million dollars? Even $20 million dollars? Ok, even $30 million dollars seems like a liberal budget for most movies except for animation and heavy action and CGI movies.
So, imagine my lack of surprise while reading this excellent article in Fortune:
Ford v Ferrari, the award-tipped racing drama starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, is only just now breaking even for 20th Century Fox, after weeks in theaters. Its $100 million price-tag (which it just made back domestically) necessitated a worldwide gross of $150 million to be considered successful. It’s now at $167 million and won’t get close to $200 million. Overall, the returns for Ford v Ferrari are solid, especially given that Fox is fast-disappearing into the Disney empire, but they also don’t mark the kind of runaway triumph this movie might have been had it come out a decade ago.Does the Movie Star Still Have A Pulse as 2019 Winds Down? | Fortune
The higher the budget, the more pressure to do crazy good box office numbers. Not that many films make more than $100 million. The domestic average is around $12 million, so you better do great numbers internationally to get your $100 million or have some serious legs domestically.
Most movies don’t last 30 days in the theaters. Joker is still fooling around at 70 days, but it’s about out of theater gas. Frozen II won’t thaw before 30+ days. The vast majority of films are gone within three weeks — 21 days.
Heck, 21 days is a long time in the theaters these days. So, to get to $100 million+ you better start with $30-50 million the first weekend and then hope to maintain a 20+ day run with an average of $2+ million a day. A very small number of films leg out like that. Most wide releases are sub $1 million daily after the first weekend.
If I was the filmmaker, I’d want to be no more than 50% of the average for a budget as a starting point unless the story clearly needed a larger budget (my argument is most don’t). A racing car movie doesn’t need $100 million budget unless their blowing up a lot of expensive race cars and paying the lead actors double digit millions. A Charlie’s Angels second reboot doesn’t need a $50 million budget and so on.
The actors that demand high salaries with no points are part of the budgeting problem. Don’t ask for $20 million a picture unless you’re going to bring in $40 million in box office with your star power attached (most can’t/don’t). The article mentions a few of them like Tom Cruise in a Mission Impossible or Denzel Washington in an action film. Gone are the rom-com queens that could demand that kind of double digit million salary, only to see the movie flop like a fresh fish pulled onto the dock.
And Netflix spending $159 million on The Irishman is stupefying. Again, I liked this film, but where did the money go ($30 million on de-aging, I heard, but can’t find that figure confirmed anywhere to cite)? Investors are nervous and the stock price is sliding.
Great segue to Michael Bay. If there was ever a more big budget director than Bay and he admits his requested salary is large to get him involved. He’s got his pricey hooks in the Netflix threadbare pockets for 6 Underground.
6 Underground on Netflix Friday 12/13/2019 — another $150 million budget
Have to admit this $150 million budget action thriller movie with Michael Bay directing and Ryan Reynolds starring looks pretty cool and this might actually justify the budget based on insanely cool stunts and effects, but still … Netflix, how are you going to stay in business if you keep spending like this?
Disclaimer: I’m not a huge fan of the Transformers movies, but I’ll readily admit Bay makes popcorn munching action movies with dizzying camerawork, wild and wowing stunts, and fast-moving plots. His storytelling is what I usually take issue with, but if you can suspend the story and just enjoy the action, he’s your man. I’ll be watching, rating and reviewing 6 Underground, you bet I will.
6 Underground hits Netflix at midnight PST (GMT-8) Friday, December 13.