Day Fifty-One – Keys to the (Magic) Kingdom

20 02 2010

Disney’s latest announcement didn’t seem like it even needed to be said. To me, it’s just common sense. Basically, if your movie idea can sell toys or comes from Pixar, you’ll be issued a key to the Mouse House’s vault o’ cash. If not, it better be cheap.

The concept of trying to make money outside of just box office isn’t new. I remember when the Godzilla remake came out and my local Blockbuster was filled with Godzilla toys, cups, mouse pads and other useless items. The movie wasn’t too concerned about making a ton at the box office. As long as I bought a bunch of crap outside of the theatre, they were more than happy. (Sadly, I bought the soundtrack. That was before I developed any kind of taste in music. I promise.)

Your only way into the Magic Kingdom is an idea that'll make money; one way or another.

Roger Ebert said on his Twitter that making this statement is the same as an admission of guilt. I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s just reaffirming their stance in the world of Hollywood. They need to fill all those Disney stores in the malls with something other than Buzz Lightyear dolls and Cinderella pillows. They’ve basically made it clear to every agent and manager exactly what they’re looking for.

Have a great horror idea that takes place in a refrigerator? Does the fridge have a friendly face that can be made into an action figure that the 8-14 year old boys will want in their Christmas stockings? No? Try 20th Century Fox.

Anyone who grumbles that this is just another problem with corporate America owning the studios needs to do their research before worrying. Disney isn’t concerned with making less quality films. They just don’t want to pay for trash like G-Force when it has no potential for a return outside of box office. Can anyone really be upset about that?

Also, low budget in Hollywood means $50 million. I could make a pretty good movie for that amount of money. Sure, my talking unicorn will likely have to be dropped from my script, but I could just get a cheap TV actor to serve his purpose anyway.

Basically, if you need the money, you better have some way to make it back. If your movie can be made for $50 million, it’s reasonable to assume you can be profitable in box office alone. Think The Proposal. If not, your movie better have another way to make up what it owes. Whether it’s cutting the neighbours’ lawns over the summer or selling some cheap plastic toys, you better have a business plan to get your cash back.

Is there really anything wrong with that? Make a movie people will want to spend money on, one way or another, or go looking for your cash elsewhere.

Does that even need to be said?

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Day Fourty-Two – Bring on the Blu

11 02 2010

As the world continues to crumble around us, so does the land of myth and movies.

Studios are worried about the new direction the movie business is heading into. With former audiences’ time being shared between so many new mediums, the film business is beginning to lose the stranglehold it once had over your wallet.

Expect to see Disney DVDs and Blu-ray on store shelves sooner than usual.

Though Avatar has seen record-shattering success and the box-office as a whole has seen increase in gross revenue, somehow the business is in trouble. Apparently, ticket sales are down, and Disney’s latest announcement is making theatre-owners shake in their sticky, soda-lathered boots.

Disney wants to close the gap between the theatre and the DVD. Starting with Alice in Wonderland, you’ll see the DVD on store shelves within 12 weeks, rather than the customary 16 weeks.

Is this really going to stop anyone from going to the theatre?

I think it might. I can tell you from my experience, I was going to see The Blind Side this weekend in theatres, but now that I’ve discovered it’ll be released on DVD on February 23rd, I’ve decided to wait for it.

I’m still going to the theatre though, so that isn’t a problem for the AMC I frequent.

People don’t go to the movie theatre just because the movie isn’t readily available on DVD. People go to the movies because it’s a night out. It’s something to do to get yourself out of the house. A DVD is counter-productive in that respect.

Theatres need to focus on the main reason people stray away from the theatre, and that’s the experience. Older crowds don’t want to be in a screening packed with teenagers who are too distracted by their cell-phones to actually sit through a movie. At the same time, younger crowds want to be able to continue their social experience within the screening, regardless of who is trying to watch the movie.

Some theatres have VIP screening rooms, but they are at a premium. When a single viewing of a film costs as much as a Blu-ray would, I’ll usually end up waiting.

The tightening of the DVD window may be a problem for the few that would rather watch it at home. Theatres should worry more about making the case for watching a film on the big screen, rather than whining about Disney trying to take advantage of any hype it’ll generate in theatres.

I prefer a theatre, but if I get priced out of my seat, at least I know the Blu-ray will follow close behind.