Finally the other night I watched this past Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons.” After the episode was done the announcement came on that the show would return in November, after Fox gets done airing the MLB post-season. As an enticement to tune in, they also announced that when it returns there would be a sneak preview of the feature-length Simpsons movie coming to theaters next summer. It’ll be interesting to see what they air at that point.
This MSNBC article gets to the heart of the problem of both big-budget movies AND release windows.
Many films released from January through April are of marginal quality, at best, and fairly inexpensive to produce. Production costs range anywhere from $20 million to $50 million and if these movies somehow make a nice profit, itâ€™s considered gravy. October through December is the slot where Oscar hopefuls are brought out, those films that might hit big on the awards circuit and play for awhile, not only in theaters but on DVD as well.
So itâ€™s important to understand that while a studio wants its movies to succeed every weekend of the year, those big summer popcorn releases pay the bills and can make the corporate bosses â€” and stockholders â€” very rich.
What other industry thinks like this? Yeah, retail outlets rely heavily on the November to December months for their profits but that’s a reality of the calendar more than anything. Studios have a choice as to whether or not to approve these grossly over-budgeted films that no longer have the sure-fire hit potential they once did. The money that’s thrown at them for production could be better used to fund some smaller, higher quality movies. (Also, comedies should never cost more than $30 million. They just shouldn’t. More money and CGI have never made something funnier. That’s just a reality. Stop this now.) And the marketing money that is needed to try and insure a big opening weekend could be spread around to those smaller films to make sure they connect with the niche that’s most likely to find them of interest. As I’ve said before, a movie will never find and audience larger than the one it should have. The key is to keep the number of people you expose to the marketing versus the number who have an active interest in it to a low ratio. Connecting with niches can help you do that. But that’s hard work and does not – I repeat does not – involve a huge TV commercial time buy. I know that might look pretty on a spreadsheet but it’s not going to accomplish this goal.
It also makes a case for the broken window release pattern. If half a movie’s business is going to be on DVD, but you’re trying to appeal to the entireÂ potential audience in the theatrical marketing push. So you KNOW that half the people who are going to eventually see your movie aren’t going to do so until the DVD comes out, but you include them in the target audience for the theatrical release campaign. Why not distribute the movie day and date on DVD, VOD and in theaters and be able to reach that entire audience at the same time instead of waiting five or six months? Broken window also means you can stop focusing on the Summer as the end-all-be-all of the release world. That means more movies have a chance to do better because they’re not all being crowded into the same 12 weekends, something that’s liable to just frustrate people who are interested in more than one movie coming out that weekend. Movies might be #1 for more than one week because there won’t be something just as big coming out next weekend that will syphon off the audience.
With the range of media choices available to people these days, theatrical features are never going to have the impact they once did. But the system in place still relies on that being the case. That needs to change soon or the studios and the theaters that rely on them are going to find themselves in big trouble.
I just put up a post on TV Squad about how Christians should be embracing “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and its portrayal of a Christian character.
Even if I didn’t so completely disagree with this particular President, the Constitution was setup to guard against just this type of system. The President is not supposed to have the power to deny people access to due process of law. This bill just granted him that power. He now officially live in a dictatorship.
Congratulations to all the fine Congressmen and women who just eliminated the role of the courts as well as gutted their power to keep the Executive branch – designed to be the weakest of the three – in check.