4 Reasons 2015 Could Be the Movie Industry's Worst Year Ever
During our ongoing coverage of the implosion of Hollywood, you might ask yourself, "What do I care if a bunch of movies lose money and studios go bankrupt? So what if studio execs have to switch to a lower quality of cocaine?" The problem is that the movies most of you tend to like are very expensive to make, and currently they aren't making their money back. Hollywood is about to start making less of what you like, and/or making it shittier.
Which brings us to 2015. See, studios say that there were too many expensive CGI-filled blockbusters this year, and audiences just went numb by the time July got here. And there will be far, far more of that in 2015 -- we're talking Star Wars VII, The Avengers 2, and Batman vs. Superman serving as the tip of the iceberg of a giant list of huge-budget remakes and sequels all landing at the same time.
As we're about to prove with numbers, Hollywood is about to ramp this car right off the goddamned cliff ...
The Number of Big-Budget Films Per Year Is Skyrocketing
That Lone Ranger movie will lose 150 million fucking dollars, because somehow they spent more than a quarter-billion dollars on a cowboy movie. That's how insane things have gotten.
Replace the quicksand with poop and you have an accurate description for how it did at the box office.
Ten years ago, The Phantom Menace's $100 million budget was considered extravagant. Cut to 2013, and they're spending the same budget on The Hangover III. This summer alone, we've seen an astonishing 16 films that cost $100 million to make, three more than the entire span of 2012 -- and it isn't even snowing yet. Now get this: A mind-numbing 29 blockbuster-level films have already been announced for 2015. And that's going to be a bloodbath.
"I'd like to do a sequel to-"
Remember, in a normal year, a little over 50 percent of the big-budget monsters will fail hilariously. In 2013, that failure rate is up to 60 percent (a movie like Pacific Rim seems like a decent, well-received hit, but will actually lose money), and you can bet the losses will skyrocket with this crush of movies hitting one after another in 2015. There is simply a limit to how many movies people will watch in a year.
No, International Box Office Isn't Saving Them
"Oh, Cracked," some box-office-savvy person is saying, "Don't you know that these big-budget CGI-fests make all of their money back in foreign markets?" Nope, we're totally counting that.
It's true that more and more big-budget films try desperately to appeal to foreign markets like China (what with 1.3 billion potential ticket buyers). For instance, the aforementioned Pacific Rim has already made $220 million worldwide, which sounds like "everyone gets a free golden robot" money. But the problem is that most of that money isn't actually going to the studios.
Stringer wouldn't have put up with that shit. Just sayin' ...
In foreign markets, studios only get 40 percent of the gross; in China, it's 20 percent. The rest is split with the theaters and other involved parties (oh, and thanks to a dispute over sales taxes, they aren't even getting the 20 percent right now). Did we mention that China's international box office sales dropped 21 percent this year alone?
This isn't even factoring in no markets wanting to see Ryan Reynolds.
Again, if you're a fan of, for instance, Guillermo del Toro's movies and want to see a studio fund his next project, this matters to you. Because Pacific Rim isn't giving them a reason to.
The Tried-and-True Franchises Won't Save Them, Either
Clearly the problem is that no studio thinks it will be the one left out in the cold. So what is it the studios think will save them in this ridiculous game of chicken? Sequels and reboots. In addition to the mega-franchises mentioned above, we're getting another Fantastic Four, Jurassic Park 4, and Terminator 5. That can't possibly go wrong!
Except even these cash cow franchises are steadily drying up. Here, let's break out the graphs -- this is the box office of the previous three Jurassic Park movies:
Here's the Terminator franchise:
Hell, even the mighty Star Wars brand is treading water:
Want to bet that by the time the two spinoff movies hit in subsequent years, audiences might just be sick of Star Wars' shit?
But all of that just brings us to the horrific bottom line ...
The Average Budget Is Exploding While the Average Gross Goes Down
Think Man of Steel was a huge runaway hit? Think again -- while it has made $650 million(!) worldwide, it actually needed about a billion dollars to break even. On top of the $225 million budget, they spent a mind-boggling $150 million on marketing. To help offset the costs, they sold more than $150 million in product placement, a move they claimed made the film about flying armored space gods feel "more real."
"The store is ruined, but these fine Craftsman tools don't even have a scratch!"
Likewise, it's a good thing The Avengers was a record-breaking runaway hit -- the studio needed it to make $1.1 billion just to break even. Now try to imagine what that number will be for Avengers 2 and Batman vs. Superman.
Because it's not like things get better with each sequel. In 2001, the first Lord of the Rings spent $100 million on its production budget and $40 million on advertising, and its net gross was around $250 million. Last year's The Hobbit -- a film with the exact same fan base -- had a budget that was 250 percent higher (resulting in much worse looking effects, somehow) and spent twice as much on advertising, and its net gross was a little over $100 million. In other words, they spent more than twice as much and made half the money in return.
In 2000, the average budget for a blockbuster was $113 million. Last year it was $195 million. So it's no surprise that 2015's blockbuster gangbang is going to bring that average well past $200 million.
That squiggly line above means that in 2015, a whole lot of franchises, and maybe some studios, are going to topple like the Eye of Sauron. The money is just drying up, and your favorite franchises will pay the price. Oh, you may still get Pacific Rim 2 someday. It's just that the monsters might look suspiciously like actors in rubber suits.