The main doctrine of a profitable
business is to produce a quality product that consumers want at a
cost effective price. Yet for many production studios, film
distributors and investors there is a major disconnect with this
concept. Not only have they failed to produce a product that
consumers want, they are also not producing their product in a cost
effective manor. Whereas technological advances in production and
distribution equipment have lowered costs, while increasing quality,
film budgets continue to skyrocket.
When choosing films to support studios,
distributors and investors ask “whose in it?”, while the audience
asks “what is the film about?”. The former believe A list
talent insures the success of a project; therefore films without a
hot actor on board have difficulty finding financing and
distribution. Yet the box office has repeatedly proven this standard
to be false. Which celebrity is hot and who is not quickly changes.
They quickly become famous for one project, yet they just as quickly
disappear. Talented actors—the ones who have learned their
craft--maintain a standard of excellence that begins with smaller
roles and develops into the body of work, which leads to more
True A listers do not magically appear
through PR tricks or highly publicized bad behavior. They are
created when the right actor is cast in the perfect role for her or
him. It is the unique combination of the right person, the right
role at the right time that launches an actor into stardom. The best
example is Indiana Jones. Tom Selleck was the first choice for the
role. He was the hottest male star at the time, but he was
unavailable. Harrison Ford was cast. Most people would be hard
pressed to imagine anyone else as Indiana Jones. Although Stars
Wars launched Ford to stardom, it was Raiders of the Lost Ark,
which made him box office gold. However, even with his strong fan
base and his profitability track record, not even Ford could pull in
an audience for Cowboys & Aliens. The storyline
wasn't strong enough for the audience to suspend their disbelief
enough to buy tickets.
Although many of the “A list”
actors started in television, many distributors discount their
profitability in the theatres. They refuse to see how far reaching
and potentially profitable television actors can be. Popular
television shows create a fan base not only for show, but also for
the individual actors. Ratings translate not only into advertising
dollars, but ticket sales as well. Television talent, which has
yet to make the leap to film, is more cost effective. They have
strong fan bases, yet their salary and perk requirements are usually
not has high as their film equivalent. They are also used to
working on tight production schedules, which also lowers costs. In
addition, every episode of their show is free advertising for
whatever film they appear.
Studios and distributors are
responsible for the endless remakes and sequels. From their
perspective, if it was successful once, it'll work again and again
and again. Audiences are tired of reruns. They are looking for
something new and the box office proves it. The success of
Spider-man movies as well as few other films on the surface supports
their theory. However, how much of the box office is not so much the
audience being excited about particular film, but rather wanting to
see a movie and choosing to see the lesser offensive film. The
successful reruns are far out numbered by the mediocre remakes. Dark
Shadows and Total Recall are just two in the latest
remakes that haven't lived up to expectations. Ticket prices also
contribute to the seemingly high box office numbers. By dividing the
price of tickets sold into the grosses, the numbers prove that
attendance is down.
Audiences are more loyal to genres than
to cast, crew or production teams. Although there are hundreds of
sci-fi, romance, horror, anime, etc conventions, there has yet to be
one convention for an individual actor. Genre is a more reliable
source of profitability. The Devil Inside is a perfect
example. It is micro budget horror film with a 1 million budget. It
was distributed Paramount Insurge. Opening weekend, it grossed 33
million dollars. By all accounts, it is a bad movie, yet it went on
to gross over 101 million USD worldwide, because of the genre and it
was new film. Many people have a favorite genre, which they will go
see no matter who is starring in it or what others say about the
film. These people are the target audience, whose word of mouth
endorsements will bring in the general audiences faster than any
Secondly the high production costs have
limited the number of films the studios are producing each year and
thereby reducing the number of films distributors have available to
them. In the past, each studio produced hundreds of films a year,
which spreads the financial risk factor among them thereby protecting
the studio's bottonline. They were always looking for new projects
and new talent in which to invest. However with the enormous budgets
most new films, studios, producers and distributors have placed all
their financial eggs in one or two baskets. The big budgeted films
have to do extremely well otherwise the studio suffers a great
financial loss. The break even point for a 100 million dollar film
is much higher than for a 20 million dollar film. For that same 100
million, five films could be produced, giving the studio a five times
higher chance of making a profit.
Big budgets are caused by A list casts,
special effects, big egos and lack of pre-planning.
A list actors, directors, and
producers simply cost more. A list actors cost millions of dollars,
a percentage of the grosses and special “requests”, which could
include anything from special food to having their entire family
brought with them. The greater expense is justified by their
increased profitability. The Tourist is a prime example of
how this is not always true. It had two A list actors and barely
Technological advances have
created more opportunities for special effects. But by focusing on
the new effects, character and plot development have suffered. John
Carter is the best example of what focusing on special effects
at the expense plot and character really costs.
Big egos, poor planning and lack
of flexibility combined together are the biggest waste of funds.
For decades films were able to boasted about their ability to be
innovative. They were the “MacGyvers” of the business world.
They were experts at finding creative solutions to production
challenges; that has changed. They would rather spend money like a
drunken sailor on payday than think outside the box. Disney is
remaking The Lone Ranger. Instead of leasing or bartering
use of one of the existing western frontier towns, they are building
a town. Why? Because someone on the team was unwilling be flexible
with their vision of what the town should look like. There was
another film that spend thousands of dollars in post production to
change the color of a character's shirt. It would have been more
cost effective just to make sure character had the right color shirt
in the first place.
Technology had brought down both
production and distribution costs. Digital video has eliminated the
film stock and processing costs. Bulky production and editing
equipment has been replaced with smaller high tech pieces that are
easier to transport and are more cost effective. Theatrical
distribution has replaced expensive 35 MM film prints with hard
drives and electronic downloads, which has eliminated the most costly
aspects and allowed simultaneous worldwide release, while eliminating
most pre-release pirating.
Even with the massive budgets, film
continues to be one of the United State's most profitable exports.
It is one of the few industries that can't be outsourced. Films that
do not make budget domestically find an eager audience abroad.
However, theatrical release is only one source of income. DVD or
electronic download followed by pay per view and network release
increase the films revenue without adding to the production costs.
The growing number of Internet and satellite entrainment networks has
created an increasing demand for new television programming and
films. These venues have a high demand for content and have the
ability to pay for it.
The film industry is a business like no
other; yet like every other business its success depends on their
ability to provide a quality product that meets its customers' needs.
There a no simple formula for a successful film. What people will
like cannot be summed up on a balance sheet. Just because a film
worked once, it doesn't guarantee that it will work again. Nor can
relying too heavily on one element, whether it be star power, special
effect or remaking a popular film, insure a film's profitability.
However, if you give the people what they want they will come.
Have you ever met someone
for the first time and instantly liked or hated them? What if the
meeting again was not by coincidence, but an opportunity to make
different choices? Would you do things differently or would you make
the same mistakes?
Elizabeth was asked by her mentor to teach a writing
course at a small college. Since she never forgets a kindness, she
reluctantly agrees. Arriving in town, she instantly regrets her
decision. She wants to run, but she is honor bound to stay. Even as
the ghost of a small child begs her to forgive, the memories of
another time arouse feelings she doesn’t understand and is unable
to control. When she meets Shane, Elizabeth is overwhelmed with
hatred. The feeling is mutual as Shane redirects her jealousy and
rage. By the time Elizabeth realizes what is happening, it is too
late to run. Can she and the others learn how to forgive and
remember the love before the jealousy, hatred and need for revenge
once again take over their lives?
Never Can Say Good-bye is a traditional ghost
story with a reincarnation twist. It picks up where the films
Somewhere in Time, Always, and Ghost left off. Its logline
is: Love and hate survive death.
To learn more about Never Can Say Good-bye and Theresa
Chaze's other projects go to www.theresachaze.comwww.theresachaze.com
Labels: A list actors, Adrian Paul, film distribution, film studios, how to find film financing, Lauren Holly, Never Can Say Good bye, paranormal romance, Sony Productions, Stanley Livingston, Theresa Chaze