Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
May 19, 2008
These children make Aldo Nova sad.Kim Hollis: Considering the disappointment of Prince Caspian, The Spiderwick Chronicles and Stardust as well as the abject failures of The Golden Compass and The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, is it fair to say that fantasy films are on the outs?
David Mumpower: John Hamann drilled it with his comment in the wrap that having Frodo or Harry Potter in the title is the key to a successful fantasy film. I certainly believe new projects can do just as well, as was demonstrated by the first Narnia movie. They simply need to give potential consumers hyper-awareness of the product as well as an innate understanding of why the project is for them. The Golden Compass failed to do this on an epic scale. I'm not sure The Seeker even bothered to try to market itself that way. Stardust and Prince Caspian are perhaps the best examples that a good fantasy film (and both of them had A Cinemascores) needs more to break out. To a larger point, in this day and age, no film can excel without a great ad campaign.
Calvin Trager: I think it goes beyond marketing. The most successful fantasy movies have received the benefit of multi-generational appeal of their source material, built either over time like Lord of the Rings or virtually overnight like Harry Potter. None of the failures you mention have done that - Golden Compass as a story is relatively popular but that only gets you so far in building an audience for a movie. The Spiderwick books came out like five mintues ago. Prince Caspian becomes an interesting case study because while it benefits from being part of the Chronicles, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe stands alone in the series as having made itself a part of the cultural fabric. I actually think Caspian's numbers were about where they should have been considering this. I bet a small but meaningful percentage of the people that have read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe have not read the other books in the Chronicles.
Reagen Sulewski: Prince Caspian only really suffers in comparison to The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and some of those other films were made pretty cheaply. Don't forget there was Bridge to Terabithia, made from a book I'd never heard of, and came away with $80 million, which isn't too shabby. I think we just have to adjust our expectations downwards for the rest of this series. If Wardrobe made $290 million domestic, and this one makes about $200 million, well, that's not too shabby.
Calvin Trager: Bridge to Terabithia is a great example of what I'm talking about. I read it in fifth grade, my wife read it in fifth grade, my kids read it in fifth grade, and when the movie came out they got five paying customers in the theater as a result of the nostalgia effect. Contrastingly, only my kids have read the Spiderwick Chronicles and that one didn't get us into the theater. But a Spiderwick movie in 30 years might have a decent chance of getting my kids and their kids into the theater, or holoplex, or probably by then everything will be downloaded wirelessly right to your cerebral cortex.
Regarding $200 million, I do think Caspian's legs might be better than expected. May weekends are tough on families.
Kim Hollis: I think there might be some degree of fantasy fatigue, though if something looks truly special, it has a chance to break out. Kids movies are notoriously difficult to judge, anyway. What is fresh and exciting now is old and moldy in a year.