Monday Morning Quarterback Part II

By BOP Staff

October 12, 2010

You can't beat him.

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Horses are out. Offensive tackles are in (we think).

Kim Hollis: Secretariat, the latest inspirational sports movie from Disney, opened to a modest $12.7 million. Do you consider this a good enough result?

Edwin Davies: Considering the push that Disney has been giving this film - I've not been able to move for ads and trailers for this film over the last week or so - they must have been hoping for something a bit more, especially if they want to make back the marketing costs that such a push has incurred. Inspirational sports movies tend to be fairly leggy - we only have to look back at the staggering success of The Blind Side or the moderate success of something like Invincible to see that - so it'll probably still make $40 million+ when all is said and done, but considering that some news outlets were talking about it being one of the earliest hits of the fall or a possible Oscar contender, it seems like the film has stumbled just as it's getting out of the gate. (Phew, almost didn't get a horse gag in there.)

Bruce Hall: No. I dislike horse racing but I have a soft spot for Secretariat because that's the first horse I can vaguely recall capturing the public's imagination in a sport that generally does NOT grab the public's imagination outside a narrow demographic.

Damn. I dated myself again, sort of.




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Full disclosure - I did see Seabiscuit and while I have to admit it wasn't bad, it was saccharine enough that I had to watch all four seasons of Battlestar Galactica in one sitting to get the sweetness out of my blood. But where should we put the blame for Secretariat? Is it the horse? Well, compared to Seabiscuit, Secretariat's brief but remarkable reign at the top of the world of horse racing was practically yesterday. In fact, the proper name "Secretariat" registers with Microsoft Word 2003 spell checker, whereas "Seabiscuit" is an anomaly. Unscientific yes, but it means something. It isn't Diane Lane; she's a talented actress, well respected despite not exactly being an A- list name.

I simply think that this was not as good a film as Seabiscuit, and it was marketed inefficiently and released at an inopportune time. Others here will likely have more cogent statistical analysis but I can't help but notice that Seabiscuit went head to head against much more stiff competition but was released in a very modest number of theaters with a far higher per venue average than Secretariat. What does this mean? Well I am going to go out on a limb here and say that having seen both films, Seabiscuit was just a better film, it was released at a better time, and its marketing campaign was simply more effective. Disney supposedly put somewhere between $30 -35 million into marketing Secretariat, but what did they get for it? Just splattering ads everywhere doesn't mean you're going to resonate with your target audience. I wonder if this doesn't say something more about Disney's new marketing honcho MT Carney as it does about anything else. Her suggestion is that this was not one of her team's greenlighted films and that they "knew" all along that Secretariat was going to play strong in the midwest and flicker out nationwide.

So, they knew the film was going to open soft? That's a bit of a copout if you ask me. Let's see what happens when she has to take responsibility for a project from soup to nuts and it fails - then we'll see how good of a marketer she really is.


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