BOP Answers Its Mail

By Calvin Trager

June 27, 2004

Ranking number two on the list of a postman's greatest fears is the giant, carnivorous envelope.

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BOP loves its readers. And BOP's readers love BOP. But some of BOP's readers don't love certain things that BOP does. But others do. This is the enigmatic nature of feedback: It doesn't often let you know what you are doing well, but it very nearly always lets you know what you're doing wrong, or at least what others think you're doing wrong.

And while we at BOP are self-aware and confident enough to follow our own muse even in the *gasp* face of negative feedback, from time to time we will use this forum to respond to our readers, to further clarify, to enlighten, to entertain.

Here then is some selected feedback and response from May 24-28, 2004:

George was one of those kids who never learned to differentiate "good" attention from "bad" attention:
In case you don't remember me (which I'm sure you tried hard to do), I'm that guy who wrote in about the How to Spend $20 article a ways back. To refresh your memory, you told me to "suck it." I thought it was awesome that I was mentioned on my favorite movie website, and I showed all my friends, who in turn told me to "suck it" as well, because my excitement over such a small thing proved my geekiness. Anyway, I just wanted to say how much I absolutely love the new layout, and that while it took a few mintues to get used to, I now find it perfect. It pleases me to see steady updates on most of my favorite links (Weekend Forecast, Friday Analysis, and Wrap-up). If I may put my two cents in, which I am known all to well for, I'd like to suggest a few of your current links that I'd like to see updated more often: 1. How to Spend $20 (I know you said it takes like 70 hours to do, but I cry every time it's not there on Tuesday) 2. Trailer Hitch (a hidden BOP gem that doesn't get the attention it deserves) 3. Movie Reviews (clearly it would take up eons of time writing reviews for all movies released, but during the summer movie season, it's great to get the inside opinions on all the future summer hits) Now, I'm aware you'll probably tell me to go create my own website if I'm going to be so damn picky, but I just love too much about this site to let the little things piss me off. You guys rock, and I'll continue to be a loyal reader even if my suggestions don't come true. Thanks for everything!

George, aren't you a little too busy for this, running the country and all? I wasn't expecting to hear from you until after your schedule frees up a bit in early '05. Seriously, thanks for the suggestions. As I mentioned last week, Trailer Hitch will be up and running again soon. $20 is a fun read and a good resource whether it is posted on Tuesday or not. What, everyone has to buy their DVDs the first day of release?

As far as current movie reviews are concerned, everyone is doing them these days, doesn't it seem? When we feel like we have something unique or particularly meaningful to say about an opening weekend movie, we will usually do a review. Otherwise, you won't hurt our feelings if you go over to RT and choose from the hundreds they have to offer. And of course I would be remiss in not pointing out the tons of non-commoditized reviews lovingly crafted for your reading pleasure by Kim Hollis, Chris Hyde, John Seal, and Stephanie Star Smith. Thanks for the feedback, Mr. President.

M dials in with this comment:
Um, not to be a Stiffly Stifferson, but I was glancing at Jason Dean's top 5 Johnny Depp performances, and while they are wonderful picks, I just had to point out that Johnny did not play Benny in "Benny & Joon". He played Sam. I'll stop nitpicking now.

Thanks for the correction and let me further add, you should know that Jason Dean hasn't been the same since this error was pointed out. You know how in Rain Man, when Dustin Hoffman doesn't get to watch Wapner, and he starts beating himself about the head and shoulders and banging his head against walls and such? It was kind of like that. You think I'm just being quippy, but the guy couldn't stalk Winona Ryder for weeks he was so depressed. Thanks for the feedback.

Frank helps us illustrate once again how responsive we are:
Hello, I loved the first movieball column. I'm not sure how many installments you're doing, but I'm hoping you can help me understand something: How do the profits get back to the production company? I understand how the movie gets to the theater, and I understand the costs involved in that, but once the tickets are sold, where does the money go? If a print costs $4K, does the theater buy or rent that, or is it "comp'd"? Do the theaters give an accurate accounting of how many tickets they sold, and are they then expected to give half the money back to the studios (I see a lot of problems with that model)? I've heard that theaters make most of their money on sodas and popcorn. Is there any truth to that? The answers to these questions seem to fit in line with this column. I hope that, if you weren't going to answer these already, you might find a way to add some of these answers in one of the next installments. Thanks a lot, Frank

This one is going out to you, Frank. As for your question about concessions, that will be the subject of a future column called "Sodaball", wherein we will explain how a $3.50 large Coke generates a profit of $3.29 for the theater. Thanks for the feedback.

Meade would like us to replace our opinion with his/her opinion and call it fact:
Hello, I would hardly consider a Cinematic Masterpiece like Gone With The Wind, to be a "chick flick". It is not a chick flick. Granted it comes very close, but to me it's more a Family movie, and it's a true Classic. It is much more than a Romance film. There is tons of symbolism in the movie. Trust me, if Gone With The Wind were a Soap Opera or a chick flick,I would hate it. It's not. It's artistry set the standard in film making, and it's simply beyond category. Thanks, Meade

I'm not saying I disagree with your premise, Meade. But we're not going to get anywhere with a "it is a chick flick", "no it isn't" exchange. I mean, your supporting arguments are that the movie has symbolism, artistry, and you liked it. All true, I'm sure, but hardly a thesis. Next time let's hear some objective reasons why Gone with the Wind trandscends the chick-flick label. In the meantime, I will cite the romance angle and the period-costume-drama-with-themes-appealing-to-women angle as reasons it is a chick flick. Thanks for the feedback.

Sara was voted most helpful in 3rd grade:
love the site i just read your review of serendipity, but i just wanted to point something out. the book that sara writes her phone number in, Love in the time of cholera, actually has some significance to the plot. if you haven't read the novel, it's about two people who are in love but don't come together until later on in their life i can't really explain it, but it's just kinda cool because the plots relate. <3

We at BOP love little touches like that as well. Thanks for the feedback.

Sara hears a whooshing noise as the joke goes over her head:
Your article about Mary Kate Olsen's car accident has a picture of Ashley Olsen next to it. Her sister is to her left, cut off in the picture. Mary Kate is the skinnier, more cracked-out looking one with darker hair. I am embarrassed to admit I know that, but not too embarrassed because I'm emailing you.

BOP regrets the error. Which one is which again? It's so hard to tell them apart because they're, like, twins and stuff.

You know, if I could just bring the mood down for a moment, I want to acknowledge that anorexia nervosa is no laughing matter. I had a ton more jokes to write about this feedback when I first was putting the column together last week. But now, picking on the Olsens seems a little mean-spirited in light of recent news, so I scrapped them. Instead I will just say thanks for the feedback, and get well soon Ashley!

Anonymous has been placed in the BOP witness protection program:
in your article regarding film costs and revenues you stated that ppv revenues can range from negligable to moderate. i just wanted to give you some actual numbers to attach to those terms. the most revenue ever generated for a title in U.S./Canada ppv (approximately 90% of the revenue is from U.S.) is in the $6 million range. there are only a few that have reached that level however. more typically, a "good" ppv number is $4 million. most titles generate $1-$2 million. the "crappy" titles will generate anywhwere from $100,000 - $1 million. art house films released under Fox Searchlight, Paramount Classics, etc. generate from $5,000 to $20,000 on average. some of the bigger films in this category can generate from $20,000 - $50,000. revenues for these films are growing however, due to their increased availability on vod, and will probably soon reach into the $100,000 range. keep in mind that bigger box office revenues do not necessarily translate into the biggest ppv/vod revenues. ppv/vod generally appeals to a narrower demographic than the theatrical exhibition (romantic comedies and action do the best...dramas and children's titles dont do so well)...and large titles can be overexposed to the ppv/vod base for titles with huge box office/dvd revenues.

Thank heavens you didn't reveal your true identity, Anonymous. Sharing information that sensitive could get you a strong reprimand from the Regional Marketing Manager (Non-Porn).

Anyway, I thought your numbers seemed a little low, and I was right. Though the information is a little tricky to find, if you go to Multichannel News and give them some fake signup information, like I did, or $159, like I didn't, you can see for yourself that The Sixth Sense was the biggest pay-per-view offering of all time (analog and digital cable only) with over $8 million in revenue. Adjusting up by a conservative 25% to account for satellite pay-per-view sales not imbedded in those figures results in a ceiling of about $10 million. Not enough of a difference to move pay-per-view's impact on overall box office from inconsequential to consequential, but big enough to allow me to say thanks for the shoddy feedback.

Ben is probably lowballing on the frequency of annoyance issue:
I don't usually write annoying e-mails like this, but... David Mumpower! I just read your Brendan Fraser top 5 and freaked right out. There are fun movies there, to be sure, but for a tutorial in why Fraser needs to fire his agent, try a double-feach of GODS AND MONSTERS and THE TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS. If only he did more projects like that and less Monkeyball. Sigh.

Your note inspired me to compile my own list of favorite Brendan Fraser movies, aaaaand done. Well, I did like him on Scrubs. Thanks for the feedback.

Anthony finds a couple beans we forgot to count:
Hi Guys, just something that was left out of MOVIEBALL - well I'm pretty sure it was. There was no mention of studios offsetting exp by capitalising on product endorsement and in some cases (see Sandler movies) nearly the entire production cost! Also I think that your print cost was a little high.. I think that $4K sounds okay for a one-off print but this figure comes down a lot for runs of a 1000+. When I was getting a studio to strike me a one off print of a Cronenberg title - it came in under $3K. And that was an archival title. Great article - keep up the good work. best, at

As for the print cost issue, I'm going to have to take your word for it. I usually just go to Blockbuster.

Product endorsement is certainly a valid addition to the tally of revenue streams for some movies, but certainly not for others. And clearly no one is going to confuse us with IRS auditors any time soon; our intent was to provide insight on the major pieces of the puzzle, not to construct a P&L statement. I mean, you have probably also noticed by now that we left out other potentially lucrative sources of revenue like bribes from the Teamsters and settlements from Tom Cruise "I'm not gay" lawsuits. Thanks for the feedback.

Annina and Wolfgang, sitting in a tree:
I would like to know something more about Wolfgang Petersen, I love this man for me is the best...

We have registered your request with Alex Hudson, the scribe behind our Visionaries and Their Visions series. In the meantime, you can join me in a fervent prayer that Petersen's next project will be a film version of Geheime Mission. Thanks for the feedback.



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