Monday Morning Quarterback: Part One

By BOP Staff

August 1, 2005

I'm too cerebral for you.

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Stealth might be the worst tentpole release since 2 Fast 2 Furious, bro.

David Mumpower: Last week, we couldn't even wait the appropriate amount of time to take shots at Stealth. True or false: we were right to do so?

Kim Hollis: So utterly true. Honestly, we've been taking shots at this thing for months. It was just so utterly ridiculous looking.

David Mumpower: What I wonder is who looked at this concept and thought, "Yeah, we should invest $138 million in that."

Kim Hollis: "I'm hit! I'm hit!" -- Sony

David Mumpower: "We don't need stars! This concept sells itself!"

Reagen Sulewski: Clearly. I think we can add another notch to the idea that people are sick of mindless action.

David Mumpower: I don't completely agree, but we will circle back to that later on.

Kim Hollis: It's another case of a movie that was just so terribly marketed, though I'm not sure there was a "good" way to market something that was obviously just garbage.

More, more, more. How do you like me? How do you like me?

Reagen Sulewski: Usually saturation marketing can overcome some of that but obviously not in this case.

David Mumpower: More than anything else, I think this is the behavior we are seeing change. It's not enough to just show a trailer a lot. There has to be a focus to the advertising campaign as well. Having said that, it's tricky to balance frequency with effectiveness.

Kim Hollis: Besides which, if something looks marginal and doesn't have a *good* hook, people are just willing to wait the three months for DVD.

David Mumpower: We saw several June releases that were not marketed enough. We have seen in the past two weeks a couple of films that were not advertised effectively. The only films this summer I feel have done a brilliant job on both are Episode III, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, War of the Worlds and Fantastic Four.

Kim Hollis: And Wedding Crashers. Don't forget Wedding Crashers.

David Mumpower: Its marketing campaign was a bit different from the others in the way that it penetrated unusual markets with the Maxim ads and beer commercials. I think it stands apart from the rest.

Reagen Sulewski: I'm not a fan of the idea that release date matters, but this looks like a film that might have done better in September. People have higher expectations for summer films.

$300 million with little to show for it...sounds like the Yankees payroll

Kim Hollis: Speaking of The Island, which is the bigger bomb – Stealth or it? And why?

David Mumpower: That's like picking which Kennedy has had the fewest public embarrassments. So far, Stealth has been just as disappointing overseas as it has been domestically. It's in the lead in this race to the bottom. Also, I give bonus points for the fact that The Island's reviews are respectable. Stealth's are Razzy-worthy.

Kim Hollis: Stealth and The Island are now conglomerated into one film for me. It's the doomed Stealth Island Project of July, 2005.

David Mumpower: Stealth Island costs $300 million to make and market with guaranteed in-take of $30 million! It's Enron Economics!

Kim: Is The Island out on DVD yet? No? I'll ask again next week.

Reagen Sulewski: The Island is the greater disappointment. It really should have been one of the bigger films of the summer.

David Mumpower: What would have helped it be one of the bigger films of the summer? In the end, it was a quasi-futuristic project with actors who are not box office draws. There isn't a money-shot in the movie around which a marketing campaign can be built.

Reagen Sulewski: Like we talked about last weekend, Michael Bay should have been able to sell it.

David Mumpower: The more I have thought about it, the more I have come to accept that if this had been anyone but Michael Bay, we would have recognized it for the failure it was destined to be. His presence misled us.

This is bad news Logan's Run re-make.

Kim Hollis: And honestly, the ideas aren't even all that original in The Island. It always felt like Logan's Run without the good hook, and ultimately, regular movie-goers don't really know the difference between Michael Bay and Rob Cohen anyway.

David Mumpower: Also, I note that we were probably right last week. There are rumors that Bay has already been pulled from The Transformers.

Reagen Sulewski: I think that adds bonus points to the failure status of The Island. Rob Cohen didn't have as big a career to kill.

Kim Hollis: He's nothing without Vin.

David Mumpower: Hey! I would argue that the only good movie Cohen ever did was Dragon: the Bruce Lee Story. Not that anyone ever saw it...

Reagen Sulewski: If you say the director of Fast and the Furious had one of the biggest bombs of the year, people don't blink. If you say the director of The Rock and Armageddon did, people notice.

David Mumpower: Which is funny since The Fast and the Furious was the biggest opener of the three...but I completely agree that this is the perception.

Kim Hollis: Vin Diesel is to Rob Cohen as Jerry Bruckheimer is to Michael Bay.

David Mumpower: Otherwise unemployed?

Schadenfreude. Get your schadenfreude.

David Mumpower: Reagen, we had an email exchange on Friday morning discussing Stealth's opening. In it, you expressed confidence it would open to at least $20 million. How surprised are you at the actual result of $13.5 million?

Reagen Sulewski: Somewhat. It's a cynical way of thinking, but this looked just crappy enough to do well.

David Mumpower: I expect that this is the reason a lot of people are happy with the result. A studio has been punished for expecting so little of consumers.

Kim Hollis: I won't lie. I was thrilled that Sky High beat Stealth. It's finally a case of the good underdog beating the big bad monster.

Reagen Sulewski: How long ago was Stealth green-lighted? It looks like this is another film that has caught Hollywood unawares of a sea change.

Kim Hollis: I really do believe we're starting to see movie consumers wise up to a degree. A lot of the people who were willing to shell out some bucks for the dreck in the past are realizing that they can bypass the annoyance of cell phones and overpriced concessions and people who talk through the movies and just "enjoy" the lesser-quality stuff from the comfort of their own homes.

David Mumpower: I expect that this sort of behavior proves consistent in the future. Consumers know the movie release cycle too well now. They realize there is no rush to see a film they cannot be sure is good since it could very well be available on DVD in another quarter. I mean, three months is nothing. That's a trimester of pregnancy. Movies have such a small window to DVD now, and that punishes the weaker releases. The onus is on them to get viewers out quickly.

Kim Hollis: That's why it blows me away as I see story after story showing that movie studios are purchasing this crappy-looking spec script or green-lighting some crappy Uwe Boll production. They're not learning their lesson. Someone is giving Boll $60 million to make Dungeon Siege, for god's sake.

Reagen Sulewski: How behind on your mortgage payment do you have to be to take a role in a Uwe Boll film?

David Mumpower: Reagen, I think that the guy from the power company has to be knocking at the front door and carrying wire cutters.

Reagen Sulewski: I mean, personally, there would have to be some mention of "thumbs" and "garden clippers" to convince me.

Kim Hollis: They should really put that in an episode of Entourage at some point.

Reagen Sulewski: That said, I think you could win a lot of money betting against Hollywood not putting out crappy movies. They're going to keep throwing stuff out there in the hope that it sticks. What do they do to fix their problem?

David Mumpower: Fixing all the woes of the production system is a much more involved column than we will be having today. Having said that, I do think even a small amount of logical inference would reveal that a consumer is going to be turned off by the thought of unknown actors facing off with a robotic airplane. What really should have happened is that this project should have been combined with Soul Plane. THEN we might have had something.

Kim Hollis: Snoop Dogg as the stoner dude who says crrrrrazy things while the evil plane kills people! Genius!

David Mumpower: Foshizzle my movie bombnizzle.



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