Friday, March 12, 2010

Robert Zemeckis Top 10

As announced 3/12/2010 - The Walt Disney Studios will close the Northern California based ImageMovers Digital (IMD) by January 2010 and lay off 450 workers there.

There has always been a close connection between Robert Zemeckis and Northern California based Lucasfilm with Industrial Light & Magic having worked on 6 of the top 10 domestic box office Zemeckis directed films (the only ones they did not work on were Cast Away, What Lies Beneath, The Polar Express and Disney's A Christmas Carol) and Skywalker Sound having also worked on 6 of the top 10 (the only ones they did not work on were the three Back to the Future movies and Who Framed Roger Rabbit).

Although ImageMovers Digital's films Beowulf, 2007 and The Polar Express, 2004 helped usher in Hollywood's lateest wave of 3D movies, Walt Disney Studios President Alan Bergman said in a statement "... given today's economic realities, we need to find alternative ways to bring creative content to audiences and IMD no longer fits into our business model."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Alice in Wonderland's Big Winner may be IMAX

Twelve films were converted through the IMAX process and released to IMAX theaters in 2009 versus eight in 2008.  Three of the twelve were the top three domestic box office movies of 2009:  Avatar, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.  As a result, IMAX's 2009 revenues were up $68.5 million over 2008 and they showed a net profit for the first time since 2005.  The success of Alice in Wonderland at IMAX theaters so far should make 2010 another good year for IMAX Corporation.

In November 2002, Star Wars: Ep II Attack of the Clones was released in 58 IMAX theaters.  During the first week, the movie grossed an average of $24,746/per theater.  For its total 26 week IMAX run, Ep II brought in $8.5 million in box office ($10.3 million in 2010 $s).

Fast forward to 2010.  As of 3/10/2010 Alice in Wonderland had already made $12.1 million at IMAX theaters since its initial release 3/5/2010.  Per Alice can be seen at 172 theaters throughout the US making their first week average approximately $70,349/per theater.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bicycles and the Movies

According to Outside online, Google maps recently added bike routes. 

East coast bicyclist Doug Mink, who works at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has a website for bicycle enthusiasts that includes favorite bicycle movies, including the 5 films featured above

New York City gears up for their 10th annual Bicycle Film Festival this coming June according to

And, according to,  Paul Reubens, star of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, signs with CAA so we can anticipate more bicycle scenes from him

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

War Films and the Oscars

If you want to win an Oscar, make a war movie!

Of the top 15 sci-fi movies, in all-release domestic box office in 2010 dollars, 3 were nominated for best picture (Star Wars, 1977; E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, 1982 and Avatar, 2009).  0 won.

Of the top 15 war movies, in all-release domestic box office in 2010 dollars, 12 were nominated for best picture (2 predated the Oscars: The Birth of a Nation, 1915 and The Big Parade, 1925).  The only picture on the top 15 list that was not nominated for a best picture was The Dirty Dozen, 1967.  5 of the top 15 won Best Picture Oscars: Gone with the Wind, 1939; The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957; The Best Years of our Lives, 1946; Lawrence of Arabia, 1962 and Mrs. Miniver, 1942.

The Hurt Locker is the lowest domestic box office revenue war movie and one of the lowest production cost war movies ever to be nominated for Best Picture.  Best Picture Oscar nominated films costing less than The Hurt Locker include Battleground, 1949; Life is Beautiful, 1998; Casablanca, 1943; Platoon, 1986 and Coming Home, 1978.  Despite its low revenue, The Hurt Locker garnered 9 Oscar nominations and took home the Best Picture Oscar. 

War Movies with 9 or More Oscar Nominations in order of Highest to Least Domestic Box Office:
1.  Gone with the Wind, 1939 directed by Victor Fleming (The American Civil War)
2.  Doctor Zhivago, 1965 directed by David Lean (Russian Revolution)
3.  Sergeant York, 1941 directed by Howard Hawks (WWI)
4.  For Whom the Bell Tolls, 1943 directed by Sam Wood (Spanish Civil War)
5.  Saving Private Ryan, 1998 directed by Steven Spielberg (WWII)
6.  Lawrence of Arabia, 1962 directed by David Lean (WWI)
7.  Mrs. Miniver, 1942 directed by William Wyler (WWII)
8.  Since You Went Away, 1944 directed by John Cromwell (WWII)
9.  Schindler's List, 1993 directed by Steven Spielberg (WWII)
10. The Deer Hunter, 1978 directed by Michael Cimino (Vietnam)
11. Judgment at Nuremberg, 1961 directed by Stanley Kramer (WWII)
12. The Hurt Locker, 2009 directed by Kathryn Bigelow (2nd Gulf War)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why Are Good Movies Less Successful Today?

Meryl Streep tops the list of actresses with the most Oscar nominations (16 going into the 2010 Academy Awards season).  But Katharine Hepburn, with 12 nominations, still beats Meryl when it comes to total wins (4 for Hepburn, 2 for Streep (3 if Streep wins for Julia & Julia).

With all those Oscar nominations, Meryl Streep and Katharine Hepburn are good candidates to see how Oscar nominations break out NOW between big box office movies (over $100 million in equivalent 2010 $s) and less financially successful films versus THEN

58  Percentage of Katharine Hepburn's 12 Oscar nominated films making over $100 million in domestic box office (in equivalent 2010 $s): The Philadelphia Story, 1940; Woman of the Year, 1942; The African Queen, 1951; Suddenly, Last Summer, 1959; Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, 1967; The Lion in Winter, 1968 and On Golden Pond, 1981

50  Percentage of the top 10 domestic box office films starring Meryl Streep for which she was nominated for an Oscar
36  Percentage of the 11 films starring Meryl Streep, with 4 or more Oscar nominations, that made more than $100 million in domestic box office
31  Percentage of Meryl's 16 Oscar nominated films making more than $100 million in domestic box office:  Kramer vs Kramer, 1979; The Deer Hunter, 1978; Out of Africa, 1985; The Bridges of Madison County, 1995 and The Devil Wears Prada, 2006

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is Originality Dead or Just Sleeping?

Top 10 Highest Cost -Highest Revenue Movies VS Top 10 Lowest Cost - Highest Revenue Movies

From 1960 through 2009, 60% of the lowest cost (production cost less than $10 million) highest revenue (domestic box office greater than $175 million) movies were released in the 1960s and 1970s.  The only movie on the Top 10 Lowest Cost - Highest Revenue list released from 2000 through 2009 is My Big Fat Greek Wedding, 2002.
Note:  Although Paranormal Activity in 2009 was a big hit on a reported production cost of $15,000 it doesn't make the list with only $108 million in domestic box office

Everything changed in the first decade of the 21st century!  From 1960 through 2009, 80% of the highest cost (production cost greater than $150 million) highest revenue (domestic box office greater than $250 million) movies were released from 2000 through 2009.  The only films with the highest cost and highest revenue released prior to 2000 were Cleopatra, 1963 and Titanic, 1997.  If Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, with its production cost of $250 million, makes $250 million in domestic box office it will bump Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest off this Top 10 list.
Note:  Superman Returns, 2006 would make the list in terms of cost with $337.7 million in 2010 $s, but with domestic box office of only $218 million in 2010 $s it doesn't make the revenue to meet the criteria.

Perhaps of more interest - only two of the 10 lowest cost - highest revenue movies are franchise films whereas seven of the highest cost - highest revenue movies are.  Does that mean originality is a thing of the past?

Lowest cost - highest revenue films (20% Franchise Films)
1.  The Blair Witch Project, 1999
2.  Easy Rider, 1969
3.  American Graffiti, 1973
4.  Psycho, 1960
5.  My Big Fat Greek Wedding, 2002
6.  The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975
7.  Rocky, 1976
8.  Tom Jones, 1963
9.  Porky's, 1982
10.  Airplane!, 1980

Highest cost - highest revenue films (70% Franchise Films)
1.  Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, 2007
2.  Cleopatra, 1963
3.  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003
4.  Avatar, 2009
5.  The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, 2002
6.  Titanic, 1997
7.  Spider-Man 3, 2007
8.  The Dark Knight, 2008
9.  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2009
10.  Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, 2006

Top 10 Highest Cost - Highest Revenue Movies in 2010 $s

This Top 10 Highest Cost - Highest Revenue Movies graph, restated in equivalent 2010 $s, shows the same ranking (albeit with higher dollars) as the graph below.  Whether adjusted to equivalent 2005 or 2010 dollars (on the basis of the change in ticket price), when taking into consideration Avatar's higher 3-D pricing,  that film comes in behind Titanic in domestic box office revenue (although above it in cost).