October 27 2008

What Hollywood Can Learn From Saw V and High School Musical 3

I have gone on and on about how hard it is for a movie to be considered profitable, but yet the top two films this weekend did it in their opening weekends.  What lesson is there here?

High School Musical 3, the first of the popular franchise to be in theaters, has a reported production budget of a mere $11 million dollars and it grossed $42 million dollars domestically this weekend.  Saw V, reportedly the last film in the series, had a budget of $10.8 million and grossed $30.5 million dollars this weekend.  As I have told you all before, a movie must double its budget to be considered profitable, so on paper, both of these films made well over double their budgets and are completely in the black already.

Hello.  Hollywood?  Are you paying attention?

If this weekend proves anything, it is that films don’t have to have huge budgets with insane special effects to make money.  True, both of these films had built in audiences from the preceeding installments in their respective series, but this also shows if you keep budgets under control, then you can make a quick buck.  Both films star smaller name actors, a major chunk of a film’s budget these days, and concentrate more on the story and plot than catering to some huge actors fan base.  I love Johnny Depp, but he is reportedly getting $54 million to star in a rumored fourth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, kudos to him, but a huge slap up side the head to the Disney executives for agreeing to it.

Think these are flukes?  The first Saw film was made for $1.2 million dollars and went on to gross $55.1 million domestic.  News has just come out that the Saw series is now the highest grossing horror series ever with a cumulative domestic gross of $145.8 million on an estimated cumulative budget of around $30 million.  (the budget for Saw IV is unknown, so I took an average)  This particular series is not my cup of tea (I like actual horror, and not “horror porn” as some call this), but there is denying that this series is insanely successful.

As for High School Musical 3, well, I don’t get the success of the first two on television, so this one doing so well is also beyond me.  Teenagers seem to love them, so more power to them, and what teens love will always do well.

This does just tell me that Hollywood, for the most part, is broken.  Why should any movie cost $150 million or more?  A large portion of the problem is that they have given in to the insane salaries of stars.  I’m sorry, but no actor is truly worth a $20 million dollar plus paycheck for what amounts to three or four months work.  Stop paying these outrageous paychecks, focus on actually telling a story, and you can turn a profit.  Sure they may not be gigantic profits, but perhaps you could pay your executives less and then you wouldn’t need to turn such huge profits.

Oh, I know, there I go talking all crazy again with sensible talk.  I’m wacky that way.

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