As of Dec. 27, 2012 officially became the highest grossing year ever at the domestic box office for the movie industry.
As of Thursday, the domestic U.S. box office total for the year passed $10.6 billion, beating the record set in 2009 of $10.59 billion. With four days – and a holiday weekend amidst that – left to go, expectations are that the total will come in close to $10.8 billion.
As one would imagine, The Avengers bringing in $623.4 million didn’t hurt, or The Dark Knight Rises hitting $448.1 million. The Hunger Games also cracked $400 million as well, so while the grand total was a new record, you can see more than a tenth of the total amount was made up by just three films. While great for them, it says that the rest of the industry was lacking a bit.
Sometime next week we should get a breakdown of the biggest flops of the year, and somehow I think John Carter is going to be pretty high on that list.
The purchase of Lucasfilm by the Walt Disney Company is now complete. Prepare for movies!
Announced on Halloween, the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney has already received approval from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) faster than you can say “jump to light speed.” Thanks to a higher than expected price for shares of Disney, the purchase price ended up closing out at $4.06 billion, just slightly ahead of the originally announced $4.05 billion.
Disney is wasting no time in trying to earn back that chunk of change. According to a report from Blue Sky Disney, the Star Wars comic books will start coming to Marvel as of 2015. Dark Horse Comics has been publishing titles in the famous universe since 1991, but according to sources, no new contracts will be awarded to them after 2013, and the titles will instead go to Marvel which Disney purchased a few years ago.
Why does this line spoken by Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope come to mind? “The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master.”
THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY COMPLETES LUCASFILM ACQUISITION
Deal expected to strengthen Disney’s position as a leading global provider of high-quality branded entertainment and build long-term shareholder value
BURBANK, Calif., December 21, 2012 – Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) announced today that Disney has completed its acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Lucasfilm to the Disney family,” said Iger. “Star Wars is one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time and this transaction combines that world class content with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets, which we believe will generate growth as well as significant long-term value.”
Under the terms of the merger agreement, at closing Disney issued 37,076,679 shares and made a cash payment of $2,208,199,950. Based upon the closing price of Disney shares on December 21, 2012 at $50.00, the transaction has a total value of approximately $4.06 billion.
Lucasfilm’s assets include its massively popular Star Wars franchise, operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production, as well as a substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies. It operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC, LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound.
The final total numbers for the 2011 box office finally hit today, and they tell a rather interesting tale.
The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) finally released all the numbers for the 2011 box office, and while the U.S. barely broke the $10 billion mark again, overseas is where the real action was.
U.S. ticket sales brought in $10.2 billion, a drop of 3.8% from 2010. Admissions – the number of people buying tickets – fell even further by 4.5% to 1.2 billion, the lowest number since at least 1996, which was 1.33 billion. 3D movies lost $400 million to land at $1.8 billion, but the MPAA was quick to point out that Avatar’s numbers were in the 2010 numbers. The average ticket price jumped 1% to $7.93, and that represents a 37% jump since 2002.
Overseas ticket sales however accounted for a staggering 68.7% of the $32.6 billion total for all tickets sold.
Other bad news, the number of people classified as “frequent moviegoers” – those who buy at least one movie ticket a month – fell 2.2% to 35 million.
The MPAA has spent its day trying to spin all this data as not being as negative as it looks, with a lot of them blame being laid on Avatar doing so spectacularly well the year before. I’m sorry to tell you, but when you’re losing your most frequent customers, something is definitely wrong no matter how you spin it.
On Aug. 4th, 1986 I opened Splash Page Comics, my comic book store. Despite the fact that in 1991 we moved to a larger set of digs, and in 2001 we closed the retail operation and became AnimeUSA full time, one thing has remained the same: The Thor poster.
Before we opened the store we set out to get some decorations, and we found a comic shop in souther Missouri that has a super fancy laminating machine and they would run comic book posters through it. They looked fantastic, and we bought four different one to decorate the store with. I don’t remember what all four were, but the Thor poster by well-known comic artist Joe Jusko went on the wall behind where I sat at the counter. I wasn’t ever a really big fan of Thor, but I liked the art, and it livened the place up.
Over time the other three posters feel off their push pins or found other ways to get damaged. As time went by, the store had two break-ins, a minor flood, a minor fire and who knows how many other issues, but one thing you could always count on was the Thor poster would still be hanging on the wall. It became a running joke that it was actually what kept the building standing.
When we moved to a larger part of the building in 1991 the poster got moved to the bathroom door, but it was still where it was visible to all of the customers. One day I walked in and found it missing. I immediately turned to the guy working as my manager at that time and asked in a frantic voice where the Thor poster was. He had put some form of promotion poster up in its place and said it was just too god of a spot to keep a poster up we weren’t even trying to sell. I immediately told him to swap it back. He tried arguing with me, but even my mother who was present at the time asked if he really wanted to risk his job over my attachment to the Thor poster.
The Thor poster went back up.
When we moved our business to our current warehouse in 2003, the Thor poster came with us, although it now hangs in frame as its top corners have begun to fray. For 25 years Thor and his Asgardians have greeted me each morning as I arrive at work, and I plan to keep it that way no matter what happens in my life.
I am well aware that the poster has no connection to my business staying open, it’s just more of my security blanket at this point. I doubt that there are many people that can say they have looked at the same poster every day for 25 years, but I definitely have, and I look forward to may more years with it.
(You can click the image of a larger view … which the picture was taken only a few days before this post.)
Hollywood had a lot to celebrate about 2010 … and a lot to worry about.
For only the second time ever, movie revenue surpassed $10 billion. Pretty impressive, huh? But it was only off the back of 1.35 billion tickets, the second lowest tickets sales since 1.33 billion sold in 1996. Attendance dropped by 5.4%, second only to the 8.4% drop in 2005.
So, how did they make that much money on fewer tickets? Well, as USA Today pointed out, it’s the higher ticket prices for 3D movies. Is it any wonder why so many of those are coming out now? The average price of a ticket jumped from $7.48 in 2009 o $7.85 in 2010, the single largest jump in history.
Perhaps if Hollywood actually tried to make good movies they would get further? 3D is a gimmick, and when people tire of it you have to wonder what will Hollywood do then? Find another trick? What’s left? Yeah, exactly right … nothing.
The movie industry is in trouble, but instead of looking at itself, it always seems to run off and blame “pirates”, or Netflix, or Redbox, it couldn’t possibly be because they are just turning out one bad movie after another.
Hopefully someone, anyone, in Hollywood might be sobered by these numbers and go, “Hey, wait a tic …”
Have you given any thought to why every movie is being put into 3D? Think about it for a minute. I’ll wait.
If you answered, “because it is an artistic choice that enhances the movie”, you just failed the class and I will be holding you back a year. If you answered, “because they can charge more for the same ticket, and in this time of declining theater attendance every penny helps”, you would be right and you get a gold star.
Nov. 2010 box office hit $897 million domestically, a drop of nearly ten percent from Nov. 2009′s $995 million. Estimated attendance was 106 million, edging out 2007 for the title of worst Nov. in the past 15-years.
The problem is that Nov. was the fourth month in a row where attendance dipped below the same time last year, but yet the overall box office through Nov. 30th was $9.68 billion compared to 2009′s $9.53 billion.
Do the math, how is this possible? How is attendance down, yet revenues are up? Yes, ticket prices overall inch higher and higher, but think about the premium price being put on 3D films. Suddenly the extra money makes sense. Instead of being concerned with quality, Hollywood has found another way to up its revenues with a gimmick. That is exactly what 3D is, and we are being forced into paying for it because that is the only way some films are released. I really want to see Tron Legacy this month, but due to my eyesight problems I know I’m in for a headache if I do go see it in 3D. I’d see it in 2D in a heartbeat, and I hear some theaters will have it that way, but only having one theater in town pretty much guarantees it’ll be in 3D … with a higher ticket price.
Consumers will eventually tire of the 3D shtick, and then Hollywood will find itself back to facing empty theater seats. Perhaps then they will concern themselves with quality over shiny gimmicks?
While I’m one for working pretty much every day, holiday or not, I understand those who wan to take them off.
With that in mind, why in the world are Kmart and Walmart open on Thanksgiving this year? I can’t remember either of them ever doing this before, and that makes me really curious.
Has the economy hit this bad? Walmart is starting some Black Friday sales at 12:01 AM, but the really good stuff will be at 5 AM, meaning they want you to hang out in the store for five hours, if not longer. Sorry, but I think I’ll pass.
Sorry to all of you who are going to be working what should be a really, really boring day.
It seems that someone finally got around to telling the two biggest comic book companies, Marvel Entertainment and DC comics, that they were about to price themselves out of existence.
The New York Comic Con is currently in progress, and both Marvel and DC have taken the opportunity to announce major changes to their book pricing starting in 2011. DC was first out of the gate with the news that $3.99 books would lose a few pages, but the rule from here on out would be $2.99 except for over-sized specials and annuals. “[The] announcement re-affirms DC Comics’ commitment to both our core fans and to comic book store retailers,” said Jim Lee, DC Comics Co-Publisher. “For the long term health of the industry, we are willing to take a financial risk so that readers who love our medium do not abandon the art form.”
“As Co-Publishers, we listened to our fans and to our partners in the retail community who told us that a $3.99 price point for 32 pages was too expensive. Fans were becoming increasingly reluctant to sample new titles and long term fans were beginning to abandon titles and characters that they’d collected for years.” said Dan DiDio, DC Comics Co-Publisher. “We needed a progressive pricing strategy that supports our existing business model and, more importantly, allows this creative industry to thrive for years to come. With the exceptions of oversized comic books, like annuals and specials, we are committed to a $2.99 price point.”
Marvel wasn’t quite as fancy in its announcement, and it definitely rang of the company being caught off guard by the announcement.
While I appreciate the drop in pricing, it’s something I have been saying the companies have needed to do for ages. Even at $2.99 I think books are over priced, but when you count in the 50 percent discount most retailers receive, and the cut the publishers take, there isn’t much left for the creative team, so its understandable. However, when they started popping up at $3.99, I knew the writing was on the wall that this couldn’t last.
Unlike DC, Marvel will just be using this strategy on new books, and won’t be reducing the pricing of titles currently at the $3.99 price point. Marvel is also using this weekend to stress how much digital sales are picking up, and, to be honest, I won’t be surprised if we see Marvel begin testing the waters for some “download only” titles in the future, but we’ll have to wait and see.
As Mr. DiDio pointed out, the pricing had become such that people just could no longer take sampling a new book, and with people deserting old characters it just goes to show what I’ve been saying that the industry has to be shrinking. Little Johnny will have a hard time convincing his mom to let him try a comic for the first time at these prices. My thinking is that while these price reductions are a step in the right direction, both companies also need to look at lower priced “sample books” for some of their key characters to entice in younger readers. How about a $1 reprint published quarterly? You already have the artwork, don’t contract anything new, just reprint some key stories that would help new readers get started. If you want them to get used to buying monthly, call it something like “Marvel’s Best” and rotate different characters through it, but you have got to do something to lure kids in now to secure the future.
Kudos to both companies for finally realizing they have a problem, but I still don’t think they went far enough.
Not even two months ago I had a protracted discussion with my mother about how Walmart should try out solar panels on their stores as they have those giant flat roofs.
Apparently they have my house bugged.
Fast Company reported earlier this week that Walmart is trying out a pilot program where they are putting solar panels on 30 stores in California and Arizona.
Apparently the solar panels are expected to generate 20 to 30 percen of the energy used by each store, which works out to 22.5 million kilowatt hours per year, or enough to power 1,750 homes a year. While most people are taking the approach of how this will reduce carbon emissions and focusing on the green aspects of the project, which is all good, I am more thrilled by the reduction of strain on the nation’s aging power grid.
The national demand for power is increasing each year, and is climbing at a pace that far out strips the rate with which we are upgrading the grid. Over the past few summers we have seen brown outs, and even a few cases of rolling blackouts due to the strain of air conditioning demands. Some power companies have even demanded companies to lower their use during daylight hours to assist with the amount of energy required to keep the grid running.
The more companies remove needs from he grid, the better off we’ll be. Considering the number of Walmart stores in the country, and if this test is successful, imagine the amount of power that would be saved across the entire country. If other businesses with similar building designs joined in, then you would really see a reduction. Yes, solar panels are expensive now, but of course increased demand usually results in lowered pricing, so they would finally catch up with one another.
I say bring it on, and lets give the power grid a bit more breathing room.
Well, this really was only a matter of time when you think about it, but it looks like some sort of Marvel Comics theme park may be coming out of Disney, but it isn’t going to be where you’d expect it.
According to a report from The Telegraph last week, Euro Disney has petitioned the French government to extend its land development rights from 2017 to 2030. Originally Disney could only build new parks and expansions around the original Euro Disney until 2017, but this 13 year extension was granted due to the recent decline in attendance credited to the recession.
Euro Disney parties said that a Marvel theme park was definitely on the table, bu if it did happen, construction may not even begin until 2020 at the earliest.
The odd part about this is that some years ago Marvel licensed some of its key characters to Universal Studios, and they can’t use them at any American theme parks until those contracts expire. No one is sure if those rights extend outside of the country, however, and that might mean the Marvel park could only work in some place like France. Hopefully we would see one in the United states eventually, but who knows at this point.
I have a lot more thoughts on this matter in this week’s episode of Scattercast, so make sure to check it out.
Apparently my friends know what will get my behind in a car, and that is to tell me that Hastings, a store I am not overly fond of, has not only converted part of its music section into a comic book area, but they are even going so far as to carry back issues.
… say what?
I got two e-mails asking me if I had been by Hastings as of late to see that a whole rack of music had been removed and replaced with a comic book area. Short answer was “no”, long answer was my car was in the shop and I was going to get up there as soon as I got some wheels.
Not exactly sure what to expect, I headed up there and this is what I found (click either image for a much larger version)
The back issues on the other side of the display.
To say I was shocked would be an understatement. It’s obvious they are dealing with Diamond Comics Distribution, which means they are getting books the same week as comic book stores. This is unusual as most stores such as this go through a magazine distributor for books as they can make returns to those by stripping off the covers to prove they didn’t sell copies. I’m going to guess some sort of deal has been made with Diamond for returns, or else Hastings’ back issue bins are going to fill up pretty darn quick.
Why will they fill up quick? They’re ordering on new books was all over the board: One to two copies of this or that, and 20 copies of something else. It was erratic at best.
What did catch my eye about the back issues was that it was an eclectic mix of recent issues and stuff from the 1980′s. Secret Wars, a key Marvel title from the 80′s, three copies of Transformers #14 from that decade and so on, next to books that were out just a month or two ago. How they built up a selection like this is odd, and make me guess they have bought out some large company that was sitting on a ton of back stock. The prices for back issues seemed reasonable ranging from $.99 up to the highest I saw at $5.99.
On another end cap of a neighboring display was a selection of recent hard cover books, as well as packages of collector bags and boards. I have no clue what has prompted Hastings to get so serious about comics, but it appears to have jumped in with both feet.
I wandered off for a few minutes to ponder what this means for the industry. True, it is just one display in a store, but the chain overall, and if it is doing it at all locations, means a decent comic selection is now available at around 200 more locations around the country. As I went back to take another look, my thoughts turned to nothing but positive thoughts as I saw a mother and son, who appeared to be 10 or 11, going through the back issues. She was telling him he could get one book, and he was pouring through them like it was a monumental decision he had to make.
This is one of the key things I have been saying about comics for some time now that comics have priced themselves to a level where kids can’t get involved any more. Your average new issue runs between $2.99 and $3.99 these days, and that is just not a price parents are going to say, “sure, why not” at. However, slap $.99 on a book, the comes in a bag and board no less, and they may be more inclined to let little Jimmy pick something up. Without new kids coming into the medium, it is doomed to die out, so it warmed even my cold, dead heart a bit to see a child picking out a comic book.
However, therein lies the mystery of this sudden change at Hastings. As much as it saddens me, comic books are not what they once were. Yes, the company took out a rack of music CDs, another medium that is dying, and replaced it something of an equally questionable lifespan. Comics have been on the decline for some time now, especially in what we refer to as the “monthly pamphlet” format. Trade paperbacks that collect several issues into one volume have become the more popular way of consuming the literature, and now with digital comics on the rise on devices such as the iPad, who knows how long the monthly has left. Collectors still love the old format, but your casual reader is much more interested in self-contained stories, or consuming it digitally. This is an awful lot of floor space to devote to a product such as this.
Why Hastings has gone this route is a mystery to me, and I question the sanity of it, but, to be honest, that one little kid with his mother made me move a long way off from condemning it as complete stupidity.
The majority of the productions probably won’t make it to the theater and are more envisioned as calling cards for filmmakers to possibly secure larger budget work. Those that do go to the theater will have next to no advertising budget with a plan to simply promote them by word of mouth. Midnight showings would also probably be the venue for those that do get theatrical releases as it would mean producing fewer prints of the films.
While this is somewhat inline with things I have said about studios needing to release smaller budget films, this approach has been tried before, and it has never ended well. The same article that announces this new division also points out that Twentieth Century Fox recently closed its Fox Atomic brand, and Universal Studios also just shut down its Rogue Pictures imprint by selling it to Relativity Media.
Every few years some low budget film like The Blair Witch Project ($60,000 budget, $248,639,099 international gross box office) comes along and the studios go all bonkers on making low budget films, and what they don’t realize is that you can’t manufacture successes like these. They have to grow organically, and just because a movie cost $100,000 doesn’t mean it’s going to be good.
This idea has failed before, and it will again. But, hey, it’s only going to cost them $2 million, so why not roll the dice?