While studios have been moving toward a model where instead of investing a handful of different movies and a variety of budgets and expectations, they put all their money into a few make-or-break movies per year, the risk of that approach is beginning to be more than apparent. Disney is still wiping the egg off their face from “John Carter,” the debacle of a film that they’ve gone on record as saying lost them $200 million bucks. Oops. And now over an expensive folly over at Universal has also affected the balance sheet.
Their parent company Comcast released results of the last quarter, and while their earnings went up 30%, at Universal Pictures the failure of “Battleship” caused an $83 million loss of cash flow (versus a $27 million profit last year). So yes, a film that earned $302 million worldwide lost the company money — but that will happen when you spend over $200 million to produce a movie based on a board game starring Rihanna, a swimsuit model and that guy from “Friday Night Lights.” But at least this mistake won’t happen twice, at least not with movies based on Hasbro properties, as the studio paid the gamemaker a hefty multi-million dollar sum to get out of their development deal. So everything is rosy then, right?
Not really. We’d like to think suits will learn their lesson from this, but the blockbuster culture with sequels, movies based on toys, video games, kids books and reimaginings/reboots is only going to grow and continue. Why? Because with movies like “The Avengers” making $1 billion at the box office alone, and lord knows how much in merchandising and more, that roll of the dice is always going to be a gamble studios are willing to make. And in the eyes of Comcast, what’s $80 million when they’ve raked in $1.3 billion in the last quarter alone? Just a drop in the bucket. So yeah, “Battleship” still sucks, but it doesn’t mean more ill conceived blockbusters will stop here. [Variety]