Skip to comments.Hollywood Shocked as Family Films Flourish
Posted on 07/23/2010 6:21:38 AM PDT by Kaslin
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The surprise box-office boom for the cartoon "Despicable Me" is making it clear again to Hollywood this summer that family films are the most likely to be top-grossing films. "Toy Story 3" is No. 1 for 2010, not only among the critics, but among the people as well. "Despicable Me" already has broken into the top 10 box-office hits for the year to date with almost $130 million in ticket sales.
It happens over and over again. And still the "executives" are caught off guard. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out. Nobody needs a graphing calculator. Bring out the whole family, and you bring out a bigger audience. It's summertime, and the kids are bored. If the whole family doesn't go, the driving-age teenager gets assigned to take the young ones to the movies, sometimes more than once.
(Memo to Hollywood: Really, truly, this is how it works.)
And yet, The Hollywood Reporter finds the movie market gurus slightly embarrassed at what they call the "family stampede." Family films have well outpaced pre-release projections repeatedly since May, and the studio bosses are puzzled over why these movies "outperform" their guesses.
"The simplest answer is that the tracking doesn't include the young kids themselves," Disney distribution boss Chuck Viane said.
"It's just harder to get a handle on what kids are thinking," another brilliant marketer guessed. "Tracking surveys are based on what people express in phone and Internet surveys, and you're not going to find the young kids that way." Pre-release tracking surveys focus on parents. "The nag factor is what drives those kind of movies," a studio executive tartly declared. "The parents might be less inclined than the kids to see a picture, but then the kids pester the parents, and the rest is history."
So why don't the studio bosses start factoring in the possibility of a "nag factor" from young children wanting to go to the movies with parents who demand quality for their children, and make some movies accordingly? No million-dollar marketing exec has thought of that yet?
"There can be a disconnect in tracking sometimes about how far a picture will reach across all audiences," said Sony distribution president Rory Bruer, whose gone-to-China remake of "The Karate Kid" debuted last month with a much-better-than expected $55.7 million. "There's no doubt that word-of-mouth is important in that aspect." Maybe the studio underestimated the affinity of parents for the first version of the film, released back in 1984. It's well on its way to grossing $200 million.
Sometimes, pre-tracking surveys are wrong the other way, overestimating turnout. Last fall, pre-release surveys suggested the Michael Jackson tribute film "This Is It" could ring up "$40 million or more" on its first weekend. The actual figure was a lot less: $23 million.
"Despicable Me" is a great example of the "out-performed expectations" story line. The Universal cartoon with the inept bald-headed villain who learns to love and parent three young girls grossed $56.4 million in its opening weekend, although the "experts" expected a much lower $30 million to $35 million weekend.
"People think it was a whole host of things contributing to the big opening," one executive told the Hollywood Reporter. "You had some fresh-looking characters, funny trailers and a huge boost from running those trailers with other hit family films over the past several weeks." Surveys had suggested "tepid" interest from consumers.
Anyone watching NBC or Universal's cable channels were subjected to repeated on-screen promos during their favorite shows. NBC also ran a 30-minute "behind the scenes" infomercial on the opening night of the film, since Friday night TV in the summertime isn't a hot spot for advertisers.
Only one R-rated movie has grossed more than $100 million this year, the Leonardo DiCaprio horror flick "Shutter Island." It has just been squeezed out of the top ten by "Despicable Me." Three movies have grossed more than $300 million to top the 2010 list: "Toy Story 3" (a daring G), "Alice in Wonderland" (PG) and "Iron Man 2" (PG-13). Three more movies have grossed more than $200 million: "Twilight: The Eclipse Saga" (PG-13) and the family cartoons "Shrek Forever After" (PG) and "How to Train Your Dragon" (PG).
Why can't greedy Hollywood just look at the math and put their money where the American public's eyes want to go?
Here's what should follow: more respect from the movie awards shows for these animated films. "Toy Story 3" drew rave reviews across the board. The St. Petersburg Times said it "isn't merely the best movie of the summer -- even with summer just kicking in -- but an immediate candidate for best of the year." Don't bet the mortgage.
Greedy Hollywood? More like stoopid Hollywood, for living, like the MSM, in deliberate ignorance of what the larger American public really want.
The limits they push are usually good taste and decency,and the new ground is likely to be in a garbage dump.
“The parents might be less inclined than the kids to see a picture, but then the kids pester the parents, and the rest is history.”
Not really. I actively look for movies that I can take my kids to. I would take them more often if a) there were more decent movies to see and b) I could buy them a popcorn and a drink for less than an arm and a leg.
We’re taking our girls to watch Despicable Me today. :)
One word answer:
Despicable Me was made by Universal Studios and Toy Story 3 was made by Disney/Pixar.
Hollywood has known this fact for a long time but they have an agenda. It promotes an agenda through its storytelling that is intended to destroy the family and all of the institutions built around it plus the fact that the quality of the storytelling has diminished significantly over that time period. As a result people have been less inclined to go to the box office to see movies over the past 15 or so years.
Here’s a good example.
Memorial Day movie attendance drops to 17-year low
The last movie I went to see was the re-vamped version of Bladerunner that ran for a month or two in limited theaters. Before that it was Keeping The Faith.
Yep, limits being pushed in movies such as Brokeback, for example?
Brokeback was critically acclaimed by the movie critics, liberals, etc. It did well at the box office in some markets, but not in others. The liberals has some meltdowns at the fact that Brokeback was banned from some movieplexes.
One of the biggest grossing movies of all time was The Passion of the Christ. But we won’t see any major movies with religious themes such as this anytime soon.
The one reason why family films do so well, is frankly because when kids see the movie trailers on TV, they beg their parents ad nauseum to go see it in the theater. Whereas I believe that for movies meant for older audiences, many adults take the approach of waiting for the movie to come out on Cable or DVD.
Dunno. Domestic earnings are only part of the gross. How do America family shows like Despicable Me, Toy Story 3, etc., do overseas? If they’re rakin’ in the cash in Japan and Europe, then the producers really are as venal and stupid as we think they are.
I’m actually a little surprised Toy Story 3 is rated G. The scene at the dump is pretty intense.
On thing to consider with it is that a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise be in the market for a cartoon will go see it because they were in the cartoon age when the first two came out.
The best two movies I have seen this year are Toy Story 3 and Inception and nothing else has been even close.
It’s sort of hard to take the kids to see Saw 6.
My GF loved Dispicable Me. She’s spent all week looking for Minion Dolls. Very hard to find.
I was shocked that such a good movie didn’t have well connected fast food roll out (IHOP) and merchandising attached to it.
Makes sense now, no one thought it was going to be a hit.
I think you are right. They don't take into account "breeders" and our children. Many of them have nothing but contempt for conservative, Christians in "fly-over" country of which we are the majority in this country.
The executives aren’t caught off guard. It’s just that normal people aren’t buying their garbage and are interested in the few good, decent films that come out of Hollywood.
Boycott the marketers of deviance. They use the profits from the money makers to market deviance and PC crap the rest of the time. They know what they are doing. Don’t be taken in.
Try the Book of Eli. I normally boycott homowood movies but this is not one of them. Only movie I have paid to see in the last 3 years.
Book of Eli is the one movie I paid to see in the last 2 years. Facing the Giants another.
And Sex and the City 2 a supposed slam dunk, the gospel according to Cosmopolitan Magazine, was a collosal flop. Maybe it’s become a caricature of the Early 2000’s, with our foray as a conuntry into unbridled hedonism and late 1960’s revival of female whoredom.
That is one I do want to see. Might have to rent it soon. Big Denzel fan and an even bigger Gary Oldman fan. Oldman is easily one of the most underrated actors around.
Book of Eli
What is this about? Why do you recommend it?
We are due for a movie. Have not seen one in the movie theater for about 3 years now, and we never rent DVDs.
It has made 280 million worldwide, I don’t know if colossal flop is the best way to describe it.
In one situation after another, the guy performs salvage miracles with good old American ingenuity. Jobs everyone said were impossible. All this in 120+ degree temps and 90%+ humidity.
Without giving details away, with NO help from America he (just a few):
1) restores ALL the wrecked machine shop equipment in one month back to full production;
2) raises a massive sunken dry dock that experts said would take six months and hundreds of workmen - does it in nine days;
3) gets "lazy" Eritreans to scrape and paint the bottoms of merchant ships supplying Montgomery every 1 1/2 days;
4) repairs three British light cruisers that were too long and too heavy for his one operating small drydock weeks sooner than "experts" said it could be done, after saying he couldn't do it at all.
You can get the book on eBay MUCH cheaper than the used book websites. A damned good read and, IMO, great material for a movie.
This is why I used to go to the movies every other week when I was a teenager. I went to the movies to be ‘entertained’. I wanted to sit down with my big bucket of popcorn and drink and spend two hours enjoying some good, simple fun. Nowadays, these ‘directors’ and ‘writers’ are trying too damn hard to make ‘thought provoking’ films. Additionally, I hate going to movies that push a political agenda and don’t even have the common courtesy to make it subtle. I’m in my 30s but I enjoy movies like Toy Story and Despicable Me because they are good fun with simple, meaningful messages.
We don’t have any kids. My wife and I just went to see Despicable Me and loved it.
The last movie we saw at the theater was Up. The movie before that was Monsters vs Aliens.
The trend, besides these all being cartoons, is that we aren’t going to pay through the nonse to see a movie that either insults our intelligence, insults our politics, or assaults our senses with pornography or profanity. If there’s a movie that has one of those qualities, but otherwise might be worth watching, we can wait for it to come out on video or on broadcast TV or the web.
There’s little that can bring us into the theater these days short of cartoons.
A few on my “My God that was good” list of fairly recent movies
The Blind Side
Sophie Scholl-the final days
Miracle at St. Anna
Letters from Iwo Jima
And with a 8-year old son to entertain, there are still good family movies being made that I enjoy very much. Not enough of them though.
I wasn't exited by it when I first saw the trailer, thinking they were rewriting a politically correct version of the original story. But not the case. Beautiful art, enjoyable music, and a nice moral story. I gave it 5 stars on Netflix.
My wife took my son to see “Despicable Me”, which was the first time that she’s gone to the movies, I think, since “The Simpsons”, which was also a family outing. The rest of Hollywood’s output, she waits for the DVD from the library, if at all.
We typically only see a few movies a year, probably about 3 in the summertime.
The wife and I are going to see Inception this weekend. I typically like Chris Nolan’s stuff (Batman Begins, Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight).
I missed Robin Hood, which I wanted to see. The A-Team was great. The kids went with their grandparents and saw Toy Story 3.
I was curious about Dispicable. If it turns out to be appropriate for a 5-year-old, I may let my daughter watch it when it hits DVD.
I haven’t seen The Book of Eli ... but it is on my list to see when I find it for less than $10 on DVD. My understanding is that it is a post-apocalyptic movie where Denzel Washington defends (with extreme prejudice) one of the last existing copies of the Bible.
And THAT, my friends, is the way it should be. Funny isn't it? When they really concentrate on maximizing profits, they seem highly capable of eliminating swearing, sodomy, sex and gore....and we get films like Star Wars, Jaws, Lord of the Rings, Passion of the Christ and Indiana Jones. So what's so wrong with that I wonder?
thank you for your movie suggestions
we just cannot watch most movies unless recommended, and even then I review on IMDb.
it’s a long, hard road, akin to the life of the entrepreneur. But some conservative youngsters need to consider entering the animation/film/high tech entertainment field. The potential rewards are obviously great. But the quality has to be there, like Toy Story 3 and Shrek.
Plenty of sub-contracting work in that field, also. I guess young people need not think they have to start a new Dreamworks. But there is good work out there to be had, for those with talent, drive, ambition and...yes...the right values!!
Hollywood hates families and what they stand for. Period.
Brokeback and Passion were so long ago I don’t know why either is talked about. I believe that conservatives are the ones that pushed Brokeback into the mainstream due to our constant discussion of it. Had we ignored it, the movie would have disappeared very quickly. Both movies have not been made again and probably won’t for a long time. I saw Passion and thought it was ok...I thought 10 commandments was better.
You can buy the DVD. The movie is about God’s Word in the post-nuclear war devastation. Search and find what others have to say. I don’t want to give it away. It is about the good surviving in an evil world.
What a damning statement about our culture. For the record, this sort of thing does NOT work in my home. Nagging and pestering gets exactly the opposite. Reinforcing unwanted behaviour is stooooopid.
Yep. Emphasizes the point that pretty much the only good movies these days are not made in Hollywood.
Hey Hollyweird, keep making those daring films about eeeevil corporations (usually energy companies) trying to make their greedy billions only to be exposed by some daring liberal who foils their plans. Or the government (right-wing natch) plotting to execute war against some hapless and innocent country for their oil. Or a sex-researcher who goes against the consevative ethos of the country. Yeah, that’ll work. (smirk)
Thanks for the tip on Princess and the Frog. We’ll have to check it out.
Thanks for the tip on Princess and the Frog. We’ll have to check it out.
It’s all well and good to “advance the art”, but don’t expect to become rich doing it. The real geniuses are those that can push the envelope and engage the multitudes. Anything else is just singing to the choir.
What do you mean by “pushing the envelope”?
Or why some studio doesn't spring up and make ONLY those kinds of movies.
I don’t think anybody is caught by surprise here. They spent 69 million bucks making Despicable Me and released it in July (blockbuster season), they spent 200 million bucks making Toy Story 3 and released that in June (blockbuster season). Clearly they expected those movies to make money.
Of course you have to look at both sides of the picture, they spent 150 million each on Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Last Airbender and they’re tanking.
Ah, so you've seen the trailer for "The Kids Are All Right?"
Offspring of lesbian couple seeks sperm donor Dad.
And it is classified as a "family comedy."