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What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

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What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Old 08-14-21, 10:15 AM
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What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Given the lackluster returns and big drop offs of so many movies over the summer, I think it kind of goes without saying it may be time to redefine what makes a "hit". Obviously the theater box-office $$ aren't there like they once were and most likely won't be for a good long time. I figured instead of trying to predict how badly something will bomb, we discuss what will possibly be the new standard as to whether or not a movie gets a greenlight or a sequel as we enter this new era. If they limit the theatrical run to little more than a month and a half, then obviously streaming views and digital purchases have to count for something. I remember back in my youth some movies could catch on through video rentals and get a sequel based on that run, the original Austin Powers comes to mind. I just don't see people going back to theaters like they used to until a more strong and FDA approved vaccine appears, and even then some people (myself included ) will have become adjusted to watching at home.
Old 08-14-21, 11:09 AM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

same as if it were non-pandemic. US and/or Foreign box office is substantially or at least somewhat more than production and marketing budget on movie. why would that change?
Old 08-14-21, 11:21 AM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

I don't think you can make an across the board category.

If you want to see Black Widow or Cruella, you have to choose between going to the theater or paying an extra $30 on top of paying for your Disney+ subscription.

If you want to see The Suicide Squad or Space Jam, you have to choose between going to the theater or paying for your HBO Max subscription.

Then there are movies where you either go to the theater or wait.

So for each individual movie, you have to gauge the quality of the draw to theaters on an individual basis.

And that all presumes that a "hit" movie is defined by theatrical box office.

Old 08-14-21, 12:00 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

I think you hit the nail on the head in your analysis. Other than some miracle happening, 2019 will go down as the last full theatrical year business model - it is just not going to come back. We've had false hopes in some good opening wknds for the big films, but those have quickly fallen away when looking at the final grosses. Film fans are going to the theaters but the general audiences aren't... and I just don't see that happening again. (hope I'm wrong!)
Old 08-14-21, 12:01 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Originally Posted by Count Dooku


And that all presumes that a "hit" movie is defined by theatrical box office.

That's where I'm curious. Theatrical grosses are basically shot for most movies, so if theatrical is the standard then we're basically looking at classifying just about everything as a disappointment for the foreseeable future. Let's say a movie comes out streaming and theatrical that does low theatrical numbers but gets a large viewership through streaming , and most of the streaming audience does like it (like the recent Suicide Squad), does that mean the movie is still a flop despite a lot of people actually seeing it? It's almost like the studios are saying "well, if you want to see more stuff like this you need to come and risk your life for a viewing , otherwise we aren't interested in making more for you." That's a kind of sociopathic approach IMO.
Old 08-14-21, 01:51 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Originally Posted by Dr. DVD
That's where I'm curious. Theatrical grosses are basically shot for most movies, so if theatrical is the standard then we're basically looking at classifying just about everything as a disappointment for the foreseeable future. Let's say a movie comes out streaming and theatrical that does low theatrical numbers but gets a large viewership through streaming , and most of the streaming audience does like it (like the recent Suicide Squad), does that mean the movie is still a flop despite a lot of people actually seeing it? It's almost like the studios are saying "well, if you want to see more stuff like this you need to come and risk your life for a viewing , otherwise we aren't interested in making more for you." That's a kind of sociopathic approach IMO.
I'm going to take a step back from your question, and ask what it means for a movie to be defined as a success or failure to begin with, rather than how those tags are applied.

Disney has already announced plans for a second Cruella, so by their standards, the movie must have been "a hit." How are they deciding that? IDK. Should I care?

As a moviegoer, what is my investment in whether a movie is a hit? I know that I have been conditioned by decades of advertising to think that a hit movie is a movie I must see, regardless of whether anybody thinks it is actually any good.

MOVIE X is the #1 movie in America! (Therefore) Audiences love MOVIE X!! (So) WTF is wrong with you that you haven't seen MOVIE X!?

Maybe this is all for the better. Let the people making the movies decide for themselves if a movie is a success or a failure, based on whatever standards they want to apply. Audiences can decide if they want to venture out to the theater based on their personal interest and the quality of a movie, rather than some fear of the feeling of being left out.

Seriously, why are weekend box office results Monday morning news in every city in America?

It's almost like the studios are saying "well, if you want to see more stuff like this you need to come and risk your life for a viewing , otherwise we aren't interested in making more for you."
Or the model is broken, and instead of getting more of the same, studios actually have to fall back on taste and creativity.
Old 08-14-21, 01:54 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

A movie that doesn't earn money is a flop. Many people watching it, isn't enough. A lot of people watched John Carter, but the movie's budget wasn't 70 Mio. so it was a massive bomb. The difference between now and before the pandemic is, the movies don't fail due to a lack of interest in the movie, they fail due to the unwillingness of the audience to go to the theater.
I don't think Disney+ or HBO Max subscriptions will be the answer, in the short run, but it's totally possible Disney and HBO/Warner are redefining the movies purpose. Black Widow, The Suicide Squad or Dune were produced to make money from their theater release. They now could be seen as promotional costs for their streaming services, this may pay off in the future.

Netflix produces/buys big budget movies, which are never intended for anything else than streaming, they aren't released on DVD or Blu-ray either. So the only "success" are the views on Netflix and new subscribers. This is a kind of success one can't determine from the outside and it's not the way Disney and Warner intented their movies to make money.
Old 08-14-21, 02:20 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Just a single anecdote, so it may not represent anything, but it is true. I have friends who signed up for HBO Max on Xmas day because their child was demanding to see WW84, and they weren't going to go to a theater during the pandemic. Almost 8 months later and they are still subscribed. I asked them last week if they had watched The Suicide Squad. Wife didn't even know they were still subscribing.
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Old 08-14-21, 02:30 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Given how much HBO Max and Disney Plus is raking in, I would hope they distribute those membership fees based on minutes watched of each program.

For math's sake I'll keep it simple. If HBO Max takes in $1B a month, and people watch 2B minutes, that's $.50/min and that amount should distribute among what was watched. Whether it's old episodes of Cheers, or Suicide Squad.
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Old 08-14-21, 04:13 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

I just read that Ryan Reynolds' Freeguy is on track to make $26 million this weekend. According to whomever wrote this article, the movie is a success. However, Suicide Squad came out last weekend with about the same or more and is considered a disappointment despite allegedly doing good numbers on streaming. I guess what I really need to be asking is with all of these movies that were intended to use box-office returns to gauge whether or not they will become or remain franchise prospects, what will studios use now that the bar for theatrical returns is lower? Instead of looking at the numbers and making an automatic decision as to whether or not it will continue , maybe they will have to look at something else going forward. This could be a good thing if something original does well, as it seems that studios would rather reboot unsuccessful yet at one time popular franchises time and again (see Alien and Predator) despite lackluster returns. Hell, as much as I'm rooting for Dune it's another example of how it's easier to just try again at an IP that already failed than do an original production.
Old 08-14-21, 04:32 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Maybe: Free Guy is an original idea action-comedy, and $26 mil is 1/4 of its budget. The Suicide Squad is an action movie in an existing franchise, and $26 mil is 1/8 of its budget.

But like I posted before, each studio gets to decide based on its own private criteria whether a film is a success or failure. No reason for the general public to understand or care what that is.
Old 08-14-21, 05:40 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Originally Posted by Count Dooku
Maybe: Free Guy is an original idea action-comedy, and $26 mil is 1/4 of its budget. The Suicide Squad is an action movie in an existing franchise, and $26 mil is 1/8 of its budget.

But like I posted before, each studio gets to decide based on its own private criteria whether a film is a success or failure. No reason for the general public to understand or care what that is.

The reason the general public may care is because if a movie is good and they want more of it, then they would like to know if there is a good chance if it will get a sequel (provided it isn't intended as a standalone). For instance, Dune will probably underperform in theaters, but since it will be day and date streaming it could do very well in that regard. If the studios do indeed have private criteria , then could Dune still get a sequel if it meets whatever that may be despite lackluster theatrical numbers? Cruella is getting a sequel despite what were less than impressive numbers, and part of me thinks the "criteria" for Disney is Emma Stone decided not to sue them.
Old 08-15-21, 08:08 AM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Originally Posted by Dr. DVD
The reason the general public may care is because if a movie is good and they want more of it, then they would like to know if there is a good chance if it will get a sequel (provided it isn't intended as a standalone).
As they have with every sequel ever made, they will find out when it is announced a sequel is being planned. When The Godfather, Jaws, and Star Wars were released, they were sensations, and nobody was wondering if there would be a sequel. If there had never been an MCU movie made after Iron Man in 2008, it still would be an terrific movie.

Making movies to launch a franchise, instead of making movies that are supposed to be complete stories on their own, is one of the reasons Hollywood makes so many very expensive, lousy movies.
Old 08-15-21, 01:56 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Originally Posted by Dr. DVD
until a more strong and FDA approved vaccine appears
This seems better suited to the political forum.
Old 08-15-21, 02:08 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Originally Posted by Dr. DVD
The reason the general public may care is because if a movie is good and they want more of it, then they would like to know if there is a good chance if it will get a sequel (provided it isn't intended as a standalone). For instance, Dune will probably underperform in theaters, but since it will be day and date streaming it could do very well in that regard. If the studios do indeed have private criteria , then could Dune still get a sequel if it meets whatever that may be despite lackluster theatrical numbers? Cruella is getting a sequel despite what were less than impressive numbers, and part of me thinks the "criteria" for Disney is Emma Stone decided not to sue them.
Disney is somewhat of an outlier in that they have more downstream channels of revenue (Jungle Cruise and Cruella being perfect examples) that theatrical is just merely one component of a projects potential profitability. As film fans, we can only hope that WB views Dune in the same way - let's assume the movie loses money (a likely outcome) - maybe they decide that's an 'investment year' much like all companies do whey they don't make a profit. Maybe they commit to a 10yr plan on that brand, including multiple HBOMax shows, sequels, etc In the hopes that in the long run it will be a strong, profitable IP.

So, I guess going back to your original point, the definition of a success is probably different now - depending on each studios financial situation. Streaming might incentivize more long term thinking over the short term of theatrical profits. But, in the end it likely just depends on whose in charge, and if they're trying to hang on to a job or not.

Last edited by Artman; 08-15-21 at 02:20 PM.
Old 08-15-21, 03:14 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era?

At this point in history, just getting shown in a theater.
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Old 08-15-21, 04:53 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

^ It seems such
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Old 08-17-21, 08:28 AM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Whatever the studio decides.
Old 08-17-21, 08:03 PM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Originally Posted by JayTL
Whatever the studio decides.
So basically, it could just depend on what kind of day the decision maker is having and maybe their sex life .
Old 08-18-21, 07:18 AM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Originally Posted by Dr. DVD
So basically, it could just depend on what kind of day the decision maker is having and maybe their sex life .
Nope, and Artman said it better than I can.
As soon as AT&T/WB announced the HBO Max news last year, the definition of a "hit" changed. But even before then, it wasn't just about box office. A movie can be a hit before it hits the theaters. With things like tax breaks, and endorsement deals, product placement, merchandise sales etc etc etc.
Maybe Disney is just looking for views. Maybe WB is just looking for subscriber retention. Maybe Sony is gauging the success of Venom by how many shirts Hot Topic ordered. Or how many hashtags people use after watching a trailer.
To pigeonhole a "hit" or "success" to one outdated metric is a fools game. Besides the fact that theatrical viewings have been decreasing for, what, a decade now...it's not up to us to define a hit, or a bomb is.
Isn't there a chance that WB took a financial hit on Suicide Squad to gauge reaction..maybe now they can reset their entire plan for DC movies. Wouldn't that be a success in their eyes?


All those examples are just that, examples. I do not have any insider information to determine what is successful or not to any production company. But neither does anyone here, I'm just trying to have conversation.
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Old 08-18-21, 07:22 AM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Originally Posted by JayTL
Maybe Sony is gauging the success of Venom by how many shirts Hot Topic ordered.
Old 08-18-21, 08:03 AM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

Originally Posted by dex14
I looked at the Hot Topic website...and let's hope that's not Sony's plan lmao
Old 08-18-21, 10:36 AM
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Re: What Makes a Movie a "Hit"in the Pandemic Era (Possibly Post)

A movie that costs little to make that has a high return. "Old" cost 18 million and has made more than three times its budget. Conjuring 3 also cost a moderate sum and made a profit. The pandemic is not the time for blockbusters.
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