In my lifetime, I have seen many movies. I have seen comedies and dramas. I have been forced to sit through long boring classics (I would rather pull my eyes out than try to watch “Gone With the Wind” again) and been forced to sit through long boring non-classics (I would rather watch “Gone With the Wind” every day for the rest of my life than have to sit through “Sex and the City 2” again).
All the while, I have been amazed. Movies can be the ultimate art form, bringing together creative visions of writers, directors, and actors into a sort of stew of art. I can’t even imagine the kind of process that goes into these movies. When it is done correctly, it can shape culture and change the viewpoints of many.
When done poorly, it can cost a studio $200 million.
Over the last month and half, I have seen commercial after commercial for a movie called “John Carter.” I was incredibly excited by the preview. I had spent years wondering when someone would make a movie about the Representative from Texas’ 31st District. The scene where he writes a bill condemning vandalism of the Vietnam Memorial was bound to be epic.
I was a bit confused, though, when I saw that Representative Carter was played by a tall, dark, handsome man with a long flowing mane. This character lacked Carter’s trademark mischievous grin or hair white as snow. I immediately swore off this movie, surprised that Disney couldn’t get the facts right while spending $250 million.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one upset about this. With $100 million more on the promotional side of this movie, only $184 million of the $350 million has been made back.
While I am no mathematician, I am fairly certain that losing this amount of money is a bad thing. That much money would buy you over 3 million Big Macs and still leave enough left over to pay for your hospital bill when you suffer from a heart attack big enough to register on the Richter scale.
Disney needs to find a way to cut its losses. Fortunately for them, I’m here.
The first step is to come up with a good plot. By good plot, I mean a passable plot. Let’s be honest: we’re not trying to make another “Citizen Kane” here. We really just want some money.
Our story will be about a young man who sees the aunt and uncle that raised him killed at the hands of an evil and corrupt government. He will then fly spaceships and shoot lasers and hang out with all kinds of undesirables and robots. There will probably be some sort of epic duel where he is forced to face his past.
Now, before you start screaming that this is just the plot of “Star Wars,” let me finish: he has a talking dog as a friend. That right there is box office gold. People love robots and talking dogs more than anything. After taking my fee for this story, our budget is still fairly low.
Budget: $5 million
Now we need the right director. I don’t want to brag, but I’ve been known to frame a pretty terrific shot. Plus, you don’t want some Hollywood bigwig coming in and screwing this up. You have one of the biggest blockbusters of all-time at your fingertips. You need some fresh blood with an attachment to this project. For the right amount of money, I can be very attached to it.
Budget: $15 million
A movie without actors is sure to be pretty bad. That’s why no one likes documentaries. There just aren’t enough actors.
We’ll need some pretty big names to draw in an audience. No one can argue with the talent of Leonardo DiCaprio. He gets the ladies in and gets the critics raving. Add in Adam Sandler as the voice of Tommy Holedigger, the loveable talking canine, and you have a wonderful cast.
Budget: $65 million
We’ll need a lot of explosions.
Budget: $85 million
There’s the scene where the White House turns into a robot bent on world domination. That will need some special effects.
Budget: $120 million
And with that, our masterpiece is done. The only thing that is left is promoting this film. We’ll need to make sure everyone in the world sees our commercials so many times that they are having dreams about Leonardo DiCaprio and talking house pets. If that piece of crap “John Carter” got $100 million, we certainly deserve that.
Budget: $220 million
Now, obviously this movie won’t be very good. I am not a trained screen writer. In fact, now that we’re done with the movie, I can really see where people thought I was just ripping off “Star Wars” and throwing in a talking dog. It really does seem that way.
In fact, “John Carter” was probably much better than this movie. Since it was probably around twice as good, I’m going to assume we make half of what “John Carter” did. That means that we successfully made a movie that only lost $128 million. Not too shabby!
So Disney, when you’re ready to start turning around those fortunes, give me a call. I promise that I won’t make a bomb as big as “John Carter.”
Maybe close to as big, but definitely not as big.