Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Is King Kong Really a Flop?

Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong has grossed $66.2 million in its first five days in release. It had a disappointing Wednesday release, Monitor Duty has some thoughts on why, and a less than impressive Thursday, but still ended up as the fourth largest December release ever. So let's see...big opening, but not biggest ever, what's the story here? Ah, that's the real question isn't it? Turns out that ticket sales may end up down 6% for the film industry this year and a Kong flop seems the perfect way to end the year narratively. We all know how much the media love their narratives. Nevermind that Kong is three-hours long which cuts into it's number of showings. Nevermind that Narnia is in early release as well. Kong is a flop, just ask the LA Times and it is because there are no "stars" in it.

Just to remind people what a real flop looks like, I would like to make some comparisons:

Town and Country starring Warren Beatty (you know a big name) cost $105 million to make which is about half of Kong's budget. Though inflation adjusted it would be a little more than half. Town and Country had a $10 million worldwide gross. Total. Not opening weekend. Period. That's it.

Ishtar. While we are talking Warren Beatty, let's add Dustin Hoffman to to the mix. Cost $40 million...made $14 million and those are 1987 dollars folks.

Titanic, not a flop at all. Never topped $36 million on any given weekend. Cost $200 mil grossed $1.8 billion. Now I'm not saying Kong is Titanic, but that Titanic never had an "awesome" first weekend. Let's see if Kong has "legs" before we jump ship.

Heaven's Gate. Cost $44 million (1980 dollars), gross box office: $3.5 million.

The Four Feathers Cost: $35 million. Gross: $18.3 million.

Gone With the Wind, Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, were all flops when they came out.

Gigli. Cost: $54 million. US Gross: $6 million.

The Postman. Cost: $80 million. US Gross: $17 million.

Shanghai Surprise Budget: $17 million. US Gross: $2.32 million

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Budget: $46.6 million (1988 dollars) US Gross: $8.08 million.

Cutthroat Island. Cost: $92 million. US Gross: $10 million.

Hudson Hawk Cost: $65 million. US Gross: $17.2 million.

Battlefield Earth
Budget: $80 million. Worldwide Gross: $29.7 million.

Let's not presage the death of a film because it didn't make "as much as expected." Or the death of an industry that has survived the above flops.

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