As I stated in Bringing Back The Old Hollywood, the New Hollywood financial model of depending on mega-budget movies hit the economic iceberg some time ago. While it’s taking some time for that model to actually sink, most of the decks are now underwater and the studios are jumping ship quickly. The following article appeared this past weekend at www.TheWrap.com:
“Canceling its third major project in a row, Universal is acting less like a Hollywood media giant these days than a pensioner on a budget.
But the studio has been canceling massive projects for much of the past year. “Ouija,” like at least one other, was canceled just a couple of months before scheduled production, a decision that costs the studio millions in lost pre-production costs, not to mention the $5 million cancellation penalty paid to Hasbro.
The trend at the studio may reflect “the new normal” in town, with downward pressure on budgets meeting ongoing pressure from corporate suits to hit the bottom line. (Italics added)
Movies like “Ouija” have to make almost three times their production budget before they hit profitability, which with the ongoing decline in DVD sales is harder than ever to achieve, according to knowledgeable studio executives.
It is already the second Hasbro film to be cut from the Universal slate; “Clue” was dropped last year. And over the past few months the studio has killed projects from Ron Howard (Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower”) and Guillermo del Toro.
With a budget of $140 million, “Ouija” was too rich for Universal’s blood — even though not making the movie meant the studio had to shell out a $5 million penalty to Hasbro on top of pre-production costs. (Hasbro covers development costs under the deal.)
……it’s not as if Universal is the only one euthanizing mega-productions these days. Two weeks ago, Disney put the future of the more than $200 million budgeted “Lone Ranger” in limbo, even though Johnny Depp was attached to star and Jerry Bruckheimer was on board to produce. And Disney cancelled plans to make “Oblivion,” a project with Tom Cruise that was picked up by Universal.”
As studios cancel big budget films, and discover that most “stars” do not guarantee a profit, and audiences sour on all the sequels and remakes, what will remain?
Originality and a return to story, perhaps?
It’s about time!!!