July 23 - Hollywood studios are discovering that big budget and big name films are no longer a guarantee to pull in big box office money. John Russell reports.
It hasn't been a summer to remember for A-listers Will Smith and Johnny Depp, normally bankable box office stars, whose summer fare has landed with a thud in theaters. Smith's sci-fi adventure "After Earth" had less than worldly returns while Depp's western "The Lone Ranger" barely produced a gallop. That recent trend turned alarming this past weekend as the sci-fi action comedy "R.I.P.D." had a dismal North American debut, continuing a Hollywood streak of weekly box office bombs for films that cost more than 100 million dollars (USD) to make. Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com's box office division explains; SOUNDBITE Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com's box office division, saying (English): "Well, the summer movie season of 2013 has literally been littered with big budget high profile flops. This has been very problematic for for Hollywood, because, despite the fact that the summer box office has been up 10 percent over the last year, the big story, the headline, has been all about the hyped-up, bigger than life, huge budget, high profile flops. That is never a good thing." Hollywood marketing executives also blame movies that are too much alike...pointing out that the plot for "White House Down" - the taking of the White House by terrorists - is much the same as "Olympus Has Fallen." "After Earth" is also similar to the plot of the April release "Oblivion," Tom Cruise's sci-fi flick and the cartoonish villain creatures in "R.I.P.D." are reminiscent of those in "Men in Black" sequel "MIB3" last year. SOUNDBITE Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com's box office division, saying (English): "There are too many movies that seem too similar, audiences see the advertisement for "White House Down" and feel like they have seen that earlier in "Olympus Has Fallen," said Dergarabedian. "That is a problem. "R.I.P.D" looks like "Men in Black," that is a problem. There are too many films of a single genre, that is a problem. Audiences, with there hard earned money, they are a little more discerning about where they are going to spend and they don't want to spend it on the same movie." One silver lining among the dark clouds of box office bombs is the fertile foreign market that could help the studios mitigate their losses.