Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Worst Movie Opening in History

In recent years we have seen a number of huge success stories at the box office. Films made for a few thousand dollars earning hundreds of millions on more than one occasion. But I guess for every amazing success, there has to be a dismal failure, and here it is. As a director, I hate to be critical of any film, since I realize there is much to criticize in my own work as well. However, this new film will likely become a study in what not to do. "The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure" debuted to the worst numbers in history last week, with a per-theater average attendance of around 30 people (or about 10 people per day)! The total spent on the picture, including advertising, was close to $60 million--actual production costs were about a third of that.

Now, first of all, if you were to guess the cost of production just based on what we see in the trailer, you would have to think the picture could have easily been made for under a million. The puppetry is strikingly bad and the cinematography only so-so. Aside from the sets and the well-known guest stars, the production value is very low. Of course, there are many films that you could say the same thing about--but none that spent 60 million to make $400,000 opening weekend.

The biggest problem I can see here is the decision to target the toddler market with a trailer that is almost exclusively crass humor. The target for this trailer really needs to be the parents--and you have to know that a large number of parents are looking for wholesome entertainment for their kids. Even if the film contains this type of humor, it would be wise to temper that for the purposes of the trailer when you are trying to get EVERY parent to shell out a substantial amount of money to take the kids to the theater. I assume this is a successful TV show, although I have never heard of it before this week, so there is also some disconnect with the parents and kids who are already fans. It seems they should have attracted a substantial audience just from that group--certainly more than 10 people per day per theater. If you have an interest in seeing the movie, you might check out WalMart as the DVD's will probably hit the stores before the week is out.