And Sucker Punch bombs.
Counting Sucker Punch, Zack Snyder’s last three movies failed to make back their budgets at the U.S. box office. While Watchmen and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole did add decent worldwide totals to their U.S. box office takes, when you factor in prints and advertising and the cut of the box office given to theaters, they failed to turn a profit. I smell the same outcome for Sucker Punch.
I didn’t see Sucker Punch, but I knew from the first trailer that I would hate it. I’m sick of CGI run amok without a story to back it up and justify spending insane amounts of money. The estimated cost of Sucker Punch was $82 million. In reality, the budget was probably well over $100 million. The fact that it’s well on its way to being a financial bust ought to give Warner Bros. and Christopher Nolan pause as they prepare to hand over the Superman franchise to Snyder.
But they won’t balk. They have convinced themselves that Snyder is a visionary director who will propel the franchise into The Dark Knight territory, both creatively and financially. Snyder very well may turn out a profitable Superman film. Much like Michael Bay, he has a great eye and is capable of putting together slick action sequences. But also like Michael Bay, he’s shown a disregard for story or characters and a complete inability to get good work out of his actors.
I don’t have anything against Snyder. I actually enjoyed Legend of the Guardians and gave him grudging respect for how his remake of Dawn of the Dead turned out. But as a fan of movies and an observer of a studio system that’s gone insane, green-lighting one bloated action flick after another, it frustrates me to see him throwing away money on crap. The budget of Sucker Punch could have funded several of last year’s best movies (Winter’s Bone, Rabbit Hole, Monsters, Greenberg, 127 Hours, The Social Network) and given the studio more bang for their buck. Not to mention, the kind of marketing push that those films (aside from The Social Network) could get from being studio projects that they were unable to get from their indie distributors.
Maybe I’m an idealist, but I believe quality films done on a reasonable budget can be a more profitable formula for the studios than taking a loss on one big-budget, excessive CGI flop after another, while searching for that one blockbuster that turns into a home run. Sure that one home run brings in a lot of money through not only box office returns, but also ancillary (merchandising, DVDs, cable sales) markets, but the losses that are taken on the seven or eight megaflops balance out those gains. It seems to me that the more conservative business plan is also the more creatively rewarding one. Why isn’t this more apparent to the studio heads?
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