Yes, I totally took that from Star Wars, and no, I couldn’t think of something better. I honestly thought I could create something better, and Sony honestly thought they wouldn’t lose 920 million dollars last quarter. However, there is still time for both of us to turn it around.
This article is going to focus on the Sony Picture branch specifically, and if that doesn’t excite you then there’s no need to read any further.
At first glance it looks like Sony is doing great, but that little note on the bottom that denotes marketing budgets are not included in these figures changes everything. If you are familiar with marketing budgets, you know they are never friendly for the frugal. For those of you that are not so familiar, let’s look at how expensive it can be. Studio Executives said for Ghostbusters to break even it would need to hit 300 million gross.
Now, looking at these numbers again, things are not as great as they once appeared, but there are a few outliers in the mix. Let’s take a look at Sausage Party; this movie focused their marketing on social media, creating a huge buzz through clever ads. Social media is also much cheaper than traditional marketing and it enables marketers to hyper target their demographic, which is perfect for a niche film, like Sausage Party. Sausage Party actually made a profit on its opening weekend.
Why does Sony spend so much on a single movie, when they have so much risk? When looking at these numbers I would much rather spend money on multiple smaller budgeted films. Sure, not every film is going to be a hit, but Sony could make seven 20 million dollar budgeted movies instead of Ghostbusters. Since Ghostbusters lost 70 million dollars it would be very difficult to do any worse. Releasing seven films instead of one allows the studio to be creative and take calculated risks on some other projects, thus giving us, the audience, a wider variety of films. We, the audience, crave new and different, which is a great way to give us what we want while still being able to profit from it.
I’m not saying that Sony should give up on all their block buster films, just dismantle one per year. Give us seven projects, some can be safe and some can be insane. If done correctly, this could increase profits dramatically. But don’t take a random bloggers word for it; look at Blumhouse Productions. Jason Blum is the master of taking 2 to 10 million dollar budgets and turning them into movie gold. It all started back with the first Paranormal Activity, which cost “ten thousand dollars” (it cost much more than that before the ending became big screen worthy). He’s used this low budget technique to create multiple franchises and make incredible margins on successful films, and if a film tanks, the budget is so low that it barely makes a dent. Sony! Take a look at Blumhouse Productions and see how they structure their contracts to keep production costs down and realize that not every film will be a hit, but the ones that do will more than make up for the ones that miss.
Flickr / Photo by Tax Credits.