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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Movies, Profit & the Adam Sandler Phenomenon

Today we're going to skip stock market chat because its just so dry and stale right now; as pleasurable to write about as it would be drinking a cup of sand..

Market goes up-- then its 'Yay'!    If it goes down, its called 'profit taking' which is 'Yay!'   And if it goes down too much, the Bearded Bastard, Bernanke will calm things with words as meaningless and hollow as a cheating spouse saying he/she loves you...

So today we're going to address a more fun topic:  Summer Movies.
More specifically, people always wonder why truly terrible films are green-lighted (approved) at film studios and even worse, why critically panned garbage ends up being made into endless sequels.

The simple answer of course is money and usually about kids with disposable income who enjoy going to the theater to see the same films over and over...

The more detailed answer involves Lots O' Lots of money...

We're going to focus on the films of Adam Sandler in this post.
And while a few of his films we find to be utterly terrible, we still think the man is both a business genius and one of the few reliable and bankable commodities Hollywood has currently.

He's made an extremely good living, has a very loyal and devoted following of both friends in the industry (which is so rare)and fans who will attend his films...

 And what is a bigger rarity in Hollywood. he is someone very content in his own skin.
~ With his buddy Jack..

The man has no illusions or desires to win Oscars or be a critical darling.

He enjoys what he does, and of course does it repetitively and makes lots of money for himself and others doing it..

In 2010, a truly terrible film called 'Grown Ups' was made-- it had a big cast of former SNL stars including Chris Rock, David Spade and Kevin James who Sandler are good friends with and has produced pretty much all the films they've ever starred in via his 'Happy Madison' production company.
We tried to watch it a few times..  Ended up doing other things with the movie on in the background as 'sound' filler...

It was directed by Dennis Dugan who has overall directed Sandler a whopping 8 times!

The film cost $80 million to make and on's critical review score, it earned 10% meaning only 16 of 162 professional movie reviewers found anything even remotely positive to say..

So how much did the film make?  Must have bombed, right?
Domestically (in the US), the film generated over $162million.  When you add $109m worldwide distribution,  Sandler's critically panned film made $271 million for Sony and Columbia Studios.

So a sequel was made.. even worse than the original according to critics who only 6% of them could find a kind word for..

Now that must have been a complete box office disaster huh?
In only 6 days of release, Grown Ups 2 has made $53 million world wide.

Now here's some perspective of how successful that figure is...  We admit we enjoy most of Sandler's silly, sophomoric films but do wish he'd not be afraid to expand into more adult or serious fare...

One can't play Peter Pan-like characters forever you'd think...

So we looked up the box office totals of previous films Sandler starred in with a more mature or serious side..   Let's compare it to Grown Ups 2 after one week in theaters:
"Punch Drunk Love" was an indie film Sandler made in 2002 directed by Paul Thomas Anderson who directed "Boogie Nights", "Magnolia" and "There Will Be Blood" and co-starring Emily Watson and Philip Seymour Hoffman

It was a pretty good film and not typical Sandler fare...

In 11 weeks of release, it made worldwide $24.6 million
In 2007, Sandler did a very serious drama with Don Cheadle and Jada Pinkett-Smith called "Reign Over Me" about a dentist in NYC who lost his wife and children during 9/11 and by extension lost his mind...

We admit it was a hard movie to watch at times but more because of the subject matter obviously.  It was actually well acted..

After a 6 week release window, the film made $22 million globally.
~ pic with Conan O'Brien

So which Sandler do audiences wish to see:  the eternal 12 year old spirit in the body of an adult man or a true adult dealing with sincere adult issues?

Not a difficult answer..

Grown Ups 2 made more in 6 days than his two serious ventures made combined in many many weeks of release...
Sandler is extremely important to Hollywood because its not an automatic given that a film, particularly a summer spectacular will make a studio any profit.

This year Disney released 'The Lone Ranger' with Johnny Depp..   Worldwide its grossed $122 million in 14 days of release..  Problem for Disney is the film cost $215 million to make.

The year before, Disney released a blockbuster film called 'John Carter'.. Domestically it took in $73 million... The film cost $250 million to make...

So you can see why Sandler is so beloved by the studios. He possesses something few others in the film business have-- longevity i.e. a track record of success and a loyal core audience of supporters.
In his career, 15 Sandler films have each made $125 million or more globally..

Sandler's remake of 'The Longest Yard' made $190 million worldwide..  the Disney film 'Bedtime Stories' made $212 million and last year's animated film 'Hotel Transylvania' grossed $346 million worldwide..

The profit Sandler's films generate helps keep Sony and Columbia Studios from completely folding up after investing in box office duds and to allow them to experiment with serious, quality films especially around Oscar times; the 'prestige pictures' that often lose a lot of money...
So in summary, if you're amazed that the worst films keep making the most money and that there are endless sequels, don't be...

Studios give what the public wants..  Especially during the summer time people want silliness and escape..

And you can love or loathe Sandler's work but you must acknowledge and understand he's extremely important to the survival and success of the film industry..
 Not counting comic book films like 'Batman', few actors can draw people into the seats as successfully as Sandler does..

So expect a 'Grown Ups 3' to be released in 2016

Whether it's good or a bad thing... that's your call.