Tallying summer movie box-office has replaced baseball as America’s favorite pastime. Grosses are reported on Sunday network news, while studio publicists scramble to submit ’estimated’ box-office reports for Monday print coverage.
Tallying summer movie box-office has replaced baseball as America’s
favorite pastime. Grosses are reported on Sunday network news, while
studio publicists scramble to submit ’estimated’ box-office reports for
Monday print coverage.
Of course, this often leads to accusations of ’number fudging’ among
rival studios striving to win a closely contested weekend. It’s
important to come out on top, because the advertising department can
then add ’America’s No. 1 Movie’ to newspaper and broadcast ads. Being
number two just isn’t as sexy.
Fortunately, there’s many ways to be number one, even when you’re
One is to claim dominance in a specific genre. Let’s say a little
romantic comedy finishes third behind Mission: Implausible and Gladiator
Will the ad trumpet ’America’s Favorite Second Runner-Up?’ Well, no. But
’America’s Favorite Comedy’ works nicely.
There’s no question what triumphed over last month’s holiday
M:I-2 became the second-highest-grossing movie in the history of
Memorial Day weekend movie madness, which runs Wednesday through Monday.
Like Dinosaur, it blasted right through mixed reviews, both films being
’Some films require us to carefully position the film in a way that
critics will respond to. Others, like Dinosaur, are a no-brainer,’ a
studio publicist told me. ’What parent is going to keep their child from
seeing it because it was poorly reviewed in the local paper? In fact,
the reviewer’s own kids are going to demand to see it, regardless of
what Mommy or Daddy wrote.’
With the summer’s big-budget releases, studio publicity and marketing
staffs are under a lot of pressure to ensure that their tent-pole
releases open to huge numbers. Producers, directors and stars are quick
to point a finger at marketing when the numbers are less than
spectacular. Bad reviews can, however, take some of the pressure
When I worked at Paramount, a publicity VP once half-jokingly said to
me, ’It’s almost better in some cases if a movie gets panned. That way
they can’t blame it all on us.’
One of the summer’s biggest box-office brawls will occur June 30, when
The Perfect Storm blows up against The Patriot. Mel Gibson, who stars in
the latter, was originally penciled in for the former; alas, the deal
fell through over - gasp! - money. George Clooney then stepped in to
captain the Storm.
My money’s on George. How can you top 100-foot waves and a classic
Forget the Yankees and the Braves. The real boys of summer are the
studio publicists rallying their films to victory and the accountants
who will be calculating all the loot. And we don’t even have to watch
them spit tobacco or grab themselves.
Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and