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No Good Today

Editors and offices should not bug me today. Went to bed at 4am. Woken at 6 by postman. Woken at 8 by postman again. Woken at 10 by FedEx. Woken at 12 by DHL. Woken at 1.30 by some shit trying to sell me something. I am utterly wrecked now. The Red Bull, it does nothing. And some dick in the pub thought it’d be funny to close all the windows and turn the place into a sweatbox.

But it could be worse. I could be working at Warner Bros today. SUPERMAN RETURNS conservatively cost $250 million to make. Probably the same again to promote. It took $21M this weekend, eaten alive by PIRATES. The studio gets about half the box office takings. In America, WB’s cumulative slice of SR’s takings amount to around $50M.

As Fraction said to me Sat night, producer Jon Peters is probably sleeping with a gun in his mouth.

Is it conceivable that something that took fifty-odd million in its first weekend could be a flop? I
said of KING KONG that for that film’s budget, I could grow my own giant fucking monkey. $250 million puts you in spacelaunch-budget territory. For $250 million WB could’ve given Bryan Singer his own communications satellite and spent the change on a George Clooney movie. Or two Wes Anderson movies. It’s an astonishing volume of cash that, at this stage, they don’t have a prayer of making back worldwide or on DVD.

This is the absurdity of modern Hollywood; that taking more than the GNP of Luxembourg in a single weekend is not actually enough to put a movie in the black.

It’s no wonder that everyone I meet these days wants to work in TV.

And did you catch Sunday’s DEADWOOD?

Published in brainjuice


  1. That was Dan Dorrity’s finest hour.

  2. chris chris

    i hope you rest. We’ve all felt that way more than we care to remember. The worst mood to be in a tired + FUCKING CRANKY

  3. Superman Returns was budgeted at $180 million and ran over, to $208 million. Whether it “cost” more than that, pre-marketing, depends on whether you want to fold in the 15 years of aborted Super-movies Peters oversaw, including the infamous Tim Burton-Nick Cage disaster that saw those two getting paid even though WB shut the project down. Batman Begins was also seen as a big box office disappointment, and a sequel to that is all but greenlit for summer 2008.

    I read that Pirates 2&3 were filmed together at a budget of $450 million. Obviously, there’s a huge box office benefit to being pretty much the only movie from a particular genre in years and years. Put another way, there’s a new comic book superhero movie blockbuster out every summer now, but there’s only one pirate theme park ride franchise. So far.

    On a different subject, I heard a radio interview with Robert Duvall promoting his work in AMC’s first original movie production, a western called “Broken Trail”, and he mentioned in passing that he thought “Deadwood” was awful. He basically said it was what happened when what he saw as east coast elitists pretend to be cowboys.

  4. chris chris

    Duvall also thinks there’s only one god.

  5. Jacob Jacob

    There is noting beter to see on a Sunday than a man having his eye ripped out and beaten with log.

    That’s just good TV.

  6. Marc Manzo Marc Manzo

    Red Bull used to be liquid crack for me but then about 2 years ago it just stopped working for me. No more effect at all. I’m back on megadoses of coffee. Give that a shot.

  7. tom tom

    I watched “Superman 2” this weekend. Hollywood needs to learn that a wes anderson movie is a better bet than a $250 million blockbuster. Less money spent (or the same) but more movies and maybe more variety and more options to make the money back with less risk.

  8. Rob H. Rob H.

    “Obviously, there’s a huge box office benefit to being pretty much the only movie from a particular genre in years and years.”

    Biggest opening of all time. put it like this: It beat Spider-Man. It beat Star Wars. It beat Superman. It beat Jesus.

  9. Russell Russell

    Again, it’s the quiet moments in Deadwood that get me. The Dority/Turner fight was just wonderful in it’s brutality. But I also loved the moment where Hearst introduced himself to the Bella Union bartender and felt the need to connect to him. He just needed to stop scheming for a moment and act like a human. Then Tolliver and Bullock show up.

    “The sheriff has limited our options.” Masterful dialogue. Best show on television right now.

  10. Russell Russell

    I was going off of the top of my head. The last quote should’ve read “The sheriff has eliminated several of our options.” Apologies. Still…

  11. Are those worldwide, or American domestic figures? Of course with staggered release dates, I guess there isn’t much difference at this early in the game.

    I once read an interesting article about how the cost gets that high–generally having to do with a misunderstanding on the part of the filmmakers on how effects processes work and the timeline necessary for strong effects work (trying to rush or change effects at the last minute). Many producers understanding of the technology is similar to Senator Ted Steven’s understanding of the internet. We live in the post Titanic world–it’s hard to believe that an effects film like Return of the Jedi cost somewhere around 3o million dollars to make…

    Then add in the fixes for things like having color grading and effects out of sync, because two different post houses worked on them and didn’t communicate with each other. Or focus group driven changes to the story meaning reshoots and new effects. And of course, ridiculous salaries…

    Robert Rodriguez has made effects in his films for cheap because he does his own effects work in house, and then farms the rendering out to other effects houses.

    I saw a 1999 webpage that had the figures adjusted for inflation, indicating that Gone with the Wind cost the equivalent of about 50 million in today’s dollars and had grossed the equivalent of 2.3 billion (not including the 1998 rerelease) worldwide. Of course with salaries, effects production and other complications I imagine the film would cost a lot more than that now.

    With this one already obnoxiously succesfull, I’m curious to see if the third Pirates will “Matrix-out” or not.

    As regards flying superheroes, last I heard Shinya Tsukamoto still wants to make “Tetsuo U.S.A.” How much will it cost to make metal devourer Tetsuo fly, I wonder?

    Hope you feel better.

  12. omer omer

    dan dorrity is the baddest man on the planet, any time period.

  13. Oh, they’ll get it back eventually, they just won’t have it in their hot little hands on time for the coke party this weekend.

  14. Chris Chris

    Aw man, interrupted sleep is the worst. Especially when it means you’re getting your sleep in 2 hour bursts. My sympathies. I hope you get to bed early tonight.

    And Superman Returns could also be suffering from the fact that, once you get past the “gee whiz” action scenes, the numerous flaws become difficult to ignore.

  15. Jim Tuck Jim Tuck

    I worked graveyard for over a year, so I feel your pain. Leaving a note on the door that said “Sleeping, please don’t disturb me. Drop packages with neighbor.” didn’t work. Not once.

    Tried threats too. “Wake me up and I’ll claim I’m not home, and you’ll have to come back.” worked about half the time. Sometimes I’d get a new FedEx or UPS guy who’d ignore the note.

    Eventually I broke down and went to ear plugs.

  16. Johnny Anarchy Johnny Anarchy

    The Dan Dority/Captain fight was definitely a highlight and was a better fight than I could have hoped. Down and dirty and…what better image is there than an eyeball hanging from a mangled socket?

    I also got much enjoyment from seeing Hearst get led out of the Bella Union by his ear like a little kid. Wonderful. Major Dad is such a good villain.

    Also, the next time I get in a fight to the death I am going to give myself a pre-fight grease-down. That seems to be the way to go.

  17. $250 million? Hell, give me a map to Reeve’s grave and I’ll make you a decent movie for 250 quid plus expenses.

    It’ll mostly be filmed Candid Camera style with me dropping the corpse on Gene Hackman when he least expects it.

    That shit never gets old.

    ps The best bit in Deadwood was soapy breasts as communication devices – if they used that in Star Trek it’d still be on the air

  18. […] מאת udim, תחת הנושאים movies From the Bad Signal mailing list and here: But it could be worse. I could be working at Warner Bros today. SUPERMAN RETURNS conservatively cost $250 million to make. Probably the same again to promote. It took $21M this weekend, eaten alive by PIRATES. The studio gets about half the box office takings. In America, WB’s cumulative slice of SR’s takings amount to around $50M. […]

  19. Joe Joe

    I guess Alan Moore was on to something with Tales of the Black Freighter.

  20. Next week, Brian Cox kills a guy that exact same way, only he takes out both of the guy’s eyes, and then bludgeons the motherfucker with a side of mutton instead of a log, and then eats the mutton, and then does selections from RICHARD III (I, i and IV, iv).

  21. On the subject of caffeine, I saw a tshirt at Readercon this weekend that read:
    “It is by caffine alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the Beans of Java that the thoughts acquire speed, the hands acquire shakes, the shakes becomes a warning. It is by caffine alone I set my mind in motion.”

    So now I’m imagining a vast religious guild-war over the last crops of coffee beans.

  22. Maybe you could grow your own giant fucking monkey for that kind of money, but you can’t make it love you.

  23. Jmmy Buffett Jmmy Buffett

    My Mother used to spank my gaint Monkey
    Does that count?

  24. You know, a critic once described the first Tim Burton Batman movie as either a 6 or a 10 so she gave it an 8. Some movies no matter what you do aren’t going to have everything you need to recoup 250 million. Some people just need to share more. As for Deadwood, I agree. That is one of the best dialogue driven shows out there and I love Robert Duvall, but Jeez, it’s just a western. It has large hats, horses, guns and ‘purty’ women. Personally, every time I see Paula Malcolmson, I get all creamy inside. She is by far the coolest character in that show and what happen to that Hostelier character was so devastating, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Lord, this is the best show on right now and I just know ABC is going to make people wait for Grey’s and Desparate Housewives to come up with better shows because that’s where all the advertising moneys being spent. I don’t know how much is being spent a minute but you know they’re going to charge a high amount. Nobody talks at all about that.

  25. James James

    $250,000,000 to make a movie. Investors can be found to sink that kind of cash into something that frivolous.

    I wonder what kind of operation (scam is an unkind word) it would take to shuffle the money around from a movie into something interesting and potentially profitable like a space station designed to manufacture stuff that can’t be made on earth and non-liquid-feuled rockets (Hi, nuclear power!) to get people there and back on a regular basis. If investors are willing to risk that kind of cash on a stupid movie, we’re almost duty-bound to put it to better use.

  26. Kai Kai

    Voyage to the Red Planet, Terry Bisson, 1990. First manned voyage to Mars, to make a stupid movie. Lovely novel.

  27. Phil Phil

    It’s all about creative accounting. Studios pay themselves over the odds for doing work on their own stuff so the money never leaves the system. A film that makes a loss is a tax write off.

    Does the $250 million include all the money that was spent on it as it lamguished in development hell?

  28. Do you ever notice that the more successful movies are, the more greedy studios get in making more of the same movies and by the end of it all, have so much trouble dispensing all the funds to everybody who believes “theyre” responsibile for it’s success. Pirates for example, is successful in my mind because Johnnie Depp took the most risks on a character the studio tried their best to control. Yet, how much money you think Depp will get? That 132 million plus is his way of saying Ah-Ha!, I’ll take all of that, that you. Yet, gee, we spent all that money on effects and overhead and Kiera Knightley’s hair so sorry, Johnny, we can only give you a paultry 5.19 on the dollar. Watch, after the third film, don’t be suprised if the director, producer and Orlando Bloom don’t ask for an audit, like Peter Jackson did at the end of the Rings trilogy.

  29. I find that these films that cost over $200 million dollars have some of the shittest special effects ever. Effect sequences so bad I can’t look. CG can look beautiful, but mostly it still looks like shit.

    Compare some of the CG sequences in Serenity to ones in big blockbusters like Kong. I didn’t once point out a crappy sequence in Serenity because I knew they worked to quite a tight budget. Whereas I was pointing problems out all the time in Kong. It gets out of hand in these Massive Budget Films.

    Anyway, I digress. Deadwood was fucking fantastic. Bullock looking like he is going to turn in to the Hulk, Al’s scheming. Dority and the Captain. Dority after the fight. Al talking to Johnny about the fight. Alma too. And being a Scot myself, it is good to see Brian Cox in there.

    Can’t wait for next week…

  30. Mick the Mackem Mick the Mackem

    Re: Deadwood – does anybody else think that Hearst got himself arrested on purpose, thereby forestalling retribution from Al? The whole scene with Alma and Ellsworth was priceless – that line about would it seem unmanly to faint. The shock when Hossfeffer killed himself rather than being thought of as a lying cheat. This show just keeps getting better – so why are HBO closing it down?

  31. […] Warren Ellis sums it up nicely here: SUPERMAN RETURNS conservatively cost $250 million to make. Probably the same again to promote. It took $21M this weekend, eaten alive by PIRATES. The studio gets about half the box office takings. In America, WB’s cumulative slice of SR’s takings amount to around $50M. […]

  32. Gabriel Gabriel

    I wanna a giant monkey too.A giant monkey trained to destroy Hollywood.

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