July 12, 2006
'Pirates' poses challenge for next summer
By Martin A. Grove
The Hollywood Reporter
Disney doubloons: As spectacular as Disney's $135.6 million launch of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" is, what's clearly a blessing in the short term could prove to be challenging in the long term.
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr..._id=1002803342In terms of boosting this summer's boxoffice momentum, there's no question that "Pirates" is a gift from the Movie Gods. Not only is it great for Disney's bottom line, it's reassuring for the entire industry because it shows moviegoing is still something Americans are happy to spend money on. No matter how much people complain about the high cost of moviegoing and no matter how much they gripe about sitting through in-theater commercials and then having to put up with people jabbering on cell phones during the movie, they still will turn out in droves when there's something playing that they really want to see.
On the other hand, it's really going to be tough if not impossible to measure up to this kind of boxoffice performance a year from now. Considering how Wall Street analysts and media observers like to use comparisons to last year to assess boxoffice health, today's success could actually come back to haunt Hollywood in the summer of '07. But before we focus on what's going to be happening at the boxoffice a year from now, let's look at some other aspects of "Pirates'" success.
Frankly, if all the doubloons Disney's raking in somehow influence other studios to start swinging for the fences by green lighting other projects with "Pirates"-sized $200 million-plus budgets the industry's collective risk will soar. That's something that could give Wall Street the jitters because it would certainly increase the potential for disaster across the board in Hollywood. Risking $200 million or more to make films, even if private equity partners are putting in half the budget, is clearly one of Hollywood's more dangerous games to play.