Borat Make Fool Big of Disney
The media is abuzz with the results of the latest box-office contest. News Corp
.'s Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
-- rest assured, that's the first and last time in which I write out the full title -- beat Disney
's family pic The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
in what was essentially the equivalent of a David-and-Goliath biblical battle.
Here's the metric that's fascinating movie economists: Borat
's per-theater average was an outstanding $31,607. The Santa Clause 3
's per-theater average was $5,640. The Disney film was booked in more than four times as many locations as Borat
-- in fact, the latter was in considerably less than 1,000 theaters.
I knew Borat
would do well, but I didn't predict this. I thought Bob Iger had everything under control, since the Santa Clause
had done well in the past. Donning my Monday-morning quarterback uniform, I can see that Borat
was destined to upset all the biggies. Whenever I saw a clip of the character's shenanigans, I found myself musing -- after settling down from laughing at levels dangerous to physiological status quo -- about the inarguable genius of the concept and the effective skill of the promotional machine behind it. Borat and his satirical parade were everywhere, and prospective ticket buyers became hooked.
These results make me question Bob Iger's decision to reduce Disney's live-action movie output and focus on Disney-branded films. As can be seen, there will never be a guarantee that a film carrying the Disney label as opposed to the Touchstone moniker will be a runaway hit. To me, this is just too limiting a strategy, and it doesn't allow the company to expose itself to a wide variety of ideas. Reducing the number of movies the studio greenlights is also questionable, since it takes a lot of attempts to score a few big hits. It's difficult to predict which piece of celluloid will be the next Titanic
, so it's best to seed a bunch of productions. Sure, The Chronicles of Narnia
and Pirates of the Caribbean
have been huge hits for the company, but does that mean that the studio should forgo concentrating on finding another Armageddon
? OK, I didn't like the film, either, but it grossed more than $550 million worldwide back in 1998.