Good news for Dollhouse, deceptive news for Ron Brown

by Paul William Tenny

So I hear that Fox isn't ready to punch Joss Whedon in the nuts quite yet. Good, it's nice to see them putting away that itchy trigger finger for a while. Fox is the most watched broadcast network and it's well past time they started acting like it, which means not blowing off every struggling show before it has even had a legitimate chance to fail. I shouldn't have to point out that the first season of Cheers was the lowest rated series on television, and yet it went on to secure a top ten position in the ratings in eight of its eleven seasons, winning 26 Emmy Awards on 111 nominations -- an unbeaten record that stands even today.

Whedon promised that Dollhouse was going to get better after a certain number of episodes (a dubious thing coming from most people), and was criticized for it, but I don't think that's entirely fair.
Fox has a history of interfering with Whedon's shows, liking his pilots enough to order them to series only to hate them enough to force him to shoot a different "pilot" for broadcast. It made Firefly confusing and delayed the production of Dollhouse and while Firefly had no trouble at all getting off to a running start creatively, Dollhouse did, and for that I lay the blame squarely on Fox. Whedon is not the kind of person who makes mistakes like that, either in what he writes, or in how he manages his shows.

And sure enough, at least one person in my peripheral vision seems to think that the coming payoff was well worth the wait. I don't know if I can agree yet, I've got literally the entire first season sitting on the DVR waiting patiently for me to dig in.

Now that I know there will be something to look forward to at the end, my wait is coming quickly to its end.

On the matter of Angels & Demons, I think it's worth showing you something and then pointing out an inconvenient truth that is almost always swept under the rug. From Deadline Hollywood on this past weekend's box office results:

But the day and date international take has been spectacular -- so Sony reported an additional $104.3M on 10,468 screens from 96 countries where Angels & Demons debuted for a worldwide take in $152.3 million. Overseas, the pic was #1 in every territory it debuted.

But Sony said the film has taken in more than its production budget in its first few days of release and the studio expects a good multiple in the weeks ahead.

While that's technically true, it's also extremely deceptive. What Nikki is talking about is gross revenue, every dollar that the theaters brought in is counted regardless of who actually gets that money. The problem for Sony is that it only gets something like 55% of that money when all is said and done, so while it is true that the film grossed more than it cost to make, Sony -- which paid for it -- is only getting little more than half of that gross, or about $83.7 million which is simply not going to cover the production budget in a single weekend.

And that's not accounting for foreign distribution deals, if there are any, and marketing costs which should easily push a film like Angels & Demons into the $200 million range.

I think that A&D is a lot like Watchmen in that respect, studios are pumping way too much money into these films without reasonable expectations of great returns. The DaVinci Code did well, but it didn't take a genius to see that this isn't the stuff of Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Who knows, maybe there was something to the speculation that with no organized protests against this film (remaining purposely silent) that the older controversy stirred up interest more than the original film had earned, making this sequel far less automatic than Sony may have originally thought it would be.
in Film, Television


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