Roger L. Simon

Waiting for the DVDs

I’m a hard man to get out to the theatre when I get a free DVD of most of the year’s fare to view at home for Oscar judging. Nevertheless, I’m not the only one who has been avoiding the multiplex these days. It’s been a terrible Spring at the movies or – as Variety puts it in their headline this morning – ‘B.O. Far From ‘Heaven’” (meaning that ‘famous historian’ Ridley Scott’s version of the Crusades, which just opened this weekend).

When films stink it up at the box office, the marketing types at the studios ritually pop up with explanations like “The audience doesn’t like baseball pictures.” Nonsense. What the audience doesn’t like is bad baseball pictures, just as they don’t like bad historical epics, etc. Usually they like just about good anything. That’s what we’ve evidently had a dearth of. But that will change. Or it won’t – in which case the movies are really in trouble.

A few years ago I used to go to a breakfast of film types at LA’s Farmer’s Market. It was then known as the “grosses table” because one guy, a journalist who worked for Variety, would show up every Monday with “secret information” – the weekend grosses of Hollywood films. That information is now about as “secret” as testimony at the Michael Jackson trial. But I find this site – Box Office Mojo – particularly useful because it gives the estimated budget (including prints and ads) next to the culmulative gross. That tells us that the big hits so far are Amityville Horror and Robots. The latter, as an animation, should have a long life on DVD as well.