Jump to content


Photo

Why Did Conan (2011) Fail At The Box Office?


  • Please log in to reply
206 replies to this topic

#21 Guest_Croms Bones_*

Guest_Croms Bones_*
  • Guests

Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:42 PM

I think the negative word-of-mouth and reviews hurt a lot. But of course, the WOM and reviews would have been better if there had been a reasonably decent story and characterization. I think that all comes back to the wretched script, and possibly poor direction. (If I'm reading Al and others correctly, Nispel may have sacrificed parts of the script that actually helped make sense, in pursuit of nonstop action. Me, I can't really separate script and direction, it's all just story and character development, and this lacked both. [So then how could I like it? That's why I called it a "thrill ride" -- I enjoyed it in the same way one enjoys a roller-coaster ride or a tilt-a-whirl, just mindless thrills and then when it's over you've got nothing, really.])

The release date and R rating didn't help. It came on the heels of a number of other summer comic-book movies, and right after the release of the Ape movie, which was a howling success critically. (Probably because it had, um, story and character development.) I went to a matinee on a Saturday at a cineplex adjacent to a major shopping center, and there were only fifteen people in the theater. On the day after opening?

I personally don't think the lack of major stars had much to do with it -- many movies have been quite successful without major stars.

I think when you get right down to it, the single biggest reason it tanked is that the story stank and the script didn't give the actors a chance to develop their characters, and therefore the critics hated it and gave it really awful reviews, and the word of mouth did nothing to alter that, since even the most glowing of the reviews (like mine and Mark's) still basically said the story was imbecilic.

Possibly Nispel's direction is as much at fault as Donnelly and Oppenheimer's script, but I still maintain that if you took those exact same actors and the cinematographers and sfx people etc etc, and gave them a script that was faithful to REH's character (and, I suppose, a director who would film the script), they could do it.

Rusty


This. And more this... and more this.

Glad to see that some sense has made it into this thread to outshine the other absurdity that this movie tanked because of lack of star power or lack of pre-release marketing (not to be confused with poor quality marketing as in the trailers, or post-release marketing as in viral). Conan (and every other movie) has been dominated the last two weeks by "The Help", a movie with no star power and virtually no marketing.

Bottom line, if you have a good story, and you have a major release in theaters, more often than not, people will go see it.

What Avi Lerner meant when he said that Conan didn't have the "brand equity" that they thought it did, is that he thought he could put a steaming pile of crap with the Conan name on it in front of an audience and they would eat it up happily. I'm glad the general population has held him accountable for this. I'm also of the opinion that Malmberg should apologize for this too. Whether he thought it was solid or not, he's at least partially responsible for allowing this to happen.

Edited by Croms Bones, 30 August 2011 - 10:09 PM.


#22 stonecold-mike

stonecold-mike

    Mauler of Shadizar

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 514 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:El Paso, TX

Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:45 PM

1. Lackluster marketing

2. Bad release date

3. Misconception on the part of the general audience and some from the media

#23 Scott Oden

Scott Oden

    Spokesman for Orcish Rights

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 352 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North Alabama

Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:35 PM

This bears repeating:

What Avi Lerner meant when he said that Conan didn't have the "brand equity" that they thought it did, is that he thought he could put a steaming pile of crap with the Conan name on it in front of an audience and they would eat it up happily.


Probably the most significant reason it tanked is it's a movie from schlocky B-movie producers, via a schlocky music-video director, from the pens of a wretched pair of schlock writers. ALL of them likely thought they could pump out some sub-par sword-and-sorcery crap, slap the Conan name on it, and we'd come a-running.

Paradox is to blame for not having the foresight or Google-fu to type Lerner, et. al.'s names in, observe the corpus of their work, and tell them "Oh, hell no!"

#24 THE KID

THE KID

    Rustlin, horse stealin, bootleggin whiskey, and sharp shootin

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,099 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Cimmeria

Posted 30 August 2011 - 11:09 PM

I know we're split on whether we liked the film or not and I guess those of us who didn't aren't surprised it failed but those who liked , or indeed loved , the film why did it fail so awfully at the Box Office - well apart from Russia?!

Really hope Rusty and Mark are around as I'd especially like to hear their thoughts

Terry

The Restricted "R" rating = Not targeting the market :o Not having Mark Finn write it. Not having Roy Thomas direct it. And finally having a really bad marketing department. I know I'm like a broken record but this is my story and I'm stick'n to it ;)

Edited by Richard, 30 August 2011 - 11:12 PM.

The New Sheriff In Town - The Vultures of Whapeton & Boot Hill Payoff (The Western Stories)

#25 Waldgeist

Waldgeist

    WarLord

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,055 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Germany

Posted 30 August 2011 - 11:10 PM

Can we wait until all the non-domestic results are in? You know, the non-us market is about 2 times the size of the US market and regularly movies make a lot more money outside of the US than inside. Quite often movies that tank in the US are successful outside (i.e. Golden Compass - 70 Mio US / over 300 Mio rest of the world) and vice versa.

Let's see what the rest of the world has to say about this. For example the movie opened in Russia on nr.1, having twice the cash in than second place. Let's see what comes out in the end.

Cheers,
Waldgeist

Edited by Waldgeist, 30 August 2011 - 11:10 PM.

Let us show them our hearts and then show them theirs!

#26 Masterfulks

Masterfulks

    Spear Carrier

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 64 posts

Posted 30 August 2011 - 11:13 PM


The market isn't there for a Conan film. I just really don't think anyone cares aside from the Howard/Conan fans. It's scary how quickly times have changed, and it has been a long time since Conan was in the mainstream.


But the freakin JOHN CARTER OF MARS is mainstream now? Iron Man was mainstream prior the movie release? Is "Rise of the planet of the apes" based on a more "mainstream" source?? Please...


Those were exceptionally well made films though, and that's what I'm saying with point number three. A Conan film would at least need to be that good, and the franchise just isn't strong enough to justify the resources for that. We ended up with Marcus Nispel for a reason.

EDIT: And yeah, it's hard to find a franchise much more well known than Planet of the Apes, hence how they can justify two reboots in the space of ten years. It's still referenced endlessly in pop culture. With Conan we've got the first film since 1984, of which people have only a vague recollection. The Howard stories, Age of Conan game and comics don't even register.


Hey man! Yes we have the Highlander reboot in the works, but the director just backed out. I'm just as worried for Highlander as I was for Conan.

I wonder what kind of numbers Conan needed to put up in order to spawn some sequels. Double budget? I'll have to look up the worldwide numbers soon. With dvd and all the other ways movies make money these days it might pull out ahead.

I think Conan is a well known brand. It's just well known from the wrong things. People have a knee jerk reaction to Conan being about a big dumb guy with a sword who goes around killing everything in sight. This movie didn't change that. The movie should have given us a more intelligent Conan to break the movie mold.

#27 Kortoso

Kortoso

    -=Reiver of the Western Marches=-

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,400 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Northern California

Posted 30 August 2011 - 11:48 PM

Remember, box office is about "getting the asses in the seats." If people buy tickets, thinking they will get quality entertainment, then - for the most part - it's money in the bank.
If Nispel's effort got enough bad reviews, then people will stay away, generally, but I think it's the marketing that failed here.



#28 Guest_Croms Bones_*

Guest_Croms Bones_*
  • Guests

Posted 30 August 2011 - 11:53 PM

Let's see what the rest of the world has to say about this. For example the movie opened in Russia on nr.1, having twice the cash in than second place. Let's see what comes out in the end.

Cheers,
Waldgeist


According to this, the rest of the world likes it to the tune of 5.5mil so far:
Summer Box Office's 10 Biggest Flops of 2011

See any movies with terrific stories on that list? Me neither. But I see a few that had strong marketing.

Edited by Croms Bones, 30 August 2011 - 11:57 PM.


#29 DavidMcMurdo

DavidMcMurdo

    Spear Carrier

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 42 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Scotland

Posted 31 August 2011 - 12:04 AM



The market isn't there for a Conan film. I just really don't think anyone cares aside from the Howard/Conan fans. It's scary how quickly times have changed, and it has been a long time since Conan was in the mainstream.


But the freakin JOHN CARTER OF MARS is mainstream now? Iron Man was mainstream prior the movie release? Is "Rise of the planet of the apes" based on a more "mainstream" source?? Please...


Those were exceptionally well made films though, and that's what I'm saying with point number three. A Conan film would at least need to be that good, and the franchise just isn't strong enough to justify the resources for that. We ended up with Marcus Nispel for a reason.

EDIT: And yeah, it's hard to find a franchise much more well known than Planet of the Apes, hence how they can justify two reboots in the space of ten years. It's still referenced endlessly in pop culture. With Conan we've got the first film since 1984, of which people have only a vague recollection. The Howard stories, Age of Conan game and comics don't even register.


Hey man! Yes we have the Highlander reboot in the works, but the director just backed out. I'm just as worried for Highlander as I was for Conan.

I wonder what kind of numbers Conan needed to put up in order to spawn some sequels. Double budget? I'll have to look up the worldwide numbers soon. With dvd and all the other ways movies make money these days it might pull out ahead.


Yeah, in fact sticking with Highlander, didn't only the infamous Highlander 2 actually make any money? Yet they've still made five films. I know that the first film really found its audience on home release. Never say never I guess. But what kind of crew might we get next time on an even lower budget? Not that I think you actually need ninety million to make a decent Conan film. Especially if you were to adapt one of the smaller Howard stories. Then again I've always had trouble imagining any Howard Conan yarn working as a film without massively padding it out. I also think they'd be too weird for the audience given their misconceptions about what a Conan tale involves.

But yeah, I'd love a sequel and while I'm not holding my breath, I'm not without hope either.
"Because you dare to torture shopkeepers and strip and beat harlots to make them talk, don't think you can lay your fat paws on a hillman! I'll take some of you to hell with me! Fumble with your bow, watchman - I'll burst your gusts with my heel before this night's work is over!"

#30 Boot

Boot

    Mauler of Shadizar

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 966 posts

Posted 31 August 2011 - 01:20 AM

The biggest reason is the trailer. It just looked like a bad movie after viewing that. Had they had a good trailer, it would have drawn butts into the seats on opening weekend. Even if the movie was god-awful, people would go to the opening, then word of mouth would kill it.

The trailer looked so bad, I was especting one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Instead, I was surprised that I actually enjoyed the flick.

#31 johnnypt

johnnypt

    WarLord

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,800 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 31 August 2011 - 01:56 AM

From the general public's point of view, I think it may have been viewed as a remake of a film that didn't need a remake. Add in someone unknown "replacing" Arnie and the fact the original is on TV constantly, why pay $12 for this? Throw in reviews that were middling to poor, open it almost at the end of summer (I don't think any major release has done very well after early August), and the final result is pretty much set. They made a film people did not want to see, it's really nothing more than that.

#32 monk

monk

    Sword of Crom

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,686 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:nymfc/negril

Posted 31 August 2011 - 02:57 AM

What Avi Lerner meant when he said that Conan didn't have the "brand equity" that they thought it did, is that he thought he could put a steaming pile of crap with the Conan name on it in front of an audience and they would eat it up happily.



LMAO!!!! That hit the nail on the head.

I suspect there was a right proper legal tangle that kept Mr. Malmberg's hands tied from exerting the kind of influence he probably wanted to- from the public history of what they have done with the brand, they seem to be respectful of Conan. I can't cite to anything beyond the DH comics to support my opinion, I haven't played all the video games - the one for Xbox is practically of the same quality of this movie - but looking at Darkhorse...

Someone's getting a swift kick in the balls, that's for sure. In this world, I'm sure a lot of the people responsible are probably getting raises lmao.

from conan movie blog, you guys might find this take on it interesting:

http://www.conanmovi...-miss-the-mark/
"I live, I BURN WITH LIFE, I love, I slay, and am content."
"Here's to brother Painbrush, we drink to his Shade..."
"All Art Is Martial"- RZA

"Our basic purist premise:
ROBERT E. HOWARD, ENTIRELY ALONE, WITHOUT ASSISTANCE FROM ANY OTHER PERSON, CREATED THE CHARACTER CONAN OF CIMMERIA. NO OTHER PERSON OR PERSONS SHOULD BE INTRUDING THEIR WORK INTO THE VOLUMES OF HOWARD'S CONAN STORIES.
In essence, we believe that the work of any creative artist -- writer, painter, illustrator, musician, what-have-you -- is a unique expression of an artistic point of view. It should not be appropriated or altered by others without the artist's consent. No other writer has Robert E. Howard's unique point of view, and no other writer knows what Howard would have done with his character had he lived. Upon his death, his canon, the expression of his artistic vision, became fixed. Tampering with it now is desecration."

#33 icarus

icarus

    Spear Carrier

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 81 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:IN

Posted 31 August 2011 - 03:23 AM

"Dark Horse, Funcom and Del Rey took a different tact: they sold Conan as an icon from one of the founding fathers of the modern fantasy genre, highlighted the majesty and complexity of the Hyborian Age as a setting, and most importantly, made it look like a compelling world with strong characters and a story to tell. I’m no marketing expert, but when I see a correlation between products that take REH seriously and promote Conan as a worthwhile, exciting adventure story doing well, and products that barely mention REH and promote Conan as little more than hack-and-slash doing poorly… I start to think maybe you should do more of that first thing and less of that second thing. Promoting REH, selling Conan as an enthralling story with fascinating characters has obviously paid dividends. Promoting Conan as nothing more than mindless killing and sexist exploitation has not."

Nice article, and it answers the original question of why the movie flopped quite nicely.

#34 Rufus

Rufus

    Warrior

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 149 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:UK

Posted 31 August 2011 - 07:56 AM

The Hollywood production companies may perceive this as the true failure we all know it to be, that is a failure on the part of the main Writers and director, not ‘Conan’.

So rather than not take Conan any further in film, perhaps Donnelly and Oppenheimer and Marcus Nispel will now be redundant for wasting so much money. :lol: sorry shouldn't laugh :ph34r:

#35 Maxmagnus

Maxmagnus

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 134 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Belgrade Serbia

Posted 31 August 2011 - 10:04 AM

This bears repeating:

What Avi Lerner meant when he said that Conan didn't have the "brand equity" that they thought it did, is that he thought he could put a steaming pile of crap with the Conan name on it in front of an audience and they would eat it up happily.


Probably the most significant reason it tanked is it's a movie from schlocky B-movie producers, via a schlocky music-video director, from the pens of a wretched pair of schlock writers. ALL of them likely thought they could pump out some sub-par sword-and-sorcery crap, slap the Conan name on it, and we'd come a-running.

Paradox is to blame for not having the foresight or Google-fu to type Lerner, et. al.'s names in, observe the corpus of their work, and tell them "Oh, hell no!"


Great post,Scott.
"There is no need to carry me to another prison. My life is already ebbing away. I suggest that you nail me to a cross and burn me alive. My flaming body will be a torch to light my people on their path to freedom."

Gavrilo Princip to the prison govenor

#36 norse_sage

norse_sage

    Adventurer

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 350 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oslo, Norway

Posted 31 August 2011 - 10:08 AM

I wonder what kind of numbers Conan needed to put up in order to spawn some sequels. Double budget? I'll have to look up the worldwide numbers soon. With dvd and all the other ways movies make money these days it might pull out ahead.


As a general rule of thumb, the breakeven point is approx. where the worldide gross is the double of the total cost. Anything above goes (more or less) straight to the bottom line. This rule of thumb is best applied to productions where there is only one worldwide distributor, which is not the case here.

Keep in mind, Millennium made the movie, but sold off distribution rights. The way this works is that worldwide distributors pay Millennium a fixed fee for the movie. All earnings then go to the distributor, until the distributor has earned back the entire amount they paid for the movie. After that, profits are shared between Millennium and the distributor.

Here another rule of thumb applies, which goes that in order to be successful, the domestic gross must match the production budget. This then assumes international presales and auxillary domestic earnings will make up the rest of the cost and give a profit in the end.

So in order for Conan to justify a sequel, it would have to gross mimium 90 mill in the US alone, and even then it would have underperfomed. The movie was greenlit with the expectation that it would match the perfomance of "The Expendables", which didn't happen.

The way this is going, no distributor anywhere (possibly except Russia) looks likely to recoup the amount they paid for the movie in the first place, which means Millennium won't be getting any more money for the movie than what they already got in presales.

The cost and risk has been spread, so no one company stands to loose too much in cash over this. But it was a losing endevaour for all involved (with the possible exception of the russian distributor), so a sequel is out of the question. Tax writes off at the end of the fiscal year all around.

The biggest loser here is Paradox. For everyone else, this was just another movie that failed to deliver - but they had their main commodity and price asset devalued significantly.

Edited by norse_sage, 31 August 2011 - 10:12 AM.


#37 Ironhand

Ironhand

    The Mad Playwright

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,023 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Saint Louis, MO, USA

Posted 31 August 2011 - 10:13 AM

Keep in mind, Millennium made the movie, but sold off distribution rights. The way this works is that worldwide distributors pay Millennium a fixed fee for the movie.

So does that mean that Millenium didn't take a loss?
"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#38 Waldgeist

Waldgeist

    WarLord

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,055 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Germany

Posted 31 August 2011 - 10:52 AM



Let's see what the rest of the world has to say about this. For example the movie opened in Russia on nr.1, having twice the cash in than second place. Let's see what comes out in the end.

Cheers,
Waldgeist


According to this, the rest of the world likes it to the tune of 5.5mil so far:
Summer Box Office's 10 Biggest Flops of 2011

See any movies with terrific stories on that list? Me neither. But I see a few that had strong marketing.

Please do not blindly follow what is listed on those sites. box-office mojo is even unable to calculate its own numbers correctl. Conan made 5,5 Mio in Russia ALONE. And when you just combine the stuff listed on box-office mojo from the first foreign weekend, you easily go above 10 mio.
Let us show them our hearts and then show them theirs!

#39 Evil Thoth-Amon

Evil Thoth-Amon

    Adventurer

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 399 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Spain

Posted 31 August 2011 - 12:08 PM

Please do not blindly follow what is listed on those sites. box-office mojo is even unable to calculate its own numbers correctl. Conan made 5,5 Mio in Russia ALONE. And when you just combine the stuff listed on box-office mojo from the first foreign weekend, you easily go above 10 mio.


It is still a VERY poor number.

So does that mean that Millenium didn't take a loss?


Usually, is the studio the one who lost money. The production company is paid for his work. But, with each flop, they lost negotiation power.

Edited by Evil Thoth-Amon, 31 August 2011 - 12:09 PM.

The natural state of mankind is slavery. The only question is who commands and who obeys...

#40 RobP

RobP

    Mauler of Shadizar

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 695 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:UK

Posted 31 August 2011 - 04:39 PM



What Avi Lerner meant when he said that Conan didn't have the "brand equity" that they thought it did, is that he thought he could put a steaming pile of crap with the Conan name on it in front of an audience and they would eat it up happily. I'm glad the general population has held him accountable for this. I'm also of the opinion that Malmberg should apologize for this too. Whether he thought it was solid or not, he's at least partially responsible for allowing this to happen.



Game, set and match. And as for all the talk of it being the fault of the "purist fan-boys" well I would imagine that 90% of Conan fans went to see the movie despite misgivings. If it had been boycotted the audience would have been even smaller. I doubt that any of my non-Conan fan friends have even seen this forum, let alone read it - they didn't go see the film because of the bad trailer and mostly bad mainstream reviews

Edited by RobP, 31 August 2011 - 04:39 PM.