“Our Brand is Crisis” was a commercial failure, following its release over the Halloween weekend, on October 30. The comedy-drama based on the 2005 documentary of the same name following questionable American political campaigns used by Greenberg Carville and Scrum in the Bolivian Presidential Election of 2002.
Despite including renowned actress Sandra Bullock in the star line-up, the film made a meager $3.4 million of the $28 million it cost to make. Chef drama “Burnt” also faced commercial failure over Halloween weekend, despite including a current favorite star in its lineup; namely, Bradley Cooper. The films are only two of nine box office failures in the past two weeks and clearly illustrate Star Power is not as viable as it once proved.
One notable commonality between the two films is their supporting studios described them as “passion projects.” Passion projects are older than Hollywood and a common feature in virtually every industry. While an artist’s passion can be a good thing, it must create a connection with the audience-enticing them to see the show. In the past, many top stars like Charlie Chaplin and Robert Downey Jr. successfully translated their passion to mainstream films enjoying modest commercial successes. However, the financial feasibility of this exchange battles for the slightest measure of commercial success.
Experts say this phenomenon is a direct result of living in “the golden age of television.” Potential customers feel no compulsion to spend money on one movie outing when binge watching at home provides hours of entertainment with favorite shows on Netflix and HBO. If they’re patient, the shows they missed at the movies find their way to Netflix.
Perhaps filmmakers and actors with passion projects should consider turning to these platforms for producing projects at risk of less commercial success. Other filmmakers and actors capitalize on these platforms releasing projects for more specialized markets. Monthly paysites also house many widely successful projects like the Game of Thrones series. Netflix recently started partnering with filmmakers to create Netflix originals for both adult and children’s categories. This too provides competition with the conventional film industry.
One well-received Netflix original movie, “Beasts of No Nation” opened at 31st place in theaters but made only $51,000. For a traditional studio that result equals a box office failure. However, Netflix showed little disappointment with the film’s performance and contends the film is popular among Netflix users. Bullock’s and Cooper’s films could suit these platforms better.
Today’s golden age of moviegoers are more intrigued by special effects and popular comic book remakes than stories marketed for niche groups. Of course, Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper will make other hits. Big names and great acting don’t make or break a movie anymore. People, now hold the position to demand more from filmmakers: more special effects, more mainstream appeal, and more masked avengers.