Posts Tagged ‘Blockbuster movies’

Summer of the Comic Book Movie

June 2, 2011

Yes, summer means longer days, school being out, vacations and blockbuster movies. Yet, this summer the studios will be putting out six, count’em six, movies based on comic books/graphic novels. What gives? There was a time when comic books were considered a sign of the downfall of civilization and were blamed for corrupting young minds. Even Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman, Thor and other superheroes of the Marvel Comics universe, didn’t think too highly of comic books when he first started out. He became a comic book writer because he needed the money and Timely Comics, which later became Marvel, paid him very well for his work. Yet, many years later both he and movie studio executives realized that there’s storytelling gold in comic books. They have action, drama and a love story for when there’s a lull in the action.

Still, if there is going to be a superhero movie during the summer blockbuster season, there is usually one maybe two, not six. Well, here are my theories on the increase, at least for the summer of 2011, of superhero movies:

It’s still the economy, stupid.
Last summer people wanted to escape the recession with animated films, this year the escape “vehicle” is the superhero movie. While last year moviegoers wanted reminders of childhood, this year they want a hero to save them from unemployment and home foreclosure. Unfortunately, superheroes can’t do much about those things, but it is fun to imagine that they could. After all, the U.S. is still in the grips of a recession and escapist films have traditionally done well during difficult times. Last year’s summer blockbuster movie season saw $4.05 billion worth of ticket sales, so the studios must be doing something right.

They get the job done.
Why do people want a superhero? Because a superhero gets the job done. Superheroes get the bad guy without so much of a grumble and they do it with style. Just look at Superman, Batman Spiderman, Ironman and the like. They either have gadgets, strength or a little of both and they get the villain. Crime will not pay if a superhero is on the case.

The story of the superhero goes waaay back.
If you think the superhero story is a 20th century invention, think again. Stories such as Hercules and Samson show how far back the idea of a superhero goes—and those are just from the Western culture. Other cultures have their stories of someone who can perform amazing feats of strength for the good of a community. People all around the world and in all times have had to deal with evil and injustice, so it is no wonder that stories of a person with both amazing physical strength and the will to fight the good fight were told. They were and still are exercises in fantasy and an inspiration for others to fight the good fight, as well.

As for which superhero movies will be very successful and which ones will just bomb, I’ll most likely write about that in a future blog entry.


Cantu, Hector, Heritage Magazine “Stan the Creator” Fall 2008, pg. 52



Blockbuster Movies—A New Investment Vehicle?

September 8, 2010

Blockbuster movies make money—lots of it. The box office totals for the summer of 2010, while not surpassing last year’s total of $4.19 billion, were $4.05 billion. Yes, the ongoing recession had an effect on ticket sales. Still, there was a lot of cha-chinging at movie theaters around the country.

Believe it or not, someone figured out a way to spread the box office wealth. According to an article in the April 28, 2010 Knowledge @ Wharton, an online business journal from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) approved a futures exchange that will match buyers and sellers of future movie receipts.  That means an investor can purchase a share of a particular movie’s future revenue stream. The exchange is sponsored by New York investment bank, Cantor Fitzgerald.

Not everyone is sold on the idea of an exchange based on a movie’s revenue. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Directors Guild of America oppose this exchange and a similar one developed by an Indiana based company called Media Derivatives. Many at the major studios feel that this would lead to insider trading and people betting against movies and using their influence to make sure that the film isn’t successful.  Of course, that is illegal, but that won’t stop some people with vendettas against those involved in the film. (See my blog entry of December 24, 2009, What Makes a Flop? )

While agricultural future exchanges, such as wheat, corn and pork bellies, are used as a way for both buyers and sellers to hedge their risk, the trouble comes when sellers have more information then buyers. In agricultural future exchanges, both buyer and seller have the same amount of information and the product is a commodity, meaning there is little differentiation of the product. That’s not the case with movies and movie studios. If a seller knows more than a buyer, for example, a movie studio knows that a certain movie won’t do well based on marketing tests, they will sell movies that will be box office duds, so as to get their money but not give any to investors. Since that is a concern, in April 2010 Senator Blanche Lincoln (D) from Arkansas and chairperson of the Senate Agriculture Committee that oversees commodity trading, sided with the studios and placed a ban on the exchange.

I don’t think that is the end of the story when it comes to financing movies. While blockbuster movies make money, they also cost money. So, something else will come along that allows people to invest in the movies.

Note: I am not endorsing any type of investment, nor am I soliciting for any financial or investment company.  The investments and companies mentioned in this blog entry are listed for informational purposes only.