Friday, January 11, 2019

Bumblebee Deemed Profitable

In a bit of good news for Transformers franchise fans, the Viacom CEO Bob Bakish (corporate owner of Paramount Pictures) has deemed Bumblebee "solidly profitable". The info comes from The Hollywood Reporter which stated "Bakish congratulated Paramount for a successful turnaround, using the latest in the Transformers franchise as an example: Bumblebee, he said, is “solidly profitable” while its predecessor in the summer of 2017 lost more than $100 million.”

This is not entirely unexpected. The film is currently sitting at around $290 million worldwide, short of the guestimate of $340 million for break even (cost of film times 2) but then we don't have access to things like amount in tax credits, merchandising splits, marketing budget etc. that would represent the true value. Its why the 2x number is used. Its at least something to go with that is in the realm of reasonable.

What I am really questioning is that $100 million loss for Transformers: The Last Knight. Considering the estimated budget of that film was $217M x 2 = $434M against a worldwide box office of $605.4M. The discrepancy is enough of a head scratcher to make me wonder what creative accounting Paramount is doing in regards to The Last Knight to reach that $100 million loss conclusion. Break even I buy, losing some money, maybe. But that much? Its a shame that THR didn't follow up on that as I suspect it would prove interesting.

Any case a pleased CEO is always a good sign for the possibility of future movies. Not a guarantee but definitely moves the needle in the right direction.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Bumblebee Scores Outstanding China Debut

This past weekend Bumblebee finally premiered in China. The market is now nearly as important then the United States on helping a movie become successful. The movie has been just doing so-so in the States so being a hit in that country was important if there was any chance of a sequel. Box Office Mojo is reporting the movie took the number 1 spot internationally with an international take of $82.7 million with $59.4 of that from China alone. That take took the world wide box office total from last weekends 45% US/55% international split to a 33.7%/66.3%. Considering the previous movies where in the 30/70 range this split matches expectations. As of now the movie has a worldwide total of $289.5M with $97.5 from the US and $192 from international sales. The estimated break-even point for the film is $340M which likely will be reached. The last major market for the movie to open in is Japan on March 22. Its still too early to look at these numbers and make a prediction on sequel but sadly they are low enough that its not an automatic thing.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Bumblebee Producer Talks Franchise Future and Mid-Credits Scene

In two interviews long time Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura talked about the potential future of the franchise and also the mid-credits scene of the film.

The producer spoke with about the franchise's future where the movie premiered this weekend saying "We probably will make a 'Bumblebee' sequel, and we want to make another even bigger Transformers movie in the future. We have an animated movie in the writing stage right now. We are trying to figure out an Optimus Prime movie, while the Beast Wars franchise has the chance, too."

Of course most of these plans assume that Bumblebee is a financial success. Unfortunately the film is doing just ok in the United States. It will likely crack $100M but just barely. Which is not good considering the film's $135M budget. However, the good news is the movie just opened in China where the previous movies have done very well. For all intents, so goes China, so goes those other movies.

What is success for Bumblebee? There are a lot of factors involved, most of which we as an audience have little information on. So we have to go by what we do know which is the box office sales. The general formula for a film to make a profit is its production budget x 2 to account for marketing, the split of box office ticket sells and other factors. So in this case the break even point is $270M. The film is currently sitting at a $196.5M worldwide total. Its safe to assume that break even will either be hit by end of this weekend or next thanks to China. Anything over that amount increases the likelihood of sequels. I think $500M is the point that would guarantee a Bumblebee sequel and probably a green light on the animation movie. I also believe a Transformers 7 will happen no matter what, but based on current Bumblebee totals, that film will have to make do with a similar $135M budget. I don't see Paramount and/or Hasbro footing the bill for an uncertain $200M plus movie based on Bumblebee's current level of sells. Let's see how those box office totals look by the end of January.

Now for the SPOILER WARNING. The next bit of information regards the mid-credits scene that shows Optimus Prime and Bumblebee having a discussion on Earth. Which directly contradicts the first movie which suggested that was Prime's first visit to the planet. Its seems the justification is classic comic book retcon and does make perfect sense.
“Someone described Bumblebee to me as, ‘99% prequel, 1% not’,” Di Bonaventura tells Metro. “I was like, ‘What was the 1%?’ He said, ‘It is the scene where Optimus and all the other guys come to Earth at the end.’”

“I was like, ‘That doesn’t contradict anything we have said before. Who is to say they haven’t been around Robots In Disguise since then.’”

“That scene was always imagined but in many different versions. We didn’t do that scene until we’d shot the movie. Because we felt the movie was going to dictate that scene a little bit. What happened is that you got to see Haliee return to her family. Bumblebee needs to return to his family. Otherwise what happened to poor Bumblebee? That was our thinking.”

“Plus Optimus said we are going to go to Earth. We are gonna regroup. And then we are gonna go back. In our minds they went back out. It had nothing to do with the other films, and was completely about the emotional journey of Bumblebee.”

Transforming Lego Bumblebee

Here is a great Lego Volkswagen Beetle that actually transformers into Bumblebee. Sadly this is not an official product since for obvious reasons Hasbro is unwilling to license Transformers to a competing toy company so the occasional fan creation is as good as its going to get. If you are interested in seeing the transformation sequence head over to Brothers Brick.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Bumblebee Behind the Scenes Vid; Test vs Final Film Differences

Bumblebee is in week two in theaters and remains doing ok. Still too early to know if its going to be successful enough to ensure a sequel unfortunately. In the meaintime here is a sorta of blooper/behind the scenes reel that is really just a series of very brief moments while the cast was at work.

In addition, if you don't mind a few spoilers, head over to TFW2005 where one of their members's posted about the differences between early test screening of the film with the final film. Its a useful demonstration of what editing and pick-up shots can do to a film.

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