Posts Tagged ‘ box office ’

The Henhouse

The adage “never count your chickens before they hatch” is a sensible notion — and a rule to live by in the movie business.

It’s even more germane these days as not only can you not count your chickens, but you can’t even count on the henhouse being there in the morning!

What I mean by that is that in this current studio climate, the writing assignment you’re chasing or hoping to fill and the directing gig that’s open for a priority project has never felt nor been more tenuous. One minute, a project’s on the studio fast-track, the next minute, it’s on the back burner.

Virtually overnight…

  1. Hot projects go cold.
  2. “Now” projects happen “later.”
  3. Management reshuffles.
  4. Buyers flatline: studios head to the auction block, bankruptcy or simply run out of money.
  5. The executives who hired your filmmaker jump studios.
  6. The plug gets pulled on the green light: preproduction and casting are exchanged for a cold studio shelf or turnaround (if you’re lucky).
  7. Studio mandates change from tentpoles to million dollar movies, from genre flicks to lower-budget family films, from comic books to… well, more comic books.

While a degree of unpredictability has always been business as usual in Hollywood, we’ve entered an era of off-the-charts anything-can-happen-at-anytime-to-anyone.

No one knows what will work even though everyone thinks they know what won’t work. Everyone is running scared and frozen in fear that the decision they are about to make will be their last.

While none of this is new, these particular doldrums have been exacerbated by the global economy — our insular Hollywood is an untouchable island no longer.

With any luck, 2009’s year-ending record box office brought about by the second highest-grossing film (so far) of all time and a number of box office surprises (e.g. The Blind Side) will be a boon for the business that will trickle down to the day-to-day. Because what the town needs is a buoyancy of spirit we haven’t felt in a while.

Until that happens, don’t count your chickens before they hatch, don’t even COUNT on counting your hens. Because in this climate, someone might shutter the henhouse before your hen gets a chance to lay the next golden egg.