Investing in film is a risky venture.
In order to mitigate risk and to be profitable, the rule of thumb is usually that the film needs to recoup its entire budget in the first eighteen months, which is usually the time span from script to screen and then releasing it on video-on-demand. You might be surprised to learn that most of the time this doesn’t happen.
And you’ll certainly laugh when you see how much John Travolta’s latest movie just made.
Financing a movie is an extremely complex issue. There are so many behind-the-scenes negotiations that happen while making a movie that the majority of the public doesn’t know about.
For instance, a good amount of the budget for a film isn’t just script to the final cut, it’s also about prints & advertising.
Depending on the size of the movie P&A (as they call it in the industry) could be anywhere between $2 million and $100 million. Producers will usually seek out endorsements and product placement to mitigate an enormous P&A budget.
Then there’s distribution; producers negotiate with distributors and then the distributor haggles the theater on percentage. A good example is that “Avengers: Endgame” between Marvel and the theaters was likely a 90/10 split.
Another general rule of thumb is that the P&A costs of a low-budget feature film to be released on 1,000 screens is approximately $1.2 million per weekend. So if you see a movie open in 3,500 screens make less than $5 million then it didn’t make any money at all.
And John Travolta’s new movie “The Fanatic” premiered in 52 screens across the country to an abysmal $3,153 over the past weekend. Some theaters reportedly sold a whopping $10 worth of tickets – or less.
It marks the worst opening of Travolta’s career and it’s his fourth consecutive box-office bomb in a row. He’s not nearly worth the $2 million salary he demands per movie any longer.
The film is about Moose (Travolta), an obsessive fan who stalks an action movie star played by Devon Sawa. Yes, that teen heartthrob from “Final Destination” is in his thirties now and occasionally gets work in low-budget features.
It was directed by Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, who used to direct his own music videos and also directed “The Education of Charlie Banks” starring Jesse Eisenberg in 2007, which wasn’t half bad.
But for Travolta, this may be the end of the road in his career. And a rollercoaster of a career it was.
He was one of the biggest movie stars in the world in the days of “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever.”
Travolta’s career took a hit in the 1980s early 90s until 1994 when he made an unprecedented comeback with his Academy Award-nominated performance in “Pulp Fiction.” After that, he snagged parts right and left with “Broken Arrow,” “Face/Off,” 93Get Shorty” and “Phenomenon.”
Producers are beginning to recognize he’s not worth the gamble any longer and it wouldn’t be surprising if he began to disappear from the Hollywood map again.