June 5 - With this year's crop of summer blockbusters bigger and more expensive than ever, the pressure is on for the big movie studios just to break even. Executives will be hoping to avoid any repeat of last year's most under-performing film John Carter which lost Disney a reported $200 million. Edward Baran reports.
Hollywood legend Brad Pitt oiling the publicity machine with Angelina Jolie at the Berlin premiere of his new film. Despite a reported price tag of at least 200 million dollars, the critics have been less than complimentary about Paramount's World War Z London's Evening Standard review says it's a disaster, while the British Daily Mail calls the zombie thriller 'brain dead'. But the only thing that really matters to the studios is that the summer movies take more here at the box office than they cost to make and promote. Movie budgets of 200 million dollars aren't unusual these days plus a typical global marketing spend of around 150m dollars Factor in that film distributors take just HALF of gross receipts, and just breaking even can be easier said than done. Kaleem Aftab is the film correspondent on Britain's Independent newspaper: SOUNDBITE, Kaleem Aftab, Film correspondent on The Independent, saying (English): 'The films are usually costing 200 million dollars or upwards and the films need to make three or four times that to break even...so it's a huge amount that they have to make. I think World War Z will struggle to break even in the short term because it's not getting very good critical reception, zombie movies don't make a lot of money, I think the highest grossing one is 150 million dollars so it has to smash that. " This year's crop of other summer blockbusters are bigger and more expensive than ever. Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp is rumoured to have cost 215 million dollars to produce Man of Steel with Henry Cavill is said to have a budget of between 175 and 225 million And Pacific Rim with Idris Elba was made for around 180 million dollars So just what is the perfect formula for summer blockbuster success.? SOUNDBITE, Kaleem Aftab, Film correspondent on The Independent, saying (English): "The ideal template is something that will be a franchise film, that will have lots of big action sequences, that will have instantly recognisable characters, so if we've seen the characters before and they're coming back again, audiences lap that up. Anything that's a one-off film, that's a little bit edgy will be consigned to the maybe dustbin." Last year's biggest loser was John Carter - it lost Disney a reported 200 million dollars, making it one of the biggest flops in cinema history. It resulted in regime change within the studio with the resignation of Rich Ross, the head of Disney With such high stakes, there could be a few nervous execs checking the box office figures as they sit by those Los Angeles pools this summer.......... .