Open Letter: Stop the Budget and Box Office Hysteria!

March 9, 2012 — 9 Comments

That ape is almost as big as the budget for this movie!

Dear Film Critics/Journalists,

Every now and then a film comes along with a wildly insane budget. Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Spider-Man 3, Avatar… The list goes on and on. I get it. It’s fun to talk about the ins and outs of the movie industry, and quarter-billion dollar budgets are great fodder for attacks on the excesses and mismanagement of Hollywood. Sometimes the results of all the pre-release budget madness is a James Cameron-level success, and other times it’s Mars Needs Moms. Most of the time it’s somewhere in between, but it’s still enjoyable to keep track.

But I’ve had it.

Shut the fuck up about oversized budgets and surefire disasters. It’s boring and annoying and it’s not what should matter in appreciating movies anyway. John Carter is the tipping point. This weekend may prove calamitous for Disney as they put their hugely expensive baby out into the world. It wouldn’t surprise me, really. And yes, that will be a story worth an article, and maybe another article later on, once the dust has settled. But that’s it. No more. Please, for the love of all that is good about celluloid, just stop.

The obsession that has surrounded the budget and potential box office of John Carter has garnered more attention than the film itself. Newsflash, I ultimately don’t care a lick about the executives who’ll be fired when John Carter only makes $200 million at the worldwide box office. If you want to talk about the film, talk about the film. Write about the source novels from which it’s adapted. Make lists featuring your favourite films that have borrowed from the legacy of the Barsoom series. Write a review of the damn movie. Or don’t talk about the movie at all, I don’t care, but no more money talk.

How in the world can we claim to want quality cinema on reasonable budgets when apparently all the film community can talk about for a month straight is that Disney made a huge mistake giving the director of Finding Nemo and Wall-E, whose combined worldwide box office is roughly $1.4 billion—with a ‘B’!—$250 million to make a fantasy epic based on an established property? Yeah, it’s an interesting story, but it also obscures discussion of the film at hand and film in general. We say we want to talk about films, and we complain incessantly about the financial bloat of Hollywood, but when it comes right down to it beyond the glamour of Oscar season, all anybody seems to care about is money.

Well good work. Mr. Joe Public doesn’t to give two shits about John Carter, but the entire online film-loving community has gone apeshit over how much the damn thing cost, as though it’s the most egregiously spent sum of money history has ever seen. It was the same crap with Avatar back in 2009, and it’s happened so many times before. Just get over it already. The money doesn’t matter.

It’s the films, dummies.

Yours scoldingly,
Corey Atad

9 responses to Open Letter: Stop the Budget and Box Office Hysteria!


    There is a lot of focus on budgets and in this case it’s very understandable, but like you say, in the end all that matters is the movie. I guess people just like things to fail, looking at car crashes and here they see a potential one coming and want to be able to say in advance that they did. I’m interested to see the movie myself and really don’t know anything about the book it is based on or anything else for that matter.


      The movie was really entertaining, huge budget or not, which is what people should focus on. But you’re right, people love to see huge things fail. If Avatar had been a huge failure at the box office I think the entire internet community would have creamed itself over the schadenfreude.

    Alex Thompson March 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Marry me. I said similar things in my little article about the Fright Night remake ( The money aspect is fun for some people, I get that, but the money that a film makes (or doesn’t make) is barely related to the movie itself. And I care about movies, not a giant corporation’s finances.


    Well said Corey, in any language this matter is there to make an unusual hype, just for getting that initial collection. Of course at the end Content matters….


    Couldn’t agree more. I am so over the numbers game. It annoys me to no end that it has come to dominate most film discussions.


    You’ll be happy to know the great Bill Thompson also made a post which pretty much said the same thing. Great minds think alike.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Why we’re obsessing over the numbers « The Velvet Café - March 13, 2012

    […] an open letter he asks us to stop the budget and box office hysteria. Or as he puts it more bluntly: “Shut […]

  2. 5 Jawesome Things for the week of March 16, 2012 « Benefits of a Classical Education - March 16, 2012

    […] This week fellow blogger and internet friend Corey Atad did it for me. Just take his opinions on John Carter‘s budget and its opening weekend haul and The Hunger Games vs. Battle Royale as being almost exact reflections of how I feel. It’s […]

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