$78 Million of red ink?
- Movie spent more than 2 million dollars on a staging Crash, however they
removed it, and this was said to be the reason why “Sahara” turned into one
of the biggest financial flops in Hollywood history.
- Movie budgets are one of the last remaining secreted in the entertainment
business. This kind of information is only provided to high-level execs, senior
producers and accountants.
- Sahara based on best selling novel by Clive Cussler, has lost 105 million
dollars but records show the film to losing 78.3 million based on Hollywood
accounting methods that count projected revenue over a 10 year period.
- 8 million was paid to McConaughey, 1.6 million to Penelope Cruz,
- Courtesy payments/local bribes of 237, 368 were passed out on location in
Morocco to stop a river improvement project and for Political support
- Ten screen writers were paid 3.8 million
- They paid a production firm in Europe to edit the film 20..4 million dollars.
- Unlike most financial failures Sahara performed reasonably after its weekend
opening generating 122 million. But the movie was saddled with costs,
ncluding 160 million for production and 81.1 million in expemses.
- All of this data was in was obtained by the times and submitited as
confidential in an ongoing Los Angeles trial
- The records consisted of a 151 page final budge, a profit and loss statement a
distribution agreement with Paramount Pictures and 6 years of financial
- Cussler the book writer, initially sued claiming that Anshutz’s producers
reneged on his 10 million dollar contract by failing to honor his right to
approve the script. Anshutz countersued alleging that Cussler exaggerated
sales of Sahara and other Dirk Pitt adventure books.
- Marvin Putname is floored that these documents of financial information was
provided by someone despite that fact that it is clear agreement within the
litigation ensuring that they are confidential.
- Most of the film was in Morocco, there was a welcoming environment,
favourable rate and cheap labour
- An US prop man made what the Morrocans made in a whole week just in one
- Putnam, Anshutz lawyer, said local bribes reflected line items that were
budgeted and not actually spent, He said the payments on location in
Morocco were reviewed after Sahara executivies were contacted by the
- The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibit US companies from paying any
foreign official to secure improper advantage or influence a decision. The act
permits small grease or facilitation payment for routine services such as the
provision visas, licenses and permits.
- Therefore the political payment to delay the sewage project if paid to a
government official sounds like buying a business advantage which is a
violation of the US law. - Anshutz said that he didn’t really set a budget for the film but became
concerned when the production costs rose to 160 million. He said he just
wanted to make a good film but spent way too much money.
- Movies executives refuse to talk about their agreements to insert consumer
products into films in exchange for a hefty fee from advertise. They insist that
the commercial interest never takes priority over artistic integrity
- However in Sahara, producer Karen Baldwin demanded a change in script
because Chrysler didn’t want their product to be stuck , they wanted tto
show how well the Jeep handles and responds.
- Then when director discussed problems with the Jeep, Baldwin said cant cut
it, Jeep to pay 3 million.
- Again Eisner wanted to eliminate a bar scene, but Baldwin said you need it at
some point because it means a lot of dollars, from Souza and Heineken.
However the scene was cut for creative reasons
- Then several companies backed out of commitments in 2004 after Sahara
novelist filed a lawsuit against production company seeking to stop the
movie from appearing in theatres.
- Why the credits don’t say that no animals were harmed. One of the most
dangerous scenes was a stunt man jumping off the backs of racing camels
onto a moving train. The sequence was complicated and you had to keep
hitting and kicking the camel to keep going.
- There was no safety officer to manage the treatment of the camels, horses,
donkeys and other animals. This is because they opted to not pay a 30 dollar
hour rate and travel expense for a safety officer.
- Although Mathew McConaughey and Penelope linked were costars their pay
was anything but close.
- They originally wanted Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman, or Christian Bale for the
part however McConaughey pestered the novelist and producers for the part.
- He got a salary of 8 million dollars for the movie and received 833 923
dollars from all the perks such as royalties, merchandising, video games and
- For years Clive Cussler wanted Salma Hayek for the role of Eva Roja,
however they producers chose Penelope Cruz because it mean more money
to spend on the screen., she is Spanish therefore it qualified them for a 20.4
million in cash incentives to film in Europe.
- She made a salary of 1.6 million dollars, and had perks that cost 835 561,
which included two dialogue coaches and 6 Moroccan security guards.
- Steve Zahn plays the side kick, the originally wanted Jack Black for the role
but he passed.
- Zahn’s contract also added that he had first class round trip for his wife two
children and nanny, and coach for his personal assistant.
- In addition when filming overseas, he had to be given first class bump out
trailer a private dressing room and exclusive car and driver for his wife and
- He made a salary of 2.2 million and his perks cost 264 153 - The film Sahara provides a glimpse into Hollywood economics. Documents
obtained by the Times shows how thousands of expenditures added up to
twice the movies budget of 80 million, including the authors contract for 10
- The bottom line, based on financial projections through 2005 the actually
loss of the film was about 105 million dollars through 2006
NBC Universal, very close to Warner Bros, had fast and furious and Ted, but they
came back from Toronto Film festival and Ron Myer got fired, was former agent for
18 years. They wanted to bring in Jeff Shell, he’s a business guy, and then they kept
Ron Myer, around to guard Jeff Shell who has never made a movie. Then after the
Toronto Film Festival he found out through the media that he was fired. Steve Burk
has been unhappy with the way NBC is working and says that they have been losing
1.6 billions dollar every year. Warner Brothers seen that there has been a huge
success with Harry Potter and theme parks have extended their partnership with J.K
Ron Howard, Rush, rivalry between race car drivers. Was so happy about the even
though they were going to pass on the movie, that he was willing to make it an Indi
movie. Do people really go see movies because of someone they follow on twitter
and because they see these photos, he isn’t sure but he thinks its fun to upload the
pictures and tweet about the film. A lot of movies are experimental that are coming
out in the winter. They are inspired to work harder and dig deeper, they are trying
to make these movies more interesting to capture people’s attention.
Rush is his first independently financed movie in 30 years. Because he was
originally going to make three movies based on the series dark tower, but it was too
expensive so he started filming rush. Rush was financed from incentives of UK and
selling off rights. HE went to the American Film Market, which is a trade show where
buyers come from all over the world and bid on movies. He thought it was an
interesting exercise, and an opportunity to test his idea of the movie to a large group
He had already decided to work on a documentary of Jay Z. A lot of the different
themes were different that he expected. Jay Z believes in possibilities.
Steven Spielberg said that there has been so many movies and there have been a lot
of flops that is going to result in an implosion. Movies that weren’t breaking the
bank were successful. Doesn’t see that the business has really changed but there are
still shifts. Styles and business changed but audiences still demand these films.
All Hits Are Flukes: Institutionalized Decision Making and the Rhetoric of
Network Prime Time Program Development
- Cultural Objects produced for a mass audience is managed through an
- Highly institutionalized context use reputation, imitation and genre as
rhetoric strategies to rationalize and legitimize their actions. - This study contribute to institutionalist theory and sociology of culture by
explaining the content and consequences of business discourse in a culture
- This article examines how the rhetoric of network television programmers
shapes the introduction and evaluation of new prime time series. They are
held accountable for ambiguity and uncertainty. Programmers rhetorical
claims are organized to manage the reception of their decisions by important
- They applied institutionalist theories of organization, to understand how
decicion maker operating under conditions of ambiguity and uncertainty
cope with contradictory commercial and aesthetic assessment criteria.
- They developed a hypothesis and tested it based on 1991-1992 prime time
- This study contributes to the understanding of how the introductions of new
cultural objects is actively managed and highly institutionalize and
centralized culture industries.
- They analyzed how the industry shapes organization and content of decision
maker;s discourse and demonstrate how that discourse is used to manage
conflicts and contradictions in the industry,
- Interdependence Among Suppliers, Networks and Markets
- Each year thousands of concepts for a new series and evaluated and
purchase approximately 600 scripts. Of these 20 % is selected to be produced
at the network’s expense
- Until very recently, the FCC financial Interest and Syndication Rules have
place strict rules on the amount of prime time programming that can be
produced by the networks themselves. So now independent writers and
producers outside production companies supply prime time pilots and series.
Program suppliers include, small independent companies, television
subsidiaries and major film studios.
- Since the networks do not own the shows they broadcast most of their
primary source of profit is through advertising revenues. At the same time
the licensing fees received by the program supplies typically do not cover the
cost of production. The cost for producing one episode is 600 000 and it is
licensed to the network for about 500 000. Program suppliers incur these
short-term losses in anticipation of substantial profits from eventual
syndication of successful series.
- Thus program supplier and network programmers are mutually dependent.
On one has the write/producer needs access to the prime time schedule, so
that they network can produce at least 3-4 seasons making the series
profitable in subsequent syndication. Then on the other hand the network
needs to the program suppliers for new series so they will attract audiences
and advertises they want to reach.
- Decision Making and Ambiguity and Uncertainty
- Network prime time program is an institution and introducing a new series
are made in an “institutionalized” context. In such contexts, decision makers cope with ambiguity, and uncertainty by substituting imitation, routines and
rules of thumb for rational calculation as decision criteria.
- To maintain legitimacy they are likely to engage in activities that have “ritual
significance” to outsiders, by providing prudent, rational and legitimate
accounts for their actions.
- Highly institutionalize decision context exhibits two distinctive features (1)
technologies are poorly understood, (2) actions are evaluated according to
multiple ambiguous and contradictory criteriaby external constituencies.
- Programmers are able to detect whether or not a script sounds good, but
they are not able to predict whether audiences, advertises, and critics will
accept the series.
- According to Jeff Sagansky, president of CBS entertainment, all hits are flukes.
The problem of knowing is a key feature of program development
- Network programmers are making decisions that are subject and often
conflicting assessment criteria.
- A commercially successful series is one that delivers a large audience with a
demographic composition valued by advertisers. However, feedback from
ratings comes months after the decision has been made to schedule a series,
and the feedback can be misleading for a series that slowly builds an
- A decision to develop a series for prime time is simultaneously a choice about
a commercial commodity, an aesthetic endeavor and a social institution;. As s
result those making programming decisions will be variously evaluated
according to perceptions of their business judgement their aesthetic tastes
and the values they impart.
- Because the industry is so highly centralized programmers are directly
accountable to commercial interests than othere constituencies.
- Most writer- producers are dependent upon one of the seven major studios
for financing, and the series creators are dependent on commercials for their
success. Therefore as theorized by DiMagio, in a mass culture industry,
brokers are more accountable to commercial interests than creative interest.
- Rhetorical Strategies For Introducing New Series
- A frame is a central organizing idea for making sense of events. The concepts
represents how social movement elites develop rhetorical strategies to
mobilize constituencies and shape understanding. Media discourse is
managed by assembling frames into packages. A package offers a number of
symbols that suggest the core frame and positions in shorthand making it
possible to displace the package as a whole with deft metaphor, catchphrase
or other symbolic device.
- A frame is applied to justify decision makers answers in highly
institutionalized contexts.When developing a new series programmers are
required to provide legitimate accounts fro their decisions, so they develop
frames. Specifically in describing a series that is in development, network
execcutives invoke the framing device of genre, reputation, and imitation
- Genre, Reputation and Imitation - Television genres are conventional regarding the content of television series,
it is the prescribed format, themes, premises and characterizations.
- Advertisers, scheduling decisions, purchasing decisions and audience
viewing patters are all based to some extent on share understand about the
program’s genre. Since late 1950s there has been two major genres, the half
an hour situation comedy and the one hour drama.
- Howevere in the 1970s the entertainment divisions have separate unites for
comedy development and drama development.
- Over the past several years the reality series has become recognized as a
third prime time genre. It is typically applied to inexpensively produced half
hour non fiction series other than programs produced by the network news
- As industry conventions, genres can be viewed as forms of social
organization that facili