Life Lessons Learned from Summer Blockbusters

June 19, 2019

The rise and fall of the summer “blockbuster” is a fascinating science. It all began when “Jaws” was released and scared audiences off the beach and into the air-conditioned movie theaters. After the wild success of Jaws in 1975, studios who once feared an empty movie theater during the summer, now began creating storylines to attract summer patrons. Jaws broke the mold by making a groundbreaking $7 million dollars in its opening weekend. While people usually spent the warm months at the beach or poolside, Jaws changed all of that by reinventing the storyline.

The cinematic blockbusters released each summer do more than help beat the heat – they set the tone for the whole movie industry and the entertainment economy. It takes a lot for a movie to set itself up for financial success. A realistic budget, forthright cast and crew, diversification of marketing and display venues. So, what correlations and curiosities can we glean from these blockbusters into the financial atmosphere of our own lives?

Let’s start with a history lesson. Much like Jaws, people also waited in lines around the block for Star Wars, hence the birth of the term “blockbuster” movie. The 2012 release of The Hunger Games at the end of March was an unqualified sensation, and from then on, March marked the start of the summer movie season. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, was also released during the month of March and solidified this new tradition. Through fresh concepts, Hollywood was able to give its season of prosperity a head start.

Fast forward to today. Why does this summer look like a cruel summer at the box office? We started off strong with “Avengers: Endgame,” which has earned $2.7 billion worldwide, but this year’s other anticipated releases have demonstrated financial lackluster. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” was the highest-grossing movie, making $48 million during opening weekend on May 31. Although quite a bit of money, this is still subpar by summer cinema standards. The next few movies pushed it from the top spot yet did not fare any better. The latest entry in the “X-Men” franchise, “Dark Phoenix,” debuted at number two with $33 million, which was unfortunately the worst box office performance in “X-Men” history. Although family friendly movies are often the fan favorites, “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” earned $47 million dollars, which is less than half of the $104 million that the 2016 original made during its opening weekend.

Why such gloom and doom? Although streaming movie apps and services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime may be a contributing factor, the large-screen experience is still as tempting as ever. Perhaps the market is oversaturated with franchise films of which cinematic audiences are growing weary of spinoffs, remakes, prequels, and sequels. If so, that casts bad news on sequels, such as “Toy Story 4” and “Spiderman: Far from Home” slated for release later on this summer.

In analyzing the characteristics that form a blockbuster movie, four main concepts come to mind: a concrete budget, ability to market well, have the potential for a sequel, and the ability to reach a wide audience. In budgeting, a studio must accurately predict the final costs of releasing a movie. This includes development, production, cast and crew’s wages, overhead, physical delivery, and all other financing costs. Next, to market effectively, all angles must be tackled including print ads, television ads, and online campaigns. Potential for a sequel is important, although not foolproof, as demonstrated by this summer’s releases. Ability to reach a wide audience explains why family friendly movies are often topping the charts.

With all these ingredients in the pot, a movie can set itself up for some serious profitability. Especially though diversifying the platform the movie will be shown on. This includes theaters, offline venues such as hotels & airlines, rentals on Amazon and Netflix, and online venues such as iTunes and subscription on Demand methods such as Netflix or Now.

Now that you know the recipe for box-office success, can you equate this to your own financial success? Do you work off a concrete budget that incorporates all the extra incidentals that arise each month? Do you have enough in your savings account to last you through 3 months of bills in case of sudden unemployment? Have you made yourself and your career marketable so that all possible employers know how to find you? Lastly, have you set up some financial products and estate planning documents on which your family can rely on in case of your sudden incapacity?

If not, we invite you to escape the summer heat and visit OC Estate & Elder Law for a free consultation regarding your finances and how to get organized. Contact us at (954) 251-0332 or to ensure your life’s work doesn’t get lost in the horizon. The End.