One of the biggest things to happen in some time was The Expendables 3 being leaked before its release. If you know where to look you can find it and for a brief moment in time, several times actually, you could watch it on YouTube. I don’t doubt that someone will throw it up on there again right before the release of the film, too. This isn’t the first time a film has been leaked onto the web before its theatrical release; it’s just rare enough, though, that it becomes notable.
Most wind up hitting illegal download sites because of one of the immutable laws of the web. If it’s something people will pay to see … some asshole will make available for free because he feels like it. Usually, though it gets released afterward, not before. That’s why this intrigues me. A film leaking afterward is standard operating procedure; a film of significance leaking beforehand is something worthy of discussion because of its rarity.
The last high profile films I can think of that had good, high level copies leaked before they were released into theatres were X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko. Many people that the latter being leaked was part of a campaign to get people out into theatres to see it, of course. Leaking a film after release is fairly common. Beforehand is much less common because the opportunity usually isn’t there. It was also a high quality work print version, too, and the best speculation was that Moore & the gang dumped it to try and get some publicity out of it.
Studios are excellent at making it very difficult to get their content beforehand. They track every screener that goes out so there’s a clear path to whoever decides to break the rules (and the law) by uploading it to the web. Some donk wrote a review based on the leaked Wolverine film and got fired for it, too, and don’t kid yourself. Homeboy probably was canned in part from studio pressure, not just laziness and embracing of illegal behavior.
Moore’s film was never going to be a nine figure level hit but I imagine tech savvy people who didn’t actually want to pay for a ticket downloaded it. It’s kind of hilarious to me that someone who isn’t a fan of capitalism probably would prefer people to embrace that concept so he could make a buck. Moore’s personal wealth and attempts at keeping as much money from his wife in his divorce was kind of amusing on a certain level.
It’s why The Expendables 3 is such an interesting film to talk about going into the week of its release. Will people it’s targeting, 18-34 and most likely tech savvy, pay to see it after a large percentage of them probably downloaded it and/or watched it on YouTube? Some people say yes. I say … maybe. It kind of looms, though, in a lot of ways.
The first Wolverine film leaked but it still made a TON of money at the box office. It nearly hit $400 million worldwide, which is an incredibly impressive number and good enough to be a respectable 15th overall for the year. It had a solid opening weekend, too, and then crashed because of word of mouth. The sequel to it, The Wolverine, did less domestically but more in foreign grosses on a smaller budget. The Expendables franchise has increased substantially in terms of budget with each film while relying much more on foreign grosses to get into the black in terms of revenues. So there’s a downward trend, at least domestically, and this film’s PG-13 rating feels like a balance for what’s a declining domestic audience.
Will people still go out to see it, after a large portion of the target audience will have already seen it? Or will the box office tank because people don’t mind a smaller screen? Expendables 3 is historically at a big disadvantage coming in because less people are going to see movies this year than last year. The thing keeping box office revenues from really reflecting the shrinking ticket sales is 3D artificially inflating ticket prices, with many theaters making 3D a higher priority in screen selection.
There was a sizeable downshift from the first film to the second in box office grosses too. The first cleared $100 million, the second didn’t and the third can’t be projected to be doing massive business either. International grosses only justified a third film; odds are against the third film reversing course and doing more domestically than either the first or the second. The nostalgia factor is officially over and now it’s on its merits.
More people will have the ability to see it, because it’s a PG-13 and not an R-rating, but by now there isn’t a huge swathe of fans who have never heard of the franchise either. The counterweight of “Buy a PG-13 ticket and go to the R-rated film instead” from teenage boys that has propped up the grosses of other films is in play here. But we have to be fair in one regard: there isn’t going to be a substantial, Avengers opening weekend style for this film.
There was a substantive drop-off in opening weekend grosses between the first and second films. A PG-13 for the third might not be enough to counteract the downward slope, either.
In the long run we know this is going to be part of a larger “Hollywood is going down the tubes” story that plenty of people have written. This year is going to be a down year for box office revenues, of course, and 2015 will trigger the “Hollywood is having a renaissance at the box office” web crap that’ll become the new hotness once the new Star Wars and Avengers films do like a billion dollars each at the box office opening weekend. That’ll be next year’s story, and this one’s will be “the sky is falling” because a bunch of films have flopped harder than last year’s Flopapalooza. Many people have already added this film to their list of films that underperformed for end of year shenanigans if only because the leak feels like something that’ll be pointed to as part of the film’s projected disappointment at the box office.
Lionsgate is going to sue somebody, probably for a whole lot of money, as there’s potentially eight figures worth of box office revenue up in the air. This could have cost Lionsgate $10 million or more in revenue from ticket buyers who otherwise would’ve paid to see it who now aren’t inclined to do so because they saw it on YouTube. That’s something that could factor in because films tend to make less and cost more as they continue on in a franchise that’s starting to limp. We’re not quite talking full broken ankle here; maybe a solid sprain you play through.
The key to all of this from the leak is that there hasn’t been a groundswell of support for the film since it leaked. Nearly universally it’s been “this film is terrible” and that can’t be good either. Will people go see it? I genuinely don’t know.
Question for those inclined:
Will you see this film on Friday? Why or not? Let me know below … and don’t fight.
Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq
Travis watched The Hundred Foot Journey and wrote about it here.
I wrote on Need for Speed and Tyler Perry’s ode to the single mother.
Mike Noyes wrote on Transcendence right here.
And now on MMC … here comes the Spider-Man!
If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….
A Movie A Week – The Challenge
This week’s DVD – Pumping Iron
New to Netflix this past week is the docudrama that launched Arnold Schwarzenegger from wannabe actor into someone to keep an eye out for. It was still five years from Conan the Barbarian and his rise to action movie god status, of course, but this is the film that showcased his charisma and presence in his natural environment. It’ll make you want to grab some weights and get a good pump, too. This week’s film: Pumping Iron.
The film focuses on the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition, Arnold’s presumed final competition. Arnold was a bodybuilding god at this point, working on his sixth Olympia in a row, and the film follows the build up to what is at the time going to be his last competition. He’d come back a couple years later and win it one last time in 1980, of course, but at this point he was looking to move into acting. The wacky world of bodybuilding is shown, with some interesting characters.
The key to the film is young Arnold, as he just oozes charisma and presence in this film. This is was someone who’s going to be a star. It’s worth it just for that alone but it manages to keep your interest because it’s about what a weird world bodybuilding was back then (and in part still is).
What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound
The Expendables 3 – Stallone turned on his TV and everyone he thought looked cool, outside of the Empire Carpet guy, got a part in this film.
Skip It – I saw it on YouTube and it’s not good. At all.
The Giver – In the future one kid learns humanity has sacrificed their basic nature for stability.
See it – This has been a passion project for Jeff Bridges for years. Bridges’ has fairly interesting taste in his passion projects and this looks intriguing if a bit like awful young adult novel fare.
Let’s Be Cops – Two guys impersonate police officers and get in all sorts of shenanigans committing massive felonies.
See It – It looks like an aborted 80s comedy that would’ve starred Eddie Murphy and Jay Leno but it has an interesting cast list outside of the two donks they cast in the lead roles.
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .
Tags: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lionsgate, Monday Morning Critic, Sylvester Stallone, The Expendables 3