"The market forces that exist today make it unrealistic to spend $200 million on a movie," said Lucas, a near-billionaire from his feverishly franchised outer-space epics. "Those movies can't make their money back anymore. Look at what happened with 'King Kong.'"I find it interesting that Lucas of all people is making this prediction. After all, Episode III grossed over $380 million domestic with a budget of $113 million; not exactly a bad return on that investment. Add in an additional $468 million from overseas and you're at almost a billion dollars. Lucas specifically references "King Kong", a film that didn't dominate the box office the way everyone expected. But, even with a budget of $207 million, the total global take was over $543 million. That doesn't include future DVD sales, which are sure to be hefty. Obviously, there's still a lot of money to be made. But, Lucas still states that smaller independent films are the way of the future, and goes on to predict that by 2025 the average movie will only cost $15 million. What's more, he's apparently okay with that:
"Is that good for the business? No — it's bad for the business. But moviemaking isn't about business. It's about art!"I do agree with Lucas that it's becoming increasingly harder for big budget movies to make their money back. However, I don't agree it's because the big blockbusters are on their way out. Frankly, I think Lucas' attitude is at the heart of the problem. For him, it may be all about art, but for the rest of us, it's about telling a good story. Not only that, but it's also about telling a good story in the right way.
Let's go back to Episode III and King Kong. Although Ep III was a good movie, true fans know it wasn't as good as it could have been, mainly because the second trilogy's story arc was weak from the very first frame. People like me have waited decades for the chance the see Darth Vader's backstory, and what did we get? Midichlorians. "Now that's podracing!" Jar Jar Binks. Trade disputes. Not to mention Hayden Christiansen's atrocious acting. A character as iconic as Darth Vader deserved better.
Kong, on the other hand, suffered from too much backstory. I don't blame Peter Jackson for trying to add something to "ape finds girl, ape loses girl, girl finds ape, ape dies", but in the end there really isn't that much more to it. People wanted to see Kong; it doesn't help that he doesn't show up until halfway through the three hours.
Bottom line, a good story is a good story whether it cost $20 million or $200 million. But, if you're going to spend $200 million, you better make sure you're telling a great story.