Insanity Wrap: Here’s How Hollywood Can Lose Millions on a Hit Movie

News & Politics

Hollywood looks like it will make big bank on “The Exorcist: Believer” and still end up deep in the red, thanks to this one crazy trick. That’s the lead crazy on today’s Insanity Wrap, an entire week’s worth of the best bad news.

Before we get to today’s big story, here’s a short video to make you lose whatever little faith you might still have in humanity.

How Long Can You Stand to Watch?

In this week’s “How Long Can You Stand to Watch?” challenge, I made it all of 21 seconds before closing the tab with extreme prejudice. I can’t even pat myself on the back for making it that long because the “good stuff,” as it were, didn’t even start until about eight seconds in.

Kudus though to Sara Gonzales for diving right into her dramatic reading without first warning the school board what she was doing.

How long did you last?

Burn, Hollywood, Burn

How is it possible for Hollywood to lose millions of dollars on a hit movie with a small production budget? Actually, it’s easy — and it doesn’t even require any of the movie industry’s notorious accounting practices.

All it takes is to be [expletive deleted] insane.

Universal spent a modest $20 million producing “The Exorcist: Believer,” perfectly in line with budgeting for a horror picture. Screen Rant estimates that after marketing, it needs to make only $50 million to break even — and it’s on track for a $30 million opening. But Screen Rant’s estimate doesn’t include the $400 million hole called “movie rights” that this Exorcist needs to climb out of.

“Wait? WHAT?” I can hear you yell at your computer.

But it’s true. The Hollywood Reporter revealed on Wednesday that Universal paid $400 million to franchise-owner Morgan Creek Entertainment for a three-picture deal.

That’s crazy.

Who knows? Maybe Universal will make a profit on their three-movie reboot of William Friedkin’s 1973 classic and its uneven sequels. But they certainly raised the bar by shelling out an average of $133 million per picture on the rights alone.

Generally speaking, horror movies are low, or at least lower-budget productions. Patrick Wilson’s “Insidious: The Red Door” did unexpectedly well this summer, with about a $190 million global box office. But that was against a budget of only $16 million. This summer’s other horror hit, “Talk to Me,” earned $88 million against a $4.5 million budget. Those are far more typical numbers for a moneymaking horror movie.

For what it’s worth, the critics hate the new Exorcist as much as they loved the original.

Regardless of whether audiences love it or hate it, Universal spent more than double “Insidious’” box office take just on the rights to their new Exorcist franchise.

That’s a risky move for any studio but particularly for Universal. They already tried to recreate the magic of their 1930s and ’40s classic horror films with a “Dark Universe” series that was supposed to rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What they got — Tom Cruise’s 2017 remake of “The Mummy” — was one picture that turned into a $125 million flop and a bunch of canceled productions.

Paying obscene amounts for questionable rights isn’t a one-off, either. Amazon spent $250 million for film rights to “The Lord of the Rings,” and they didn’t even get “The Lord of the Rings” books. What they got for nine figures was the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s appendices that didn’t even include any Hobbits. Amazon is expected to spend [dr-evil-voice] ONE BILLION DOLLARS [/dr-evil-voice] producing the five planned seasons of “The Rings of Power.”

Want to know why Amazon will start putting ads on Amazon Prime streaming next year? Look no further than the complete inability of the unloved “Rings of Power” to draw in new subscribers.

I’ve written about Disney’s missteps with Marvel, Star Wars, and their own beloved properties too many times to recount them here. But it’s safe to say that the big brains running Hollywood have no idea how to make smart choices or reasonable budgets.

Sound familiar? That perfectly describes the last 20 years or so in Washington, D.C.

It’s an old joke that Washington is just Hollywood for ugly people. But I’m here to remind you that Hollywood is actually Washington for beautiful people.

Previously On Insanity Wrap: The Legal Assault on the Trump Organization Is Far Worse Than You Think

Before We Continue, Here’s a Short Video to Restore Your Faith in Everything…

My Golden — ostensibly a water dog — won’t get near the stuff. The closest he gets is rolling around in fresh mud at any and every opportunity. The best opportunities, of course, are the ones right after bath day.

And Now for a Brief Moment of Sanity…

Capitol building
AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe
86% Of Americans Want Gov’t Spending Cuts, Including Most Democrats

This week’s Brief Moment of Sanity will be brief, indeed.

It’s good news that the overwhelming majority of Americans are in favor of spending cuts. We’ve been on a glide path to fiscal doom for most of my adult life, but every time I warn about it, I seem to lose readers. We’ve had our collective heads in the sand for far too long, and, man, did I just clean that one up.

But here’s when our brief moment ends. When it comes to actually making the necessary cuts, Congress has no willpower, and, frankly, Americans have no appetite for it. Getting our fiscal house in order can’t be done by cutting (or even eliminating) foreign aid, which accounts for just a penny on each federal dollar. You can’t get there cutting defense, either, which is at post-WWII lows as a fraction of GDP — under 4% and shrinking.

We’ve got to cut Social Security, and we’ve got to cut Medicare/Medicaid, and we’ve got to cut them for everybody — but nobody wants to go first.

I get cranky when I write about this stuff because there’s no mystery about what our problem is or how to solve it… but everybody acts like somebody else can take the hit.

Quote(s) of the Week

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss totally, publicly contradicting and humiliating yourself.

Meanwhile, On Our Southern Border…

Scenes like this one are so common now that it has the White House in FULL PANIC MODE, but I wrote about that already today. Still, share these videos with your friends or family who might still be in denial.

Exclusively for our VIPs: UK Moves to Protect Women’s Spaces, U.S. Planned Parenthood Preys on Autistic Teens

A quick little something before we get to the closing meme…

If you like our exclusive content for PJ Media VIPs — like video podcasts, live chats with your favorite PJ personalities, and an ad-free experience — you’ll love a VIP GOLD membership, with similar exclusives at all six Townhall news sites.

You can become a VIP GOLD member right here — with a 25% discount if you use the INSANITYWRAP promo code. We’d love to have you go GOLD.

One More Thing…

That’s a Wrap for this week.

Come back next week for another Insanity Wrap…

…assuming we make it that long.

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