Hugh Jackman’s new Wolverine movie, “Logan,” is a certified hit, snagging a whopping $US237.8 million in its opening weekend.
The R-rated “Logan” is pushing the emotional boundaries of what a blockbuster superhero movie can be, and it comes from veteran screenwriter Scott Frank, who has credits ranging from “Minority Report” to “Get Shorty.”
Though Frank has made classic movies for decades, and likely has a new one with “Logan,” he recently told Peter Kafka on the Recode Media podcast that the business has totally changed over the last few years.
“The economics are different, so the process is different,” Frank said. “Movies now cost a huge amount of money to market … You may make a movie for $US10 million, but if it’s a movie the studio cares about, they’re going to spend over $US30 million to market it. So the marketing costs are huge. Marketing has become sort of the church for the business.”
Frank said that as marketing became more and more important, the business fundamentally changed. Where once the creative side of a movie studio would greenlight a movie, and then give it to the marketing folks when they were done, now the head of marketing is a big force in the room when deciding to make or kill a movie.
Another change Frank pointed to is that the foreign business has gone from being a small fraction of the overall business to the main event, in some cases.
The snake that eats its own tail
Frank acknowledged that while he used to rant that the marketing side didn’t know anything about making movies, it’s both amazing and scary that they are usually right about who will show up to see a movie.
But he cautioned that if a studio is too driven by marketing, they start to become formulaic, movies are over-tested, and everything is successful for a time.
“Then it becomes the snake that eats its own tail,” he said. There is a sameness that seeps into your brand.
Frank noted that the best experience he’s ever had creatively has been working with Netflix on an upcoming western miniseries.