Welcome to Going Bionic, #236. Today we’re discussing how the formula to make a successful drama has shifted from needing established stars with healthy budgets, to showcasing rising stars with anemic budgets. While dramas like Lawrence of Arabia, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Schindler’s List have laced the history of cinema with greatness, current dramas are finding success by skewing toward a much younger viewer base. Whether this trend is temporary or permanent, one thing is for sure: dramas aren’t just for grandparents anymore.
Before we get into examining the trend-setting successes, let’s highlight a recent star-studded feature that reminds us the “old way” of making dramas preforms in today’s world.
This Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall courtroom drama stumbled out of the gates this past weekend, by earning $13,116,226 on 3,003 screens, which is only a $4,368 per screen average. That, my friends, is not anything to brag about, especially since the picture had a production budget of $50 million. Furthermore, Robert Downey Jr.’s star power could only muster an additional $1.6 million overseas, which means that short of this picture growing “legs” from strong word-of-mouth, this father and son drama is destined to die a very sad death at both the domestic and international box office.
Now let’s take a look at a few recent drama successes, which were produced with modest budgets and a youthful cast.
The Fault in our Stars
This $12 million dollar budgeted teen drama earned $48,002,523 on 3,173 screens over its opening weekend, which is a powerful $15,128 per screen average. The film has gone on to earn $124,872,350 domestically, plus another $17Welcome to Going Bionic, #236. Today we’re discussing how the formula to make a successful drama has shifted from needing established stars with healthy budgets, to showcasing rising stars with anemic budgets.8,412,919 overseas, giving it a worldwide total of $303,285,269. Furthermore, not only did the picture break the record for pre-ordered ticket sales for romantic dramas in the history of Fandango, but it also broke the digital download record. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that over 5.7 million copies of the novel have been sold worldwide including more than four million sold domestically, but the picture certainly blazed the trail for other youth-oriented dramas with modest budgets.
If I Stay
This $11 million dollar budget earned $15,176,190 on 2,907 screens over its opening weekend, giving it a $5,394 per screen average. The picture has gone on to make $50,116,442 domestically, and $24,000,900 internationally, giving it a worldwide total of $75,016,190. Just like The Fault in our Stars, If I Stay is riddled with a young cast and a modest budget. The winning formula has rewarded 20th Century Fox by earning nearly seven times more than its production budget.
When examining these younger, hipper dramas, it’s safe to say the powers-that-be are redefining what they consider a successful drama to be, and how much they’re willing to spend on it. Thus, if you’re developing a drama, “think young,” with your cast, and think “small to medium” with your budget.
Okay, filmmakers! That’s what I have for you today. Thank you once again for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday. Until then, have a great week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.