editorial: transformers, age of box office manipulation

At first I was confused, uncertain, uneasy with myself.  And then the clouds passed and I had a moment of clarity.  Just what the hell was going on with the release of Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014).  I didn’t include it in my post on Wednesday about this week’s UK releases and yet if you look at the show times at the Odeon in Preston there are six showings in 3D and three in 2D billed for tomorrow.

I look like an idiot, not knowing that one of the biggest releases of the year was hitting screens everywhere.  And yet I’m not an idiot.  The official release date Transformers is 11th July.  So what is going on?  The story can be traced back to a controversy that has arisen in the US.  Independent reporting bodies declared that the fourth film in the Michael Bay helmed franchise had, had a $97m opening weekend.  The studio, Paramount Pictures, decided to ignore those numbers and declare a $100m opening weekend in North America.  The explanation being they wanted that big number to back up their marketing.  It’s a nonsense, the film made $300m worldwide.  They’re going to get their money back and some.

So flash forward to this weekend.  We are effectively getting six days of previews which in the case of the Preston Odeon is nine showings a day.  In the weird world of movie box office maths all of these previews will count towards the opening weekend numbers.  So you can see it coming.  Paramount is going to trumpet a massive UK opening as part of the publicity drive to milk the public for every penny.  This franchise exists for one reason and one reason only, to make lots and lots of money.  I know its called the movie business for a reason but in this case it is absolutely blatant what they are doing.  I haven’t seen the film yet but I already feel the need to start sharpening the knife even though I know any review I write won’t make any difference.

Oh and by amazing coincidence schools are starting to break up for summer this weekend.  It’s amazing how these things work out.


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