Today's NY Times' looks at the strategy that Warner Bros. executives are embracing going forward from the bomb-strewn summer (Superman Returns, Lady in the Water, The Ant Bully, and, of course, Poseidon) that's left the studio in sixth place at the box office this year: tucking their heads between their knees and hoping that one of their "smaller" movies (like, say, that little Scorsese flick) performs above expectations, buying them enough job security to make it to next year's guaranteed blockbuster, Harry Potter. In the story, shellshocked-but-resolute WB muckity-mucks Jeff Robinov and Alan Horn lament that people have harped on their higher-profile disasters, while ignoring all the money they've proudly lost on lower-budgeted projects:
"If Superman had done twice what it did, the whole summer would have looked different," said Mr. Robinov. "It's as much about perception as reality. Even with the failure of a movie like 'Poseidon,' we've had much smaller movies we've lost as much on."
Mr. Horn agreed. "I've seen movies that cost $15 million lose as much as $20 million," he said. "But when event movies don't perform well, it is very high profile."
It's a point well-taken, for any hack studio exec can easily fritter away tens of millions of dollars promoting the megabudgeted revival of a supposedly-can't-miss superhero franchise like Superman, but it takes a true visionary to select just the right $15 million labor of love on which to suffer an eight-figure loss.