What Makes A Movie A Box Office Success?

Like me I’m sure you’ve often wondered how some movies make it so big in Hollywood. I mean some are absolutely terrible and yet they manage to tick all the right boxes and make millions, if not billions.

So how can you make it big on the big screen? There are so many factors to consider; budget, cast, script and genre to name but a few. And if you fail to win over the critics then it’s game over. Well unless your movie is Sharkando-level bad. Then people will go to see if because of how dire it is.

The biggest issue in Hollywood is that we’re creatures of habit. We know what we like, so it can be hard to crack a new genre. I also have a great deal of sympathy for any director that has to adapt a book for screenplay. The transition from paper to film is no mean in feat in itself, never mind with the devoted fans looking on sifting for missing information.

Then there’s franchises. You have to keep the aesthetics consistent or it becomes chaotic. Take Batman for example. Christopher Nolan did a superb job while he worked on the franchise, but as soon as it goes into Zack Snyder’s hands it went to pieces. And boy did the fans notice. It remains my worst movie of 2016 so far.

But that for me is the beauty of cinema. Breaking boundaries and showing something familiar in a new way is what excites me about the movies. It doesn’t always pay off but surely it’s better to break the mould than conform to the norm. Of course if you do want to stick to your tiresome rom-coms that they churn out every February in time for the Hallmark holiday of the year, that’s fine. I just want a little more from my movies. Okay maybe more than a little.

For me going to see a film is the ultimate treat. I find it such a relaxing experience, as though I’m going to meet up with an old friend. A good movie should transport you to another land and make you completely unaware that you are sat in a movie theatre, popcorn in hand, donning those oh so unflattering 3D glasses. If a director can make you forget where you are, then they’ve succeeded. Even better if you’re leaving the movie asking “what if” about the characters or storyline they’ve managed to capture your imagination.

But if we get down to the nitty gritty there are other external factors that decide if a movie is success or a complete failure.

For example:

  • The popularity and skill of the cast
  • The genre
  • How relatable the movie’s storyline is
  • The quality of the script
  • The calibre of director
  • The special effects
  • The movie’s marketing
  • Positive word of mouth
  • Critics reviews
  • Other movies in the franchise
  • The timing of the release
  • Competition at the box office
  • Competition from other major events

Unfortunatley there isn’t a magic formula that directors can use to make their movie an overnight success. As screenwriter William Goldman famously wrote: “Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”

If all this talk of making it big at the box office has sparked your interest, you should check out this interactive piece, The Biggest Movie Flops and Triumphs of All Time. You can filter by genre and also find out if your favourite movie made it big, or absolutley tanked.

By Ruth Walker

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