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绡悆绮惧僵 :電影業究竟靠什么賺錢?

篮球竞彩nba www.xvrnl.com   How Does the Film Industry Actually Make Money?

  電影業究竟靠什么賺錢?

  I’ve been trying to come to terms with two seemingly irreconcilable facts. First, “Men in Black 3” has made more than $550 million worldwide. Second, while a representative from the parent company of Columbia Pictures told me that the movie is now “in the win column,” it seemed until recently as if Columbia might actually lose money on it. How could that be? It’s not so complicated. Its production costs were close to $250 million; worldwide marketing most likely added at least that much; and a big chunk of the ticket sales go to theaters and distributors.

  我一直在努力理解兩個看似矛盾的事實。第一,《黑衣人3》(Men in Black 3)在全球收入已過5.5億美元。第二,當哥倫比亞電影公司母公司的一位代表告訴我,該片目前“正在賺錢”時,給人的感覺是哥倫比亞的這部片子直到不久前都在賠錢。這怎么可能呢?其實并不那么費解。該片的制作費將近2.5億美元;全球推廣很有可能至少也是這個數;還有大筆票房收入要分給院線跟發行商。

  There must be an easier way to make money. For the cost of “Men in Black 3,” for instance, the studio could have become one of the world’s largest venture-capital funds, thereby owning a piece of hundreds of promising start-ups. Instead, it purchased the rights to a piece of intellectual property, paid a fortune for a big star and has no definitive idea why its movie didn’t make a huge profit. Why is anyone in the film industry?

  一定會有更便當的法子賺錢。就以《黑衣人3》的成本為例,制片公司完全可以成為全球最大的風險投資基金,在數百家有前途的初創公司中分得部分 權益。情況恰恰相反,它先要為購入知識產權花費一筆,再給一個大明星支付高額片酬,之后也說不清自己拍攝的電影為什么賺不到大錢。為什么電影業沒人覺悟呢?

  影迷們在一家電影院門口排隊等待看電影《饑餓游戲》。

  All business requires guessing, but future predilections of moviegoers are especially opaque. If a large company wants to introduce a new car, it can at least base its predictions, in part, on factors like where oil prices are headed. Movie executives, on the other hand, come up with a host of new theories each summer about what audiences want — 3-D tent poles, 2-D tent poles, vampires, comics, board games and so on — then, sometimes over the course of a weekend, ricochet toward a new theory. Will the tepid economics of “Men in Black 3” spell trouble for “The Amazing Spider-Man,” this holiday weekend’s big release? Who knows.

  做任何生意都需要猜測,但影迷的口味尤其難以捉摸。如果一家大公司想推出一款新車,它的預測起碼可以建立在諸如油價趨勢這類因素上。但是電影業的高管們每年夏天就只能憑空推想觀眾想要看什么——3D、2D,吸血鬼、動畫、桌面游戲等等——結果就是一個周末的功夫,風向突然就轉了?!逗諞氯?》不溫不火的成績,是否預示著這個周末將要上映的《超凡蜘蛛俠》(The Amazing Spider-Man)前景堪虞?誰知道呢。

  Unlike other decades-old industries, Hollywood not only has a hard time forecasting, but it also has difficulty analyzing past results. Why was “The Hunger Games” such a big hit? Because it had a built-in audience? Because it starred Jennifer Lawrence? Because it was released around spring break? The business is filled with analysts who claim to have predictive powers, but the fact that a vast majority of films fail to break even proves that nobody knows anything for sure.

  好萊塢跟其他經營數十年的產業的不同之處在于,現在它不僅很難對前景做出預測,而且很難對已取得的成績進行分析。為什么《饑餓游戲》(The Hunger Games)能一炮而紅?是因為它有鐵桿觀眾群?是因為由詹妮弗·勞倫斯(Jennifer Lawrence)擔任主角?是因為它趕在春假期間上映?業界充斥著聲稱擁有預測能力的分析家,但大量電影賠錢的事實證明,沒人能對任何事情打保票。

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  Making matters more complicated is that the industry is filled with professionals — starting with the lowliest junior agents — adept at explaining why they were responsible for a project’s success. This self-mythologizing has real economic impact. Most major brands spend lots of money ensuring that people have a positive association with them, but most people don’t even notice which studio made which movie. (Disney and its Pixar subsidiary are notable exceptions, “John Carter” notwithstanding.) In fact, movie studios are much better at helping brands they don’t own — certain stars, directors, producers and source material, like “The Hunger Games” — capture a huge chunk of the money.

  電影業遍地都是專家,這讓情況變得更加復雜。從最基層的初級經紀人往上走,所有人都能滔滔不絕地解釋為什么自己是某個項目成功的原因。這種自我神話真地會產生經濟影響。大部分主流品牌花費巨資,為的是讓人們對品牌產生正面聯想,但大部分人甚至并沒有注意到哪個電影公司拍了哪部電影(迪士尼和下屬的皮克斯動畫是兩個顯著的例外,雖然它們也拍出了《異星戰場》[John Carter]這樣的片子)。電影公司幫那些不歸自己管的品牌方面表現出色得多,甚至賺了個盆滿缽滿,比如某些明星、導演、制片人和像《饑餓游戲》這類電影的原始小說。

  The reason a majority of movie studios still turn a profit most years is that they have found ways to, as they say, monetize the ancillary stream by selling pay-TV and overseas rights, creating tie-in video games, amusement-park rides and so forth. And the big hits, rare as they may be, pay for a lot of flops. Still, the profits are not huge. Matthew Lieberman, a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, expects growth over the coming years to be somewhere around 0.6 percent.

  大多數電影公司在大多數年份仍然還能賺錢。用他們自己的話來說,是因為找到了副業收入的路子,比如銷售付費電視轉播權和海外播映權,制作配套電玩游戲,授權游樂園游戲等。同時,雖然叫座電影數量可能極其有限,但只要有那么幾部,就能打平許多電影的損失。盡管如此,電影業的利潤并不豐厚。普華永道的一位主管馬修·李伯曼(Matthew Lieberman)預測說,今后這幾年電影業的年增長率在0.6%左右。

  Hollywood is, somewhat surprisingly, a remarkably stable industry. Over the past 80 years or so, its basic model — in which financiers in New York lend money to creative people in Los Angeles — has been largely unaltered. Partly as a result, today’s biggest studios — Columbia, Disney, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Universal, 20th Century Fox — have been on top since at least the 1950s. This stability is initially puzzling because movie studios don’t have many assets. Worse, every one of their projects is a short-term collaboration between a bunch of independent agents.

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