Annapurna box office

Year after year, I hear cinephiles issue the same complaint: “Why aren’t there more original movies?” Why, film fans wonder, is the box office landscape littered with sequels, reboots and superhero movies? The answer is simple: when original movies do hit theaters, no one sees them. Case in point: Annapurna Pictures, one of the most original motion picture companies out there today, had a whole slew of great movies last year. And guess what? Every single one of them, except one, was a box office bomb.

Variety has a big report about the problems Annapurna Pictures had at the box office last year. In 2018, the studio released If Beale Street Could TalkDestroyerVice  and The Sisters Brothers. All of these movies, in my humble opinion, are either good or great – particularly Beale Street and Sisters Brothers. They all received almost universal critical acclaim, too (with the exception of the polarizing Vice). And yet, they all flopped. Vice lost at least $15 million, and may have lost as much as $20 million; Beale Street took a $8-10 million loss; and Destroyer blew around $7 million. Perhaps the biggest flop of all was Sisters Brothers, which cost around $38 million to make, but barely made $1 million at the box office. The only 2018 film that turned a profit for Annapurna was Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You, and that profit is reportedly minimal.

To put it bluntly, this sucks. While none of these movies exactly sounded like huge box office blockbusters to begin with, the fact that they performed so poorly is disheartening. Box office should never reflect on the quality of a film – there are plenty of great movies that don’t make money. But the problem is that box office is what determines the future. If original, adult-driven films like these continue to underperform, producers and studios are less likely to finance films like this in the future.

“If you’re going to do what Annapurna wants to do, you have to hit every time,” said Exhibitor Relations box office analysis Jeff Bock. “It’s wonderful to be a patron of the arts, and there is a foothold for these adult dramas in the market, but you can’t ever miss.”

As for the future, Annapurna has Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart lined-up for this year. The comedy was a huge hit at SXSW, and if sold to audiences correctly, could end up being a sleeper hit – the type of indie comedy that comes out of seemingly nowhere and turns into a modern-day classic. But that will only happen if people go and see the damn thing.

Annapurna founder Megan Ellison did not respond to interview requests for the Variety piece, but she did make her thoughts known via Twitter. Apparently, she doesn’t seem to be sweating things too much:

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