Archive for September, 2013

Sleeper Movies

The definition of a sleeper hit is generally any type of media (song, TV show or film) is marketed as under the radar and has the quality of being able to be promoted with top tier marketing tool. Sleeper movie hits seemingly come out of nowhere, attracting excited film audiences that spread the movie’s success through word of mouth.

These movies are often produced well of the radar. In the end, sleeper movie hits succeeded by turning the movie business upside down by gaining a number one spot at the box office. Also, the profits of a sleeper hit at the box office usually end up being more than their budget.

Sleeper hits have a trend of tearing up and exposing the limitations of Hollywood’s predictable thinking about what makes a hit. For the audience, it wakes up to the potential of their expectations and be widely successfully in terms of good reviews.

These are just some examples of sleeper hits that I’ve seen:

Budget: $17 million
Domestic gross: $128 million

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was indeed a hidden gem from the mainstream that remained off the radar during its production. Most Westerners were not familiar with famous Hong Kong action stars Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh. Although the movie was first released in December 2000 in the US, it had a worldwide release on January 12, 2001. The subtitled movie became a hit with a domestic box office of $128 million. The movie had many achievements bestowed upon it such as the highest-grossing foreign-language film in U.S. history, earned the Oscar for best foreign-language film and led in an Asian movie revival in the West.

Budget: $1.2 million
Domestic gross: $55.2 million

The film “Saw” succeeded with an complex, moralistic plot achieved with precision and no small amount of blood. Being a low-budget horror film, the movie was co-written by director James Wan and actor Leigh Whannell and was screened in a midnight slot at Sundance. The movie gradually gained $20 million during the weekend of Halloween. Therefore, a new horror franchise was established that has earned more than $650 million worldwide with yearly sequels. Also, it made Jigsaw a first new top-ranking horror villain in more than a decade.

Budget: $15,000
Domestic gross: $107.6 million

First-time director Oren Pali’s homemade ghost story was filmed for only $15,000 on a camcorder over the course of seven days. The movie was unable find any potential buyers after appearing at Screamfest in 2007 and then Slamdance in 2008. Finally, Paramount released it at midnight screenings in only 12 theatres, using by a stealth marketing campaign that convinced fans they were discovering the movie for themselves. The cheap movie became an instant mega-hit ghost blockbuster.

(Source: Reuters )


Week 7 Reading – Chris Anderson “The Long Tail”

The writer starts off by providing an example of an autobiographical book called “Touching the Void” written by British mountain climber Joe Simpson that became popular a decade later. I found the example interesting in the sense that somehow the success of the book was delayed and became a sleeper hit after people stumbled upon it while looking through their Amazon recommendations.

The power of unlimited selection is revealing what the consumer wants. By giving the people the power to search and browse through collection stores such as iTunes, Netflix and Barnes & Noble, customers usually end up discovering their taste that is hidden from the mainstream.

The disadvantage I took notice of was the physics of the physical world. Everything has a limit to what can be broadcasted for consumers – radio spectrum can carry only a limited amount of stations and a TV channel can only air 24 hours per day of programming.

The old world of “scarcity” had limitations on economics in terms of not having enough room “to carry everything for everybody.” There were no space for books, movies and TV programs to exist in their own medium, it was simply too abundant. Thanks to the introduction of online distribution and retail, consumers are entering a world of “abundance.”

The 80-20 rule is a guideline to determine the amount of “hits” a certain object to become successful in its own field. Only 20% of Hollywood studio films will be hits. Same goes for TV shows, games and mass-market books, only 20% will become popular as a “hit”.

The Long Tail, from what I could get from the reading, is finding the stuff that is the “true taste” of consumers that is hidden from the mainstream world of music, TV and film. Anderson states that the abundance of the Long Tail is vast, most of which could be mostly made of “crap”. The writer explains that by looking at the Long Tail from a bigger picture and combining the non-hits of the Long Tail, the market is actually bigger than the hits and has more potential.

Anderson ends with the idea of the Long Tail business treats consumers as individuals by offering customization as a different service to the mass-market business model.

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