Maybe Saying Sorry Can Save Your Franchise After All

Back in July we looked at the Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers franchises as examples of when the filmmakers have apologised for the quality of previous instalments before the release of the latest film in the series. We wanted to see if the apologies affected the reception of the new films, both in critical acclaim and at the box office.

Because Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was still in cinemas at the time we could only look at opening weekend gross to gauge the success of the films (taken from Box Office Mojo). This figure was plotted alongside the “freshness” (aggregated critic score) for each film from Rotten Tomatoes to see whether the quality of the film had improved as promised by the film-maker. The original conclusion was that opening weekend box-office continues to decline after the apology with the critics score either continuing to decline or increasing, but not to the heights of the original series.

It looked like saying sorry and admitting your film was bad didn’t work, but things have changed…

Pirates of the Caribbean
The second and third films in the Pirates series were dubbed as confusing by viewers and cast alike, Johnny Depp then promised the fourth film would be more fun and much less confusing. Did they follow through and make a better film, and did this make for a better box office? This time we’ve included Worldwide Lifetime Gross and the Audience Freshness from Rotten Tomatoes, determined by user (rather than critic) ratings.

The first thing to notice is that the general public are a lot more friendly when it comes to rating the films, with none of the original trilogy slipping below 70% fresh. More importantly, despite the quality of the films continuing to decline (as agreed by critics and fans) the total box office went back up after Depp had promised them a better film. We can’t prove causality, but we can wildly speculate!

After the second Transformers film came out the critics were falling over each other to pan the sequel and were soon followed by both its lead actor Shia LaBeouf and director Michael Bay. Megan Fox also had plenty to say but was then swiftly removed from the franchise. LaBeouf and Bay did not leave the series, instead they both promised that the third film would be better than its two predecessors and that they had learnt from their mistakes.

While the general audience may have felt that the quality of the films fell after the apologies, the critics were much more forgiving. If critics are to be believed the third Transformers film was much better than the second; not only had Bay and LaBeouf promised a better film, they had delivered. The promise of a better film combined with a film that was indeed an improvement led to a huge increase in total box office gross.

In Conclusion
Using that ability to wildly speculate, we can say that confessing to a lacklustre film and pledging to make a superior follow-up feature will give audiences confidence in your franchise and help you out at the box office. What really seems to help however, is following through on your promise. Both franchises suffered a drop in their opening weekend takings but by actually making a better Transformers film, Michael Bay was able to give the total box office a big increase.

The moral of the story kids; say sorry and keep your promises.

Can Saying Sorry Save Your Franchise?

I’ve hit Excel again, this time to look at the effect that apologising for the terrible quality of a film can have. Apologising for films is all the rage these days, especially if you want to make another sequel. Major recent examples are the Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers franchises.

Pirates of the Caribbean
After the third Pirates film fans were left a little underwhelmed and completely confused. All I can remember about the plot was a whirlpool, a kraken and a big wide white space. Also Geoffrey Rush came back to life… somehow. Even Johnny Depp was confused, called the films, “plot driven and complicated” and said of the fourth film, “we owed the audience a fresh start… I felt like it was important to eliminate as many complications as possible.” So did Depp keep his promise and did it do any good?

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What Did We Miss?

Bad news: The only film news to report from Portugal is that Youth in Revolt is still in cinemas over there.

Good news: Nothing much seems to have happened while we were away, in fact only two stories caught my eye while I skimmed Empire after watching Lost.

First of all we have news that Dilbert may be heading for the big screen. Yes I enjoy the comics strips but the TV series was awful and the office based comedy had been done, and done well. Office Space has said all that needed to be said about working in an office and The Office filled in any gaps long ago. Heck you’ve even got Drones taking up any potential office based alien humour.

The other bit of interesting news was the fact that Alice in Wonderland has passed the $1 billion mark in very quiet fashion. Without all the pomp and hype of Avatar Alice has somehow been drawing in the big bucks. I like this simply because it is unexpected and the film did not mark itself out as a big hitter in the way the likes of Avatar do.

There plenty of other news, something about an actress I’ve never heard of being cast in Transformers 3, but you’ve got IMDb for that.

Shia Better Watch Out

Yesterday it was reported that Megan Fox had been booted from Transformers 3, and then she quickly rebutted with the fact that it was her decision to leave the franchise. Considering Fox’s ongoing insults fired at both Michael Bay and the franchise it’s hardly a surprise that she both wanted to leave and was no longer wanted on board. The crew members even wrote a letter defending Bay and slating Fox.

When a star goes as far as saying a director wants to be like Hitler it’s not too hard to believe that they have been fired, rather than given the opportunity to leave their contract. Regardless Fox is gone, though her character may well remain as the role of her boss was recently filled by Patrick Dempsey. Even so I’m sure they can easily just swap her character out for another with no real complaints from fans.

Shia Labeouf should start to be a bit more careful over what he says now too as he recently put down both Transformers 2 and Indy IV. Labeouf  said, “When I saw the second movie, I wasn’t impressed with what we did… There were some really wild stunts in it, but the heart was gone.” He probably saved himself though when he claimed to have real faith in the third installment as it has a great script.

Be careful Shia and Megan, people aren’t going to want you in their movies if your going to be all honest about them afterwards.