Why is Hollywood trying to kill Pacific Rim?

I originally wrote a draft of this piece about a week ago, before the first round of reviews of Guillermo del Toro’s Monsters Vs. Robots epic, Pacific Rim, hit the internet. I scrapped it because after the very positive reviews hit, I figured that Pacific Rim was back on track for a monster opening weekend.

Instead, I came across another hit piece from Variety pegging Pacific Rim for a lackluster opening, underperforming against Grown-Ups 2.

So, I decided to resurrect the premise and ask: why is Hollywood trying to kill Pacific Rim?

My original premise is that Hollywood was trying to kill Pacific Rim. Here was an original summer blockbuster, beholden to no franchise or licensing agreement, that threatened the summer blockbuster model that Hollywood had built up over the last several years. As I kept digging, I found myself in the seedy underbelly of how movies are made and financed, and it was there that I discovered the truth.

The truth is that there is a conspiracy afoot, but it’s not to kill Pacific Rim specifically. Pacific Rim is only collateral damage. The real conspiracy is the seemingly inevitable split between Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures.

Studios rarely take on big budget blockbusters alone unless they’re sure to be massive successes, or they’re Disney. Consequently, deals are often struck where two parties agree to partner on a film to share the risks and rewards. Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures are a great example of this; Legendary finances the film in part with Wall Street cash from owner Thomas Tull, and Warner Brothers puts up the rest. Everyone wins, right? Well, not always.

Legendary Pictures has been responsible for helping to produce and finance some of Hollywood’s biggest successes over the past few years. Batman Begins, 300, The Dark Knight, The Hangover, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and Man of Steel are all Legendary-financed and produced pictures, along with smaller successes like Superman Returns, Beerfest, Watchmen, Clash of the Titans, The Town, and The Hangover Part II. Recently, Legendary began renegotiating it’s deal with Warner Brothers, looking for reduction in distribution fees and a bigger cut of the profits, in exchange for future financing deals and keeping a profitable partnership for both parties going. Warner Brothers balked, so Legendary has been wandering around Hollywood, looking for a new partner.

On Monday, June 24th, Deadline Hollywood’s Nikki Finke posted this article on the Warner Brothers/Legendary split, outlining what was going on with the deal.

On June 25th, Variety published this article: “Is ‘Pacific Rim’ Doomed to Be This Year’s ‘Battleship’?”. The comparison to last summer’s megaflop was surely intentional, but frankly Battleship had the stink of megaflop all the way from trailer to TV, something Pacific Rim has avoided thus far.

On July 5th, Variety hits again, publishing “How Legendary is Trying to Turn Around Troubling Tracking for ‘Pacific Rim'”.

On July 7th, Variety publishes their review of Pacific Rim, which is decidedly less positive than the reviews from other outlets. On Rotten Tomatoes, Pacific Rim spiked as high as 85% on the Tomatometer, outclassing every other summer blockbuster, before settling into the 70s, which by summer blockbuster standards is still very good.

On July 9th, Variety essentially republishes their article from June 25th, “‘Pacific Rim’ Looking Grim with $25 Million-$35 Million Opening”.

On July 11th, Thomson Reuters announced that Legendary Pictures was taking their talents to NBCUniversal.

On July 11th, Variety publishes their review for Grown-Ups 2, the film they say has been beating Pacific Rim in the tracking polls, calling it “Among the slackest, laziest, least movie-like movies released by a major studio in the last decade, “Grown Ups 2” is perhaps the closest Hollywood has yet come to making “Ow! My Balls!” seem like a plausible future project.”. The reviewer immediately goes on to say “It is all but guaranteed a strong opening weekend.”

By now you’re probably wondering where the conspiracy is. Basically, Warner Brothers was feeding Variety to shank Pacific Rim, in the hopes of striking a last minute deal with Legendary. Now that Legendary has gone to NBCUniversal, Warner Brothers is going to see if Pacific Rim bleeds out, or if it stands on it’s own two feet.

To sum up, Pacific Rim got caught in the crossfire as two Hollywood players got into a pissing match. Meanwhile, Grown-Ups 2 still exists, and the world is worse for it.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *