Predicting box office success or failure: How Roadshow failed the Cabin In The Woods test
The producer in me knows the value of a film is in its audience. Without an audience, there is no revenue, and with no revenue no profit, which makes it a damn sight harder to get another go-around on the carousel.
It therefore puzzles me when I see decisions being made by filmmakers or distributors which seem at odds with finding their audience, or giving it what it wants. The most recent example, Roadshow’s decision to not release Joss Whedon’s film Cabin In The Woods into Australian cinemas.
After premiering as one of the buzziest films at this year’s South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin, reviews have been mixed for the film, but two things seem certain – Aussie punters want to see it in cinemas, and Roadshow planned to release it directly to DVD.
Let’s examine the box-office worthiness of Cabin In The Woods: the film is co-written by Joss Whedon, who aside from having possibly the biggest geek-cred quotient on earth, also wrote and directed The Avengers which is smashing Australian box office records. Like The Avengers, Cabin In The Woods stars Chris Hemsworth who happens to be Australian. It seems like a compelling enough case to warrant a decent chance at Aussie cinemas, but not according to Roadshow. After an initial planned theatrical release, they announced the film would head straight for the rental racks, offering no reason.
Australian fans turned to the internet to express their disappointment. Roadshow’s Facebook page sprang to life with posts and messages from more than 1000 fans. A few days later Roadshow caved, and announced Cabin In The Woods would screen in Aussie cinemas. Both of them. One in Sydney, one in Melbourne. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this passionate response suggest a better chance at the box office than so many films that make it to the big screen? Roadshow must know something about this audience that we do not.