Archive for July 26th, 2006

Finke Makes a Stink
Wednesday July 26 2006 @ 5:57 pm

There’s a woman named Nikki Finke who writes for the L.A. Weekly, and she seems to have taken issue with the MySpace Credits Contest we did for “Clerks II”. “This could very well be the most insulting thing I’ve ever heard,” she writes. “A huge diss, to anyone who’s ever legitimately earned a credit on a film.”

Yes – she’s serious.

Aside from the fact that the Lady Finke’s finger seems to be pretty far from the pulse (this blog entry’s a bit behind the times, considering the contest launched June 30th – nearly a month ago – and was covered by more alert media back then), she’s presupposing an industry outrage and ire that simply doesn’t exist. No guild has said a word about the credits contest. Know why?

Because there’s nothing to be upset about.

What Finke would realize, if she bothered to do her homework (which would require not even a full viewing of the flick, but merely a pop-in during the end credits), is that the MySpace names don’t appear in the credits proper of “Clerks II”. The film’s credits end (with all the proper logos and copyright legalese), the screen goes to black, and then after five to ten seconds, a new crawl (although “crawl” is hardly the term I’d use to describe the speed with which the names zip up the screen) begins.

Why is this an issue for Nikki Finke when nary a guild member nor other film artisan seems to care? It’s so sad. Weinstein Co. finds a fun way to spice up the marketing a bit, and this woman tries to kill-joy the whole endeavor.

In addition, of an earlier promotion the Weinstein Co. did at YouTube for “Lucky Number Slevin”, she also writes “Yeah, we saw what that promotion did for those movies’ bottom-line: Slevin made a pathetic $22 million, and Clerks 2 is well on its way to more failure.”

For someone who covers the film biz, I found that statement rather oblivious. Our flick’s budget was five million bucks. We did twice that in the opening weekend. The film’s foreign sales more than covered its negative cost. Our marketing budget was pretty modest – especially for a summer release. Even if after the box office split the Weinstein Co. will make with the theaters, our thetrical run winds up simply being a wash (meaning all costs are covered), that means everything we made on DVD is pure profit. If “Clerks II” DVD is anything like the DVD on “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”, we’re looking at forty million bucks, easily. Forty million bucks in profit. Where’s the “failure”?

Aside from “Little Miss Sunshine” (which opens this week), “Clerks II” may be the lowest budgeted wide release of the summer. We were modest across the boards, in shooting and opening the flick. We did this because we had a model in the “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” release. That film turned out to be very profitable, so we simply plugged in lower numbers when doing the “Clerks II” budget, to ensure high profitability for the Weinstein Co. Spending 75% less to make the current flick, spending far less to market the current flick and opening to roughly the same numbers ($11mil for “Strike Back”, $10mil for “Clerks II”)? In what world is that a “failure”? It may not be sexy huge like the “Pirates” numbers, but when it comes to the business half of the show business equation, being in the plus column is all that matters (on the show side of the equation? Making the film you want to make).

And since when are the credits sacrosanct anyway? If Finke feels the post-credits addition of ten thousand names is some kind of “huge diss, to anyone who’s ever legitimately earned a credit on a film”, what must she think of my end credits “Thank You” shout-out to God, or to “Jersey Girl” for “taking it so hard in the ass and never once complaining”. When a dog is listed in the credits, is this somehow an affront to the performers in a film with speaking roles? I dedicated “Jersey Girl” to my recently deceased Father (a dubious honor, I know) who had nothing whatsoever to do with the making of the picture; should the filmmaking community be livid that such an undeserving cad as my dead Old Man wound up with his name in the credits?

Bottom line? Ms. (or Mrs.) Finke can try to tempest-in-a-douchebag the contest all she wants; it doesn’t change the fact that it was a fun thing to do that all involved seem to enjoy. And if nobody (but Finke) is upset about it, where’s the harm?

Shit – had I known she was gonna react like that, I’d have thrown her name in the credits too, as follows…

Crackpot With Too Much Free Time – Nikki Finke

Editorial Note: When I use the term “Crackpot”, I am in no way, shape or form implying that this old Hollywood warhorse is crazy. I would never say Nikki Finke is crazy. Never.

Random info about Nikki Finke.

More on Nikki Finke.

What the offending MySpace crowd has to say on the matter.