Spring Megabanter: Cannes flops, Scarlett Johansson vs. OpenAI, underwhelming box offices

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Director Francis Ford Coppola and Adam Driver during a photocall for the film ''Megalopolis'' at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France — May 17, 2024. Photo by Daniele Cifala/NurPhoto.

A frighteningly lackluster summer box office, human ScarJo dukes it out with OpenAI’s ‘definitely-not-supposed-to-sound-like-ScarJo’ ScarJo, and the movies making noise at this year’s Cannes Film Festival–not necessarily in a good way. Kim Masters and Matt Belloni break down this week’s news in a special Spring Megabanter episode of The Business.

Frosty summer box office? Despite moderate successes found in films like Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes and IF, studios are lacking a Top Gun: Maverick sized hit to heat up the summer box office. “One after another, we've had these movies that have sort of done fine, but we don't have that big game changer that we need for the summer to at least come anywhere near last year. Forget pre-COVID numbers, I think it's gonna get pretty brutal,” Belloni says. 

Her? OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s tweet following the release of the company’s Scarlett Johansson sound-alike AI chatbot may have added more fuel to the fire than intended. “If Scarlett Johansson had not made this movie where she plays an AI assistant, I don't know that people would have automatically made that connection to her,” Belloni notes. “But since she did, and since he tweeted it himself, it's pretty clear that it is designed to sound like her.”

All hail Venu (Sports)? The joint sports streamer announced by Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Fox officially has a name: Venu Sports. What else is missing? “They have not yet revealed what the price is going to be. And we believe it's going to be significant,” Belloni speculates. “Then the question is, ‘what is Warner Discovery bringing to this party?’ Because all indications right now are that they are almost certainly not getting the NBA rights beyond next season. If that happens, then the value of their participation in this joint venture goes down significantly.”

Pricey Cannes flops? Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis and Kevin Costner’s first installment of Horizon: An American Saga have both experienced negative reception from critics following their Cannes premieres. Both directors spent millions of their own dollars on these passion projects — do they have a chance at recouping costs at the box office?

 “Warner just has a very small investment and is releasing [Horizon] for Costner,” says Belloni. “But this is potentially a massive disaster. If this movie flops when it opens in June, there's another one that also cost $100 million coming six weeks later. And then he is going back after Cannes to shoot the third one.” 




Kim Masters


Joshua Farnham