Half-in-the-Bag analysis of Adam Sandler

If you have seen the Mr. Plinkett reviews of movies, these are the same folks. However, when it came to reviewing Jack and Jill awhile back, they decided not to simply review the movie, but analyze Sandler as a film maker.

Their analysis is centered around how a movie like Jack and Jill can cost $79 million, but look like it was filmed over the weekend in someone’s garage.

Their conclusion is that Sandler is basically pre-sold so many aspects of the movie out(advertising and so forth) that the film barely needs to break even to make any money.

By the way, $79 million is a lot more than many other films and according to the reviewers, you do not see the money on screen. One of their points is that Michael Bay makes crap movies that cost a ton, but they *look *like they cost a ton.

Here is a brief write-up about the review that mentions(and corrects) some of the points.

Here is the video review this thread is about. The second half of the review contains almost all the core stuff. Mildly entertaining overall, but if you want to skip the first half, I think you can and still get the idea.

What do you think about their analysis? How did Click cost over $82 million? How did Jack and Jill cost $79 million? How did Don’t Mess with the Zohan cost…$90 million?


If you post “Adam Sandler movies are stupid and you are not the target audience”, you did not understand the point of the thread.

I watched the Half in the Bag review a week ago or so and I still think about it occasionally. I think they (as usual) nailed it - he’s a con man.

I read the linked…errr…review of the review.

But I can’t really tell what exactly they’re accusing Sandler of (other then making bad movies, that is). They seem to be accusing him of some sort of financial misdeed, but I don’t really see where they even say specifically what they think he’s doing.

Their argument seems to be: 1) theirs such a thing as Credit default swaps, 2) I don’t know what those are 3) so there’s probably some sort of financial hijinks going on with Sandler’s movies.

Maybe the video review makes it more clear?

Really, I think the answer to why his movies cost more then other equivalent films is in the second paragraph. Sandler gets a huge upfront salary from his movies, something like a third of the total production costs. But assuming the investors in the films are aware of that, I don’t really see what’s wrong with that. And recent flops aside, its probably generally a good investment, its not like Sandler’s movies never make money.

Interesting…and glad you posted it here, because I was going to respond to his post, but now I will respond to yours instead.

I found the review itself good, but with an undercurrent of naivete.

The movie business is a business. The intent is to maximize profits and reduce risk of capital loss. It has always been this way–at one time LB Mayer was the highest paid person in the USA, higher than Rockefeller, higher than Morgan, etc.

Wells, Selznick, Coppola et al were allowed to make the movies that are now considered classics because of their past productions’ financial performance–and not because they were considered artists. I am not in any way equating Sandler with them–but he continues to get funding for his films because they perform financially for their investors–it is just that simple.

Why do the films “cost” so much? Without a detailed schedule of production costs it is impossible to know. Be aware, however, that marketing costs have skyrocketed in recent years–and [not coincidentally simultaneously] also be aware that there is a LOT of financial gymnastics going on in the entertainment industry right now. E.g., Disney makes a movie, then “pays” ABC a ton of “money” for advertising it. This is in reality just a internal accounting funds transfer. Therefore ABC looks like it is making money–and Disney claims that the movie was very expensive and reduces its profit and therefore tax liability.

Is he a “con man”? Not at all.

Unless and until people stop paying so see flatulence, urination, defecation, vomiting, pratfalls, and anatomical anomaly jokes then movies containing them will continue to receive funding.

If you go to see one of his films, you know what you are probably going to see. If you invest in one of his films, you know what you a backing. So while he may be base, banal, or just downright offensive–he is making money by giving people apparently something that they are willing to pay for. It is pure capitalism–people are voting with their money, and millions are voting for him.

If the critics don’t like it, fine–but they should not naively dismiss his success without explaining the cash flows behind the business.

If I remember correctly, the video review basically says, “Sandler and his friends pitch these movies with insane salaries for themselves wrapped into the cost. (The following numbers are made up by me, but the gist was) Sandler may get $30 million, his friends (Rob Schnieder et al) may get a collective $30 million to split, they get $10 million from product placement to make what amounts to a $25 million movie.” They feel that this is wrong because product placement should be used, in their opinion, as a last resort necessity for funding a movie that otherwise couldn’t get funded. Getting a couple million from Pepto Bismol when you’re essentially just pocketing the cash is insulting to your viewers, like, “Here, watch this commercial for me so I can get a better Gulfstream.”

I watched the 45 minute review, haven’t seen the movie. I talked to some friends who saw it (Sandler fans) and expected them to trash it, but from talking to them, it didn’t seem to be as bad as the reviewers make it sound. No worse than “Chuck and Larry,” which made a tidy $100 million profit.

On the one hand, I can kinda see their point. If you have a choice between making $30 million on a movie and subjecting your audience to pointless product placement, or only making $20 million on a movie and putting out what’s probably a better product, what would you do?

On the other hand, I think they probably overstated the lousiness of the movie. Also, it’d be one thing if Sandler fans were complaining, but to say “I had no interest in seeing this movie and I didn’t expect to enjoy it, and I was right!” is a bit annoying. If the people who paid money to see it didn’t feel offended by the product placement, who am I to argue?

But “the films” don’t cost so much. His films, according to these guys, cost way more than they ought to cost, even with all that included. And the money is not on the screen, like it is in so many other movies.

Ocean’s 13, with a huge cast, cost about the same as Jack and Jill.

Right or wrong, but didn’t they explain the cash flow behind the business?

Who cares? If the investors are OK with paying Sandler a lot of money up front, while Brad Pitt or who ever from Ocean’s wants less (or as is more likely, wants more of his remuneration paid with residuals instead of upfront) I don’t really see what’s wrong with that.

As a movie goer, I don’t really care how movie profits are split between investors and talent. Given that they keep giving him money, its pretty clear the investors themselves aren’t terribly upset with the money required to hire Sandler. And Sandler seems pretty happy to keep making crappy movies with the money they give him. So what exactly is the complaint?

The argument put forth in the review isn’t that the investors or shareholders should be upset, but that the audience should be upset. If you pay $12 to see a movie, you should get your $12 worth. And at other movies, you get it, but at a Sandler movie, you get a $3 movie and Sandler rips the other $9 out of your hand. Or something like that.

You can say the same thing here, “If the fans are happy, then who cares?” But this is a review, and they’re supposed to talk about these things.

If they had said, “The movie looked cheap and there was a lot of product placement,” that’d be a normal movie review. But here they take it a step further, and say, “You should be offended that he’s trying to pass this schlock off as a product,” and they attempt to justify that position by looking at the cash flow.

I read Emerson’s write-up. I just re-read it. I see nothing there about pre-production, production, post-prod, and marketing and distribution costs. Nor do I see anything substantive regarding product placement revenues.

To complain about cost vs. quality of the product without these is superficial.

Re your Oceans 13 post…a movie can “cost less” upfront if there are back-end revenue sharing deals with the participants in the project. Oceans 13 had this, in spades. It also “cost” $85 mil.

I think that would make more sense if Sandler took a large salary and his movies had the same budget as other buddy-comedy movies, so that what Sandler was taking money away from what would be used for the actual production. But it sounds like Sandler’s large salary is basically being added to the cost of the film, in which case its hard to see how the quality of the film suffers.

Plus even if he is taking money away from the actual production of the film, I don’t think anyone really watches a buddy comedy movie for the quality of the sets or special effects or whatever. If the sets look cheap I might be slightly annoyed, but I’d probably forget about it pretty quickly, as opposed to something like LOTR where the sets and costuming and special effects are a major part of the draw.

To be fair though, the last Sandler movie I saw was “Fifty First Dates” which was a long time ago, so maybe his newer films really are so poorly produced that its more of a problem then I’m picturing.

I’ve watched about 25 minutes of this review and I don’t get it. You’ve got a reviewer who hates Adam Sandler films (but also hasn’t bothered watching any of his films) reviewing this film and saying he hated it. No kidding? But he reviews it by making a list of all the shitty things that *could *be in a shitty movie and says “well, I was wrong. None of these shitty things were in this shitty movie. But the movie was still shitty.”

And in the ultimate “tell, don’t show” it’s 25 minutes of them basically talking about how bad the movie is without showing a single part of the movie outside the trailers. I get it. It’s either a copyright issue or no one bothered to run down to Blockbuster and rent the DVD. But what good is your video review if you can’t be bothered to substantiate your claims with anything from the movie?

Can you imagine how much worse the Star Wars prequel reviews would have been if it was just the mass murderer staring into the camera saying “I hate Episode One! GWAR!” for 60 minutes? The reason we all like those reviews is because of the dazzling amount of editing it took to produce a coherent thesis backed up by clips of the movie that highlighted the points made.

The willingness of Adam Sandler fans to pay to see his movies is the essential problem here. Any kind of crap will be produced if it makes box office. I’m not guility of ever having paid to watch an Adam Sandler film, and the only one I’ve ever been able to sit through much of is Spanglish. Generally the sight of his face makes me want to change the channel.

The real threat is that deals like this will become commonplace, and the moron audience (we’ll just define that as “that portion of the movie audience that is really, really stupid”) may not notice the difference, resulting in ALL movies having extremely low production values, regardless of their costs, because they CAN. Sad day for film buffs.

Product placement revenues is a massive part of the review.

I’ll never understand the attraction of movie-goers for Sandler films. His continued presence in film says unpleasant things about our country’s willingness to support any dreck that makes it onscreen (I mean, how the hell does Steven Seagal make a living?). On the other hand, there was Jerry Lewis in the 50s, who made a lot of money being a man-boy, so I guess it’s not much different from that. As for the money, I fall into the ‘who cares’ camp. The American dream of making millions come to fruition.

Well, that’s sort of my problem with the (written) review. It basically boils down to the writer not liking Adam Sandler movies. Which is fair enough, but instead of just saying that, he seems to bend over backwards to accuse Sandler of…something. Some sort of financial malfeasance, but he doesn’t really seem to even have a clear idea of exactly what he’s accusing Sandler of, nevermind any convincing argument for it actually happening.

Well my second paragraph is really my interpretation of what the original article was trying to say: the danger of movies that get their revenues so well established through product placement up front that they might as well have commercials, is that their appeal to audiences as entertainment could become very, very secondary. Everybody makes money, so long as the film gets eyeballs in front of the screen. Only the filmgoers lose, at least, the ones smart enough to know they’ve lost something. We do after all, PAY to see these movies in the theaters.

The production cost of a film does not include anything after the master is in the can. Not print costs, distribution, PR, etc. While the post-production costs can be hefty, they have no bearing on the matter being discussed.

Also, within a given studio, the financial games they play are more or less the same. When most films cost a lot less to produce to certain ones that seem to have the same overall production values, this raises a lot of questions.

I think there is something going on here, but so far people are guessing. Money is going into people’s pockets at much higher than expected rates. When the guessing at to whose pockets those might be seems unnaturally muted, one plausible explanation is “Look, buddy, maybes youse shouldn’t be asking so many questions. Okay?”

So what though in the end?

Sandler is inflating costs and pocketing the money, the studio doesn’t seem to care…and?

Viewers are still lining up money in hand.

What do you think is going on here?

Again, I don’t really see any mystery here. Sandler asks for a huge salary to be in a movie (he was the fourth highest paid actor in 2011, third highest in 2011, and unlike the other top five, much of his money came from upfront fees instead of residuals). He doesn’t hide the fact, his investors are aware of it and seem to think he’s worth the money (and they’re right, most of his movies have good returns). And his reported salary (30 million) is close to the total difference between his movies and other, similar films with other stars.

All the “asking questions” just seems like an excuse to make it seem like there’s something untoward going on without having to make any actual statement that you’d have to back up.