Big Screen’s Big Failure-Stephen
Case Summary Big Screen Studios is one of the largest Hollywood movies studios. Buck Knox, the president of Big Screen has established Big Screen as a studio that produced cost-efficient and profitable films. The studio also had a good reputation for being supportive of the creative side of film making. However, in the last two years Big Screen had invested in several major productions that for various reasons had all performed well below expectation. Knox heard that some of the board members were prepared to force him out of the presidency if Big Screen did not come up with a hit soon.
Knox contacted Mark Frazier, the director who had made several profitable movies and had a reputation as being a maverick with a “vision”. Frazier wants the script that he’s been writing to be filmed by Big Screen, the story about two strong male lead characters, a beautiful woman the men encountered in South America whose affection they fought over, battles, sea journeys, and challenging journeys over mountains and through jungles.
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Knox enchanted by the script; however Knox could also see that this movie might be extremely expensive to produce.
Frazier convinces Knox that it will pay off. After a serious consideration, Knox decided to produce Frazier’s movie with $50 million budget agreement. John Connor, one of Knox’s trusted vice presidents, act as the studio’s liaison with Frazier and to be executive producer on the film. Connor was a veteran of many years experienced in working with directors and budgets. The first major problem the film encountered involved casting. Frazier’s first signing was Cole Rogan, a famous actions star, to be one of the male leads.
Knox and Connor felt that Rogan was an asset because he had a reputation as a star who could “open” a film (audience would come to a movie just because he was in it). However, Frazier then decided to cast Frank Monaco as the other male lead. Monaco had made only a few films to date, and those were fluffy romantic comedies. Monaco had never proved himself in an epic adventure role, and he was an accomplished enough actor that he would make the rather wooden Rogan look bad. Knox suggests recasting Rogan’s role.
Unfortunately, it turned out that Frazier had signed Rogan to a “pay or play” deal, meaning that if the studio released Rogan from the project, the studio would have to pay him a considerable sum of money. Rogan was replaced by Marty Jones, an actor who had had some success in films but mostly in supporting roles. A few weeks after casting was completed, Frazier insists the majority of the production be filmed in the jungles of South America, rather than in the studio. Frazier also insists that he needed to bring along most of the crew that had worked on his previous films.
This also means that the budget will be increased. Knox agreed to raise the budget to $75 million as he was afraid of Frazier would go to another studio if he was not allowed to film on location in South America. Frazier, Connor, and the cast and crew headed off to the South American jungles for a scheduled two-month shoot. After two weeks had passed, Frazier was shooting scenes several times over- not because the actors or the crew were making mistakes, or because there was something wrong with the scene, but because the output just didn’t meet his artistic standards.
Also, because the filming locations were so remote, the cast and crew were spending nearly four hours of a scheduled seven hour workday traveling to and from location. The production was incurring huge overtime costs. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the progress showed that Monaco and Jones didn’t have any chemistry as a pair, and Gia Norman, the female lead characters, had such a heavy accent that most of her lines couldn’t be understood. As the troubles that come up, Knox headed to the location to meet with Frazier. Knox will put $5 million more into the movie and tell Frazier that the movie must be done within the budget.
Knox thought, Connor was doing a good job of reporting, but he didn’t seem to be doing much to correct the budget problems he was observing. After three and half month Frazier came back to California and started editing the film. He refused to allow anyone associated with the studio to be in the editing room. Three weeks into the editing Frazier ask that he want to hire a ship and bring the actors and crew back to perfecting the prologue which would cost the studio another additional cost. Knox agrees after he had a discussion with the board member.