Friday, August 05, 2005

Hazzardous Observations

Thankfully, the DoH movie is finally in theaters. Now can someone make the commercials stop? Please!

I continue to ask "Why?" as if I'm in complete bewilderment, even though I know the answer deep down. I just don't want to admit it.

I realize it's the 20th anniversary since DoH left the TV airwaves. (The last telecast was Friday, 8/16/1985 on CBS.) But is that a good enough reason?

I see that there was mild interest in the 2000 TV movie, "Hazzard in Hollywood," which first aired on Friday, 5/19/2000 on CBS. But only 5.8 million homes tuned in to watch "DoH: HiH." Even "Providence" drew more households (9.9 million homes) during the same time period. To make matters worse, only 100,000 fewer homes watched "The Best Commercials Never Seen 4" on ABC, which aired opposite "DoH: HiH." Does that mean we should put "The Best Commercials Never Seen" in theaters? Don't be silly. We already have. Don't the Fanta commercials deserve to be called some of the best ever?

I think it comes down to one simple thing. Demographics. (And we know all about exploiting demographics in TV.) I doubt the majority of moviegoers this weekend even saw "DoH: HiH" five years ago. That's because they would've been 10-14 at the time, and they wouldn't have been interested in the show and less interested in the actors.

All I can say is that movie execs have done it again. Take an old TV show with a strong fan base in the 30-something age group. Update the storyline, but don't change it too much. Maybe just enough to upset the old fan base to generate buzz and free advertising. Replace the old actors with actors that teens and tweens adore (Knoxville, Simpson). Throw in enough sentiment for the parents (Willie Nelson, Burt Reynolds). Advertise. Advertise. Advertise. Extreme press junket. And then, waalaa! A box office hit.

Looking for a recent similarity? How about "Starsky & Hutch?" It opened in theaters on March 5, 2004 with a similar formula. It grossed $28.1 million that first weekend (Exhibitor Relations). Since DoH is being released during the summer instead of March, I would expect the DoH movie to double that total this weekend. I also expect DoH's box office take to tail off quickly for the 2nd weekend.

Some will argue that an audience is ripe for the movie because CMT re-launched the series in February of this year to great numbers. (Nielsen Media company reports 23 million viewers tuned in that first weekend. The true meaning of that number is unclear to me since CMT showed a weekend marathon.) I call that re-launch part of a wonderful advertising campaign to prop up a poorly-reviewed movie.

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