Avengers: Endgame made $1.2B last weekend and Bernie Sanders wants Disney to spend it on raises that will give all their employees a middle-class wage

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/05/01/truly-heroic.html


I like the idea, but just to keep the terms of ‘profit’ and ‘revenue’ clear, of that $1.2B in revenue, I think it actually made (profited) about $700M, as it cost about $350M to make and $150M to market.


Many of the Marvel movies have made over $1B globally and the franchise has been very profitable for Disney, but they don’t put the money into a large pile and then dole it out, the way Bernie is apparently imagining. Disney is a gigantic company whose profits support a gigantic workforce. Their profits support all of that infrastructure and balancing losses from not-as-successful investments like Dumbo or Blue Sky Studios.

As well as Walt Disney World, which is a much, much larger win for their union. But Bernie didn’t really contribute to that.


What’s tRump call him, Crazy Bernie? My kind’a crazy, I guess…


I agree however the problem is that “properly” set up movies never make a profit.


Quick…everyone hold your breath on this one.

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I’m sure that whenever a movie loses money, the workers will be expected to share in the loss, too.


Why? The execs certainly don’t seem to share in the loss when they bomb companies.


Isn’t the 1.2 billion also the box office take? I.e. the amount the theaters, third-party distributors and Disney collectively made? (Which would be a lot less than $700 million in profit.)

Still though, they’re obviously rolling in cash.


Figuring out how much movies cost or make is way more complex than Bernie’s take of “why not give your workers 1.5 billion”. Most estimates put the cost to make Endgame at around $300-$400 million, and the marketing cost for a movie this size is a ballpark 2/3 or so of its production cost. So say around $600 million to make and market.

But then you have all of the sponsorships – every brand that pays Marvel to do a tie-in campaign. Google Pixel paid to do Avengers emojis, Geico ran Avengers ads, Audi filmed a special Captain Marvel spot, Hertz did their own car ads… it was pretty gigantic. So their $200 million for marketing might have been more or less totally offset by brand tie ins.

In the end, Marvel/Disney is indeed rolling in cash. But how much cash needs some super complex accounting work.


Yeah, “Hollywood accounting” works so well because their real costs are so complex, especially on big movies like this. On top of which, whatever their actual costs, $1.2 billion doesn’t even remotely represent Disney’s income, either. I always get annoyed when movie box office is represented in dollars rather than tickets, because it’s so meaningless. Movies released in China, for example, go through local companies that, along with the local theaters, end up taking 75% (at least) of the box office money (and the local distributors and theaters don’t even take on any of the advertising costs there, apparently).


Side topic:
Remember when the 2017 big tax cut went through and a few businesses got LOTS of publicity because, due to their tax cut, they were giving bonuses and/or raises?

Well, the tax cut wasn’t only effective for 2018, right?
Those businesses got that same tax cut AGAIN this year.

Where’s all the bonuses and raises from this year’s tax savings?

It’s almost like the bonuses/raises were a stunt and they knew people would forget about the fact that the tax cut would happen for the business every year but their bonus only came once.

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What do you mean? I’m sure the top level executives gave themselves some great bonuses and raises.


Eh, I don’t have any need now to go see any of these mega expensive, mega silly movies any more. I have the Ryan George Pitch Meetings to tell me all I need to know about them.

Don’t disagree with the crux of your comment, but Bernie’s tweet didn’t mention 1.5 billion (or any weekend profit figure for Endgame). Neither did the Bloomberg article he linked to.

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Exactly. What the hell are customers for?

He didn’t mention a specific number because the film keeps earning money, true. His exact quote was, “What would be truly heroic is if Disney used its profits from Avengers to pay all of its workers a middle class wage.” And, since Disney’s unions already won the fight for a $15 minimum wage, they’ll literally be doing that.

I know everyone’s excited about Avengers: Endgame – that’s why Bernie mentioned Disney now – but I’m pretty sure his point was not to invite an orgy of hand-raising about that specific film.

The point is that Disney made $12.6 billion in profit last year – after they paid all their bills, they had $12,598,000,000 left over to spend however they wanted. And yes we all know that accounting isn’t quite that simple, but that cuts both ways: if they wanted to pay a $60,000 bonus to every single employee, they absolutely could make that happen and still be in business.

The point is that, after all the excuses, a company like this ends the year with a fuck-ton of excess money that it freely chooses how to disburse. Yes, they are free to give it all to investors and executives, but the thing to never lose sight of is that it is a choice. It’s not some grand economic or moral principle in action. It’s just an ordinary person saying “well, I’m the last one holding the collection plate, so I’m giving it to the charity that pays my grocery bill”.

They have been for years. Who gets laid off when there is a downturn? Looking at some quick numbers Disney hasn’t turned a quarterly profit under a billion dollars since at least the first quarter of 2006.

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