I was talking with my son recently and we were discussing the new “Avengers: Endgame” movie- the “top-grossing” movie of all time. Since I haven’t seen it and have no plans to, it was that lofty status I was trying to understand. I mean, it’s a movie about comic book characters. Certainly it is entertaining, and as my son explained, it is the last in a series that has ALL the super-heroes- but the top movie of all time?
“Was it better than Star Wars?” Not the first ones. “Lords of the Rings?” No.
So how does a movie about comic books- which is not even the best movie of its genre- become #1 all-time? I remembered a conversation I had on an airplane more than thirty years ago.
I was flying from Los Angeles to Houston, and found myself seated next to a young fellow that worked for Billboard magazine. He explained he was a “grunt-level” executive on a trip back East. He liked to cash in his business class tickets and pocket the difference.
He opened his briefcase and handed me a copy of Billboard and pointed out it was next week’s edition. I didn’t really read Billboard, but I thumbed through it interestedly. As I arrived at the charts, as I perused the list, I must have indicated by some sound or gesture my disagreement with some of the rankings.
He asked what was wrong, and I said I just didn’t understand how some of these songs were popular. He asked which ones and when I pointed to one, he said “Nobody likes that crap!” I pointed to another one and he agreed again that the song is no good.
Now I was confused. “Well, I guess enough people like it? For it to be on the list?”
He then pointed at the number one song, which was Madonna’s Crazy for You. “How do you think that song got number one?” he asked.
“Record sales.” (everybody knew that) “Nope”, he replied.
“Radio airplay?” “What is that?” he asked. “The number of times a song gets played on the radio” I said. “Nobody knows that” he said. “If anybody knows that, they don’t tell us.”
Seeing I was out of guesses, he said “That is a Geffen Records song. Geffen spent $85,000 on advertising in Billboard this month. If you got 85 g’s- you can have the number one song in the country, Jack.- With a bullet!” (an old phrase for a fast-rising song on the charts).
That little tidbit was an epiphany for me. When you see a proclamation that something is the #1 automobile, restaurant, or NY Times bestseller- that’s how it works.
When my dad was in that dread hospital- the one that “cured” his heart-valve but screwed everything else up- you will see just inside the entrance, several blue-ribbon wall insignias indicating #1 excellence in several categories.
And then you might notice these are awards from US News & World Report. I wonder how much advertising CHI St. Luke’s buys in US News & World Report?
Buyer beware. Remember…
4 out of 5 dentists surveyed said that stuff is the best. That should be all you need to know.