By David Poland email@example.com
Friday Estimates By You Will Not Be Prepared Klady
March 19, 2004 – Dawn of the Dead – $10.9m opening day – $102.4m worldwide total
March 9, 2007 – 300 – $28.1m opening day – $456m worldwide total
March 6, 2009 – Watchmen – $24.5m opening day – $185.3m worldwide total
March 25, 2011 – Sucker Punch – $7.9m opening day – ? worldwide total
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is another Snyder film for WB. September 24, 2010 – $4.5m opening day – $140m worldwide.
Will McZ’s Superman be his Terminator Salvation? (ironic that the last SuperMess was in pre-production with McG before production issues – including fear of flying – pulled the plug at the last minute.)
And for those who suck at the teat of Mr. Robinov and are looking for a whipping boy to move the stench to this morning, dare I point out that Kick-Ass‘s opening day was $7.7m, just a couple of hundred thousand off of Sucker Punch, in spite of 10s of million more spent on Sucker Punch‘s domestic marketing campaign? Perhaps Scott Pilgrim vs The World was the example of a greater fiscal failure that execs were reaching for this morning… the difference being that there were some non-Geek fans of the work in that film (including me), even if U couldn’t figure out how to find them and get them to the box office.
It’s odd. I have no personal animus against Zack Snyder. But the “visionary director” advertising tag on his third film… that did put his head on the chopping block. And as I wrote, his version of the film was better than what was released. But that’s not really a testament to his skill. He should have made a better movie that could be released under the terms to which he agreed with the studio. And then, if he wanted to do the 3:15 version after that, so be it. He signed up for a shorter film (300 was under 2 hours) and if he couldn’t make it, he shouldn’t have signed up.
Ridley Scott’s version of Kingdom of Heaven and Scorsese’s cut of Gangs of New York remain prime examples of studios interfering with superior work, trying to make it more commercial… and failing. But neither could have been unexpected from those directors. Their films were simplified into relative baby food. But we’re talking about political, heavily-character driven period films from two true visionary directors. (Scorsese’s wasn’t about the length, it was about the audience getting every detail… ugh.)
If there is an hard-R-rated Sucker Punch in there somewhere… a CG Showgirls… I bet it would have caught more critical imaginations, if not more brickbats from feminists. And there may well be more length. This one is, officially, 2 hours exactly. And PG-13. In other words, the studio appears to have demanded some tighter rules for Snyder going in, seeking to amp up the commerciality. Unless the international is triple domestic – which could happen, but is extremely unlikely – it didn’t work.
I think that if Mr. Robinov wants to make Superman his fifth film with Snyder, who is batting .250 for the studio and is putting off the sequel to his only money maker to do Superman, he should commit to resigning if Snyder’s Supes doesn’t crack $500 million.
Looking at the last three years at WB, they’ve had 17 domestic $100m movies. Four were from New Line, which has been shuttered and then reshuttered. One is from Alcon. One was a distribution deal on Terminator Salvation. Two were Potters. One was Batman. One was Nolan’s Inception… all hail. Two were from Todd Phillips, who got massive backend to make up for having to fight hard to get Hangover money ($35m), which the studio split it with Legendary. And one was from Eastwood, who did get money from the studio, but works on a creative raft, doing as he sees fit.
That leaves Sherlock Holmes, Clash of the Titans, Get Smart, and Watchmen… the four $100m domestic grossers that WB really developed in-house in the last three years. Of those, Sherlock Holmes did $525 million worldwide and could be a solid franchise for a while. Clash came in just under $500 million, but is a major box office hit for the studio. Get Smart was just over breakeven and Watchmen lost.
I’m not saying that the studio and Robinov don’t deserve credit for the other success they have had. After all, they got into the movies they got into and even films like Inception and Due Date, which were pay-off films for directors doing projects expected to do even more, were funded and well sold. I guess my point is that the studio is not exactly swinging for the fences in recent years. Their list of successes looks a lot better than some of the other studios, but Harry Potter, Christopher Nolan, and Todd Phillips are responsible for more than half of the domestic gross of WB’s $100m class of films in the last three years. In that same period, McZ’s hit red ink twice and looks like he’s heading for a third time… with no black ink to be found since 300.
As Potter ends and Nolan is positioned for a fourth Batman film (doesn’t seem likely, really, does it?) or the next surprise phenom, a studio starved for franchises (Batman is still Batman, Sherlock is really the last new one standing… fingers crossed on Green Lantern), they are handing the keys on Superman over to Snyder, even though he has shown, time and again, that without Scottish abs, he can’t find a female audience.
I guess I understand better why Guillermo del Toro is upset about losing his funding after thinking about this call. (GdT would have made something great out of material like Sucker Punch, I bet. Dark and truly tragic. And every bit as visually compelling.)
Wimpy Kid 2 is doing almost exactly what Wimpy Kid 1 did. That meant $65m domestic last time out.
Relativity (formerly Overture) has its biggest hit in Limitless and will break into Overture’s Top 4 all-time today, perhaps breaking into the Top 3 and looking to be the #2 hit in either company’s portfolio. (Of course, Relativity doesn’t want to have Overture’s baggage hanging over them… but it’s much of the same team at the newly launched Relativity distribution company.) The film will likely be in the Top Ten for films released in the first quarter of 2011, which is a small victory for some, but a significant landmark for Relativity, likely to be the only independent distributor with a $50m domestic grosser before the summer.
Rango hits $100 million today.
For what it’s worth, Paul will be Simon Pegg’s biggest Simon Pegg-written movie (of 3) domestically by Monday evening and is probably heading towards being his biggest worldwide as well, making it a little profitable.