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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by Real Loose Klady

So, two big stories this weekend. First, Real Steel reaffirms that it is a family-choice movie and could end up holding a lot stronger domestically than expected from opening. Still, the film’s real profit potential is overseas.

Second, executives who couldn’t get a handle on selling their movies this weekend need not be worried for the industry… there wasn’t a veteran release in the Top 10 that dropped by more than 41%… and 4 of the 6 were between 25% and 31%. This is extraordinary.

Don’t get me wrong… unless Real Steel toughs it out, there still will not have been a film released since The Help, 2 months and a week ago, that has done or will do $100m domestic. (Whatever pressure Dreamworks may be feeling, right now they have the high bookends of the last 2 months, with War Horse next into battle… which they should be comforted by.) Puss in Boots and Tower Heist have a shot at cracking $100m, but we may have to wait almost another month, until Jack and Jill… or even Twilight-est : Episode One/Happy Feet 2 to get there again.

Is this cause for worry? No. Because most of the product in the last couple of months has been dumped. Contagion overcame. Warrior did not. Fox threw out two comedies as though they had a contagious disease and both were unsurprising flops. Footloose will be fine, like The Ides of March, Moneyball, and 50/50. A bit better than “fine” are (probably) Real Steel, Dolphin Tale, and Drive, in spite of the media wish that it had done better.

The biggest winner of the last two months was The Lion King 3D. Count on Titanic 3D doing great business as well, another mega-hit from over a decade ago. This will not save ubiquitous 3D… so stop writing headlines. (Tintin and Hugo can also be big 3D hits and not “save” thirty-five 3D releases a year.)

The only big bombs in this period, financially, were Dream House, Warrior, Bucky Larson, Sex & The Shitty, and the two Fox comedies. Not terribly unusual run of (fiscal) stiffs.

It’s lovely that Nikki Finke’s “been reporting how younger males — which used to be Hollywood’s target audience — have been no longer consistently (and indiscriminately) going to the movies since August.” But this is the same lie that comes out every single year after and right before the summer. It’s simply idiotic. Young males and females are still Hollywood’s target audience. They have never been indiscriminate. They may have crap taste, but they make clear choices. Or have we already forgotten the first quarter of 2011?

Apparently, some people think there is a switch on a satellite somewhere that makes teen boys stop and start going to bad movies. It’s not that there is a massive difference between the pitch on Hall Pass and the pitch on Horrible Bosses. It’s A Change In The Industry!!! You see, they were indiscriminate when they chose Captain America and Rise of the Apes, but forgot to be so in the week in the middle, when Cowboys & Aliens launched.

And if you want to point at a single movie that really works for this audience since Apes, be my guest.

What was this, the biggest, most consistent audience supposed to go see? Couldn’t sell them 30 Minutes or Less. Okay, what else ya got? Retreads. Conan, FD5, Fright Night… a shock-thriller-sell remake of a movie no one under 40 knows in Straw Dogs (which would have done better sold as a thinking man’s thriller). Did anyone really expect bigger numbers for a cancer dramedy… even a good one? Statham’s numbers are about right, given a new distributor. $25m on ABduction is a miracle and over $30m on Drive is a downright hit. As noted earlier, Real Steel went younger and succeeded in that goal.

So what exactly was supposed to bring out those young ticket buyers? In all of that mess, was the a single film that targeted young women well? Was there a single real hit for young men in the offing?

Show me the movies.

I am sick to death of people who have no interest in box office pretending to have insight, fed mush by people who clearly know better but spend every weekend of a failure erasing their tracks and every weekend of a hit taking too much credit.

In any case, thanks to Box Office Mojo for launching the Pedro Almodovar page, so we can see that The Skin I Live In is having a very solid opening for an Almodovar film. Because of screen counts and ticket pricing, it can be like comparing apples and oranges, but this looks like his best start aside from Volver, which came to market with months of Oscar-nom inevitability attached to star Penelope Cruz.

24 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by Real Loose Klady”

  1. Edward Wilson says:

    Interesting barometer: there isn’t a single $100M film in the current top-10.

  2. Joe Leydon says:

    So will Moneyball wind up outpacing Contagion in domestic gross?

  3. David Poland says:

    Not yet, Joe.

    But it’s done better than I expected… in part because it’s a good film (which I have always said) and in part because I didn’t take into full account how weak the market was for grown up films going into Moneyball. That was the core audience, not baseball fans or the like.

    And Contagion is a great film that was so haphazardly marketed that doing as well as it did is a minor miracle.

  4. anghus says:

    The ‘Sky is Falling’ box office thing is getting really, really old. It’s that weird thing where everybody expects year over year improvements even if the product isn’t as marketable.

    You’ll see so many people online writing about how last year in this slot Jackass 3D opened to 50 million. If they’d released Jackass 3D in 2011 vs. 2010, it would have done the same thing (more or less).

    For the past five or six years you keep seeing people writing about the box office from the perspective that the industry is a bad year or two away from not existing. “Holywood worried about Box Office” is a weird foundation to write a box office analysis from.

    Some years aren’t going to show growth. Or the growth will be marginal. Tabloid style panic headlines just show either a lack of industry history or a complete disregard for it. Either way, it’s just an eye roll inducing shock tactic. Can you take anyone seriously who rings the bell every few months that Hollywood is in a perpetual state of panic because this year Footloose opened to fifteen million and last year Jackass 3d opened to fifty?

  5. Joe Leydon says:

    “It’s that weird thing where everybody expects year over year improvements even if the product isn’t as marketable.”

    Actually, you can forgive some journalists for buying this idea — because that’s precisely the reasoning behind many newspaper closings. Seriously.

  6. Joe Leydon says:

    David: I agree, Moneyball certainly isn’t only for baseball fans. But it continues to generate a lot of conversations on sports talk radio. (The real Art Howe, you will not be at all surprised to hear, is not at all happy about his depiction in the film.) That must help, wouldn’t you agree? And if Columbia opts to buy another round of TV ads during the upcoming World Series, well…

  7. JKill says:

    I don’t think Art Howe (who I’ll admit I would have no idea of, if not for the film) comes off bad at all in MONEYBALL. He’s trying to keep his job and do things the way he’s been doing them. Yeah, he’s an obstacle for our two heroes, but he’s certainly not a bad guy, and as played by PSH and written, he’s pretty sympathetic.

    That’s a slim drop for IDES OF MARCH, if I do say so myself…

  8. anghus says:

    Joe, the idea of year over year growth exists in all industries. And it’s a faulty concept. Unfortunately sustainability and common sense seems less important than profit projections based on unrealistic growth models.

  9. Joe Leydon says:

    Anghus: Friend, you are preaching to the choir. Amen.

  10. berg says:

    Joe, how is it you’ve seen Man On The Train “several times” … do you mean more than twice? only recent French films I’ve watched more than once were Tell No One and Irreversible …. I sometimes confuse Patrice Leconte with Patrice Chéreau

  11. Joe Leydon says:

    Berg: They have this wonderful new entertainment marvel called DVD that allows you to watch a movie several times. Especially if you liked it a lot the first time.

    BTW: It was a subtle thing in the remake, but I appreciated the fleeting scene where Sutherland’s doc made sure the operation was not scheduled until noon. It reminded me of something an actor told me years ago: While researching his role in a medical drama, he had a surgeon tell him that docs seldom schedule really challenging operations early in the morning — because if the patient dies, it can bum you out for the rest of the day. Seriously.

  12. jennab says:

    Dave, hmmm. All I can offer is anecdotal evidence, but among my 16-year-old son and all his friends…and they could be an anomaly…they are just not that interested in movies.

    They hang out with each other, play video games, Skype & instant chat with the girls, watch tons of content on demand (skewing heavily Comedy Central with Workaholics, South Park, Chapelle’s Show), heavy rotations of YouTube videos (mostly music, rap, dubstep re-mixes, etc.).

    I just don’t think the theatrical experience is as central to the average teenage boy’s (or teens in general) existence as it was 20-30 years ago. I also believe there is some superhero fatigue, even among his geekier friends. Right now, the movie they seem to be most looking forward to is Dragon Tattoo.

    Ya know why? They all LOVE Fight Club and, believe it or not, Social Network and they know it’s the same director. Odd, because Fincher is not what I’d think of as the selling point for that quadrant.

    With so much competition for their time and attention, I would not be that dismissive of the notion that Hollywood is losing its lock on young males.

  13. David Poland says:

    Jennab – There are many more entertainment options for kids than there were 20-30 years ago…. clearly, obviously.

    Yet when a movie that interested that group lands in theaters, those movies do as well or better than they ever have.

    As we have continued through this media obsession with killing theatrical for nearly a decade, I continue to offer that teens will do all the things you mention… And then also go to the mall and see two movies a weekend, if their parents will fund it.

    As far as superheroes, the Marvel movies are a model of consistency. Every once in a while, they peak. But look at both Hulks, both films this summer, and X-Men and then the third tier of the films (Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Daredevil) and they all have about the same size audience, give or take a couple of million ticket buyers.

    None of them have been as big as Batman or Spider-Man. But none of them – save Elektra – have really tanked.

    Of course, they are into Fight Club and Fincher. I’m sure they all hated Ben Button, but went. And they need to rent Se7en.

    So… how many times do you think your son went to the movies in the last year? If the answer is more than 20, they have his attention. If the answer is fewer than 10, he needs to get out more. (smiley face emoticon)

  14. David Poland says:

    PS. At 16, your kid is on the second level of under 24s. There is a massive market for under-14s… perhaps the most consistent market.

    The films he wants to see are R rated. And the same is true of teen girls. Screen Gems has made a fortune very specifically on your son’s demo. Lionsgate has lived off of them as well.

  15. Bitplayer says:

    I think modern teenagers don’t have to go to the movies to cop a feel or whatever. Both parents work one or more jobs so they can do all the hanky panky they want at home. It should also be said that these movies suck. I wanted to go to the movies and have a good time I couldn’t be bothered because everything sucked.

  16. Joe Leydon says:

    Bitplayer: And those damn kids should stay off your lawn, right?

  17. cadavra says:

    Even the world’s dumbest cat will only sit on a hot stove so many times before the message finally sinks in. And I believe teens will only tolerate X number of genuinely shitty movies before they finally stop lining up like lemmings for each new “must-see” and start waiting until they hear yea or nay from less risk-averse friends.

  18. movielocke says:

    and that, cadavra, is why the former teens (now twenty-somethings) are a little less lemming like.

    The problem is you forgot that teen age ignorance is a renewable resource. Teenagers at any given moment have no institutional history to draw on because adolescence really is just a phase of the maturation process.

  19. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I’m always amused at the “make better movies” argument that always comes out when the box office goes down a bit. As if it’s easy to churn out content that enchants audiences on demand.

    Sometimes it’s a poor idea, sometimes it’s a lack of taste for what people like, sometimes it’s a lack of talent to authentically craft the film to look like how you think about it in your head. Sometimes it’s some douchenozzle who can ensure it doesn’t get released until *these* changes are made. Not that many people start out with the intention of making a giant turd (although some do… those wags…)

    And then you get the Warriors vs Chipmunks where audiences stay away in droves, or flock to lowest-common-denominator stuff. You get the various “2/3 of the top X are Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes!” vs. “2/3 of the top X+2 are Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes!” as an argument of people preferring/disliking quality.

    That’s how the industry rolls folks – as Bill Goldman says “Nobody knows anything”. Although I *do* wonder why there was a post-credits teaser for Dragonball: Evolution… did they really think enough people would hang around to make it worthwhile?

  20. David Poland says:

    Thing is, when you a kid, you really want cotton candy every time you can get it. Yes, part of it is that you aren’t eating it every day… or you’d get sick of that too. But you’d move on to Snickers bars, not to wheatgrass juice.

    Whether we old guys like it or not, a generation will remember the second set of Star Wars films is THEIR Star Wars films and love them like we may have loved and revered the originals. And it’s nit because they are brain damaged.

  21. al says:

    No, that’s unlikely to happen to anyway near the same extent that the older generation LOVE THEIR STAR WARS if only because the kids of today have a million other things going. I can’t imagine that the prequels would impress the younger generation more than, say Star Trek or Avatar.

  22. Desslar says:

    Or that generation will hate Jar Jar Binks exactly the same way their parents hated Ewoks.

  23. hcat says:

    Watching Cowboys and Aliens trying to cross 100 million these last few weeks is like watching the fat kid trying to climb the rope in gym class.

  24. Rob says:

    Ha. Same with Bad Teacher a few weeks ago.

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