MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks Of Summer: This Year’s $200 Million Movies So Far

As you can see, I have included a few titles that are not at $200m worldwide yet, but are guaranteed to get there. (numbers from BO Mojo)

Seven of the nine studio wide releases to date this summer have achieved this mark. Six have or are highly likely to pass $300m worldwide. (If you are wondering what the two outliers are, they are The Dictator, which is over $125m worldwide, and Chernobyl Diaries, which is not.)

If you want to know why summer at the movies looks like summer at the movies now looks, this is why.

As you all know, a couple of the $300m worldwide grossers will/could still be money losers. But studios would rather gamble big. And the joke that is the slump talk remains glaringly false. When over 75% of your releases are grossing over $300 million worldwide in a season, there is no problem with getting people to the movies. There are often problems with spending too much to make these films or to get the audience to the theater.

It is an odd curiosity, however, that of six $300m worldwide grossers so far this summer, only The Avengers is likely to hit $200m domestic and only four seem headed to $150m domestic or better. And though I see it as wildly reductive to blame international numbers primarily on 3D, only two of the six $300m ww grossers are non-3D.

Will Men in Black 3, just passing the $500m mark, be profitable for Sony? I don’t know. If the deals they had in place for MiB2 are still in place, maybe not. A whole lot came right off the top for the Exec Producer and one of the stars… not to mention smaller pieces to the director and co-star. (Note that TLJ was also not as present in MiB2 as he was in the original, just as he isn’t in MiB3. Not a development choice.) So maybe the deals were more favorable to Sony this time. (I believe they also had finding partners this time out.) But yes, you could gross $500m+ worldwide and still not make money… or make very little. Let’s hope for Sony that this is not the case here.

Part of the urge to chase big grosses with big budget films is what I call “Dark Knight Syndrome.” When any movie earns those kinds of dollars, the urge to chase with a sequel is enormous. In the case of Batman Begins, it was a terrific movie that underperformed the stronger history of Batman movies ($375m ww) and there was a massive payoff with The Dark Knight. But hey… G.I.:Joe, which sucked, did $300 million worldwide. So did the Clash of the Titans sequel. So how can you leave that audience base hanging? Worst case scenario, you make another bad movie and gross another $300 million. (Of course, the real worst is that people smell it coming and you do $127m worldwide the second time around… but you avert your eyes.) Best case, the movie explodes. This phenomenon was accelerated by Fast Five, which added The Rock and blew every prior F&F movie’s gross out of the water.

Remember when the sequel normally earned less than the original?

You have a good memory.

Here is a look at the summer-to-date vs my projections…

9 Responses to “20 Weeks Of Summer: This Year’s $200 Million Movies So Far”

  1. KrazyEyes says:

    Column headers are your friends.

  2. waterbucket says:

    I’m shocked at the success of American Reunion overseas. Good for them.

  3. Glenn says:

    waterbucker, never underestimate the effect of actors visiting overseas territories as a way of bolstering grosses.

  4. Foamy Squirrel says:

    It is an odd curiosity, however, that of six $300m worldwide grossers so far this summer, only The Avengers is likely to hit $200m domestic

    What is this? I don’t even?

  5. Yancy Skancy says:

    Foamy: I stumbled over that, too; I think he just meant that none of the other five would hit $200m domestic. But I didn’t check the math.

  6. Foamy Squirrel says:

    ..but there’s eight $300m worldwide grossers. And Lorax and Hunger have hit $200m domestic too.

    I seriously have no idea where DP was going with this.

  7. David Poland says:

    Summer, Foamy. Summer.

    I included the other titles for the sake of offering more information.

  8. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Then list them separately? Why put them in the same table as everything else and then be like “Oh, but they don’t count” and not say anything to that effect.

    Also “only The Avengers is likely to hit $200m domestic” is still a horribly constructed sentence.

  9. on_a_ledge says:

    @foamy no issues understanding here, get over it


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“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima

“They’re still talking about the ‘cathedral of cinema,’ the ‘communal experience,’ blah blah. The experiences I’ve had recently in the theatre have not been good. There’s commercials, noise, cellphones. I was watching Colette at the Varsity, and halfway through red flashes came up at the bottom of the frame. A woman came out and said, ‘We’re going to have to reboot, so take fifteen minutes and come back.’ Then they rebooted it from the beginning, and she had to ask the audience to tell her how far to go. You tell me, is that a great experience? I generally don’t watch movies in a cinema at all. Netflix is the future. It’s the present. But the whole paradigm of a series, binge-watching, it’s quite different. My first reaction is that it’s more novelistic, because if you have an eight-hour season, you can get into complex, intricate things. You can let it breathe and the audience expectations are such that they will let you, where before they wouldn’t have the patience. I think only the surface has been touched with experimenting with that.”
~ David Cronenberg