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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Friday Estimates by Step-Up Klady

So…

It seems to be fair to say that The Dark Knight Rises paid a price at the box office for the murders in Aurora from Sunday through Thursday of this last week. But the Friday number… not so clear. If you look back at the last Olympics opening night, numbers were low that night also, though no one opened against the event… the two wide-release films that opened that week, opened on Wednesday. Also, TDKR is less than 7% off of TDK at this point in their respective runs.

I think it’s safe to say that this film doesn’t have the mania around it that the last one had and that, like the final Star Wars film, it was always destined to do 10% (or more) less than the biggest film in the cycle… even if it wrapped things up and it felt like that’s what everyone would want to see.

I should also point out that the price hikes that journalists throw around without much thought are mostly a product of the 3D bump, not base ticket prices. So, on real ticket prices for this non 3D, but often IMAX film, I’d say the increase from the last film in the series is realistically no more than 4%.

Anyway… it’s still early in the life of the film and really, if the movie does 10% less than The Dark Knight, I will have two thoughts. First… that’s pretty impressive. There could have been real panic and a 10% drop doesn’t suggest that real panic occurred. Second, I wouldn’t have been shocked by that kind of drop-off even without Aurora occurring.

As for the two films that chose to open against The Olympics opening night… what were they thinking?

Still, if Step Up Revolution – opened by Summit, not Disney for the first time – opens to $12m, that’s right in step with the history of the series, which has shown diminishing returns each time out. Blaming Aurora for this one is moronic.

As for The Watch… there is a long list of reason why this isn’t so shocking, though certainly not thrilling for Fox. Does the audience know what the film really is, aside from 3 familiar guys wise-cracking? Is it a spin Ghostbusters? Is it the SNL sketch where the guys tell increasingly dirty jokes and break into some song in between? Is there any reason why any woman would go to this film or allow themselves to be taken to this film?

It’s also easy to forget that Vaughn and Stiller, both hugely successful in the past, are a bit out of practice, not to mention that they are now 42 and 46, respectively… a dangerous time for movie stars. Vaughn’s last comedy was The Dilemma, preceded by the more successful, but similarly irrelevant Couples Retreat, Four Christmases, and Fred Claus. Stiller co-fronted Tower Heist, which still only opened to $24m, and his last live-action studio comedies before that – aside from Fockers 3 – was 2008’s Tropic Thunder (with fresh-off-Iron-Man Downey) and The Heartbreak Kid, which opened to $14m. I’m not saying they are “over.” I think that’s overstating the situation. The right role and they are both still audience favorites. But they are not sure-fire and you certainly cannot take each star’s guaranteed opening in the teens and add them together for a new guaranteed open level. And Jonah Hill, who often steals the movie, opened The Sitter to $10m last year.

Again, there may be some reluctance after Aurora, but this film opening to $12m or so isn’t big proof of anything… it really asks more questions than it answers. And just attaching a recent tragedy to the number is lazy and a bit stupid.

All that said, I would not be shocked if on a planet where we could really come up with a truthful numerical study of how the box office is being affected by Aurora this weekend showed that there was a 5% – 10% price being paid across the board. That’s not nothing. But it’s not a game-changer either. And it allows us to imagine that by next week, the issue, in terms of moviegoing, will be moot.

But this is one of those hindsight stories. We will all be smarter about it in a few months, when we can look at this month’s numbers in perspective and get a real, not hyperactive, sense of the impact of the Aurora tragedy.

The indies are having a nice weekend. Nothing is breaking big. But nice numbers.

47 Responses to “Friday Estimates by Step-Up Klady”

  1. anghus says:

    I think we have our first salient example of “there’s no such thing as bad press”

    I don’t know what you do if your warners. If they don’t crack 400 could you hang a 50 to 100 million dollar loss on bad press?

    And does anyone realistically think theres a prayer of a best picture nomination?

  2. bulldog68 says:

    Thought TDKR would have held up a bit better this weekend, but still can’t wrap my head around some of the reporting that this is a disastrous run thus far. Third biggest 8 day gross, behind only Avengers and TDK. Only in this era can a $400m movie be viewed as a disappointment.

  3. chmoye says:

    It’s only a “disappointment” in light of all the people who said a) it would break the opening weekend record and b) it would gross over $600 million. The age of expectations is killing the movie industry.

  4. eric mayher says:

    As usual David your box office reporting is right on, I dont often agree with your opinions on movies but when it comes to talking about the movie industry itself and box office you are a refrehing calm down from the doom and gloom of a lot of other websites. It’s amazing how so many of them are talking about the Dark Knight Rises like it is a a major dissapointment or something. Even without the trajedy in Colorado it wasn’t likely to make more than the Avengers or even the Dark Knight.In fact right now the movie it should be compared box office wise to is Harry POtter DH part 2 and after a weaker opening it is now pacing ahead.Of course I am just talking domestic because the worldwide for Harry is much bigger but still.

  5. Joe Leydon says:

    Ironically, at the same time expectations for movie grosses are rising, expectations for TV ratings are… well, evolving. I was amused while reading the Entertainment Weekly story about the new Dallas, and noting this comment by Larry Hagman: “I’m used to having 18, 20 million viewers. And now we’re having 4 and 7 million. They tell me that’s extraordinarily good, so I’ll just go along with that. But compared to what it used to be, we’d be off the air.”

  6. Gradystiles says:

    David, you’re right regarding The Watch’s campaign. What moron made the decision to hide the aliens and just make it “hey, look, it’s 3 dudes you recognize plus some other random dude hanging out”? Also, why in the world is this thing rated R? Never could tell from the ads.

  7. etguild2 says:

    I think TRANNIES 2 is a great comparison. Judging by those numbers, TDKR is still on pace to hit $400 million, and that film had much strong competition like Harry Potter 5 and Ice Age 3 opening after it.

    A lot of people will see the movie eventually, the buzz is sensational….and least what I see on Facebook, person after person saying it is the “GREATEST MOVIE EVER.” Regardless, it will be at $500 million worldwide at the end of the weekend so profitability is assured.

    Re: Step Up Revolution at Summit, why is Lionsgate keeping Summit as a separate entity, more like a dependent? Summit has had a disastrous year, the marketing for their movies has been terrible since Source Code, and they have nice potential hits coming up in Perks of Being a Wallflower and Alex Cross that they seem in danger of squandering.

  8. LYT says:

    I know you mean Transformers 2, but right now I really wish there were a big studio movie called TRANNIES 2

  9. bulldog68 says:

    I was seeing a lot of the later Watch spots highlighting them playing around with a supposedly dead alien and the exploding cow, so I think they tried. The trailers just did not look very funny, and as David said, opening against the Opening ceremonies of Olympics and the 2nd weekend of TDKR is a real head scratcher.

    I’m also a bit jaded with Vaughn’s rapid words per minute delivery. Wish he would start playing a character instead of himself in every movie. I liked him The Cell. There is no reason he can’t be doing a few dramas like The Lincoln Lawyer or Limitless in between his comedies. He’s not known as a comedian per se, so the switch to dramas would be easier for him than Sandler or Stiller.

  10. LexG says:

    When I worked at a place that transcribed current release movies, when a new Vince Vaughn movie came in, everyone would call off or disappear to lunch, because you knew you’d lose a fucking fortune cuz that shit would take FOREVER to fucking type out; Guy next to you would be working on some old Western all breezing along, you’re stuck there 18 hours typing out all Vaughn’s fucking motormouth bullshit. He and Robert Altman movies (with that overlapping dialogue) were the two hardest things to work on, ever.

  11. Big G says:

    Sad to say, but a lot of my fellow Americans are such wussies. You probably have a better chance of getting struck by lightning ten times then you do of getting killed at a movie theatre by some copycat psycho.

    And what about Channing Tatum having three $100 million grossers in one year? I know our David hates when people do this, but if ticket prices were the same in 1985 as they are today, Chevy Chase would have had three $100 million hits as well. Spies Like Us ($130 million), Fletch ($113 million), and European Vacation ($110 million). With the obvious exception of Eddie Murphy, there was no bigger comedy movie star at the time than Chevy Chase.

  12. movieman says:

    Bulldog- I sometimes forget that Vaughn actually began his film career as a largely dramatic (“Clay Pigeons,” “A Cool, Dry Place,” “Return to Paradise,” “The Locusts,” etc.) rather than comic actor.
    I wonder how many fans of “The Wedding Crashers,” et al know that he even played Norman Bates in Gus van Sant’s 1998 “Psycho” carbon-copy-with-color (and a little nudity).
    For that matter, how many fans of “The Wedding Crashers” have even heard of the van Sant or, gulp, Hitchcock “Psycho”?

  13. spassky says:

    The real question on everyone’s mind: is Big G in fact Ed Rendell?

  14. cadavra says:

    “not to mention that they are now 42 and 46, respectively… a dangerous time for movie stars.”

    Slight correction: a dangerous time for movie stars still beating that arrested-development dead horse. Maybe if they tried playing actual adults (like Downey, Pitt, Wahlberg, Craig and, on a different scale, Clooney and Baldwin), they might fare a little better.

    As for TDKR’s “disappointing numbers”–I’m reminded of a saying that goes at least as far back as the very first “Star Trek” movie: “It made money everywhere except people’s minds.”

  15. christian says:

    Somebody is invested in getting everybody to worry whether the studio made a billion dollars or almost a billion dollars off one film. Is that a struggling economy?

  16. movieman says:

    I surprised myself by having a really good time at the new “Step Up” (it’s the first one I’ve enjoyed since the Channing Tatum original).
    It’s nearly as much fun in a guilty pleasure sort of way as Lucinda Dickey’s “Breakin'” movies from the 1980s.
    The 3-D was actually noticeable–even for depth perception-impaired moi.

  17. If you want a fine ‘human-level’ performance from Vince Vaughn, check out the painfully under-seen Thumbsucker. Everyone (Vaughn, Keanu Reeves, Tilda Swinton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lou Taylor Pucci, Benjamin Bratt, etc.) is terrific and it’s among the very best ‘quirky young man comes of age’ movies and ennobles a genre that I tend to loathe. As for the ‘effect of the shootings’, I’d argue it’s pretty minimal. I’ve long believed that The Dark Knight Rises was (in my opinion) never going to approach the ‘lighting in a bottle’ results of The Dark Knight and after last weekend’s very Harry Potter/Twilight-esque opening weekend, I wasn’t sure it would hit $400 million. It probably will now, thanks to relatively strong weekday numbers and a smaller drop than HP7.2, but it could be a squeaker. It’s looking to do about 75% of The Dark Knight’s domestic business, which is pretty darn terrific considering it’s not a sensation this time around. The Watch was a bad sell and was always a dicey proposition while Step Up 4 is doing just a little less than Step Up 3 (without the Disney marketing might this time). Until we see a film that theoretically should have been a smash that inexplicably under-performs, especially something action-centric, there is no reason to presume any major effect from last weekend’s shooting. If The Expendables II opens with $20 million in three weeks, then I’ll be worried (Total Recall is not a test case as there is absolutely no buzz going into the week before opening). Until then, I’d argue it’s so-far business as usual, give or take the Olympics.

  18. Big G says:

    TDKR might not even top The Hunger Games $406 million domestic gross. Thought for sure it would do at lease $500 million. And yes, I am in fact Ed Rendell.

  19. Krillian says:

    I hate the whole “Americans are scared to go to the movies” narrative, but dang, it has to be a factor. Wusses. I finally caught Spider-Man and thought it was great. it was in that middle area between the Avengers cartooniness and Batman’s broodiness. Really liked the relationships. Peter and Gwen, Peter and his aunt and uncle, etc.

  20. movieman says:

    “Thumbsucker” is a terrific movie, Scott.
    I like it even better than “Beginners,” Mike Mills’ follow-up film.

  21. JKill says:

    THUMBSUCKER is a pretty great movie, with an especially fun performance from Keanu Reeves where he gets to show a side of him he rarely gets to play with on film. It’s probably lumped in with other indie coming of ages movies from that time period (like THE CHUMSCRUBBER) but it’s the best of those, in my opinion Also, the compositions and music were wonderful. I hope Mills takes less time between movies after BEGINNERS.

  22. anghus says:

    I never want to be one of those doom and gloom box office types. But the Dark Knight Rises has been impacted by the tragedy. You cant put a number to it. There will never be any proof. But every story since day one has been intertwined with tragedy. There wasnt even a single untainted weekend to discuss the movie as a film or as a potential phenomenon, or non phenomenon.

    Maybe there wasnt lightning in a bottle again. Maybe Avengers stole ots thunder. Its still making money. Its not like the box office plummeted with a nose dive. But how can anyone think the 24 hour news cycle associating the film with tragedy hasnt had an impact is erring on the side of caution. Because well never know.

  23. martin s says:

    It’s anecdotal, but the TDKR running time turned off a lot demo-target people that I know who would usually go opening weekend. When you’ve got to plan an entire day around seeing a movie and have no room for leeway, it becomes a PITA. Add Colorado, and you’ve got an unspoken alibi to wait it out.

    I’m still surprised WB let Nolan come in at that length and didn’t ask for a Deathly Hollows scenario. But on the other hand, I’m sure they’re glad they didn’t. Could you imagine what kind of cultural fright point a TDKR Pt2 opening would have become?

  24. bulldog68 says:

    Cadavra add Damon (42) and Affleck (40) to that bunch as well of actors who did not get stuck playing the everlasting man child.

    I still have not seen We Bought a Zoo, but Damon’s father role in Contagion was an understated great performance, and he was the heart of the movie. Affleck has been solid in The Town, and even the forgettable State of Play. The upcoming Argo also looks very interesting.

    Also, very glad we did not get TDKR1 & 2. It would have seen like an obvious gimmick and cheap cash grab. Which is what Twilight seems like. Potter seemed more natural, but that’s just subjective.

    I think TDKR gets to $425. It’s not dropping as fast as HP2 and will be ahead of Hunger Games by at least $35-$40m after two weekends. It will leg it out.

  25. Triple Option says:

    I’m not sure it’s people being afraid of going to the movies as it is sort of a depressing thought to go to the movies.

    The Watch was a crappy movie. None of the ads I saw made it look like anything more than a rental, at best. It turned out to be even less imaginative or original than expected. It was so half assed, I really had a hard time believing anyone didn’t have enough pride to say we gotta step our game up with this.

  26. Joe Leydon says:

    I note this with melancholy, not snark nor mockery: There was a time when even on a Saurday night, one could find several more posts on a thread like this, and sometimes animated give and take that would continue to the wee small hours. Wonder if the novelty of intelligent and/or enthusiastic conversation on blogs like this has… no, I don’t want to go there. Don’t want to think that.

  27. bulldog68 says:

    Or maybe we might be finding out that we can talk to people that are actually in the same room with us Joe. Just saying. Besides, the only reason you’re home is because you paid your mechanic. :-)

  28. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Joe – one of the reasons I haven’t been around as much lately is I’ve just picked up a new role, so even more middle-of-nowhere consulting for 5 days a week. >.<

  29. GexL says:

    Leydon: some of us are out on a Saturday night getting laid. Or, going to a movie.

  30. leahnz says:

    my fave vaughn perf is still Ricky in ‘made’, one of the leading candidates for ‘cinema’s most annoying friends’, with his motormouth in high gear. he’s classic in that.

  31. bulldog68 says:

    When an actor has a particular speaking style, and I’m assuming the source material for all VV’s roles did not call for a motormouth originally, do they rewrite the script with him in mind, or does he have a guy or assistant that he brings in to make sure that the script is doctored so that he has 200 words to say on 20 seconds?

  32. Geoff says:

    Looks like TDKR has a big jump on Saturday – it’ll still have a 60% drop this weekend but you cannot discount the Olympics. People forget that back in ’96 when the Atlanta games had a HUGE opening ceremony night (apparently the London one on Friday had an even bigger audience), it completely clobbered the box office that weekend including chopping off grosses from Independence Day just two weeks after it came out. $425 million domestic is looking pretty strong at this point…..but yeah, forget about a Best Picture nomination.

  33. Krillian says:

    Made features Sean Combs giving his best line-read ever. “You turned an Easter egg hunt into a butt-f***-a-thon!”

  34. etguild2 says:

    I wouldn’t totally discount a Best Picture nom. Each year since the awards expansion we’ve had a pre-September nominee and the only other contender so far is BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, which seems a bit too niche.

    And yeah, this fall does look pretty stacked but we won’t know till the movies are released. Then again if a critically acclaimed super-blockbuster was worthy of a nomination recently it was last year’s POTTER finale. So I guess there’s that.

  35. movieman says:

    et-
    My dream would be a Best Picture nomination for “Moonrise Kingdom.”
    But that’s probably not going to happen as surely as Jack Black won’t be receiving a Best Actor nod for “Bernie.”

  36. etguild2 says:

    Yeah I would like that too for MOONRISE movieman, but I think it’s a bit too polarizing. I’ve talked to quite a few people who hated it, and it seems many on this blog do.

    Agree also about Black in BERNIE, though it’s a minor miracle that it’s become Linklater’s top grossing indie, and the film is probably going to leg it out to $9 million. Only Woody, MOONRISE, MARIGOLD and SALMON FISHING have managed that this year in limited release, and all of them played in at least 500 theatres, and there seemed liked hardly any advertising for BERNIE in comparison.

  37. movieman says:

    et-
    Wes Anderson seems long overdue for some serious Oscar love.
    Maybe “Moonrise” will do the trick. Or maybe not.
    I (optimistically) hope that some older Academy members might warm to it more than they did some of his previous films.
    But who really knows?
    They’re probably more likely to vote for a mediocrity like “Marigold Hotel.”
    And I’m also surprised, and more than a little delighted, at how well “Bernie” has performed. Especially, as you said, virtually sans advertising.
    Searchlight should be kicking themselves for not acquiring distribution rights when they had the chance. “Bernie” looks like “TDKR” compared w/ “Lola Versus” or “The Sound of My Voice,” and could very well outgross “Ruby Sparks” which I just don’t see breaking out the way they’d like it to.

  38. sanj says:

    only Wes Anderson has done a dp/30 for Moonrise Kingdom – there’s a lot of big name actors in the movie and the teens and none of them have come to DP to help promote the thing.

    kinda helps if the actors take a little bit of time in promoting it against the biggest blockbusters…

    Safety Not Guaranteed is at 92% on RT .

  39. christian says:

    I’m always fascinated how something like BERNIE, which seemed destined to slip away, found an audience. With barely no advertising. This is the magic ingredient that no box office wonk can ever divine.

  40. cadavra says:

    Bulldog, you’re right about Damon and Affleck, of course, but I wasn’t trying to be comprehensive.

    BTW, I went to WE BOUGHT A ZOO with great trepidation; despite being a Crowe film, it seemed like it might be one of those icky family-falls-in-love-with-cute-animal movies. But it’s terrific: uplifting and positive without being smarmy or sugar-coated; heck, even Johansson is good. This is exactly the kind of intelligent, across-the-board family film that people always yammer doesn’t get made anymore, and then of course don’t attend when they do get made. (That lunatic Ted Baehr condemned the film because–I kid you not–it shows the family working hard to achieve their goal instead of waiting for God to help them!) And this is why we get pictures like THE WATCH.

  41. LexG says:

    Don’t forget Little Elle being CUTE!

  42. cadavra says:

    I won’t, Lex, she’s mighty nice as well. (Albeit not in the way you mean, of course.)

  43. leahnz says:

    vaughn doesn’t really motormouth like he used to, does he? (no offence krillian honest, but it’s not like pdiddy has some great body of line readings to choose from in singling out that one as best ever, but it is pretty fucking funny – he’s kinda perfect in that movie actually, but then again i find ‘made’ in general a bit of a gem)

    just to say i also dug ‘we bought a zoo’ as a good old-fashioned cool funny sweet family film, i took my little goddaughter to the fancy gold lounge (her first gold lounge) to see it and she really liked it, she loves animals and she was riveted – and i enjoyed it too, so a film than can warm the hearts of kids and adults alike is doing something right. (i still haven’t seen ‘moonrise kingdom’, hopefully rectifying that soon)

  44. Joe Leydon says:

    Must admit I thought We Bought a Zoo was going to be, if not a monster hit, then at least a lot more of a box-office draw than it was. I realize that a $75 million domestic gross isn’t anything to sneeze at — well, not unless your budget was $200 million or more — but as others have indicated, this was the sort of family film that a lot of families would have liked if only they’d actually bothered to see it. Hope they catch up with it on homevideo and cable.

  45. bulldog68 says:

    @Joe, when you open smack dab in the middle of not one but two Spielberg movies and a Chipmunk movie, count yourself extremely lucky to get to $75m. Add to that a well received Mission Impossible and Sherlock 2 and free press coverage for your family zoo movie is hard to get.

  46. Joe Leydon says:

    Bulldog: True dat, alas.

  47. cadavra says:

    Thirded.

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