By David Poland email@example.com
Friday Estimates by Step-Up Klady
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.