By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekend Estimates by Klady Most Estimated
Divergent is fine. Will its stars build a much bigger audience than there seems to be for this first film? That is the question Summitsgate is asking itself this weekend. The answer is, “probably not.” So look for tight spending on the 2nd film and a wait & see attitude. But there is plenty of gas in this tank to make all three movies… maybe not enough to stretch #3 in to #3 and #4.
Muppets Most Wanted is the kind of product you tend to get from a studio that is no longer in the business of making movies or selling anything that isn’t a franchise picture. And Disney isn’t. Wrong cast for the purpose of selling a movie, wrong marketing, wrong publicity, really wrong date. A mess. I don’t know whether the movie is good or not… didn’t go. (And being a big Muppets fan, that choice by this individual was probably a bad sign for the film’s opening.) But the perceived quality of the film isn’t relevant to opening weekend box office. And I haven’t heard anything to suggest that it was a “must avoid” on any level.
Disney had a modest success with The Muppets and decided to go another direction this time out. I get that. Jason Segal singing is nothing something that sells Gonzo dolls at the theme park. But they cast the movie with two incredibly talented former hosts of The Golden Globes who are TV stars and not movie openers (to date) and the incredibly talented Ty Burell, adult star of Modern Family… which continued some of the Segal movie tone. But they made a more traditional Muppet movie, the design of which was to mix the biggest stars with Muppets, creating a built-in irony and a great twist when the combination brought real emotion. Orson Welles was the shocker in The Muppet Movie. But they also had Bob Hope, Milton Berle, James Coburn, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Madeline Kahn… a murderer’s row of hot and venerated talent from that time (1979). The current version would have Charlize Theron and Sandra Bullock (both mothers of young kids) fighting over the frog, Matthew McConaughey hanging with the band, Lena Dunham talking Piggy’s ear off, and Robert Downey Jr as the bad guy. That movie this was clearly not.
Anyway… throwing this film up against Divergent, knocking most of the girls out of considering buying a ticket this weekend, and publicity like Ms. Piggy mixing cocktails on that Bravo talk show… I mean, really funny idea, but not good publicity for the film they made.
God’s Not Dead. Well, he certainly can draw a crowd. Remember a few of weekends ago when a $25.6 million opening for Son of God was “disappointing?” No one was paying attention to GND this weekend, so its a positive surprise at 1/3 of SoG’s opening gross. And so it goes…
The Grand Budapest Hotel and Bad Words are the two strong screen expanders this weekend. With $22.2k per on 304 screens, Budapest is pretty much going according to best hopes. With $5747 on each of 87 screens, Bad Words is likely in a fight to get to $10m domestic. The hope is always in word-of-mouth in these expansion plays… so time will tell.
The Monuments Men was not an Oscar movie… but it is not only Clooney’s biggest success as a director, it looks to nearly double both the domestic and international gross of any other film he has directed. Notably, it will outgross 12 Years A Slave domestically… which says something about something. (It will do significantly less than 12 Years internationally, which, especially given the not-so-keen-on-Blacks-in-cinema realities of international box office, says something else about something else.)
Speaking of 12 Years A Slave, it is having, by far, the biggest post-Oscar “bump,” but the bump will only be about $6 million domestically. The number is similar to Argo… but Argo was already on DVD when it won Best Picture. The King’s Speech, The Artist, Slumdog Milionaire, and non-winner Silver Linings Playbook all had significant post-Oscar bumps in recent years. Notably, three of those were Weinstein movies and the release patterns were designed to accelerate off of Oscar. Slumdog was a great entertainment that seems to have needed to be legitimized by Oscar (including one of the most memorable and infectious music appearances on the Oscar telecast in years) to find a more mainstream audience. 12 Years grossed more than Artist and less than King’s Speech… so make of all of this what you will. I take the perspective that Americans treated 12 Years almost like a foreign film and certainly not as an entertainment with which they wanted to go out and celebrate. And that is probably as it should be, really.
Veronica Mars off 77%. Not a surprise. $3.5 million in theatrical (which they’ll probably get to) is about what you would expect from a VOD movie of this ilk.. a success, really.
Lars von Trier showed you his balls and no one much cared. Modest response to endless media hype for Nymphomaniac. The sad part of the indie weekend is that the completely enchanting, commercially viable The Lunchbox is doing well, but really hasn’t gotten the kind of media love it deserves, helping push it along to even higher numbers.