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By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Weekend Estimates by Klady: The Winter Box Office Analyst

Wekeend Estimates 2014-04-06 at 9.20.06 AM

Not a really interesting weekend.

The successful opening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not unprecedented, but it is very solid. Avengers has lifted all Marvel boats since 2 summers ago, with Iron Man 3 out-opening any film in that trio by $75 million, Thor: The Dark World out-opening the first Thor by $20 million, and now, Cap 2 out-opening its first film by $30 million. Ultimately, IM3 was #1 for that character by just under $600 million worldwide, a breathtaking leap nearly doubling the previous high. Thor 2 was up just under $200 million. And it seems likely that we will see the same for Cap 2.

These are all positive things. But it’s also very easy to overstate how positive. Yes, Cap 2 beats Fast Five‘s April opening record by about $10 million. And Fast & Furious 6 beat this Cap 2 opening (based on the estimates today) by about a million. What does that mean? It’s not 100% clear. But it is not insignificant as context.

The business model for Marvel is all $150m+ movies… and they are ramping up to 2 a year now and talking about moving up to 3 a year. That means every film they make needs to gross $350m – $450m worldwide to get to breakeven, considering all the ancillaries, including merchandising. Even with the great run Marvel is having, they have to keep it up. That challenge is not quite as easy as some suggest. It’s possible. Anything is possible. But if they start succeeding 2/3 of the time… or failing 1/3 of the time, if you will… the numbers could look very different in a hurry. Time will tell.

After Cap, a lot of nothing. After opening to $43 million, Noah will still get to $100 million domestic… but not soon. (Of course, as noted here from the start, the money is overseas on that one.) Divergent isn’t going to make it to $150m domestic, with international not really kicking in yet. Muppets Most Wanted is doing okay, but will forever be seen as a disappointment.

Holding well this weekend were God’s Not Dead, which looks like it will end up at about the same domestic number as Son of God… about $60m.

The Grand Budapest Hotel remains a serious contender to become Wes Anderson’s biggest domestic grosser.

The Raid 2 and Finding Vivian Maier are doing well in limited release. And the weekend best for per-screen is Under The Skin, which will do about $35k on each of 4 screens.

77 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by Klady: The Winter Box Office Analyst”

  1. Amblinman says:

    I would think the overwhelming positive reviews and word of mouth would have more to do with Cap’s weekend than The Avengers two summers ago.

    And no, Marvel isn’t going to keep this up. Fatigue will set in at some point. All it takes is one out right dud.

    Then again I’ve been saying that about super hero movies for over a decade now. Fuck do I I know.

  2. EtGuild2 says:

    With so much hype around other movies, not many people have noted that “Peabody” is the biggest financial misfire of the year so far, by a pretty wide margin. Unless it does gangbusters in Japan, where DWA doesn’t even release most of its movies, it’ll be the lowest grossing Dreamworks Animated production since SINBAD in 2003. Sinbad!

    “Grand Budapest” just became Anderson’s biggest worldwide grosser, by quite a bit. So that’s good news.

    “Divergent” still has a shot at $150 million as long as it keeps treading water with “Twilight” for a couple more weeks. The Summitgate people really have to be holding their breath on overseas though.

  3. doug r says:

    Mr Peabody should break even, not that any of the Bulwinkle characters should ever be expected to make buckets of money. Video will ensure a small profit, plus Dreamworks gets some more practice rendering and developing goodwill. I know I enjoyed the Bullwinkle movie again when it was on TV the other day, and I suspect I’m not the only one- Homer J Simpson’s middle initial is named after J Ward.

  4. doug r says:

    Oh, and the best explanation for the confusion around the Noah movie that I’ve seen so far: http://drbrianmattson.com/journal/2014/3/31/sympathy-for-the-devil

  5. EtGuild2 says:

    It’s not impossible, but I would think $260 million on a $145 million budget, a pretty big hole, makes it extremely unlikely given the competition in the DVD/Blu-Ray market this time out.

    Are parents really expected to buy 4 or 5 full-price videos for their kids between spring and summer? Don’t most parents only buy 3 or 4 in a whole year? Because I’d guess that PEABODY isn’t the first, or second, or third choice for most kids with Frozen, Lego, Rio 2, Muppets, and Nut Job all out there competing for the same eager tots.

  6. movieman says:

    Since Anderson’s previous domestic best was $52 million, I think Searchlight must feel pretty confident that “Budapest Hotel”–currently sitting at $33-million-plus–will handily beat that total.
    Amazingly, it still hasn’t penetrated every market–including, sigh, mine.
    Maybe next weekend.
    I can’t wait to see it again. And I don’t see anything a second time in theaters these days.

  7. LaneMyers says:

    “Not a really interesting weekend. The successful opening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not unprecedented, but it is very solid.”

    I always find it interesting how DP consintentally downplays successes and failures. Often I appreciate it as he is trying to reign in some media hysteria. But every once in awhile, he does it to a fault.

    This past weekend is in fact an interesting weekend, because the Captain America opening is by definition unprecedented. And hilariously, the most he will allow himself is to call the opening “solid”.

    Then to justify his downplaying of what is clearly more than a “solid” opening (anyone know what the 3rd biggest opening in April is?) he feels the need to point out that Fast & Furious 6 beat Cap 2′s opening weekend. But can anyone offer an explanation as to why DP didn’t feel the need to point out that Fast 6 opened not in April but in May, on Memorial Day weekend?

  8. LexG says:

    At this point, doesn’t DP downplay literally EVERY weekend? Seems like every week, the tune is “nothing to see here.” That fucking Halle Berry split personality movie could’ve opened to 74 MIL this weekend out of nowhere and DP would be “meh, song remains the same.”

    Someone was saying this on Twitter earlier today: Seems a little like Poland’s checked out about it all…. He definitely still likes talking about “the scene,” but in a way that seems less and less specific to the reportage, especially the box office stuff. He had a riotous throwaway 3 weeks back that “to understand NEED FOR SPEED, you have to go back to the numbers for THE PEACEMAKER.” I mean, that was so into the realm of self-parody I thought Poland just HAD to be fucking with his readers, almost taunting people with how bored he is by it all.

  9. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Can anyone explain to me what Divergent’s international strategy is, because it sure doesn’t seem to have one. From what I can tell, this is the first weekend it went wide and the estimates are it took a mere $11mil from 44 territories, for $22mil cume.

    At this rate, it’s vying with Tyler Perry for “movies that don’t catch on outside the US”. International is looking at a pretty anemic 20% of worldwide.

  10. David Poland says:

    It’s the 30th biggest opening in history, Lane. “Unprecedented.” Really?

    Actually, I pointed out that Cap 2 best Fast Five in April and by how much.

    I’ve been doing this a looooooong time. When the first $100 million openings started happening, it felt earth shattering.

    Wait… I’ll go further back. In 1989, when Batman opened to $40 million, it felt like the entire industry had changed.

    But things change. There were four bigger openings than this last year. There were four bigger openings than this the year before.

    Moreover, Fast 5 did $86m in April 3 years ago.

    And with all Marvel taken into account, Cap 2 didn’t open to as much as the first Iron Man did six years ago.

    The first Spider-Man opening was unprecedented. It was a $25 million leap from the previous best opening, just the year before. And that record ($90m for Potter 1) had been an $18 million jump over the previous record holder (Jurassic Park 2), which stood for 4 years. That $18m represented a 25% leap in the record. Potter to Spider-Man, a 27% leap. Looking solely at April – because you want to – this is a 12% leap from Fast Five.

    And keep in mind, these Marvel films are now a $300 million investment every time. And opening like this is a requirement for them to succeed, much less flourish. Fast Five will almost certainly – unless international really goes nuts – be a significantly more profitable movie, even as a franchise film, than Cap 2.

    The reason April has been relatively soft is because of the tradition of waiting for May 1. They made the attempt with Scorpion King and the industry retreated. Great date choice by Marvel. But as we saw with The Hunger Games and Alice in Wonderland, if you sell it, they will come… whenever.

    So scream “OMG” if you feel the urge. I can’t say – and haven’t said – that those headlines are idiotic. The enthusiasm is a little lazy, but understandable. But I stopped creaming my jeans over these openings around 2010, when we started seeing four $100m openings a year as a norm.

  11. EtGuild2 says:

    “The reason April has been relatively soft is because of the tradition of waiting for May 1.”

    What makes no sense to me is that internationally, “Captain America,” “Spider-Man,” “Rio 2,” “Noah,” and “Divergent” are all rolling out almost everywhere between March 25 and April 25 this year (The USA is pretty much the last opening for Spidey). So all of these movies are going to suffer to an extent.

    Then, up until May 14….practially nothing. Then, everyone goes nuts, and “Godzilla,” “X:Men,” “Maleficent,” and “Edge of Tomorrow” drop almost everywhere in the two weeks before Memorial Day.

    Aparently, early May, once the prime real estate for Hollywood tent-poles, is now toxic on the international level. Good news for “Transcendence” I guess….

  12. Martin S says:

    I think the shock factor people are responding to is how this is nowhere near May. F&F was technically April, but only by a few days.

    Cap2 has no competition until Amaz Spidey2 on May 2. That is a major, major coup by Marvel. They’re most likely going to have the number one film for six weeks, and the top two for two weeks…until Godzilla opens and pwns everyone.

    If Godzilla wasn’t in the mix, Marvel could have gone Cap, Spidey X-Men for an unbreakable two month number one and two streak. But, I have a feeling they’re going to regret the X-Men release date. They needed a few more weeks away from Godzilla, except that runs you into Trannys and Apes. Maybe they should have bookended it with Guardians for August/Sept.

  13. LaneMyers says:

    DP, first of all, please calm down.

    Second of all, I asked only one question in my post, and you responded with a lengthy response (which I appreciate), and yet you failed to answer my only question. I feel that a movie released on Memorial Day Weekend has a different available audience than a movie opening on April 6th. But you make it clear that to you that is not relevant, which is why you felt it made perfect sense to point out “actually” (re-read your post if necessary) that Fast 6 opened bigger than Cap 2.

    Btw, I would be willing to wager that Fast 5 will not be “significantly” more profitable than Cap 2 — at least not for the studios involved. The stable of actors involved in Fast Five and their profit participation saw to that. (Sidenote: why suddenly go for the hyperbole of “significantly”? What happened to “solidly”?)

    Many of us have been doing this a looooooong time. And in the years i’ve been reading you, your response to success and failure has been to downplay it almost every single time. Not sure why you’re not comfortable with admitting that. Btw I also have an issue when people make sweeping generalities.

  14. Geoff says:

    I said this in other thread and I can kinda see where Dave is coming from….even though his bias has become pretty obvious. This is a tough long-term business model for Marvel/Disney, I don’t care what any one says……the big question is why are they not able to make these films significantly cheaper when they are doing them so often and with so many overlapping characters/settings?? Lucas was able to get the Star Wars prequels to just over $110 million each, even three years apart and Peter Jackson was able to keep each of the LOTR films around $120 million. And those films were on MUCH bigger scales than the likes of Iron Man or Captain America. Guardians of the Galaxy is probably going to end up costing north of $175 million as will Ant-Man…..Marvel brand or not, these are NOT properties that are guaranteed to make over $500 million worldwide. I think part of it is that (judging by his interviews), Kevin Feige is really starting to believe his own hype and starting to think that everything he touches will turn to gold. And the worship coming his way from the YouReviewers crowd (Schmoes, Jahns, Campea, etc…all of whom I still love to watch) has been intense…

    But at the end of the day, much of it is hype. Feige’s on a hot streak no doubt and you can’t deny how what he has done has the folks at Fox, Warners, and Sony now trying to do the same thing. But at the end of the day, he’s just another big producer on a hot streak….not unlike Joel Silver over 20 years ago (remember he had Matrix, Die Hard, and Lethal Weapon movies all within a ten year period – damn impressive when you also consider all of those films were R-rated too) or Bruckheimer just over ten years ago (Pirates, National Treasure, Bad Boys and all of that CSI TV dominance)….just that none of those guys thought to create a combined cinematic universe. (Though can you imagine how cool it would have been for Silver to have his films in a combined universe??)

    And just like them, his streak will end…it’s inevitable, it happens to every one. ALL streaks must come to an end. I’m actually think that Ant-Man will be the beginning of the end….and he’s just talking crazy beyond that, that he has films planned through 2028(!) and that he plans to open the next Captain America film against Batman vs. Superman. And you get beyond this current crop (Downey is not doing any more Iron Mans) and the biggest characters remaining are Black Panther and Dr. Strange. I actually think there’s HUGE upside with ‘Panther but I have a feeling they’re gunshy about that one. Regardless, the signs are there that Feige is setting himself up for a big fall. Dave just seems to be a bit too eager to declare that it’s already happening.

  15. poet67 says:

    “the signs are there that Feige is setting himself up for a big fall.”

    Its Hollywood man. YOu gotta take risks if you want to score.

  16. David Poland says:

    Lane – Don’t need to calm down. Perfectly calm. Just responding factually to your argument.

    The answer to your specific question is that I don’t presume my readers to be ignorant.

  17. RRA says:

    Mr. Poland, I think the biggest takeaway from Cap 2′s opening is simply that Marvel now has 4 franchises: Iron Man, Avengers, Thor, and Cap. That’s it.

    Geoff – where did you get that $175 million number for GOTG?

    Also lets remember that Feige/Marvel Studios already had a bummer entry in THE INCREDIBLE HULK. At this rate Marvel is a machine and one failure doesn’t wreck it. Two in a row? Yeah then you have troubles…

  18. Geoff says:

    RRA it’s just an assumption but not hard to see:

    Here are the budgets for the past few films:

    Iron Man 2 $200 million
    Thor $150 million
    Captain America – The First Avenger $140 million
    The Avengers $220 million
    Iron Man 3 $200 million
    Thor – The Dark World $170 million
    Captain America – The Winter Soldier $170 million

    Face it these movies are NOT getting cheaper….am I the only one pretty much shocked that IM2 cost that much what with maybe three total action scenes??? GOTG is far more visually complex than any of these films with the possible exception of Thor 2, I think the floor is $170 million.

  19. This year, international box office will be hurt by the Soccer World Cup.

  20. jesse says:

    Did Iron Man 2 really cost 200? I thought there was a big deal about how after The Avengers cost as much as it did but did as well as it did, they upped the Iron Man 3 budget to 200 or so. Doesn’t seem like that should’ve been any kind of big deal if that was the budget for the previous one. And I agree, Iron Man 2 did not look like a $200 million movie. I thought Marvel was at least initially (pre-Avengers) known for low-balling this stuff a little. Or is that just their actors?

  21. EtGuild2 says:

    “This year, international box office will be hurt by the Soccer World Cup.”

    Right…in June. Which makes this giant open space from late April to mid-May even more baffling. Why stack everything on top of itself?

    “Did Iron Man 2 really cost 200?”

    LA Times claims $170m with a $150m P&A:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2010/05/iron-man-has-the-dark-knight-in-its-sights.html

  22. Geoff says:

    According to Box Office Mojo, the budget for Iron Man 2 was $200 million – all of my numbers above were pulled from that web site.

  23. Geoff says:

    It kind of makes sense since of all the recent Marvel Studios films, it had the most rushed production schedule.

  24. storymark says:

    I think the number on Iron Man 2 is higher simply because they threw it together so fast. (ETA: Whoops, too slow)

  25. palmtree says:

    Fast and Furious is the third biggest April opening with $71 million.

  26. movieman says:

    I know that it had a fantastic opening–”biggest April opening ever,” yadda-yadda–but is Disney’s Marvel really serious about pitting a third “CA” opposite WB’s Batman/Superman pairing on May 6, 2016?
    That seems incredibly stupid.
    Somebody (Disney or WB) will surely blink before then.
    Right??

  27. Geoff says:

    Movieman, Kevin Feige recently said in interviews that he plans to do just that – he claims that he had the date first since last year they scheduled it for an “Untitled Marvel Project.”

    They probably figure that if both films stay on the date, they can at least siphon off some of the opening weekend grosses for DC’s build-up movie towards Justice League so it’s more about competitive strategy than profit.

    Though alluding to what I said earlier, I don’t know if it’s a great idea to take a “loss leader” strategy with a film that’s likely to cost over $200 million to make.

  28. Geoff says:

    Seriously, Feige sounds about as arrogant as Joel Silver did around 1990….just before Hudson Hawk.

  29. movieman says:

    Geoff- I’ve gotta believe that somebody is going to change their mind and switch dates. It’s more than two years away, and a LOT can happen between now and then.

    The official excuse could be something as bullshit-blasé as, “Gee, it (“Cap 2″ or “Batman/Superman”) wasn’t ready in time.”

  30. EtGuild2 says:

    Yeah Marvel has a good excuse in this case–they’ve only done one sequel in under a two and a half year span (Iron Man 2) and it’s considered by many to be the worst movie they’ve done.

    Also interesting…or not…Feige, adjusted for inflation (let the screaming commence), is already closing in on the career domestic totals for Joel Silver and Scott Rudin according to boxofficemojo despite having his name on a quarter as many films, and one can only imagine the overseas comparison. So part of me doesn’t blame him for being arrogant. Disney is in the palm of his hand, especially since their only animated movie till 2016 is Marvel-based.

    Plus, you have to admit, “Guardians of the Galaxy” looks fantastic. “Ant-Man” is probably the only big risk for the next two and a half years…and I really hope the Edgar Wright Marvel movie isn’t the one to ring the alarm bells.

  31. EtGuild2 says:

    One more thing that might keep Marvel and Feige going: the studio has adopted a practice of hiring people to direct big budget movies who Joel Silver, Brian Grazer, Bruckheimer, and Rudin would have never dreamed of, but who lend them a degree of extra credibility.

    In the early days, there weren’t as many risks. Favreau had directed a smash (Elf) and had a critically aclaimed movie that looked big budget (Zathura). Letterier and Johnston were known as for-hire big budget guys. Branaugh was a risk..but so was “Thor,” and that may have given Feige the idea to go bold once it worked against all odds, and hire the fan-favorite re-working the “Avengers” script. Joss Whedon was brought on as a last second replacement to polish Zak Penn’s supposedly un-workable screenplay….and to Feige’s credit, he believed in Whedon.

    So from there…Shane Black, Alan Taylor, The Russos, James Gunn, Edgar Wright. No-name and/or cult guys who have the chance to buy into the system and get the box office success that might finally allow them to do their own thing. And if they work out (clearly The Russos did, while Black and Taylor did not through rumored production disagreements), they can come back and bold that resume title.

    Genius.

    It’s something that will probably never be done again in film history. If Kevin Feige can give no-name cult directors a platform for widespread acclaim, where the fans are on board from the beginning and the naysayers can be deflected by a flop with “well, the artistic choice was a bold one, but it wasn’t quite what we were going for,” it’s win-win. And the best part is, the directors don’t have very much control to begin with, so they work extra hard to ensure the final product (their golden parachute) is fantastic. The real threat to Marvel isn’t “Ant-Man” flopping…it’s Joss Whedon or Robert Downey Jr, the only two singular people central to their success, becoming unhappy with the product.

  32. palmtree says:

    Hmmm, it sounds vaguely like the studio system of yore. In a good way, I suppose.

  33. Geoff says:

    Etguild, I’ll grant you that Joss Whedon was a HUGE risk and I actually dug the foresight in hiring Branaugh for Thor.

    But Silver and Bruckheimer took their share of risks too: you wanna tell me how the Wachowskis were NOT cult when Silver hired them to direct The Matrix?? And where was John McTiernan BEFORE he got Predator and then Die Hard?

    And was Gore Verbinski not cult when Bruckheimer gave him $150 million plus to helm the first Pirates?

    And to say that it will never be done again in history….just look to next year when we can see the results of Universal handing the keys to the Jurassic kingdom to….wait for it…..COLIN TREVORROW. Oh and how about going back about 15 years and our jaws can drop in amazement again when New Line gave a $300 million plus trilogy to a little-known cult filmmaker named Peter Jackson?? :)

  34. Geoff says:

    Now that I think about it, it’s actually the RULE not the exception when a studio hands a big budget superhero franchise to a then unproven, “cult” filmmaker. Just look at the history:

    Tim Burton for Batman

    Brian Singer for X Men

    Sam Raimi for Spiderman (he was the DEFINITION of a cult filmmaker before that)

    Christopher Nolan for Batman Begins

    Feige deserves a lot of credit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but this trend was around for about 20 years before he went this route.

  35. Geoff says:

    And sorry but Brian Grazer deserves SOME credit for giving relatively high budgets ($50 million plus) to Spike Lee, who had never directed a film that grossed more than $50 million before Inside Man hit.

  36. EtGuild2 says:

    You’re absolutely right. But I don’t think that any studio has put the trust into one person in the modern era that Feige has gotten…including the LucasFilm deal with Fox for the prequels and Disney for the sequels.

    Upon the aquisition, the Disney release slate plunged from 15-20 to 10-15 immediately. 10 Disney releases last year? First time since 1962. There hasn’t been a single Disney announcement that’s involved more than 2 films since the Marvel acquisition, and in the ones that involve 2, one has always been either a documentary or inspirational sports movie that will never play out of the U.S.

    Not trying to overstate it, but to take a phrase about liberals from “God’s Not Dead,” Feige is God to Disney right now until Pixar gets back on the tracks and LucasFilm is up and running again.

    And cmon, Burton and Singer were waaaay more succesful than Taylor, Black, Russos, Gunn going in. Sam Raimi, without inflation, has a pre-comic box office greater than Taylor, The Russos, Black and Gunn combined.

  37. Geoff says:

    ETGuild2, ok I’ll give you Tim Burton because I forgot that Beetlejuice was a pretty big hit just the year before Batman. But Brian Singer was pretty much cult – The Usual Suspects got a ton of buzz and even won some awards, but it never even broke $25 million domestic…and besides that, there was Apt Pupil which made even less. Brian Singer was a cult filmmaker before X Men no doubt.

    And this is a fun game for the highest-grossing producer, but I just looked at Box Office Mojo and apparently, Feige was a producer on ALL of the Marvel films at Fox and Sony before he created the MCU – he was a producer on the Spiderman and X Men films, check it out:

    http://www.boxofficemojo.com/people/chart/?view=Producer&id=kevinfeige.htm

    In some ways, that makes him seem even more impressive but at the same time, it also leaves more blemishes on his record as well….HE produced Daredevil, Blade: Trinity (but not the first two??), and The Punisher as well.

  38. Geoff says:

    And let’s face it, “Agents of Shield” is going to be a thorn in his side as long as it remains on the air. You go back about 15 years and the fact that Bruckheimer was behind big movie franchises PLUS some of the highest rated shows on TV (the whole CSI franchise had to make him some serious cash)….remember, Spielberg tried many times but could never really crack TV success……that’s an accomplishment for the ages.

  39. EtGuild2 says:

    The “pre-Batman” and “pre-XMen” totals for Burton and Singer…destroy the COMBINED total of pre-Marvel movies for Taylor, Russos, Gunn and Black….by a lot. Burton and Singer were already known film directors.

    And no Geoff: Feige was a hands on producer who left to head Marvel. Notice he didn’t produce “The Wolverine” movies, or “Spider-Man” reboot.

    Are you comparing “Hudson Hawk? to “Spider-Man 3″ or “Silver Surfer?” Haha

  40. Geoff says:

    I’ll give you Burton but I’m not yielding on Brian Singer. :) Dude had TWO films in the can before he took on The X Men and one of them was a cult flop.

    And no I don’t think Feige has seen his Hudson Hawk yet actually.

  41. Geoff says:

    And is it really fair to include Shane Black? Ok he had only directed one film before Iron Man 3, but he was a HUGELY successful writer for years before that…..remember he netted that record-setting payday for his script for Last Boy Scout?

  42. EtGuild2 says:

    You don’t think there’s a pattern of Marvel (since Avengers) picking low-grossing/cult directors who are desperate to up their dollar gross and make what they want?

  43. Geoff says:

    Etguild, I’m not disputing that or that Feige hadn’t mastered that. But he’s really not the first to do that – it kind of seems like Producing 101 – jeez think back to Spielberg when he hired Tobe Hooper for Poltergeist or Joe Dante for Gremlins.

  44. EtGuild2 says:

    And yet he’s annihilated Spielberg..and I’m including him as ” a Trasformers producer” through the early 2000s

    It’s very odd, and resistant to think that Feige isn’t a new force. A Phase 2 empire buits on sitcoms (Russos), the goodwill of fans for decades (Black, Taylor), the logical people who have no buisiness directing this (Russos, Gunn,Taylor)

  45. jesse says:

    EtGuild, the other side of you trumpeting that Feige was so brilliant in hiring Taylor, the Russos, Gunn, and Black, is that he hired a bunch of TV guys, a (formerly) highly paid screenwriter with a specific but pretty mainstream-friendly sensibility, and one genuine cult director. Part of that may be taking chances. Part of that may also be hiring guys who they can cast aside as needed, and probably won’t rock the boat in terms of what they produce. Which is why we’ve generally gotten Good Not Great Marvel Studios movies. The Singer X-Men movies and the Raimi Spider-Man movies and the Burton and Nolan Batman movies all feel more personal and idiosyncratic to me (well, I don’t much like Burton’s first Batman, but it’s definitely distinct). That’s not to say I dislike the Marvel ones — loved The Avengers, really liked the Captain Americas, really enjoyed all the Iron Man movies, and was OK with the Thor movies, too. But in a lot of ways, they feel like the slightly more assembly-line, franchise-minded version of what Burton/Singer/Nolan/Raimi had already done.

    Also, it obviously has little to do with how they did Cap, but the Russos made You, Me and Dupree. It grossed $75 million domestic. That’s far more than Singer’s pre-X-Men movies. In fact, that’s more than almost all of his non-comics movies (Valkyrie squeaks by it). I’m not sure, if you ask a studio head who they want helming their superhero franchise — TV pros with a hit (albeit unmemorable) comedy to their name; or a guy with Bryan Singer’s non-superhero resume — they’d call Singer the safe bet and the Russos the risk…

  46. Geoff says:

    He’s annilihated Spielberg??? Are you including the films that Spielberg directed?

  47. Geoff says:

    See this is what I’m talking about…the hyperbole about Feige/Marvel has just gotten out of hand. He’s probably the premiere movie producer of the past decade, is that not high enough praise? :)

    But like the other big ones like Silver, Bruckheimer, Rudin (You do realize that’s kind of an apples-to-oranges comparison right? Rudin’s emphasis has been on prestige films, not tentpoles in recent years), he’s on a hot streak that is likely to end. And sorry I know there’s a ton of lip service given to how Captain America and Thor are SO different when it comes to genre…but I’m just not feeling it. They all feel like very well done extended episodes to the same TV series.

    And sorry let’s shoot ahead in 20 years and see if more people are talking about Captain America/Iron Man/The Avengers or Die Hard/Lethal Weapon/The Matrix…..Joel Silver created action sub-genres with formulas that are copied to this day….and they were all R-rated, which makes them even more impressive! Hell when I saw Iron Man 3 with friends opening weekend, all of us were getting such a kick out of the Lethal Weapon homages in that climax…and cracking jokes about “Diplomatic immunity!” and “Five days to retirement….”

    Now if Guardians of the Galaxy is so good that it becomes the next Ghostbusters (or Men in Black), then we’ll talk again….but I’m doubting it.

  48. RRA says:

    I like that alot of the Marvel Studios movies have different identites to each other and they’re not remakes of the same plot like the DIE HARD series for example was.

    I mean the first Captain America movie was basically a remake of THE ROCKETEER. Hell they got the same director. IRON MAN 3 was a throwback to the 1980s, early 1990s action movies (when Shane Black was king). First Thor film was the superhero CROCODILE DUNDEE. The new Cap film was basically Marvel’s Jason Bourne/G.I. Joe movie.

    I think Mr. Feige is the big budget version of Roger Corman if you think about it. I have a certain popcorn product I’m pushing and it has a fixed release date and story outline give or take. You won’t have final cut. You’ll be paid in peanuts. But here’s your chance to direct your own Hollywood blockbuster! We might be willing to play some ball with you on certain ideas. We want to milk you for your worth within our sandbox, and in exchange get the suits to pay attention to you since every eyeball in town is on every release and this will help your career immensely.

    Dear lord people, THE WINTER SOLDIER was the 9th Marvel Studios release in 6 years. You all realize that?!? And that payoff at the end, which basically is a soft provocative reboot of the MCU…At this rate, I would hate to doubt those guys now. (Hell 7 of their movies are certified Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.)

    What if GOTG and Ant-Man both also pay off?

  49. RRA says:

    Geoff – Want a fun fact?

    In the last 36 years, how many successful film franchises has WB launched from DC comics? Batman and Superman. Marvel Studios in the last 6 years? Four: Iron Man, Thor, Avengers, and Captain America.

    There is something cool about what Marvel Studios has done with their so-called “Marvel Cinematic Universe” which has become the modern day cinematic equivalent of the weekly serials that our grandparents (or great-grandparents) saw in theaters long ago.

  50. pat says:

    Swamp Thing wasn’t a successful franchise?

  51. cadavra says:

    Marvel is rapidly becoming the McDonald’s of studios. They give you a product that is always the same, and it tastes good, but ten minutes later you’ve forgotten it. That’s a sound recipe for making money, but eventually you can just blow shit up so many times before even the fanboys start feeling the deja vu. I just now realized that as many DVDs as I buy, there isn’t a single Marvel title in there (I do have IRON MAN 1, but it came in a goodie bag and remains unopened). I enjoy their films, but there’s nothing therein that compels me to want to watch them again.

  52. SamLowry says:

    ““Guardians of the Galaxy” looks fantastic” and “if it becomes the next Ghostbusters (or Men in Black)”…

    ?!?

    Uh, so far, from all we’ve been shown, it’s a prison movie. And if that remains the case then you can drop-kick the quadrants containing females and old people (meaning anyone over 35). So we’d better see plenty of evidence to the contrary, soon, if you want to see it rake in more than $20M on opening weekend.

    IRON MAN 3, by the way, was a Cleveland Steamer–the only interesting parts were copied from THE INCREDIBLES and the rest was just plain stupid.

    And Pixar hit the skids only because Disney told them to start cranking out sequels. We saw how well that strategy worked–the CARS franchise is now so deadly it’s radioactive, and MU couldn’t get nommed for an Oscar even though there were still open slots available. Yikes.

  53. Martin s says:

    Marvel tries to find someone who fits a major element of the movie, that is usually not the action part.

    Singer, Whedon and the Russos knew how to work with large ensembles. Branagh and Taylor knew how to work with heavy theatrical elements, (dialogue, costumes, knights & armor, etc..) Raimi and Favreau set the table by showing where humor is acceptable. Johnston knew how to make a period film feel contemporary without burdening it with modern action techniques. Letterier and Norton did a good job of making the TV show an action movie. They were undone with bad monster designs.

    You can plug in their current directors. Gunn and Wright know humor and heavy effects. Gunn knows larger ensembles. Marc Webb is the real outlier, to me.

  54. jesse says:

    Webb got his start with a visually snappy relationship movie… which doesn’t really match up with the movie he made, which has, what, all of about 20 minutes of Peter/Gwen stuff in it? Mostly stammering?

    I’m expecting the same for the second one: pre-hype talking about how their relationship is the heart of the movie, then 20 minutes of screentime for Emma Stone.

  55. hcat says:

    I have to say though that the flirty parts were really the only bits I enjoyed from Webb’s Spidey. All I remember from that film is that Stone looks fetching in boots. I am quite skeptical on how the second one will do, I can’t be the only one who thinks Electro looks a little ridiculous. Giamatti should be fun but adding multiple villians always weakens the sauce.

    Also thinking that Days of Future Past will have trouble getting past 200 domestic (will top out around 600WW) and Apes will be the bright spot of Fox’s summer.

  56. christian says:

    Electro is one of the dumbest villains ever.

  57. hcat says:

    And I’ve complained about it before but I find it terrible that Spidey 2 takes up any of Ms. Stones time when she could to toplining something centered around her. Superhero films have been a terrible waste of Hatheway, Adams, Lawrence and Stone’s time and talent. They are almost always their least compelling roles.

  58. Bulldog68 says:

    On an unrelated note, Frozen is at $399m domestic and will become only the third animated movie to cross $400m on it’s initial release. It actually caused me to think about what a phenom Shrek 2 was. It still is the largest animated domestic grosser of all time at $441m, a record that will be a decade old this May. And it did that without the benefit of 3D.

    At the time of it’s release it was only the second $100m+ Opening Weekend ever. Spiderman was the first in 2002. And till this day, has the best Opening Weekend/Overall Gross ratio of all movies to open above $100m.

    Quite a sensation huh.

  59. MAGGA says:

    “These are all positive things”
    That sounds like simply cheerleading the business. Is it good that studios make money, no matter what they make money on? When the studios collapsed in the sixties it lead to the kind of golden age in cinema that TV has experienced for the last fifteen years (with the influx of zombies and dragons and superheroes on HBO, AMC and Netflix this era looks like it might me George Lucased now). Shouldn’t we root for the failure of conveyor belt children’s movies when they are so dominant? If ten year old me had heard what was produced for adults in this century I would have been delighted – FOUR movies based on the Transformers toys and FOUR movies based on a Disneyland ride!! – but studios are mostly in the business of making gigantic productions now, which gives lie to the notion that brain dead blockbusters finance quality cinema. So shouldn’t we all celebrate if that film where Batman and Superman fight each other falls flat on its face? If The Master had beaten some records or something, that would have been good news, but a sequel to a spin-off to an endless franchise based on what we liked as kids? Isn’t that a terrible thing to root for?

  60. SamLowry says:

    When adjusted for inflation, Feige isn’t even halfway there.

    But the true test: How many of Feige’s movies will people still be watching 20 years from now? IRON MAN 1, probably, X-MEN 1, maybe, perhaps AVENGERS 1–if only to be reminded of how hot ScarlettJo was back in the day–but any others? Uhhh….

  61. EtGuild2 says:

    I was going for career trajectory, not giving someone a 30 year edge. Feige is 40 years old. By September he’ll be at a similar gross as Spielberg was when he was 50 (1996), adjusted for inflation. And the worldwide comparison isn’t even close.

    Yes, I made the kind of hyperbolic statement designed to infuriate people. In no way do I think there is any artistic comparison (the only Marvel Studios movies I truly enjoyed were “Iron Man,” “Captain 1″ and “Avengers”), but the point is, he’s every bit the financial juggernaut as a producer, right now, in April 2014, as anyone has ever been in the movie business.

  62. Geoff says:

    No doubt his numbers are REALLY impressive this early in the game, but stamina still counts in this business too….still you gotta give props for having a hand in the launches of X Men and Spiderman too.

    But looking at that chart, you also can’t say he hasn’t his misfires too: he produced the ONLY Blade film that lost money and was utter crap, Blade: Trinity….and he also had a hand in the Fantastic Four sequel, Daredevil, and X Men: The Last Stand, and Spiderman 3. So there has to be an even greater likelihood that his streak will end sooner rather than later. I actually predict that Guardians of the Galaxy will barely break even and that Ant-Man will likely be the money loser…which is really unfortunate because I REALLY like Edgar Wright, Paul Rudd, and Michael Douglas….I don’t see big things for Dr. Strange either. Honestly, I see their one remaining big breakout character as being Black Panther…if they could hit the demographic sweet spot with that one and cast the right star, look out! But I think they’ve been hesitant to carry it out because of the obvious political undertones of the character’s title….not saying it’s fair, but I can just see all of the Fox News/Breitbart stories about “How can Marvel make a movie that glorifies racist, anti-American terrorists…..” even though the character has absolutely nothing to do with what happened in the US in the ’60′s.

  63. SamLowry says:

    The big difference, as I was hinting at, is that folks go to Spielberg films because they’ve come to expect a high level of craftsmanship, but the Feige experience, umm…at first you get that exciting jolt of adrenaline, but it soon gives way to regret and a feeling like you’ve been used.

    So Spielberg = quality, and Feige = gonorrhea.

  64. EtGuild2 says:

    Spielberg’s quality was really shining through when he produced “GREMLINS 2″, JP 3 and “TRANSFORMERS 2 and 3″ ;)

    It’s hard to judge quality based on production work. Feige, by all indications, had no role in the “Fantastic Four” sequel or “Spider-Man 3″ (which, btw, is still the third best grossing Marvel movie ever worldwide) since he was hired as President of Marvel Studios, but got an Executive Producer credit due to contractual matters, just like Spielberg in some cases. On the other hand, Feige is, by all accounts, far more hands on as a producer in Marvel Studios productions than Spielberg generally is.

  65. movieman says:

    “Gremlins 2″ is awesome!

  66. Hcat says:

    Loved the second gremlins and the third transformers was the only decent one in the franchise, both of which I would rewatch over the Feige films.

    but if you are listing anemic Amblin productions its Harry an the Hendersonville, batteries not included and land before time.

  67. Bulldog68 says:

    Did anyone else take note that Feige is basically building this empire on someone else’s creativity and ideas? What he’s done is remarkable no doubt but in terms of comparing to Speilberg, you can take away anyone of Spielberg’s films and he still has arguably the most envious filmography in movie history. Take away Marvel Comics and what does Feige have? His whole Filmography is Marvel and nothing else.

    I know, he’s the president of Marvel Studios so it’s a bit of empty gripe, but I’d like to see him exercise his “vision” on something that wasn’t ripped from the pages of a comic book.

    And the mere fact that the regular folk will line up for Stephen Spielberg presents, or Christopher Nolan directs, means Kevin Feige’s impact is all inside Hollywood. No one lines up for a Kevin Feige film. Depends on how you look at it, that’s either a bad thing or a good thing.

  68. movieman says:

    Agree w/ you on “Transformers 3,” Hcat.

    It’s easily the best “Trannies” (to date anyway).

  69. JS Partisan says:

    Really? “Transformers 3?” Yeah. That’s nonsensical. Those movies are all horrible, but “Gremlins 2″ is still the best Gremlins movie. Period. End of freaking line.

    Outside of that, Marvel are the dominate force right now. You know how you can tell? Go look at the Guardians poster. Seriously. If that poster doesn’t scream, “BALLS,” then what does?

    And guess what? Kevin knows more about Marvel than most people alive. Who better than him to bring the MCU to life?

    Again, Marvel is dominate. It’s not going to be topped for a while, and you need to accept this right now. Avengers 2 is already a billion dollar movie. How many more billions will be added onto it, that’s the question. It’s already the highest grossing movie of 2015. Ponder that for a moment, then realize Avengers 3 is the same for 2018. These folks have a plan and if you want to act like Geoff or Dave, and get all flustered about the cost. Well. I got four letters for you… E… S… P… N. If any one entity is covering every expense Disney has made. It’s Bristol.

  70. movieman says:

    There were only 2 “Gremlin” movies. Both were fantastic.

    I am surprised that WB/Spielberg/whoever owns the rights hasn’t gone the remake route by now.
    “Surprised,” but not unhappy.

  71. Hcat says:

    JS, No one is saying that marvels not on a BO roll, some are just questioning the sustainability and others are lamenting the quality.

    But to speak to their “dominance” I am surprised they are not also given some credit for the transformers and gi joe movies since from what I recall the entire back story and narratives came from the marvel companion comics.

  72. Ray Pride says:

    There was recent talk of a Gremlins retake at AICN.

  73. JS Partisan says:

    Lamenting the quality? Yes. Let’s all have more DC movies. Lets. I love Nolan, but that take can only go so far. Marvel, for the most part, revelle in what makes comic books an enduring part of culture.

    The sustainability portion is silly. Why? Two to three movies a year. That’s it. X-men movies and Spidey movies, have nothing to do with MARVEL movies. They technically are MARVEL movies, but people get the difference. This is why Iron Man Three made what it did, and the Wolverine made what it did. You could make an argument, that all of those X/Spidey movies, could drag the MCU down but again… people know the difference.

    These movies cost a lot of money, but ESPN gets close to five bucks from every cable subscription. Star Wars is still a license to print money. THEME PARKS, PEOPLE! Seriously, Disney has made moves, that sustain themselves. Laughing or gaffawing, at the idea of Marvel movies til 2028. Sort of ignores, that Kevin and Co. had this planned, while many of you in here doubted an Avengers would EVEN HAPPEN.

  74. SamLowry says:

    I concur that GREMLINS 2 was better–Tony Randall! Christopher Lee! Donald Clamp!

    Someday I do need to sit down and listen to the commentary because Howie Mandel apparently ripped Zach Galligan a new one for not shutting up about the possibility of another sequel, then said something along the lines of “You will NOT be the star of GREMLINS 3.”

    And JS, pointing out the fairly low quality standard for Marvel movies does not mean we must therefore love DC.

  75. movieman says:

    Sigh.
    I knew it was inevitable, Ray.

  76. hcat says:

    Don’t forget Robert Prosky,

    “People watching television at 2AM aren’t afraid of the octopus people, their afraid of sobering up and finding work”

    JS, I don’t think anyone said anything about Marvel causing Disney to fall into financial ruin.

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