By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekend Box Office Analysis
Len Klady seems to be on an unexpected hiatus… but now that I am back in the U.S., I thought I would take a quick look at the numbers, as I am reading them on Box Office Mojo.
X:Men: Days Of Future Past is the 4th $90m-plus opening of the last 7 weekends. This is a significant event. The record for the most $90m-plus openings in an entire year is 4, so this matches that record, with at least 1 more such event likely this summer and as many as 3.
This is already record-breaking in that in the 4 previous occurrences of 4 in a year (the last 4 years), at least one of the openings took place in November. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 guarantees that the November trend will continue, though perhaps Interstellar can make it 2 occurrences of a $90m+ opening in November for the first time in history.
Now… that said… X-Men ain’t what Fox was hoping for. It is right in line with X2 and the first Wolverine film, not the opening that X-Men 3 had, and not the over-the-top opening that they were chasing when they decided to make a movie with what seems to be the biggest cash investment in Fox history. (On Avatar – as with Titanic – they sold off a big chunk of, protecting/limiting their investment. How much of this film is being paid for by Dune is unclear… but my understanding is that Fox’s bite is bigger than the ultimate on Avatar.) (P.S. If you feel compelled to now tell me what is the media take on the budget of this film, don’t embarrass yourself or those claiming that the budget on this film was $200m. I’m not even repeating the high figures I have heard bounced around, which are truly outrageous… even more so if they are true.)
This is exactly the kind of movie that Tom Rothman avoided making forever… the mega-expenditure chasing the mega-gross. One of the notable things about X-Men has been that the budgets have been relatively low, making them profitable in spite of what has seemed to be a glass ceiling for this franchise. X3 got a bit out of control because of changes to the team late in the game and the urge to pump up the CG on a very short schedule. But this one intended to be massive from the start… an answer to Avengers. But unlike the Marvel-made behemoth, this one is as strong as Wolverine, not Robert Downey as Iron Man combined with the ideal Hulk (after 2 attempts that didn’t take).
It’s the weakest opening of the four $90m+ openings, though the hope is that it will be #1 in the group over 4 days, given the holiday. Still… it won’t be much more over 4 and it will still be well behind the $123m domestic for X3, which also opened over Memorial Day Weekend.
On the other hand… not a complete disaster. And this is now how box office reporting goes in the summer. The same was true last summer. The domestic media plays this silly game with the studios of setting, lowering, whining about, attacking expectations on domestic, not quite willing to report publicly that domestic box office, while important, is not the primary piece of the puzzle. Then we play the “real budget” game, which is actually defensible by studios, as the hideously simple-minded reporting on box office by most outlets makes it all a big game that can’t be dealt with honestly by studios – not that they have ever liked talking about real budget numbers – because they would get crucified by some series of idiots who are always angling for the negative story.
The advertorialization of movie coverage – not just box office – is a loss on both sides of the media/industry relationship. Truth is a major causality.
The four $90 million-plus openers will all pass $400 million worldwide. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has already passed $700 million. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is at $674 million worldwide, is sure to pass $700 million, and has a legitimate shot at passing Cap 2 worldwide before all is said and done. Godzilla is over $300 million worldwide and should get to $500 million without too much sweat, thanks to Japan and China. And now X-Men: Everyone? $262 million and counting. $500 million is their realistic minimum (counting all ancillaries) for breakeven. It will get there. Will it get to $600 million or $700 million? The history of this franchise says, “no.”
This is the irony of bringing back Bryan Singer to make this film. His films are slower and more serious than most other comic book films. He is not a master action guy… never has been… not once. He was great for X-Men and Fox. He, I believe, created the opportunity that Christopher Nolan took and made one of the early billion-dollar franchises from. But to make an Avengers-level box office machine here, Fox needed a director who makes those kinds of movies. Don’t worry about reviews… this was about money… and Bryan Singer, who has shown real gifts as a filmmaker, is not a cha-ching guy.
It feels weird to suggest that Fox dump the director from the next franchise film after he made a movie that will likely gross somewhere around $550 million. Singer’s never passed $410m worldwide before. But they need a Joss Whedon. And truth be told, the quality of the film may be lessened… but Whedon has a great ear for pop. And pop is money.
The news is much worse for Adam Sandler, who, even with former good-fortune co-star Drew Barrymore, bottomed out big time with Blended this weekend. Leadership at Sony must be giggling to themselves – those who are left since the That’s My Boy car wreck – happy not be taking the heat this time around.
The “Sandler is over” meme will be starting again. And it will try to explain away the Grown Ups 2 number ($247m worldwide) from last summer. But the answer seems to be that THIS version of Adam Sandler is done. Fart jokes and shit jokes and 47-year-old men just don’t go together for most people. And lovable as Drew Barrymore is, it’s been a full decade since she has led a movie to a better opening than this… for her, this is a really good number. In fact this is her #5 all-time opening as a non-animated lead and 2 of the other 4 were with Sandler. So… sad.
Godzilla‘s drop is not shocking.
I would have expected Neighbors to hold a bit better, given the lack of comedies in the marketplace, but it is already Nick Stoller’s biggest film by a mile and it is in range to become Seth Rogen’s biggest non-animated worldwide grosser ($37m away).
I already got in ASM2… won’t catch up with Cap2 domestically, but may well become #1 worldwide until Transformers passes it.
Chef had a nice expansion for Open Road.
And Heaven is For Real continues to chug along…. over $85.8m domestic now. Amazing.