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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by I Am Klady

Friday Estimates 2014-08-02 at 10.32.12 AM

So… a very strong opening for Guardians of the Galaxy. Not the best of the summer, but right in the sweet spot between Transformers 4/Godzilla and X-Men/Spiderman. And a few hundred thousand above April’s Cap 2.

We are in a period in which Marvel can do no wrong.

Truth is, comic book movies have been pretty unbeatable for more than a couple of decades now. There have been few outright flops. And plenty of just-over-breakeven “winners,” mostly because the costs are so outrageous.

Historically, every movie trend ends. And when this one ends, it will likely be for the marginal titles, not for the “classic characters,” though even Batman, Superman, and Hulk have seen some soft-vs-costs numbers over their runs and reboots.

We are also in an age where the media has joined the sales team for selected franchises and have become a big part of the marketing effort to open certain movies. And I say marketing instead of publicity quite intentionally. I am not pointing fingers at film critics. We are not much relevant to the marketing effort or to opening weekend. (I will say, however, that harshness and generosity is now often influenced by outside forces, especially the hype machine, in a lot of criticism.) But the relentless machinery towards opening weekend is assisted for or months and often years now by a willing media that seems to be happy substituting marketing for journalism. Like so many things right now, a small dose was fine (like classic geek set visits), but when it becomes the standard, we all end up choking on it.

So, another big opening of $170m+ production that is unlikely to lead to more than $250m domestic. It should tip the scales amongst the 5 big openings towards a generous critical view of the summer as the third of the 5 top summer films not to suck in overall American perception. No one actually knows what this weekend will bring, much less next weekend. But I expect pretty positive word of mouth and the same 60% and change drop next weekend, when the media will obsess on the “battle” between The “summer saving” Guardians and the return of Michael Bay’s Ninja Turtles.


The irony of domestic media’s rollover for marketing departments is that the effort is now really as much about opening domestically as it is to convince international ticket buyers that they should line up. Guardians is yet another summer mega-movie that will need $150m-$200m internationally before it hits break-even on paper. Based on the history of these films, that should be no problem.

Also opening this weekend, Get On Up should put a damper the late summer “black history for white people” late summer slot. Nothing wrong with what may be a $13.5 million opening for a biopic in the summer. But it will probably be half of what what 42 launched with… or The Help opened to… or The Butler. Maybe if they had gotten Oprah to play Aretha it would have opened stronger. I haven’t actually seen the film and the critical response seems to be between “good and better than expected” to “not so good, but better than expected.” The good news for the film is that it could well do 3x opening, as did Jersey Boys and Blended. So not a big hit, but not necessarily a loser.

Lucy is taking on some water under on the weight of Guardians and August doesn’t get any easier for genre films. It should have been a milk run to $100m domestic. And it still should get there… but it won’t be as easy as a $44m launch suggested.

Worth noting about this summer… not a single film that didn’t open to $40m-plus has hit $100m as of this writing. Edge of Tomorrow is the only one in range. Not good.

Nice opening number for Calvary on 4 screens, doing about $14k per. I am more impressed with this than I am with some of the other limited launches of note this summer, as it is a brutal movie to market. It’s very hard to explain and it has some serious stuff going on. (I explained it to a group of people thusly:  “It opens with a confession. The man on the other side of the box explains that he was molested by a priest and his way of making his point in response will be to kill a good priest who is guilty of nothing. He gives the priest a week to sort out his details. The movie is that week.” I think everyone I was selling it to will be going this weekend. But they aren’t looking for Taken or Phonebooth. They will be happy to watch a beautifully-acted and directed film with an internal, human sorting out.)

Brendan Gleeson is an acting deity for me… but I don’t imagine you could say his name to many people and get a response. (Show them a picture and they will smile instantly.) John Michael McDonagh is a terrific writer and director and his last collaboration with Gleeson, The Guard, did just over $5m domestically for Sony Classics, but it was comedy. This is not. And indeed, it opened on 4 to around double what this one is opening to on 4. It’s a challenge, commercially.

Roadside Attractions is doing a very nice job on A Most Wanted Man. Not great reviews. But it feels adult and of some size, people want to see Phil Hoffman work, and summer is rough on grown ups.

38 Responses to “Friday Estimates by I Am Klady”

  1. EtGuild2 says:

    So, in the end, THE PURGE 2 will actually top its predecessor by 5-10%

    The APES total definitely IS disappointing, if very profitable with the internationals still rolling in.

    I feel bad for anyone who saw AND SO IT GOES. That should be the title of Rob Reiner’s wikipedia sub-section on his post-2000 filmography.

  2. Bodhizefa says:

    Why is the Apes total disappointing, EtGuild? It’s a fantastic movie, but it’s predominantly a drama (and one could argue it’s almost a half-foreign language film with all its ape communication subtitles). Personally, after having seen the film, I’d be pretty happy that it’s scaled the box office heights it has given the hefty material and the thought-provoking nature of the film. It’s more of a think piece and a great “foreign language” drama than anything else, and $200-215 million domestic seems pretty fantastic for that kind of film. Fox should be proud of themselves for how much they’ve made on this one given the lofty material.

  3. Bodhizefa says:

    I noted this in the GotG BYOB post, but I’ll add it here as well. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film with such a jazzed audience. I’ll have to see it again just to hear all the jokes and dialogue I missed from the crowd’s laughter and excitement. And it was well worth the audience adoration, too. Good on Gunn and the team as they put together a really fun film that will warrant multiple viewings. And bravo to Marvel/Disney for opening August up as a viable month for blockbusters instead of using it as a wasteland for the undercards of the summer.

  4. Grabspopcorn says:

    I’m looking forward to Poland doing his contrarian routine and explaining why the movie isn’t great and blah blah blah. He’ll also underestimate the global box office total.

  5. JS Partisan says:

    This really isn’t a comic book movie, as much as it’s a space opera from a comic book. People love a space opera, and Guardians is no exception. It’s also one of the best genre movies in this entire century, and people really want good movies like this. They really do. JJ Abrams should be pissed at Guardians, and want to do better. Seeing as that can’t happen. Yay for this film having a sequel already.

    Oh yeah, Dave, the Guardians are probably going to have a drop in the 52 to 54 range. The Turtles, god bless’em, are still a Michael Bay movie, and I am not sure if that really helps them or hurt them. I can see the Guardians winning next weekend as well.

  6. holy shit says:

    The TURTLES movie is also really awful. It doesn’t have any of the style or energy of Bay. It’s a weird mix of super cheap TV-like sequences and super expensive entirely CG sequences. I’m very impressed with Paramount’s marketing. They found a way to make it seem watchable.

  7. dinovelvet says:

    I wonder if Edge of Tomorrow will get one of those late August re-releases a la World War Z or This is the end to nudge it past the $100 million line (it’s currently at $98).

    Looks like Hercules is a disappointment, I saw it and thought it was a lot of fun. The ads didn’t really represent it well, it came off as pretty po-faced and 300-ish but there’s a lot of humor in it.

  8. Big G says:

    Well we know “holy shit” is a professional film critic.

  9. chris says:

    “Not great reviews” for “A Most Wanted Man?” We must have seen different reviews, I guess.

  10. John says:

    EDGE OF TOMORROW and GODZILLA just hit the 2nd run theaters. They’ll have no need for a re-release to get past 100 & 200 million.

  11. Pj says:

    Summer: The Place Where Hyperbole Rules

  12. David Poland says:

    Just for the record, Grabspopcorn and holyshit seem to be the same person. And his/her history is pushing Marvel movies and trashing everything else.

    That doesn’t make them insincere or incorrect. But when people post in the same thread under different anonymous names, I think it’s worth noting.

  13. Lynch VanSant says:

    I’ve never seen so many advertising spots on television for any movie ever. In the last month, it was wall-to-wall spots every day. Add in all the ads in past months and they must have had a gi-normous advertising budget for GotG.

  14. movieman says:

    I’m puzzled that nobody–at least nobody I’ve read–has mentioned
    the influence of Bob Fosse in their review of “Get On Up.”
    There’s definitely some major “All That Jazz” and even “Lenny” action going on.
    “GOU” is infinitely more interesting as a piece of filmmaking than “the Help.”
    Guess I was premature in writing off Tate Taylor as a one-trick pony.
    (And Chadwick Boseman is phenomenal.)

  15. Bodhizefa says:

    I will be very interested to see what type of foreign box office GotG ends up with. Do foreign markets have any connection to any of these actors? Or is the Marvel brand and marketing machine powerful enough to push this all by itself? Does this movie get the foreign Avengers bump that all the other Phase 2 films have experienced or does it settle in at $225-$250M foreign? My guess is that it explodes just like the other Phase 2 films have overseas, but I’ve got nothing to back that up other than my faith in Marvel (and a gut hunch).

  16. amblinman says:

    Guardians is very good. One of the best genre films of this century? Okay..?

    Dorky not-at-all-relevant-criticism: I didn’t like this interpretation of Thanos. Doesn’t look like an intergalactic threat so much as a big purple fat kid sitting on a floating toilet.

  17. Bodhizefa says:

    amblinman, I was really expecting them to beef up Josh Brolin’s voice with some bassy menace. That they used his slight southern drawl with little vocal effects was a little off-putting. I agree that he lacked the threatening power that I generally associate with the character. However, the smile sold me all over again at the end. I hope they punch up his voice for future appearances, though. I wasn’t a huge fan of pure Brolin.

  18. SamLowry says:

    I hope Abrams is more than pissed–I hope he feels ashamed.

    Thanks to Netflix, I watched INTO DARKNESS for free this morning and I couldn’t believe how brain dead it was. Really, it was so inanely stupid that the writers, the producers, the director (only one person doesn’t appear in at least two overlapping circles in this Venn diagram–that’s a bad sign right there) and the Paramount executives who approved this for release would all do the world a favor if they took a leap off the U.S. Bank Tower. Heck, most of Ed Wood’s films had fewer plot holes.

    Two months ago I couldn’t have picked Benedict Cumberbatch out of a lineup, but thanks to Netflix I’ve burned through all of Sherlock, so with considerable resignation I sat down to watch this only because he was in it and can now fully appreciate that his performance was the only decent part of the movie.

    What amazes me is not that the mastermind behind this fiasco was considered the best choice to for Star Wars (considering the Prequels, he deserves it), but that he couldn’t even figure out that the holy trinity of Trek is Kirk/Spock/McCoy; instead, Spock and McCoy are given as much screen time as the supporting cast. Could you imagine Nichelle Nichols getting as much screen time as Zoe Saldana? Definitely not, so maybe another big mistake was hiring name actors who expect a certain number of lines to play characters who didn’t appear for more than a minute or two in most episodes.

    (Really, “Bones”, you couldn’t figure out that the guy you just pulled out of a cryotube so you could put dead Kirk in had the same blood agents as Khan? Meaning there’s no need to prevent anyone from turning Khan into a genetically superior smear on someone’s windshield.)

    At the end, after we see that Earth has no planetary defenses whatsoever, everybody marches off happily on their five-year mission while conveniently forgetting that the whole point of the plot was to provoke war with the Klingons–which Marcus said they had succeeded in doing! So I guess Starfleet will just have to fight that war in their absence, even though they’re so lightly outfitted that they didn’t have any ships anywhere near Earth when that epic space battle broke out.

    Oh, and that top-secret military shipyard near Jupiter–Disney World has tighter security.

    (golf clap)

  19. PcChongor says:

    The fact that Disney went straight to Abrams instead of first trying to court Del Toro or Cuaron speaks volumes about the direction this new series of films is headed. And say what you want about the prequels, but at least they weren’t specifically made with the intention of beefing up an already filthy rich company’s fourth fiscal quarter profit statement.

  20. Hcat says:

    But don’t you think the Star Wars sequels will basically be the same pleasant quality as the marvel films? That no matter who they have directing them the Disney assembly line will kick in and hit that non-exceptional but perfectly adequate target they aim for?

  21. SamLowry says:

    …and no matter what particular quality you may find in the first two acts, the third will always be a deadly serious battle leading to a predictably uplifting outcome?

  22. EtGuild2 says:

    @Bodhizefa, the word of mouth, at least from my end on APES (in the Northern Va/DC market) has been ecstatic…and so I expected it to play out the same way “Rise” did…with a 3.2 multiple (which would be just shy of $240 million). Instead, it petered out once GoTG and even “Lucy” and “Herc” came into the marketplace. Adjusted for inflation (I know I know), Tim Burton’s crapfest was way ahead. That makes me a bit depressed.

    You see “Gravity” and “Inception” drop such big numbers as straight sci-fi, and you feel like “Dawn” would hit that sweet spot in the middle. Guess not.

  23. EtGuild2 says:

    Also….movieman, still down on this summer? Box office aside, I wish every summer had this quality;)

  24. leahnz says:

    “But don’t you think the Star Wars sequels will basically be the same pleasant quality as the marvel films? That no matter who they have directing them the Disney assembly line will kick in and hit that non-exceptional but perfectly adequate target they aim for?”

    i was kind of going to say something along those lines so so i’ll just concur, the new star wars will probably be gloriously adequate.

    (tho i have more hope for something weirder and more unique from rian Johnson, live in hope. but if the first Abrams one has already ‘set the tone’ for the series in terms of design, character, story, etc, how much would Johnson be allowed to vary from the no-doubt-dorky established formula, to put his stamp on it, maybe pull an ‘Empire strikes Back’ manoeuvre. they should have done johnson’s one first. giving abrams the helm of both trek and wars is fucking ridiculous, yeah who else in the movieshpere could possibly handle these STAR movie things besides this same fucking dufus! bigelow should have done the first SW, get her genre on again, at least it could’ve had a fighting chance at a modicum of badassery with grave silliness rather than YET ANOTHER abrams’ dorkfest)

  25. movieman says:

    Get back to me after I (finally) see “Boyhood,” Et.

    I’m still no sold on the (superior) quality of this summer’s movies.
    Too many that others loved (“Godzilla,” Edge”) I was disappointed in or outright panned (“Hercules,” “Neighbors”).
    And others (“GOTG,” “Lucy,” “Apes,” “Snowpiercer”) I liked, but found mildly overrated/overhyped.
    Coincidentally, I thought you were a little hard on “And So…”

  26. leahnz says:

    i want to add that, sounding a tad harsh on dorfests above, i don’t even mind dorkfests, but everything in moderation. things are becoming too generic so thinking outside the box, at least past the same director for everything, would be a welcome relief

  27. EtGuild2 says:

    My 2nd favorite film of the last 3 summers wouldn’t even crack this summer’s top 5 for me, and that’s excluding studio releases. (Dawn, XMen, Dragon 2,, GOTG, Get On Up, Edge)

    “And So It Goes….” the laziness of it just made me so, so depressed. There’s not a whiff of anything remotely fresh, or interesting, and considering the dearth of films for 60 somethings, it makes it all the worse.

  28. SamLowry says:

    The Wiki page for AND SO IT GOES proves that Wiki pages are put together by fans; since there were none for this movie, the page ignores the “plot” section altogether and devotes most of its attention to “reception”, which was almost universally negative. (Leonard Maltin liked it!)

  29. Bulldog68 says:

    I haven’t seen And So it Goes, but something I’ve noticed with movies of this ilk, like It’s Complicated, and Something’s Gotta Give, The Big Wedding, and these other movies aimed at the mature demo, everyone is always so stinking rich.

    Is everyone in America above the age of forty five stinking rich?

    It was really refreshing to see Enough Said and see people who were not poor and struggling to make ends meet, but not living in mansions either. Catherine Keener’s character was a successful poet who was in a nice home that showed her success, but it could have been the home of one of your friends. If it was Diane Keaton in the same character, she’d have priceless works of art on the wall, and Mont Blanc pens to diddle with.

    Julia’s friends were also really middle class, nice home, not opulent, but just the typical home your neighbors would have.

    Gandolfini’s home suited his character. He had regular dishes that looked like he shopped at Walmart. No one had a table of fruit that they couldn’t possibly eat like Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated.

    Sandler commits the same sin. It’s basically nothing but mansions for his characters.

  30. movieman says:

    Keaton’s character in “ASIG” lives in an unglamorous apartment.
    Douglas’ character, however, has just moved out of an extravagant mansion that looks like something out of the pre-Civil War South.

    Et- Forget Reiner’s post-2000 filmography, I think his oeuvre has been pretty rank post-1992 (“North,” that Kate Hudson/Luke Wilson atrocity, “Ghosts of Mississippi,” etc.).
    As formulaic and predictable as “ASIG” was, I enjoyed watching Keaton and Douglas play variations on their most iconic characters (Annie Hall and Gordon Gekko).
    Not to sound like a snob or anything, but my favorite “summer movies” (so far) have been “A Summer’s Tale,” “Ida” and “The Dance of Reality.”
    “Get On Up” is probably my favorite studio movie (again, “so far”) of the season.

  31. movieman says:

    I’m not a binger, but I started watching the new episodes of “The Killing” on Netflix yesterday and couldn’t stop until I was done.
    I think I may have enjoyed it more than just about any studio release in recent memory, and Season 4 “guest star” Joan Allen matches Mireille Enos in
    fierceness and intensity.
    Auteur alert: Jonathan Demme directed the sixth ep and Lodge Kerrigan helmed #2 (or was it #3?).

  32. cadavra says:

    FWIW, Sunday is a big movie-going day in African-American communities, so GET ON UP will likely exceed estimates for today. I suspect also that a lot of geezers like me who metaphorically can’t wait to see it are literally waiting even more so than usual because they don’t want to stand in line for an hour with all those kids going to see GUARDIANS. For a movie with very limited appeal to the coveted 12-34 demo, it’s going to hang in there quite well, I believe.

  33. SamLowry says:

    Sandler practically admitted in that Cracked article I linked to days ago (about the depressing truth behind the making of several movies) that he doesn’t really make comedies anymore, he just appears in home movies shot by the studio after they agree to fly him and his buddies to the vacation destinations of his choosing.

    And this doesn’t apply just to the GROWN-UPS movies–50 FIRST DATES wasn’t supposed to be shot in Hawai’i until Sandler decided he wanted to spend a few months there.

  34. LexG says:

    And So it Goes was cute and delightful, and something entirely too innocuous to get worked up over in any negative way. Got applause from the audience I saw it with. It’s a nice little movie not hurting anybody.

  35. leahnz says:

    for some reason i’m just stoked to hear people (or one person anyway) are watching ‘enough said’.

    i think it takes a special kind of skill and subtlety to do a compelling story set in the middle class, because film narrative and aesthetic tends to be born out of conflict and adversity within the human condition – making struggles such as with poverty and war well-mined fodder – or conversely deals in wish fulfilment dependant on the aesthetic depiction of casual luxury and wealth; it’s harder to take the *relatively* ordinary, mundane lives of the middle class and create a compelling or amusing movie out of the every-day, mostly intimate trials and tribulations most people face. i think when this is done well (such as in holofcener’s movie) it can speak to a great many people who can really relate in some way, which is a beautiful and rather rare thing.

  36. Hcat says:

    I agree, I thought enough said was the best film I saw that’s year, and a comedy with actually recognizable human beings. That and win/win are the two films I recommend to people the most.

  37. SamLowry says:

    Bulldog, he flipside of that Hollywood assumption is that any fortysomething who isn’t living in a house worth at least a quarter-mil must be a hillbilly, mentally ill, a criminal, an alcoholic and/or a junkie, an arrested adolescent, or a single parent working at McDonald’s.

    In other words, a loser.

  38. leahnz says:

    your people are lucky to have you Hcat (win win is a fucking fantastic movie, i just watched it again the other night with my boy and funnily enough, still made entirely of win! McCarthy’s rocking his oeuvre like nobody’s business, one of my favourite working directors in terms of sheer consistency and excellence every single time, making terrific humanist ‘love stories’ (about love in all its forms) that never fail to move and entertain me, make me laugh and cry; long may he move at a snail’s pace making his amazing little gems, i heart him and want to kiss him on the cheek)

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