The Hot Blog Archive for July, 2011
The news today that Harry Potter has finally scored a billion dollar title and that Transformers 3 is right on the cusp means that 2011 will be the first year in box office history with three billion dollar grossers. 2010 set a record with two billion dollar movies in one year.
Prior to that, it was Titanic breaking the ground in 1999, holding that singular slot until 2003’s LOTR3, then 2006’s POTC2, 2008’s Batman 6, and 2009’s Avatar. So 5 times in history… and then 5 times in 2 years.
And bad news for Mr. Ebert… all 6 of the billion dollar movies in the last 3 years were in 3D. None of them, so far, has grossed more than 10% over a billion, which suggests that they all relied on the 3D bump to make that mark.
Getting off the billion dollar mark, let’s look at $800 million. Only 3 movies in history had gotten there prior to 1999. Not coincidentally, these films were also the first 3 films in history to gross over $500 million worldwide. In 1999, The Phantom Menace came up just short of $500m foreign, but became, at that time, the #2 domestic grosser of all time, also becoming the #2 grosser of all time at that time.
Since then, only 5 of the 26 films that have grossed over $800 million worldwide have done it without a $500m international gross. None have earned less than Spider-Man’s $418m international.
In the last 3 years, only 1 of the 11 films to gross over $800 million worldwide has done it without a $500m international gross.
Six franchises represent 19 of the 30 $800m ww films: Rings, Spider-Man, Star Wars, Pirates, Potter, Transformers. Amazingly, these 6 franchises arrived via 6 different studios. (WB has since eaten NL.) Pixar has 2 more, 1 from before Disney’s purchase… bringing Disney’s total to 6. WB has 9. Fox has 6, the only repeater being Star Wars, though they share Titanic with Paramount, which has 2 more in the Transformers franchise. NL has 3 Rings. Sony has 2. And Universal and DreamWorks have 1 each.
Of the franchises, Pirates, Potter, Ice Age, Toy Story, Transformers, Rings, Spider-Man and most amazingly, Shrek, all had their biggest international gross on their most recent trip into the market. The sole exception is The Da Vinci Code, whose sequel fell by more than $250 million overall.
This year, the growth has been a little shocking. Pirates 4 is the biggest international Pirates film by $140 million. Transformers grew from $391m international to $434m with its sequel to $645m this summer… and counting. Potter is the biggest international hit of the series, but not by leaps and bounds (at least, so far).
And you can forget about $500 million… $600 million has become the international gold standard for film grosses since 2006. 13 of the 18 films grossing over $800m worldwide have grossed over $600 million.
In the last two years, with five billion dollar films so far, Toy Story 3‘s $648m is the low man on the international totem pole… still over 60% of the total worldwide growth, which is also the lowest percentage of international to domestic in this group.
What does this all mean to what is likely to be the biggest comic book summer in history, Summer 2012 (Avengers/Spider-Man/Batman)? Well, Marvel’s international high for in-house movies is $310 million. They will clearly be aiming at $500 million or higher… especially with Disney taking over the marketing reins.
Spider-Man hasn’t hit $600 million international yet… they’ll be aiming at it, even with a reboot. When Spidey 3 did $554m international, it was a top ten all-time number. To rank there next summer, they’d have to hit at least $650 international. That may not be possible. But the gold ring is hanging out there.
The Dark Knight almost tripled any other international Batman gross… but still under $500m. When the film broke out, it was a phenom in the US, but amongst the big franchise, just so-so internationally, well behind Potter, Pirates, But they have to be targeting $600 million international and $1b worldwide.
Ice Age 4 will be anxiously hoping they can push it to $700m international. Reboots of Men In Black, Alien, and Total Recall will both be looking at international as a potential cash cow. And of course, Battleship will be depending heavily, given its pricetag, on a $600 million draw internationally.
65% of this weekend’s Smurf audience were kids with parents. In that group, 65% were parents with kids under 12. It also appears that 2/3 of the audience was female.
Maybe all those boys under 12 were still going to see Harry Potter.
Boys over 12 were split between Cowboys & Aliens and Captain America, which did pretty well on weekend two, off “just” 61%. Thor, at this point in each comic book movie’s run, had a better hold… but it also had the advantage of less competition at the start of the season and in its niche. Look for Cap to land, domestically, in the same Marvel box office sweet spot.
Cowboys & Aliens is also in an odd sweet spot… 2011 Spielberg-exec-produced movies that aren’t sequels. (EDIT: “without a number after the titles.” As a commenter pointed out, Super 8 ends in a number). This opening is pretty much in line with Super 8, which is pretty much played out at $125m, just slightly better than 3.5 times opening. C&A cost at least twice as much as Super 8 – maybe 3x as much… maybe more – and probably won’t get to that figure domestically, but the hope will be that Craig & Ford can generate much bigger numbers overseas… though the “cowboys” part isn’t going to help.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. seems to be a victim of comedy exhaustion, combined with an older skewing audience that takes longer to get to the movie theater. The opening is within spitting distance of Friends With Benefits‘ opening last weekend. And though this one is more movie-star-studded, like FWB, it feels a bit less high-concept. Rom-Coms, not Raunch-Coms. Maybe if Steve Carell had his ass waxed in this one…
Potter continues to hold pretty well, and will pass Transformers: Dark of the Moon in the next couple of weeks to become the domestic leader of the summer. Tr3 is already in the 3-slot internationally with Potter still over $100m behind Pirates 4, with its eye on that crown.
There are four newcomers on 8 screens or less with per-screens over $15k. Miranda July leads the pack with the 1-screen premiere of The Future, followed by the Brendan Gleeson film The Guard, the Dominic Cooper Hussein-edy, The Devil’s Double, and Attack The Block, which is the highest grosser in the group, doing $16k per on 8 screens.
Woody Allen continues to push towards his first $50m domestic grosser, as Midnight in Paris loses screens, but is still playing pretty strong in key theaters that are holding.
Cowboys & Aliens is no less than the first colossal, epic turd of the Summer of 2011.
How bad can it be? Well, it’s badly written, badly directed, badly cast, badly acted, badly conceived, and in spite of some professional below-the-line work, it’s a bloody mess of a movie.
Truth is, I can’t think of a single redeeming feature of this film… not a bright light in a dark movie horizon that made me smile for a moment, relieving the agony of watching so many skilled people waste their time and mine. If going to the movie theater to see Daniel Craig’s torso or Olivia Wilde’s nipples pushing through a white shirt or Harrison Ford offer up his trademark smirk once, you’ll be satisfied. Otherwise, stay away.
I can’t really explain myself without writing about what it is I saw in the movie, so…
From here on, this is a SPOILER REVIEW. And you should expect SPOILERS in the comments as well.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
It starts from the beginning. Daniel Craig, who is a great actor, plays The Man With No Brain. He wakes up in the middle of nowhere, is approached by 3 bad hombres, and launches into a feat of action bravado right out of a Hong Kong flick… but somehow manages to not make us care or even get excited.
I had the distinct feeling that Favreau had watched and tried to pay homage to the magnificent opening of Silverado, featuring an injured Scott Glenn and a gun fight with men we never see, that leads to Glenn walking out onto a ridge where we see the magnificence of the west. The differences there were, 1. It was a very clever idea for a fight and though hyperreal in a movie way, believable and followable, and 2. We instantly cared about Glenn’s character, who had no introduction, but was under attack in a way that made him sympathetic.
All we get here is an over-the-top fight scene that would make Bourne or Bond seem subtle and a character who has no character before or after the fight. Great tan, though.
We’re quickly introduced to the cast of good guy townspeople, led by a wasted Clancy Brown, a wasted Sam Rockwell, and a wasted Keith Carradine, each playing cliches and trying hard not to just cash their checks on screen.
Then we are treated to a really bad Paul Dano performance as The Obnoxious Son Of The Guy Who Owns This Town, who behaves in a way that is not menacing, but incredibly stupid. The argument is over his bill at the bar? Really? That is his sin?
Seriously, if he’s a loser punk who has such a chip on his shoulder about nothing, how about writing something for him to do that shows how inept he is… how desperate to get out of his father’s shadow… how chickenshit. SOMETHING! But instead, we get whinny boy and a random shot that happens to hit a deputy and that drives the rest of the first act?
Adding to my agony is Adam Beach, a talented actor who looks like Anthony Breznican after a month of eating pie, as The Indian Who Now Works For The Evil White Man. Oy.
And the dolly shot of Olivia Wilde standing in some alley or something, wearing a thin cotton summer dress that is practically see-through on top and light enough on bottom so it feels like we are supposed to be catching a shadow of her thong, so we are clear that she is The Girl.
At this point, I am seriously thinking that the film seems like a college project with an oversized budget. Too many close-ups. Not very good movement. Actors looking like they are waiting for something to happen. Killing me.
And then there’s Harrison Ford, playing an angry version of Harrison Ford, which leaves him without either an interesting character or a whit of charm. Apparently, the writers saw a lot of Termite Terrace cartoons, which might explain why you introduce a character who is not completely insane by having one of his men tied, on either end, to two animals, who are apparently going to tear him apart. ha ha ha.
You get Harrison Ford to play against type… and instead of writing something smart for him, you go for Snidely Whiplash meets Dick Dastardly with a hint of Wile E. Coyote. He will spend the next two acts snorting and hissing and not being remotely interesting.
Then there’s an alien attack. Why? I still don’t know. Apparently the alien effort to steal that thar gold is working… so why are they riling up the locals by stealing people… people they will do nothing but store in yet another Summer 2011 homage to Eight Legged Freaks?
But that’s not close to the most stupid moment of the story, as the entire tale relies on one of those moments that Ebert & Siskel used to joke about, where someone has to do something so stupid that no one would do it for any other reason than to move the movie along. In this case, it’s an alien who is using Craig and his girlfriend for medical experiments, so the alien takes off his wrist-gun, even though the hands they do surgery with are not the ones they have the guns on, and leaves it sitting next to human Craig, who I guess he thinks is sleeping. Craig grabs it, slaps it on and gets out of there (with inexplicable success). The only thing that didn’t happen was the alien telling Bond that they were going to knock over Fort Knox or wear a bowler hat with a razor sharp rim.
If Craig doesn’t get the wrist-gun, there is no movie. Of course, later, others escape the ship and lose their memories… for a fraction of how long Craig loses his for.
Craig hooks up with his old gang for a minute, mostly so he can get hit, and so he can do the oldest action movie verbal gag there is… “I told you not to call her that!”
The aliens finally become part of the movie and the filmmakers – all of them – make the biggest mistake you can make in these movies. They didn’t figure out a way to establish an even fight… or to simplify things so there is no real fight, just the ominous threat.
Make up your mind! Will a single shot from a Colt kill an alien or not? Shotgun, yes. Sharp stick?
By the time Cute Kid gets to stab an alien in the heart because when the alien unleashes his inner arms, it exposes its heart, it doesn’t matter. It’s just another kill gag, never to be used again.
And will someone please tell me how Harrison Ford’s character ends up finding Daniel Craig in the middle of the alien ship without any help? Come on. I gots to know!
I could go on and on and on about all the things that don’t work and don’t make sense about this movie. One more fave… pretty much the only time in the film when we can’t see through Ms Wilde’s shirt… is when she pulls herself out of a river. But when she’s dry, all bets are off. (Where, by the way, did she get skin-tight men’s clothing to wear in the third act of the film?)
I kind of feel back for Olivia Wilde, who has been reduced to a mannequin in yet another big movie. She gets to do more acting on any single episode of House. Can she be a movie star? Can’t tell from either of these movies. She is beautiful. Shes a professional actor. But if she really needs to reduce herself to deep throating her way to stardom – currently rumored to be taking up the Linda Lovelace role abdicated by Lindsay Low-Esteem – I think that’s a shame. (I also think she is a terrible choice. She may be willing to be naked, but I have no sense that she can play the kind of self-loathing and debasement for which the role calls.)
I can’t say I hated this film because it rally wasn’t bad enough/good enough to hate. It simply fails at every turn.
Even the great Matty Libatique… the look of the film is all over the bloody place. Some moments are better than others, but the inconsistency is bizarre on a film like this. It’s not Aronofsky pushing the edge with intelligence. It’s “that sounds cool.” “That sounds cool too.” “How about we try this?” And this feels like Favreau’s approach to the entire film. It’s a bunch of gags… a bunch of ideas… a bunch of characters… that are disconnected in virtually every way possible.
Just think of the idea… Cowboys vs Aliens… cool. But it’s like they completely forgot what was cool about it as they layered more and more crap on top of it. Either that or they were so arrogant that they thought they were above the boundaries of drama and could flip every idea inside out and get away with it. Only geniuses can do that. Sir, I have known geniuses. And…
Speaking of geniuses, here is another Summer 2011 movie that has Spielberg in the credits and reminds us how much better a director he is than any of these pretenders. He brings heart while other bring “more cool shit.” He can make the simple moments sing. You care about his characters. You hate his villains.
You want the easy fix? Act One: Amnesia. It’s a real western. Act ends with the first alien attack. Act Two. The alien attack reminds the hero of who he is and unites the evil and the good. Everyone rallies their resources. Act Three. The alien vulnerability becomes apparent, but the plan to get at it is hard, but clear. The battle for mankind’s existence begins.
You know what we know about these aliens? Virtually nothing! They want gold… and we only know that because Wilde’s character is also an alien… who never shows her natural self. Yes, the movie doesn’t even have the guts to have a human care about an alien after she walks out of a fire wearing her naked human suit. But there is no contact, really. So all the aliens are are giant grasshoppers, cousins to the District 9 aliens, who want to kill you.
One of the great head-turners is Ford, reconciled with his idiot son, becoming a generous loving dad in his last scene… even though we see no real change in the son. Huh? Couldn’t we have two lines of dialogue about how the experience of being probed changed his perspective… maybe even made him a do-gooder or some other kind of actual character?
But it sure was loud!
The perceived surprise success of The Smurfs and the perceived mediocre number for Cowboys & Aliens is a little silly.
One really has nothing to do with the other… except that we have all become idiot monkeys, obsessing on what’s first… a stat that is nothing but a bragging rights thing.
Smurfs, which should have a much stronger Saturday than Cowboys, should win the weekend easily. Sometimes funny things happen. But historically, if the kids film wins Friday, the toughest day of the weekend for kids movies, it’s a lock to win the weekend. Could be anywhere from $40m – $50m.
Cowboys & Aliens created its own stench. It’s classic movie advertising… find something and stick with it. The problem here is, that same 2 minutes we have been seeing for 7 months now was never that exciting. Elements are Daniel Craig with an alien shooter on his hand, a pretty girl, some spaceships, and a cranky Harrison Ford. The only notion of story offered is that Craig doesn’t know who he is and that the town will be attacked by aliens.
It’s funny… because it all feels like Super 8 without the kids… and it will open right above Super 8, not quite the smallest big movie of the summer… but close. The difference is that Par sold 8 as being cheap and the critics rallied behind the film to spin it into seeming like less of a box office disappointment. C&A will be piled on, unless somehow it wins the weekend, and people get distracted by the “who’s #1?” discussion.
Crazy. Stupid. Love. is opening okay. Good reviews suggest it could have legs with adults. But it will likely be under $20m for the weekend and under $70m total, making it the #5 comedy of the summer so far.
Potter passes $300m and is now in a race with Transformers 3 for the summer box office crown. Neither film is likely to pass $350m domestic, much less $400m. Both Potter is still likely heading over $1b, while Tr3 may come up just short of that magic figure, while still being the biggest of the series.
In celebration of The Big Lebowski Limited Edition Blu-ray™ debuting on Aug 16th, join Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore + T Bone Burnett for a very special evening celebrating all things Lebowski. The date will also mark the launch of Jeff Bridges’ self-titled album.
The evening will include a special Q & A with Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore + T Bone Burnett as well as a screening of the film and other festivities.
2011 marks 10 years of beautiful tradition with Lebowski Fest and Universal Studios Home Entertainment has teamed up to bring the Achievers the pop-culture event of the century! This limited seating event at the historic Hammerstein Ballroom will be the ultimate celebration of all things Lebowski.
Tickets are very limited and will go on sale very soon. Mark it 10!
8/15 – Bowling Party @ 300 New York at Chelsea Piers – $30
8/16 – Blu-ray™ Launch, Cast Reunion, Q&A, Movie Screening @ Hammerstein Ballroom – $42
NATO (The Movie Version) announced today that the Q2 avg movie ticket price was up 20¢ from Q1 this year, hitting $8.06.
What does this mean?
Well, I have a couple of takes. First, I would normally expect Q2 ticket prices to rise by a small amount every year, as the summer launch is usually when theaters raise prices, usually by 25¢ or 50¢. Second, Q1 saw less than $150m in total domestic grosses from 3D movies or about 10% of the overall domestic theatrical gross. Q2 had over $1.3 billion in domestic grosses from 3D films.
Ah. Suddenly, a 20¢ rise in the quarter seems a little meager.
If 1/3 of the 3D films’ tickets were sold for 3D showing, that’s still 7.4% of all tickets sold carrying a 3D premium, representing about $450m including a 3D bump.
Very rough math: There were about 396 million movie tickets sold in Q2. Of those, a estimated (by me) minimum of 30 million were 3D tickets, sold at $11 each with $3 of that for the 3D bump. So let’s say the 3D bump added $90m to the domestic theatrical gross of Q2. That 2.8% of the overall gross.
20¢ is a 2.5% increase over the Q1 ticket price.
Obviously, there is some jiggle room in these numbers. Some theaters may have raised ticket prices modestly. 3D may be a little stronger or a little weaker than my estimate. Likewise, the 3D bump may be lower in some places and higher in others.
But essentially, the 20¢ rise in ticket prices this quarter seems pretty much in line with the increase in 3D tickets sold this quarter vs last.
Looking farther back, the high for average ticket pricing before Q3 2010 was 2010 Q1, aka The Avatar Quarter. Q2 dropped 7¢, Q3 dropped another 17¢ to $7.71.
Then it was a 30¢ leap in Q4 2010 , when six of the top 12 movies were in 3D, representing more than $950m or a third of the domestic gross in the quarter.
There was a 15¢ drop in Q1 2011, when, as noted earlier, there was not a lot of successful 3D product.
As you’ll notice, if you go back to look at Q4 2010, this 20¢ increase from last quarter is less than a 1% increase from then, suggesting that Q1 2011 was an anomaly (it may represent “off-season” numbers, but it was also heavily affected by the lack of a 3D animated film) and that 3D is doing a little less well at a percentage of tickets sold for 3D-available films.
$75m – $125m of 3D bump revenue in a quarter may seem like a lot. And it is a lot of money. But when an overall gross in the quarter of almost $3.2 billion, and the average cost of marketing rivaling the overall added 3D take, the issue of opportunity costs must be becoming part of the conversation at studios. Also, there is the question, even though the majority of actual screenings – as opposed to the venue count they keep offering up each week – is 50% 3D or less for most 3D movies, whether the all-3D marketing is leaving audiences who have had enough – of the form and/or the price bump – skipping titles all together.
(Now, I wait for the first comment correcting some math error I made. Hopefully, not.)
It was short, but it was sweet.
We we brought there by Paramount to look at a bit of The Adventures of Tintin and how it was made. So that meant a discussion with Steven Spielberg & Peter Jackson and a trip to the mo-cap stage, where the camera worked perfectly for Peter… and then crapped out when they were about to give us all a moment in the driver’s seat. But standing in that room, I have to say, the possibilities were more fascinating than ever.
I have always said that the revolutionary idea of Avatar was not 3D, but the virtual camera. And watching it in Pete’s hands, I feel exactly the same way. The next great evolution is figuring out how to use the virtual technology for a non-animated film.
The majority of the new stuff that we saw was action, some of which had John Williams score on it that was just a couple of days of the scoring stage.
I think it looks and feels like Spielberg. It’s more on the edgy side than I saw coming – I didn’t know that Captain Haddock was such an accomplished boozer – but when he and Snowy share a bottle, it’s quite a scene. I don’t know how Haddock ended up looking so much like James Lipton of Inside The Actors Studio. Given that the art was being done where Lipton is not known, it’s a remarkable coincidence.
For me – and perhaps this was driven by what we saw – Snowy was the star of this film. Step off, Scooby Doo, there is a new dog in town who is about to become Top Movie Dog. (Reminds me… great line from Spielberg, speaking of America’s lack of Tintin love… “Most of the people my age probably think it’s Rin Tin Tin.”)
More on what we saw later. For now, a couple of shot from Wellington, where WETA contributes to the public are scene. And from the bathroom at the airport, where social networking has a whole new flavor.
It’s 10a in Wellington.
I miss my family, I worry often about whether runs on banks will start before I get home (excessive, yes, but people will behave in unexpected ways to threats… “buy gold” is being turned into the “build bomb shelters in your yard” by the extremist right… and this group is willing to drop the bomb on their own neighbors), and I’m already sad that I only have one more day on this wonderful country.
A stop at the local multiplex turned up a list of movies that was almost indistinguishable from the multiplex at home… surrounded by a food court. (Maybe I’m really in Toronto!)
Nice dinner with the parade of “webmasters” down here with me, though I am reminded that I work a different side of the street than the “geek sites.” I’m also old and remember the good old bad old days of the web from a different perspective, for better or worse.
We’re here to see Tintin stuff… looking forward to it. As it turns out, only AICN’s Quint was at ComicCon to see that Tintin event, so it will be fresh to most of us. And it won’t, we’re told, just be a repeat of that material.
More to come…
Heading far, far away. Be gentle. Please raise the debt ceiling before I land.
The new season of Entourage is good… though a LOT happened in the off-season.
It was, oddly, a pretty shock-free weekend. Potter’s drop is utterly reasonable, given last weekend. Captain America, whether the number ends up being slightly better than Thor or slightly under Thor, is pretty much The Marvel Number now… which is not to say every opening matches, but the end result, at least domestically, pretty consistent.
Sony is, no doubt, a little disappointed with the Friends With Benefits launch. But the answer to “why?” is pretty clear in the demographics in the exit polling… 56% over 25. Timberlake & Kunis are celebrities and popular with young audiences, but the college kids and younger didn’t show up in force to watch them have sex and fall in love. (SPOILER ALERT! Ha.) Less problematic, but also telling about the box office is a 62% female audiences. It seems that, for fifth R-rated comedy this summer, the answer was “not dirty enough.”
It’s really been a remarkable summer run for these films, whether the critical consensus was great, good, weak, or hateful. The Hangover: Part II leads with $252m domestic. Then Bridesmaids with $164m. And heading to the $100 million mark are both Horrible Bosses and Bad Teacher, with Bosses on its way to passing Ms Diaz in the next couple of weeks. FWB will probably end up grossing in the low 60s. And we still have The Change-Up coming. Some would put 30 Minutes Or Less in that category too.
Meanwhile, FWB also extends the “seen it before” theme of the weekend, as its opening is just about a million more than Easy A, with a then little-known-by-name Emma Stone. Maybe Sony should set up a lunch for Will Gluck with Adam Sandler, who specializes in drawing teen boys to the theaters. Or not. I like Gluck’s films and would hate to see them ruined by chasing boys with fart jokes.
Meanwhile, it’s looking like the search for $400m domestic between Transformers 3 and Potter 8 could come up short for both films. And it’s also possible that Tr3 will end up staying ahead of Pot8 domestically. Internationally, Potter is likely to win that battle. But at home, with Trannies 3 heading up to, perhaps, $375m domestic, it’s easy to forget that Potter has never done $320m domestic, much less $400m. It will be the biggest Potter here, but overtaking the autobots will not be easy.
ADD: Paramount reports that TR3 has now hit $882.4m worldwide, making it the biggest of the trilogy.
Finally, in the same theme, Woody Allen’s audience is back to a precision target set by Sony Classics… and even losing screens, the film is estimated to be exactly even with last weekend. Impressive.
The breathlessness of it… is he really that nervous/excited or just faking? We’ll never really know.
Time for Harvey to re-release Boy A.