“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
~ James Gray
Box Office Archive for March, 2008
So 21 will open over 21… which is good, because once people see this terrible waste of a great story on screen, they will not be doubling down. This is one of those movies that is so Hollywood by-the-book… so poorly constructed in its storytelling… so missing the boat in terms of the real drama of the story as evidenced by the book that the masterful, relentless sales job by Sony truly makes a Shinola opening out of, well… you get the idea.
On the other hand, The Weinsteins can’t even open crap parody movies anymore… unless you want to argue that $11 million is good for Superhero Movie, an unneeded farce.
Stop-Loss was never going to open for one clear reason… Paramount didn’t give a shit. Like Zodiac, the studio gave up on the film and a filmmaker they find “difficult” long ago and this still birth is the inevitable answer. Unlike Zodiac, Kimberly Pierce has no built-in rabid following, having squandered the momentum of Boys Don’t Cry five years ago already.
And for all the “people don’t want to see an Iraq” movie hum… bullshit. They will see the movie when The Movie arrives. In the meanwhile, the obnoxious choice of giving a movie a title that less than 10% of the world understands without an explanation with no stars who open and no clarity about what the film is about… an impossible sell. Sorry. Iraq was the least of their problems. And that is no judgment of the film… which I was not invited to see as far as I know. (It’s possible that an all-media invite escaped my attention.) The film could be genius… but it means nothing at the box office if no one is inspired to go.
Horton Hears A Who is almost exactly in line with Ice Age‘s box office run, which ended up at $176 million domestic. Actually, it will be a bit ahead after the second weekend… but that will probably be made up for by the more front-loaded box office as years pass. I expect Horton to top $150m domestic and not quite to get to $175m.
The $200m mark is still elusive to anyone but Disney/Pixar and DreamWorks Animation… but Fox is by far the strongest third player in the field, pretty much completely on the shoulders and visions of one man, Chris Wedge. The money Rushmore in modern animation, so far, is Lassetter, Katzenberg, Wedge, and Miyazaki (the most undervalued with the stunning financial success of his work everywhere but America).
I’m sure that no one at Lionsgate could talk, even off the record, about how frustrating it is to be stuck selling “a Madea movie” without using Tyler Perry’s best marketing tool… Madea. But Perry is desperate to “cross over” and he continues to make big profits with his films, so it is hard for the studio – as it would be for any studio – to push back. Still, you have to give Perry this… this will be his best “non-Madea” opening yet… even though Medea is in the movie. And that will be the discussion on Monday morning. Did the promise of Madea in some of the publicity draw that bigger audience or did the film make it without her?
Fox dumped Shutter, as they often do with little movies that just don’t have “it.”
Drillbit Taylor‘s marketing campaign was an uninspired as Owen Wilson’s unwillingness to do press. And really, as hard as it is to open a movie without your star promoting it, there is no excuse. Movies open WITHOUT any stars who open movies all the time. Gerry Rich has done a pretty damned good job for Paramount overall. But his love of the “big head” one-sheet was replaced by the “big foot/big crotch” one-sheet here… and Owen Wilson is not a big enough star to sell a movie that way. Sorry. At the last minute, they switched up the campaign to try to go after the Superbad audience (a movie that was opened without stars… and even with Apatow’s name, we found out with Walk Hard how irrelevant that really is… you gotta sell the movie!), but the impression was already made… the bad impression.
The sad story of the moment remains The Bank Job, which people love the way they loved The Italian Job, but could not take advantage. Expecting $100 million with Jason Statham in the lead was not appropriate. But barely cracking $20 milllion? That sucks. Lionsgate is a strong marketer in the genres in which they excel, but bottom line, they sold the movie like it was the direct-to-dvd of an I-Job sequel and never got close to the adults they needed to triple their gross. A shame.
Not much more to add to this story.
A couple of small things struck me.
1) There are only seven movies in wide release right now with as many as 100 people a day buying tickets in each theater… not per show… per day.
2) Juno isn’t going to hit $150 million, which seemed like where it was going back in the Oscar heat. Likewise, The Bucket List, which was at $75 million and still doing $5 million a weekend, will also land just over $90 million total. I would imagine that both are victims of the DVD window.
Horton Hears A Who will push to get to Ice Age‘s opening number of $46.3 million, but will come up short. Still, it will be the best non-summer, non-holiday animation opening other than the Ice Age movies. It will also repesent Fox’s fourth entry onto the list of 20 best CG animation openings, still the only studio to crack the Disney/Pixar-DreamWorks stranglehold.
The trouble with this film is that the film skews a little too young to have a bigger opening weekend audience, no matter how hard Fox shoves it down our throats. Fox could have pushed the quirkiness of the film to teens, but in doing so, might have turned off the parents of the little kids. Look for a touch more psychodelia in the second weekend ads to come.
10,000 BC may break even. But the film, picked up by WB for the 300 slot after being passed on by Fox and Sony, is relying on what will eventually happen in Japan and France to make a buck (and DVD, obviously).
The movie may be okay in the end, but the cautionary tale is there… cool CG imagery is not enough… it has to be the right CG imagery to capture the imagination of potential audiences. Conversely, the ads for the DVD of I Am Legend look better than the ads for the movie, even focusing on the CG images that were a problem for some… TV vs theatrical. Expect the film to be even bigger in DVD than its considerable success in theaters.
Never Back Down is the latest “urban” effort to undertrack. No real surprise there.
Universal’s Doomsday reminded us yet again that not every studio can market every movie. The Neil Marshall movie would have been opened to double the number at Screen Gems. They just know how to sell the crap out of the female-led action movie. And Universal handing the film to Rogue to market wouldn’t neccessarily have been better either, as they haven’t had success in that genre. But isn’t that the idea? Why rev up the machinery of the big studio to sell the non-Tomb Raider?
On the flip side, a movie like The Bank Job would have been well served by a big studio release… even though Lionsgate is great at selling small window films. Hitman did $40 million domestic… with a less known star than Bank Job.
And Jumper, ready to fall out of the Top Ten next weekend, reminds us that Doug Liman is still a very interesting (and often undisciplined) filmmaker – Jumper: The Series could be a big hit – but that he really needs stars to be put into the middle of his madness to give the marketers something to give to audiences to hang onto when they sell the wild ride.
So, in classic industry style, 10,000 BC went from being underestimated to overestimated to – shockshock – a dissapointment. This is the nature of a bunch of people obsessively pretending to know something when everyone is actually playing telephone, essentially looking at the same set of numbers interpreted through 20 different prisms and, in the end, guessing. Tracking is an inaccurate science. It has a purpose, but guessing numbers at the Friday canrnival is not one of them. Nor do Friday matinees always mean what they seem to. Etc, etc, etc,
Regardless, 10,000 BC will open to half what 300 did last year, as ia lmost always the case when a studio chases a phenom. I have no followed the campaign terribly closely, particularly because I was away for a key week of it, but I have noticed that the use of images got hotter and more compelling late in the game. Since that is all you have to sell, really, it seems to me that if they didn’t have the images to sell early on, they should have pushed the movie back a bit. Sadly put, the CG animals look like something we all saw when they were selling Alexander. If that’s all there was, Jeff Robinov screwed up by spending all that money and effort on it.
But the truth is, we all know that Jeff Robinov has been a mediocre top movie exec for years now, living off of franchises that are hard to ruin while making some of the most expensive misses in movie history. Maybe marketing – still without a chief – could have done better. But you have to have the images to sell. And any exec spending more than 100 million making and selling any one movie better be thinking clearly about how they are going to sell it going into the process. Last year’s phenom + Mr Day After Tomorrow, which opened in spite of critics, who were mostly kept out, does not neccessarily + anything but mush.
Ironically, what Robinov has been best about, is making some of the smaller movies, like Michael Clayton, that don’t need to be huge earners. WB has always been defined by the big movies, however… and the studio has become a bit inept in that area, saved only by the ability to lay off costs on sucker hedge funds.
Disney tried to market to the black family audience. Disney missed… though expect that $3.5m Friday to look closer to 14 than 9 when the weekend is over.
The Italian Job minus Wahlberg and Theron equals Why Jason Statham is still stuck doing action movies like The Bank Job.
And unless international is huge, Jumper at under $80 million domestic, is easily the biggest flop of the new year. It wasn’t cheap. And it wasn’t good. Doug Liman is a mad genius… but the demand that he include big names in future projects will be an absolute must for him to get any serious money from a studio anytime soon.
The Be Kind, Rewind/Semi-Pro double feature IMAX re-release may be in trouble.
$15m isn’t really a disaster for Will Ferrell… but it does indicate that an annual franchise of Ferrell in a dumb sports spoof is not a great idea. They got away with Blades of Glory, but let’s not forget Kicking & Screaming. The odd thing is that this idea, if it was clearly a close variation to Slap Shot, with Ferrell’s version of Paul Newman being more comedic, but with his leading a group of identifiably off-beat characters into his dream of selling the team, it could have been a smash. In other words… can’t blame Ferrell… marketing wasn’t sensational, but what did they have to sell?