Box Office Archive for April, 2010

Box Office Hell, pre-Iron Age Edition

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Weekend Estimates (via pad)

The only significant variation from Friday is placement. The numerical positioning is nothing but a marketing tool. This is my way of saying that whether Kick-Ass was #1 or #100, the gross is what matters…. and the only disappointment is balanced against the hype.
That and at Lionsgate, where Carl Icahn just avoided another $1 a share to close the deal. This was the company not having the sucess that would prove how smart they are with a pick-up. I wonder whether their bankers will be happy to wait until Killers to see if Icahn has to raise his price or the stock starts sliding beyond recovery.
Like Lionsgate, Sony is touting how cheap Death At A Funeral was compared to the opening. Fair enough. Interesting, however, that the film has underperformed expectations twice in 3 years now. Has to be some kind of record.

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Box Office Hell Kicks Ass

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Weekend Box Office by Klady (Actuals Mal Look Different In Rear View Mirror)

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So is Clash of the Titans really doing more than 3x Friday this weekend? Dubious.
Last weekend, putting the late Thursday screenings aside, Clash still only did less than 2.5x Friday over 3 days, dropping 18% from Friday to Saturday. This does not suggest that the film is playing as a kids film. But this weekend, in a battle for a second weekend in first, the studio is estimating the film into that kind of trajectory.
Unlike Clash, the estimate for Date Night wouldn’t actually be surprising off of the Friday number.
And a kids film, like Dragon, is expected to do more than 3x Friday, as kids don’t go to matinees on Fridays in huge numbers, as a rule.
My guess would be that the real numbers are going to be more like Date at 26, Dragon at 25, and Clash at 24. But we’ll see what the “actuals” end up being.
Next…
I keep trying to make the point that the actual grosses of modest studio movies, dramas and simple comedies, are not actually down, but up. The problem is not, as studios keep whining to the media, that dramas aren’t selling. It’s that the studios have been making these movies for 2x and 3x what they should be making them for, making good grosses for the genre into red ink fountains. You shouldn’t always have to be a surprise smash to break even.
Evidence this week is She’s Out Of My League, which screams, “Flop.” But even as it fades to black, it did $30 million domestic. Six years ago, when the similarly themed The Girl Next Door flopped, it grossed just under $15m domestic.
Even in IndieVille, Girl With The Dragon Earring and The Runaways are looking at $3 million-plus domestic. For one thing, only 16 movies last year went on between 125 and 225 total screens in their runs. Of those 16, 5 outperformed what these two films seem likely to do. Two were long-legged docs (The September Issue and Food, Inc.), one was the Almodovar, one was The Brothers Bloom, pushed as a commercial film, and the most successful was the Indian niche film, 3 Idiots.
Interestingly, there were just under 50 releases all of last year that were on between 100 and 1000 screen releases, from the beginning or by the end. The middle class is dead. It’s dead, in part, by the will of the industry. But it is also dead because it is hard. It’s hard on marketers and it’s hard on consumers. The ticket buyers intuitively understand whether the distributor thinks a movie is fish or foul. And in that middle, they tend to assume that anything under 1000… or really, 1500 screens, is an arthouse movie.
Again, this speaks to the lie that The Hurt Locker was a box office victim of Iraq. it was a victim of a timid release that signaled that the film could be disregarded by audiences looking for a more mainstream movie experience. As a result, THL is likely to become the first post-theatrical cult movie that also won Best Picture. When people finally see it, it will not be what was expected.
And the sad fact is that it looks like most people will still discover the film on cable/satellite, as even with the Oscar bump, the DVD sales are running behind such pulp as Law Abiding Citizen and multiples behind such quality popular fare as The Blind Side.
But I digress…
Even a movie like Greenberg… good numbers for an arthouse release with Ben Stiller. Only The Royal Tenenbaums and Flirting With Disaster did better in small releases. And it will be Noah Baumbach’s #2 grosser, behind the Oscar-running The Squid & The Whale’s $11.1 million worldwide. What were people expecting?
Perhaps it is the culture that has grown out of box office obsession. Perhaps it is bad journalists buying into the spin of studios that want to shift the focus from their bloated budgets of recent years to the box office “failures” that must be the fault of the stars or the genre. The bottom line remains that The Blind Side was a $250 million drama, Avatar was a $2.7b action movie, and Precious was Lionsgate’s #5 movie last year, less than $9 million from the #2 film.
We have embraced the hype as the truth. Bad news.

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Friday Estimates by Klady (Slow & Date-y)

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So Date Night is looking at an opening pretty much in line with The Bounty Hunter, It’s Complicated, Julie & Julia, Bride Wars, What Happens in Vegas, Fool’s Gold, etc, etc, etc.
In other words, same shit, same market, pretty predictable opening result, having little to nothing to do with quality.
Truth is, neither Carrell nor Fey have any real history in this kind of position in this kind of movie. Fey actually is a step up on Carrell with Baby Mama, which opened to $17.4m… pretty close.
Non-event.
There is nothing surprising or particularly defining of Clash of the Titans in a 67% 1stFriday-to-2ndFriday drop. Both Bond and Twilight 1 had similar Friday drops last year from a similar opening gross. I’m not defending the movie. Just saying that it would be easy – and wrong – to make Friday’s number into a big drama.
Non-event.
15 days in, Dragon – as Paramount marketing is calling it – is still running slightly behind Monsters Vs Aliens domestically… and slightly ahead internationally.
Non-event.
The new Tyler Perry, like all Tyler Perry, has a big second Friday drop. This one is a little steeper, but…
Non-event.
Letters To God is yet another Jesus flick released to around a million dollars. Until it gets past $4 million domestic…
Non-Event.
And now that I have wasted all of our time… I bid you a fine fare thee well.

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Weekend Estimate by Klady… IN 3DDDDDD

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Friday Estimates by Klady… Clashy

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WB’s search for 302 continued to come up short today, as the real story of Clash of the Titans is not the 3D, but the third shot at a massive genre hit in roughly the same time period… only at twice the price, both times, as 300… and without the same box office results. Clash seems destined to do a touch better than Watchmen, especially internationally. But what made this slot a cash cow was a film that cost $80m or less (depending who you ask) doing $450m worldwide. A film that costs over $125m to produce and grosses under $300m worldwide is a borderline movie that could be in the red and is not going to produce much green, but will eat a lot of the resources of a studio for month.
And this is with the 3D price bump. Without it, you might be looking at Watchmen numbers or just a skootch above, which would mean red ink for sure on this movie.
A $60m+ domestic opening can’t be considered anyone’s disaster… but it’s not a particularly happy occasion. Meanwhile, Alice is nearing $700 million worldwide… and if you think that’s primarily because of 3D, you are a sucker of the highest order. A legendary brand (Alice) meets what seems to be the perfect filmmaker for it (Burton) and add a massively popular star known for quirky characters (Depp) and that’s what accounts for at least a $500m worldwide smash, 3D or not.
Meanwhile, How To Train Your Dragon, which seems to be fairly well liked, continues to be behind Monsters Vs Aliens at the domestic box office. Again, $400m worldwide is not a horrifying number… but it’s not groundbreaking in any way either.
So… maybe the 3D drunks will be sobered sooner than I expected.
Tyler Perry’s exploration into branding – first Medea and now a sequel to a non-Medea success – is probably going to deliver his second best opening ever. The fact that Perry ended up at Lionsgate is one of the great stories of the big studios missing the train in history. He is – in spite of being a bit of a demanding diva with unreasonable expectations – a dream franchise that any studio would love to have. By himself, he probably produces as much profit as half of Screen Gems each year. Of course, he eats more of the cream off the top than Screen Gems cheapie players do. But still… give the man HUGE props. He’s no Hitchcock… but on a financial level, he’s Hitchcock… and then some.
The Last Song is likely to be an underrated opening. $20 million or so isn’t Dear John, but for romantic dramas, it’s a strong number, bigger than The Time Traveler’s Wife, for instance. Another hit for the old regime.

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Box Office Hell Clashes In 3D

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Box Office

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“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima

“They’re still talking about the ‘cathedral of cinema,’ the ‘communal experience,’ blah blah. The experiences I’ve had recently in the theatre have not been good. There’s commercials, noise, cellphones. I was watching Colette at the Varsity, and halfway through red flashes came up at the bottom of the frame. A woman came out and said, ‘We’re going to have to reboot, so take fifteen minutes and come back.’ Then they rebooted it from the beginning, and she had to ask the audience to tell her how far to go. You tell me, is that a great experience? I generally don’t watch movies in a cinema at all. Netflix is the future. It’s the present. But the whole paradigm of a series, binge-watching, it’s quite different. My first reaction is that it’s more novelistic, because if you have an eight-hour season, you can get into complex, intricate things. You can let it breathe and the audience expectations are such that they will let you, where before they wouldn’t have the patience. I think only the surface has been touched with experimenting with that.”
~ David Cronenberg