Box Office Archive for July, 2011

Friday Estimate by MuthaSmurfin’ Klady

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.

No sell.

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.

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4 Day Estimates by Vehicular Klady

So… Transformers 3 will be either the #2 or #3 best domestic July 4 weekend in history, depending on how it does today. The fly in the ointment, so to speak, would be Spider-Man 2, which is within a million dollars or so of Trannies 3 in the estimates. But either way – it only matters because the media has made simplicity into a primary mode of reporting – it was a very happy weekend. Internationally, Paramount is estimating $217m to AP right now, putting it at just under $400m worldwide at the end of our holiday weekend. Half-Blood Potter was the leader in worldwide openings with $394 million.

Once again, the issue of the 3D bump rises up. Two things. First, the “percentage of venues vs the percentage of revenue” thing remains very misleading because the actually number of showtimes in 3D vs 2D tends to be much lower than the venue percentage. Second, this means fuck all when it comes to the issue of whether 3D is viable for as wide a swath of titles each year as the industry is currently geared up for. This is a massive franchise, it actually offers the possibility of a superior 3D experience, and the must-see is mighty. Same will be true of Potter. But these are the exceptions that mean little to the rule.

As noted last week, Summit just pushed away from 3D for The Three Musketeers as its big selling point. Way away. Others will follow. I would suggest to the studios that they either try to impose a consistent flat rate of $2 for regular 3D and $3 for IMAX 3D and market that… and if that doesn’t work financially, it’s time to stop the 3D experiment en masse. Jim Cameron’s dream and Jeffrey Katzenberg’s passion may be viable in concept, but not when the first things about it that strikes most consumers on most films is the cost, not the benefit.

As for the Cars 2 numbers, I am going to do a halfway-mark piece at some point this week, but I don’t think it’s very complex… too short a DVD window, too much 3D gouging (3D also dissuades under 5s from going to these movies), and too much product generating animated brand blur. Yet, I still see a final worldwide number that is perfectly Pixarian.

And the comic book movies… all three are $100 million domestic films… not one is (or will be) $200 million domestic films. Thor‘s ass was saved by unexpected international strength. X-Men: First Class also benefited from international, though not as much… but didn’t have as much of a budget either. And Green Lantern seems sure to be the weak sister in the end, though they haven’t been nearly as wide overseas yet. Thor was the strongest of the two movies that went for 3D and may have benefited greatly in this regard from being early in the 3D season.

And yes… R-rated comedies. 3 more coming this month. 2 of the first 3 this summer are already over $100m domestic and Bad Teacher has an outside shot at getting there. How much harder does that make it for the next 3?

Larry Crowne, which C. Nikki has made her “Gotta Kill It” movie of the week (does Ron Meyer want to ever be in business with Playtone again?) did fine, really. As noted before, the two stars of the movie are both more than 5 years out of the “major openers” business. This movie out-opened their last joint effort, which was much higher profile, much closer to their career heat, and in the launch of an Oscar race with Mike Nichols behind the camera. To be screeching about this being a bomb opening 3.5 years later is stupid at best, malicious at worst.

Here’s a “did ya know.” Tom Hanks has had NO openings a the male lead of a live-action film, aside from the Da Vinci Code movies (whose pans were worse than this film’s) over $31 million. And Julia Roberts has had ONE. Hanks has a long history of leggy films. Why? Because his audience, since the early days, has been adults.

This is not a mega-hit. But it will make a decent profit.

And by the way… Jim Carrey’s last live-action opening to do better than Popper’s Penguins? 2004.

Can we please try to live in the present, folks?

Trannies 3 will be the 5th film this year to gross more than $500 million worldwide. This includes Kung Fu Panda 2 and The Hangover: Part 2 The record remains 8 in a year (the last two years). I would expect Cars 2 to make it 6 before it runs out of gas.

TR3 also looks to be the second billion dollar ww film this year, matching last year’s record of 2 in a year before the year is 7 months over.

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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