The Box Office Report – April 15-17

Last week, in Box Office…

Oh boy — that was a fucking massacre. Everything failed.

Repeat: everything.

That is to say, not that there wasn’t a success in the bunch, but, when no new release makes above $12.5 million, it’s September. Wow.

Hop won the weekend just by being. It had a standard kid’s film drop of 43%, finishing with $21.3 million. That is exactly what it was going to do no matter what, so, nothing surprising there. The surprises are what’s to come.

Now, almost everyone predicting this — just to show you how fucked up the whole system is — figured Arthur would finish second with around — whatever million. I forget. I think I said last week. It was somewhere between $14 million on a bad weekend and $18-19 million on a good weekend. More and more this year I’m seeing films get these crazy predictions for the weekend, ones that I sit and go, “That’s not even close to what I’d think it would do.” And I realized — they really don’t know what the fuck to do with this changing box office landscape. They have no fucking idea. They’re going on what they used to go one, which is — fuck knows. They tabulate shit based on advertising levels or whatever and apparently by gauging Twitter, which is about as accurate a gauge at box office success as licking someone’s nuts is an accurate way to guess somebody’s age. If you can get it right most of the time, you belong in a carnival.

I realized that, they’re just doing their own tracking. These are studio influenced numbers. For instance, the studio releases their estimates of what they think it will do, then the box office sites take it and do their thing, then I read those and do my thing. And you notice that when all is said and done, the truth lies somewhere in between. Probably it’s closer to famous potatoes. But, their tracking on Arthur was way off from the start. It just felt wrong. I couldn’t see how the film could do $18 million. I think I said as much. And I think I predicted like $14 million on it, didn’t I? Or did I puss out and say “I’ll make my prediction after I see it?” Which was my way of saying, “I don’t want to predict it to fail because it could be good. But once I know it’s shit I’ll happily laugh at it’s failure.” My point here is, I just need to trust the gut, yet again. And, America — I’m so happy with you right now. You’re really redeeming yourself.

Right now, from January through April, here’s what I know. The three best movies to come out have been The Adjustment Bureau, Source Code and Hanna. Also, people really are avoiding the shit for the most part. I mean, there have been some slip ups, like that weekend that Bieber and Sandler combined for $70 million, but you know, even that is a majority of the kids and the idiots in Middle America who like Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. That I accept. These are the same people who watch American Idol and Two and a Half Men. Not only that, they watch them and are entertained by them. So, you know, I can forgive that, because, nobody’s perfect, and you can’t expect perfection. If you prick me do I not bleed, asked the virgin. But, by and large, nearly every weekend, the films that should have failed, actually failed. And by should have failed, I mean, the ones that clearly the studios expected hits out of but in reality were assembly line, manufactured garbage. And studios expect they can just churn out shit and still turn out a profit, but this year, a lot of the stuff has been going down in flames. (Perhaps the problem is that all important “first weekend,” which has really hurt the business. Remember when Raiders of the Lost Ark was #1 for like 20 straight weeks? Well, neither do I, I wasn’t alive then, but still. Now a film is out for like six weeks and then you never hear from it again. And worse, if a film finishes #1 for more than 2 weekends in a row it’s considered a major achievement (and chances are, if it does that, the film is automatically set to become one of the top 100 grossing films of all time). So to see stuff fail is fucking sweet. Oh man, is it sweet. I wonder how long this will keep up, because, the longer it does, the more hilarity is gonna come out of the studios. (Note: I guarantee you they’ll find so many things to put the blame on that aren’t them. And they have that whole, “We’re the professionals, fuck you, we know what we’re doing attitude,” that, it’ll really take a fucking zeppelin explosion before they start really paying attention. And oh man, am I waiting for that Hindenburg. The Spider-Man reboot opening to less than $50 million first weekend, that would be a Hindenburg. Oh man, I cannot wait.)

Anyway, back to the numbers. I said all that to say — despite all the prognosticating, Arthur did not finish second.

Finishing second this weekend was Hanna — which I can personally attest to as being fucking incredible — with $12.4 million. This may seem like a low number, but, this is exactly what this film needed to do. It had a $30 million budget. So, this film is guaranteed to end up with a nice profit when all is said and done. That is incredible. I am so happy for this film to succeed (and for Arthur to not. Just so now I can talk about Arthur and people, instead of being like, “You mean that Russell Brand movie?” would be like, “Didn’t Russell Brand make a remake of this?” and when I answer affirmatively, go, “Didn’t do so well, did it?” and I smile and go, “Nope”), it really was great.

Finishing right behind it in third was Arthur, with $12.2 million. Ooh, that’s gotta hurt. And why does it hurt? Because the film was budgeted at $40 million. And that’s just “estimated,” which means, you know it was more. That’s the “official” number. Reshoots, advertising — yeah, this film needed to do about $6 million more than it did. Which is why they pumped that number up. I think it’s because people think, “Oh it’s supposed to do well this weekend, maybe we should see it.” Nuh uh. Didn’t wory. Sorry, studios, this is what you get when you tamper with genius. Now I can watch this film with no hard feelings whatsoever. Except for Helen Mirren. Schwing!

Seriously though, watch the original Arthur, it’s incredible. I’m at the point where I don’t laugh out loud at movies any more, usually I’ll chuckle and appreciate jokes, but I rarely laugh out loud. As someone who makes jokes all the time, you just become desensitized to the whole thing. So, when I say, I laughed out loud at the original Arthur, I mean it. I laughed, consistently. And I’d only seen it for the first time in August. Remember the date too. August 31st. I hadn’t laughed that hard in a movie in a long time. It’s seriously one of the funniest movies ever made. Even AFI thinks so. It’s on their 100 greatest comedies list.

Finishing fourth was Soul Surfer, which did overperform, to the tune of $10.6 million. Good for it. I have nothing against films like this. Let them succeed. The only thing I have against this movie is — too much Jesus. But you know, whatever. They didn’t make it for me. So, let it succeed. It wasn’t supposed to do more than like $9 million. It did 10. Great. Let it get as wide an audience as possible because, this is the kind of kids movie they should be making for the kids.

Finishing fifth, with $9.4 million, was Insidious. How the fuck this piece of shit held to a 29.4% drop is beyond me. It’s at $26.7 million after two weeks. You know, whatever. I don’t watch horror movies, so, let them do what they want. They’re not budgeted highly, they don’t make too much money, except the occasional Paranormal Activity, and those are really the ones I have problems with anyway, so, whatever. Let the film do what it does. It won’t hit $50 million. Plus, they made it for $1.5 million. And any film budgeted under $20 million deserves any money it gets. So, you know what? I’m turned around on this. Good for it.

Finishing sixth was — oh boy — Your Highness, with $9.4 million. Whoa, boy. Either this film really is as bad as everyone says, or it’s destined to be a cult film. Everything I’ve seen say this is actually not as funny as I’d have expected. And yet, that original red band trailer was hilarious, so, I’m guessing that, even if this film ends up shitty, I will laugh, which will make it okay. It was a $50 million movie, so — I don’t know. I’ll reserve judgment until I see it. I’m okay with seeing this in theaters because, if it’s bad, well it already failed, and if it’s good, I’m helping it out. And also, I’ll probably be high. So really it doesn’t matter how bad it is, because I’ll make it funny if it isn’t.

(Note: I feel the best time to see this movie would be at like 2:30 in the afternoon, high as balls. Because you know the theater will be empty, and then you can be as loud as you want. I guarantee a good time for all.)

Finishing seventh, with a nice 41% drop, was Source Code, with $8.7 million. It’s at $28 million after two weekends, and will recoup it’s $32 million budget within the week, which is fucking amazing. Go, Source Code. This, folks, is how movies should work (most of the time). Normal-sized budgets, not too much advertising (I hope they didn’t spent too much on ads for this, I really do), and a good chance to be profitable right off the bat, so as to engender more films like it. It’s like Hollywood has become about tricking people into the seats. “Look, we’re going to bombard you with commercials and billboards, and then you have to come see us!” and then they get you and are like, “Ha ha! Got you, bitch!” And make their money opening weekend and go, “See! See! A hit! Let’s make twelve more just like it.” meanwhile the following week they lose 60% of their audience. What really is a hit is so skewed you can’t really gauge it anymore.

Finishing eighth was Limitless, with an astounding $5.5 million. The film has made $64.1 million so far. That’s fucking insane. I guess, though, it’s fine. I’d rather be dealing with a film like Limitless instead of a film like Sucker Punch.

Which, that’s right folks, you guessed it, it’s time once again for our now weekly segment, “Let’s all laugh at Sucker Punch.” Sucker Punch finished with another $2.1 million, to take its robust total up to $34 million. For those keeping track, it’s now $49 million short of recouping its budget domestically. Not counting, of course, the amount of money that went into advertising the film — which, I’ll leave you to take a harpoon to what that cost was. Worldwide, the film has grossed (this is including its domestic total) $65.9 million. This is what it was supposed to be doing domestically — after two weekends.

Pause to appropriately respond to that fact.

Okay, now, moving on…

On some housekeeping duties, I like to keep track of certain things for personal reasons. The first is that Rango is at $117.5 million domestically, and should finish around 120. Worldwide the film has grossed $229.7 million, about $100 million over its budget. I bet they’re already asking if a sequel is possible. Considering Gore Verbinski’s track record (The Ring and Pirates of the Caribbean) the odds are likely.

The other thing I’m tracking is Battle: Los Angeles, which, has grossed $186 million worldwide, and $81.2 million domestically, off a $70 million budget. I think this is one instance where I can officially say — what the fuck is wrong with you, world? But not you, America. You did all right on this one.

On a positive note, however, The Adjustment Bureau has crossed $60 million domestically and $100 million worldwide, which is fucking awesome. And I like to end things on a good note, so…

Onto the new releases…

The two big new releases this week are, first, Rio, an animated movie about a bird. See how this works? Hop comes out, then a week in between, then Rio comes out. This is how you space kids films. You’ll always be rolling in the dough. This film is tracking fucking huge. Huge huge. Like, $50 million huge. For the weekend. That’s right. If Hop can do $38 million, this should do close to 50. I hate predicting huge openings for shit like this, so I’m gonna lowball it and say it does like, $42 million. You know it’ll do 35 no problem, so really it amounts to whether it crosses 45 or 50. You just know it will. Never bet against a kids movie.

The second big opening this weekend (the one I will be going to, because they’ve earned my money) is Scream 4. I like this series, because they never spent more than $60 million on a budget. And that’s for the most bloated ones of the bunch. So this is how horror franchises should work. Don’t spend too much, make a profit, and, in this case, be actual good movies. I can’t speak so well of #3, or really #2 (just because they killed Jamie Kennedy like a bitch and then had him come back and help from the grave because they realized they fucked up), but one was amazing. I’m totally cool with this franchise coming out with another one. Because it’s not for the money, it’s out of “hey, this is how you fuckers should be doing it.”

On a side note – rant coming up – Eli Roth is what’s wrong with horror today. I never officially came out and said it, but he is. I never liked his movies, and he comes off like a huge douche. But I don’t care how he acts, I’m sure he’s a nice guy. And he’s a film guy, so that makes him okay by me (not that it matters or he cares whatsoever). But, he’s the one that lead to this stupid fucking torture porn that’s been the leading brand of horror today. It’s fucking awful. The reason this rant exists is because I watched an old film this week – The Bad Seed – a film that’s kind of like Orphan done right.

It’s about a nine year old girl who, on the surface is seemingly perfect. That is, she’s kind, polite, and comes off well to others. She’s also a serial killer. But not like, in the Ted Bundy sense. She’s like – any time someone doesn’t let her do what she wants, she makes sure they die. And makes it look like an accident. It’s because she was born to a mother who was a serial killer and has inherited the tendencies. And in the film, she only kills two people, and it’s implied (and later overtly stated) that she killed a third (and is planning on killing a fourth, but that’s heavily implied and not overtly stated). Basically, a kid in school wouldn’t give her a medal he won in a contest in which he beat her. So she conveniently made sure he drowned and took the medal after he was dead. And the film is about that. And then she has to kill another dude later (by setting him on fire, no less), because he figures out she did it. It’s a great film.

Anyway, after I watch a film (or during, if I’m really not enjoying it), I check Wikipedia for trivia or whatever. It’s what we do nowadays. Wikipedia, IMDB, that’s the age we live in. So I’m looking at the page for this film, and I see that Eli Roth wants to do a remake of it. And he phrases it in such a way that basically says, “Yeah, I want to do a remake of it, but for more modern sensibilities. You know, up the body count and the blood. And everything else will be the same. She’ll still be a nine-year-old girl who plays with dolls and listens to N Sync, and she also kills people.” And I’m like, why the fuck do you need that? Have you even seen this original? What makes it work is that the girl is fucking creepy, not that she kills people. You’re fascinated just watching this kid – whom you know is guilty, that’s not ever in question – blatantly lie to get out of situations and pull such sociopathic stunts that it’s incredible. Why do you need the body count?

Okay, rant off. Also, I will point out, Scream never did that. Scream always did things with the knowledge that it was part of the genre.

Which, forecasting. Scream, I’m hoping, should open to around $25 million this weekend. That sounds about right. I’m thinking like $22-25 million. I think it still holds the appeal to top 20 for the weekend. I don’t think it’ll do 30, but it could surprise, you never know. But $22-25 million sounds about right.

Also, The Conspirator is opening, but it’s less than 1,000 theaters and, a historical drama about Abe Lincoln, so, this thing will be lucky to make more than like $2 million.

And now, for the holdovers…

Hop is gonna fall and fall fast. You’re looking at at least a 50% drop, which puts the film around $10-11 million. Don’t go less than 10, unless you think Rio is going to so huge as to take away guaranteed audience, and don’t go over 12. It should almost certainly be in the range I said — $10-11.5 million.

Hanna should get good word of mouth, methinks, or at the least should have not so much trouble gaining an audience, since the major films are kids movies and slasher films. This is the only action-ish movie out there. So I think it should have a healthy weekend. With 12 last week, I’d say you can get $7-8 million out of it this weekend, which would be really nice. Here’s hoping for $9 million. I doubt it, but, a man can dream.

Arthur, however, should not fare as lucky as Hanna did. I’m not gonna guarantee a huge slide, because whenever I count a movie out, it manages to exceed my figures. So, with $12 million last weekend, you’re looking at a 50% drop to $6 million. $7 million is not out of the question. See that? I’m taking into account overperformance. I’m not just counting on it to do $6 million. Though, if the final number is less than $5.9 million and change, whoa boy. But, the film isn’t so horrible as to deserve that, so I really don’t think it will suffer too horrible a fate. I say $6-7 million, closer to 6.

And, Your Highness. The carcass is still smoldering. Standard 50% drop gives it between $4-5 million. That much is guaranteed. For optimal results, the film is hoping for $5.5 million. Will it get it? It’s possible. I’m going.

Oh, yeah, the others. Insidious should fall to under $5 million. Maybe it’ll do 5, but, Scream seems to be taking business from it. Soul Surfer should do between $5-6 million, closer to five. But, you never know. Could hold. Not that hold implies more than a few hundred grand, but, when you get specific, you need to try to get the showcase as close as possible without going over. And Source Code, well, 50% gives it close to $5 million. Let’s hope for 5.

That’s it.

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