The Box Office Report – April 22-24

Last week, in Box Office…

The expected happened once again. Sort of. Expected by me, anyway.

Rio wins the weekend with $39.2 million. Remember when everyone was like, “This will do $50 million,” and I was like, “I’m hesitant to say it’ll do that so I’m gonna say like, $42 million”? Yeah. Guess who was closer? We both still lost on the Price is Right, but at least I get to bid first next time.

There was really no way it should have doen more than $40 million. I don’t think it could have been that good. $40 million is now standard opening for an animated kids movie. Which I guarantee you the studios will notice and that in three years you will have at least one major animated kids movie a month. If not then they dropped the ball yet again and don’t want to make any money.

Just to provide more subjectivity, I’m very happy it didn’t actually cross $40 million, because, how good can it actually be? Let’s not have every shitty kids movie make money. We have to vote for reasonable success here. I’m also happy though that it did better than Hop, because that was fucking awful. I barely got through it. It took a lot of alcohol, and I kept the DVD of The Thin Man open in the background to remind me that better times were ahead. So, for me, this was the more optimal weekend for old flu balls there. Expect the sequel out in 2013.

Next, Scream 4 whelms, I guess is the word, since it didn’t really underwhelm, but, it also didn’t perform to my expectations. Which is fitting since, I saw it. It’s not really anything but another Scream movie. I thought they were gonna do some interesting stuff, then they didn’t. They just did the regular stuff. Then they did it with style. (The first ten minutes are some good shit.) The film is a lot like the person who ended up being the killer — a trooper. It went through the motions with complete dedication. And for that, I commend it. I also say this number is exactly where the movie should have ended up. I wonder how much more accurate I would be at predicting these numbers if I saw the films before the weekend started? New goal. Make that happen.

Oh, yeah, the film made $18.6 million. Which is a perfectly admirable opening weekend for a franchise that took a decade off. It probably won’t hold, and will most likely end up as the weakest entry in the franchise, but, honestly, this is a film that people will see in ancillary, plus, really, as much as I didn’t love it (just, respect it admirably. It didn’t disgrace the franchise), it’s still better than most of the horror movies I get stuck seeing (and somehow make way more money than this). What I mean is — at least it’s not torture porn. I hope it holds well. At least let it cross $50 million. Then I can be somewhat happy. Or let it do really well overseas or something.

Anyway, finishing third was Hop. Wow, remember when I said that this film was about 100% certain to finish somewhere between $10.5-11 million? It made $10.7 million. How fucking spot on can a person be? That was your standard 50% drop, and it performed right smack dab into where I expected it to. What more can you ask for? (Note: A better movie.)

Finishing fourth was — Hanna. I’m very happy about this. $7.3 million. $7-8 million was expected. I was hoping for more, but, hey, we knew that wasn’t going to happen. It’s cool, though. The film will pass its budget within the next ten days. That makes it a hit domestically. I will also repeat for those who are still unsure of whether to see it — it is the best movie to come out this year. This and The Adjustment Bureau. See them first.

Finishing fifth was — I’m checking as I write, so it’s like a surprise. You get my immediate response. It’s like Twitter, only posted like, days later — Soul Surfer. Oh, shit. It wasn’t Arthur. Wow. $7.3 million. It finished about $12,000 below Hanna. So, movies aimed at teenage girls — I think we have a dominant demographic, Hollywood. That’s a 31% drop. That’s pretty great. Maybe I shouldn’t ignore this movie like I was planning to. I should actually watch it now. It just recouped its $18 million budget in two weekends. Good for them. Let’s root for this movie to succeed. I like they way they did things.

Which means, finishing sixth was almost certainly — yup — Arthur. Whoa boy. $6.8 million. Oh, wait, that wasn’t so bad. I said $6 million, $7 million not out of the question. So, actually I guessed that spot on. Soul Surfer just overperformed. Hmm. Look at me. Guessing shit on the nose all weekend. And the one I was off on had to to with fan expectations. Surprise, surprise. But really though, Arthur has made only half its budget back after 2 weeks. Which, actually makes it okay. The film might actually make a profit, eventually. So, I guess it’s not so bad. It had six, relatively good days.

(Note: I watched the movie. As a remake of the first movie, it’s a piece of shit. As a standalone movie that uses simply the barebones situation of the first one and, sort of the characters, its decent. It’s a 3-star movie, barely, that I gave two stars because, you can’t fuck up Arthur like this. One, he doesn’t drink — at all — during the film. Like, at all. Also, you don’t show him sobering up and going to AA meetings. You took a brilliant film and turned it into a standard Hollywood-plotted film. That’s unforgivable. The film, though, is just — 2.5 stars.)

Insidious continues to amaze me. I’m trying real hard to get over my shitty horror movie bias and root for this film, since it was made for only $1.5 million and has now added another $6.7 million for the weekend — for a cool 28% drop, beating even my expectations — giving it a grand total of, $35.9 million. That’s about, 24x its budget. I think they are pleased with that. As they should be. I bet more of this will breed better films. I’m talking for other genres too.

Finishing eighth — shit, eight movies finished over $5 million. That’s impressive. Especially when the final movie is Source Code, which by default I guess would be the third best movie to come out this year. I liked it but didn’t love it. It was still smarter than 90% of the movies that come out between January and April, which makes it something I admire. It made another $6.2 million, a cool 28% drop, to bring its total to — $36.9 million. Not quite the box office success that Insidious is, but with a $32 million budget, this film will be a nice moneymaker for the studio, and that’s what I like to see. Smart films doing well.

On a brief side note, I do want to bring up two other movies I saw this year that, by default I called shitty, but actually, have really changed my mind about. Sort of. Limitless (about to cross $70 million domestically on a $27 million budget) and The Lincoln Lawyer (just crossed $50 million on a $40 million budget). These are two films based on books. Like, bestseller books. The kind of action novels that people read all the time. Now, I call them shitty because — let’s face it, they’re not incredible movies. But, as throwaway movies go, they’re actually really good. And they’re actually better than a lot of the throwaway movies I’ve been used to seeing over the better part of the past decade. Limitless was a solid 3-star movie, with very, very obvious problems (ones that really annoyed me), which, is why it got released in March. So that makes sense. And Lincoln Lawyer was dangerously close to being a 4-star movie for most of its run time. I actually finish around 3.5, leaning toward 4 on that one. Strangely. But, it was actually really entertaining. What I’m getting at here is — these are the types of throwaway movies we should be seeing. That’s all.

Now that the recap is mostly out of the way — I only tell you about films that made over $5 million — unless of course I have reason to tell you about other films. And boy george do I have reason to tell you about several films performing under $5 million this weekend.

We’ll start with the one I want to do the most, which is this week’s “Let’s all laugh at Sucker Punch” segment.

Sucker Punch, a film that I realized, upon attempting to speak about it this weekend, I have no recollection of what any of it was about (I couldn’t even remember the main villain, which shows just how much I tuned out while watching it), made another Scrooge McDuck-like — ooh — $606,000 — you read that right — $606,000. Wow, that’s gotta hurt. What a kick to the vag that must be. (Note: Because women are the protagonists.) The film is now at a staggering $35.3 million after four weeks of being in theaters. That puts it at just under $47 million shy of reaching its production budget domestically and about $3 million shy of reaching that budget internationally. That’s right, folks, Sucker Punch has only made $78 million, total, both foreign and domestically. Ladies and gentlemen, that is what I call — a bomb.

The other movie I need to keep track of, because I still haven’t seen it, and now all the reviews that are coming out are making me think it might actually be terrible — Your Highness has made another $4 million, which is the low end of being exactly what it was estimated to have done (at least, by me), and puts its total at $16 million after two weeks. Ouch. I’m really — interested — to see this one and see if it deserves this or not. This is just brutal.

And finally — a film I mentioned only in passing last week — The Conspirator — a film that opened to exactly 707 theaters (only 152 more than Sucker Punch) — made $3.5 million. That, is fucking incredible. That tells me two things — and should also tell the studios two things — one, people are starved for intelligent movies. The movies that have made money over the past six months are all kids movies and “adults” movies. For the most part. And it seems that all the “adults” movies that made money are actually good adults movies (relative to their release dates). I say adults because — most movies this decade are aimed at teenage boys. Action movies and shit. I’m talking like, dramas. When True Grit can make $170 million domestically, that’s a fucking miracle. And an audience that’s starved for good material. Second, and most importantly, older people still go to movies. Just because the movies are “aimed” at an older audience doesn’t mean that young people won’t go to them. Trust me on that. Example: The Conspirator and How Do You Know. Both aimed at older audiences. Guess which one has more play among younger crowds? The problem with studios is that they think old people aren’t a reliable audience. They are. They’re just not reliable in the two week window you feel you have to sell your movie. Your business model is all fucked up, Hollywood. It has been for quite some time. Notice how you’re starting to feel the burn of repercussions more and more each year. There is a reason for this.

Seriously though, I’m excited to see The Conspirator. This is exactly the kind of movie I would have went to see when I was 13. Maybe it was just me. Maybe that’s why we’re in this mess. (Note: It probably is.)

Anyway, that’s it for last week. Time to bring in the new…

There are three big movies opening this weekend, only two will really matter.

The big movie I guess — I say this because, they always make money and, only marginally for the pun — is Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family. Now, recently, the last few Tyler Perry movies havent’ done so well at the box office. This is either because black people are starting to realize that all his movies are the same and aren’t very good, or, it’s because they haven’t been Madea movies. Let’s recap:

Back in ’06, Madea’s Family Reunion — I’m leaving out the “Tyler Perry’s” part from now on. We know the motherfucker owns this stuff. He’s got his name on more things for black people than Snoop Dogg — opened with $30 million (and finished with $63 million). In 2007, Daddy’s Little Girls opened to $11.2 million (and closed to $31.4 million), and Why Did I Get Married? opened to $21.4 million (and closed at $55 million). In 2008, Meet the Browns opened to $20.1 million (and closed at $42 million), and The Family That Preys opened to $17.4 million (and closed at $37.1 million). In 2009, Madea Goes to Jail opened at $41 million (and closed at $90.5 million), and I Can Do Bad All By Myself opened to $23.4 million (and closed at $51.7 million). And finally, last year, Why Did I Get Married Too? opened to $29.3 million (and closed at $60.1 million), and For Colored Girls opened at $19.5 million (and closed at $37.7 million). Now, what have we learned?

  1. We learned that Tyler Perry movies generally open fairly well. We’ll come back to this in a second.
  2. We learned that the majority of the audience goes to the movie in the first weekend, and that the film does not have any kind of legs whatsoever.
  3. Based on #2, and the numbers, we can extrapolate that a Tyler Perry movie will generally make just over double its opening weekend in final box office numbers.
  4. We’ve learned that audiences don’t go to see his original movies all that much, except when they’re sequels. However, Daddy’s Little Girls and The Family That Preys are both issue-related. That is, one hints at religion in the title, and the other hints at daddy issues. Not everyone wants that. People stayed away. The others — the other “original” ones — all opened to low $20 million numbers. Always between $20 million and $24 million. For Colored Girls was touted at a potential Oscar movie (Note: Laughable.), and the poor reviews are what kept that from making any money. Plus I think people were all Precious‘d out. They pushed it as another one of those. Also, you’ll notice that the one non-Madea-related sequel on this list, opened to almost $30 million. I don’t want to make any blanket statements about the black community, but I believe this does point to some sort of stereotype. I’ll leave you to figure out what that is yourselves.
  5. Finally — Madea. Clearly Perry’s bread and butter, and not just because she’s fat. I’m not sure why people like him dressing up in drag and playing a fat woman — or anyone, for that matter. Martin Lawrence is still making money playing Big Momma. (Note: Damn shame what they did to her house.) But, look at those numbers. Madea 1 (on this list. That was Madea 2 in total) — $30 million. Madea 2 — $40 million! Forty fucking million dollars. So, clearly, these Madea movies make bank.

Now, back to the prognosticating. We can all safely say that this movie will, at worst, make $24-26 million. Conventional wisdom states that this movie will make somewhere around $30 million. It’s possible, however, that this movie actually does make close to $40 million. Which would be fucking extraordinary. Also note, the film is only opening in 2,200 theaters. Tyler movies have always opened to this number, and regardless, they still manage to make this kind of money. 3,000 theater movies would pray (like the family) for openings like this.

So, if I had to guess — everyone is saying this does high 20s. I can’t see why this doesn’t do $30 million. So, I’ll skew slightly higher and say, like, $32 million. 31 and change. Ish. If it doesn’t do 30, then Madea doesn’t hold sway anymore. But, the last two Madea films are hard to argue with. If everyone says 25, then me going higher and then saying it’s possible for forty, then I win no matter what. If it goes higher, I told you so. If I’m right, I’m right. If they’re right, thank god, it didn’t make too much money. So, you know, win win for me.

Also opening this week is Water for Elephants. I will see it because — morbid curiosity. I have no desire to see Pattinson act (and the last thing this motherfucker came out with was Remember Me. Which, remember? That movie that used 9/11 as a climax?), and have even less desire to see him trying to fuck Reese Witherspoon (who, I feel very ambivalent about as a person and an actress). I do, however, have interest in Christoph Waltz, who plays a schizophrenic lion tamer in this movie. However, I feel that he will very quickly devolve into bad choices, much like many of Tarantino’s other actors end up doing. So in all, I’m expecting this movie to not be so good.

In the box office sense, however, how can anyone be expecting this movie to do anything? Do you still think that Witherspoon holds any pull at all? Almost all her recent movies have bombed. And if they haven’t, it certainly wasn’t because of her. How do I know? (Note: Get it?) Four Christmases doesn’t count as a hit. That was Vince Vaughn. And the seasonal thing. I guarantee you it wasn’t her. How Do You Know. That wasn’t a joke, that was me stating how I know. That movie. She couldn’t open that, with the help of Paul Rudd and Nicholson and Owen Wilson. Also, Rendition, anyone? Just Like Heaven? These are all the movies she’s made since winning an Oscar. Yeah, I wonder how she can still pull in $20 million per film. Also, Pattinson? He’s no guarantee to open a film unless he’s playing a vampire. And even then, is it really him, or is it just the books? For example, Megan Fox is hot. I will watch her in Transformers because I like Michael Bay movies. However, you put her in her own movie (Jennifer’s Body, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People), and I am not guaranteed to go watch it. I don’t care about her attractiveness enough to go see another movie she made. Even if it stars Simon Pegg and Jeff Bridges. I think that’s what Pattinson has.

So, what I’m getting at is, I don’t think this movie will make any money. Standard guesses are around $15-18 million. That’s just, “We don’t know what to do with this,” guesses. I’m saying like, $12-14 million, skewing to the lower end of that spectrum. If this does $10-11 million, I will not be surprised. If this clears $20 million, I will be very surprised. $14-17 million seems likely, just because I really don’t know how this will play. This is a straight drama. These don’t make money outside of Oscar season. It’s weird seeing Hollywood throw out a 1999 film in 2010. When’s the last time a drama made money? (Note: When they let them. And the question remains.) I say lower. But my opinion might change after I see it. Or after the numbers come in. Whichever comes first. I still say like, $14 million. Ish. Just hit the middle.

Also opening this week is African Cats, which star a different kind of African cats than the ones in the Tyler Perry movie. These are actual African cats. It’s a nature documentary. All those Planet Earth and Disney bastardization of Planet Earth documentaries have been making nice profits in theaters the last few years. They all can get released for no money (often using preexisting footage) and make some Hamburglar money (Note: Hamburglar money is when they swoop in, get money and then run away real fast without really being noticed. I just made that up right now. I’m gonna keep it. Trademark!), and go back to their piles of gold and dive into them. In terms of box office, however, they generally don’t do much.

This one is only opening to 1,000 theaters, which is about what the other ones opened to as well. You need to figure this will do around where the others did, which is around $6-7 million. Maybe $8 million, maybe $5 million. Nothing should be outside that range. If by some miracle it makes more or less, then, it’s not going to be very far outside that range, this I can guarantee you. Just stick with $6-7 million and take your points. (Note: I treat this like darts. You get points for being on the board, and the closer you are to the center, the more points you get. Or something like that. I don’t fucking know darts.)

So, those are the big movies opening this weekend. Now, for the holdovers…

Rio should make a strong push to take #1 away from Tyler Perry. It really depends on how well Tyler Perry is going to perform this weekend. Rio, should do better than average drop. It won’t be 50%. Figure 30-40%. 30% would be $27 million. 40% would be $23.5 million. Let’s say somewhere in between, skewing toward the 40$. So let’s say around, $25 million. It should do second place easily unless Tyler Perry bombs.

Scream 4 should not fare as well. This film drops 50%, easily. Unless by some miracle it holds, but, why should it? It’s not a word-of-mouth film. A 50% drop gives it $9 million and change. I’m figuring around $8-9 million. High 8, low 9. Around there. If it dips below 8, that’s bad. $9.5 million or better, that’s good. Expect the neutral range.

And now, Hop. This film is coming dangerously close to $100 million domestically. It won’t matter. There will be at least one sequel. This was made by the dudes who made Alvin and the Chipmunks. There’s a third one of those coming out in eight months. So, in a fourth weekend, it’ll hold pretty well. Kids films drops get smaller as we go along. So, a 30% drop gives it around $7.5 million. I’m gonna say, maybe it’ll do a bit lower than that. I’d guess around $6.5-7.5 million. I’m hoping for closer to 6. But still, it’ll hold well. Even a 40% drop gives it high $6 million. It’ll almost certainly do that.

And for the rest of them, they might be straggling around $5 million. Hanna, I’m hoping stays above $5 million, though it’ll probably do in the 4s. Insidious should almost definitely go under $5 million. As should Arthur. The only one with a shot to clear $5 million is Soul Surfer. That’s been holding amazingly well. I’m just mentioning them because, maybe they’ll overperform and I’ll need to mention them. It just feels like a light week. Though maybe it isn’t. Let’s find out. Here’s how I think the weekend will end:

1) Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family — ~$34 million. Though you wouldn’t be wrong guessing anywhere between $25 and $35 million. Tracking says lower, history says higher. Which will win?

2) Rio — ~$25 million. It’ll do somewhere between $24-27 million for sure. $23 million wouldn’t be out of the question either. It will almost certainly do between these numbers.

3) Water for Elephants — ~$14 million. It will do between $11 million and $18 million. I’m hearing anywhere between $14-18 million. I’m figuring lower. I just don’t trust dramas. Hollywood has given up on dramas so I always feel that, outside of Oscar season, they’ll all fail. So I’m thinking lower out of practice. But, who knows how much they’ve been advertising. Maybe Pattinson and Witherspoon could open. Doubtful.

4) Scream 4 — ~8-9 million. Like I said, high 8, low 9, almost definitely. But, maybe it does close to 10. Maybe it does 7. Who knows. But, you have a three million dollar window here. Use it wisely.

5) Hop — ~6.5-7.5 million. Almost definitely. This is a standard drop.

6) African Cats — ~$6-7 million. By all accounts it probably can and will do better than Hop. But, I always go kids movies over nature documentaries. But, these two will almost certainly be #5 and #6.

7-10 are questionable as to the numbers, but here’s the order I think it’ll be:

7) Hanna. Well-wishing.

8) Soul Surfer

9) Insidious

10) Arthur. These last four could be in any order. This one just seems most likely.

I am patiently awaiting Thor. That’s the next movie I’m even remotely interested in seeing. Well, I guess, Fast Five, but that one’s more going through the motions than anything. Christ, this year has been generic thus far. But I guess at least it’s not last year.

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