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The Box Office Report: August 5-7

Last week, in Box Office…

I’m not sure who came out worse, me, the prognosticators, or Cowboys and Aliens. I put myself third on that list, unsurprisingly. Because I’ve already forgotten about it. I feel wrong on Saturday, when the early numbers come in, then I have six days to forget about my mistakes. The prognosticators probably then came out second worst, because we shouldn’t be listening to them in the first place. Leaving first place to…

Cowboys and Aliens, if you don’t know, failed pretty badly last weekend. Most people assumed a $45 million opening weekend, and the film only made $36.4 million. For a $163 million movie (for which they probably need to make $250 million back in order to see profit), that’s bad. I wonder who they’re gonna blame. My gut tells me they’re gonna blame the western, and say people aren’t interested in the genre. Which you can already tell is a bullshit excuse. True Grit made $170 million. The kind of money this film was supposed to make. I blame a mediocre product. I saw the film. It was mediocre at best. I didn’t care about the western part, and I cared even less about the aliens. It just felt weak.

I’m glad this failed. Because, my hopes were there would be enough western to keep me interested, and that it would be entertaining enough otherwise for it to be a fun film that rises above the camp suggested by its title. Then they didn’t even deliver the camp! I could have lived with it if it were campy instead of good. Instead it was just, dead. It’s like they shot for the middle. Which is why I’m glad my prediction was way off. And even happier the final number was lower than the estimates. Because this film wasn’t good enough to deserve blockbuster type money. I’m hoping this failure, along with the other big failures this year, get the studios to start blaming themselves. It seems as though the only films making money this year (all those alleged “comedies” aside) are quality films. And kids films, which don’t need to be of quality to make money. Maybe the studios will realize they need to make higher quality films for people to give a shit, because they rammed the CG blockbusters down our throats so much, the cycle is over. (That’s how it works. Hollywood finds something people like, rams it down their throats until people get sick of it, then they find something else that works, and it all begins again.)

Anyway, The Smurfs overperformed a ridiculous amount last weekend, making $35.6 million. They were actually thinking this would beat Cowboys and Aliens going into Sunday. And in a way, it did. Because, while I’m sure the film cost over $100 million, I bet they weren’t expecting half as much money out of this weekend. They won huge here. And you know, good for them. Because, regardless of quality (most of the time), if this succeeding leads to them pulling out a bunch of old cartoon shows and turning them into movies, I’m cool with that. I mean, Alvin and Yogi all sucked, and were just terrible films to watch, and I’m sure this film will be almost no different, but at least they’re making them fun for the kids. That’s something.

Captain America finished third last weekend, with another $25.6 million. This was a pretty big drop, 60%. Most people expected this to make $30 million this weekend. That sucks, a little bit. But, it’s made $117 million after two weekends, and its budget was only $150 million (they’re at $170 million total, including worldwide, so they made the production budget back. The marketing money can be eaten, because, it’s all going toward the Avengers movie anyway), so it’ll be fine. the reason this fell so hard, though, was because —

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II made $22 million in fourth. That’s only a 53% drop. That’s a good hold for the film. Pretty much what was expected. But, Cowboys and Aliens was a direct audience-stealer for Cap, but not so much here. So that explains the drops. Still, the film, we know has made money — it crossed $1 billion worldwide already, and it’s only been out for three weeks. It’s made almost $320 million domestically, so, whatever it makes from weekend to weekend at this point really doesn’t matter whatsoever.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. made $19.1 million. Finished fifth. I figured that might be where it ended up. I see a film like that and immediately think $18 million. And since Cowboys and Aliens failed, this went higher. Makes perfect sense. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I’m assuming it’ll be a harmless three-star movie (mostly because I don’t like its male lead. Though maybe the rest of the cast, who I do like, lots, will pull this one through. Still, not expecting much). This was a pretty good number for this, though. $50 million budget, so, they’ll do all right. Not wonderfully, but all right.

Friends with Benefits made another $9.3 million in sixth. That’s a 50% hold. Pretty standard. It’s crossed its $35 million production budget after two weeks, so that’s good for it. Depending on what they spent to market it, I’m sure they’ll get their money back. This will be a cash cow on DVD and BluRay.

Horrible Bosses — why won’t this film die? — made another $7.2 million, bringing its unholy domestic total to $96 million. This film will cross the $100 million mark. Just like Jaws. Doesn’t that just warm your insides?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon pulled in another $6.1 million. Not that anything this makes matters at this point. It’s made almost $340 million domestically and probably double that worldwide. I think it’s safe to say they’re in the black here.

And — oh man, can this be? Oh, I’m happy. The next film on the list, at #8 — I won’t tell you what it is, but know it has a fat man and animals in it — made less than $5 million. Which means I won’t have to mention it until I laugh about how much it failed, which will probably be next week.

So, that’s it for last week. Now, onto the new releases…

Well, we’ve hit August. You know what that means. Bad comedies and blockbusters that went terribly wrong. Anything released in August is shit they do not expect to make a whole lot of money. And if they do, they put it in August because they realize it’s not very good, and the lack of competition will get summer crowds to go to them.

The big film opening this weekend is The Change-Up, which just sounds hi-larious, doesn’t it? Oh, man, body-swap comedies — we’re gonna party like it’s 1987 up in this bitch! Ryan Reynolds is in it, because I guess they couldn’t get Bradley Cooper. Too bad, we had a 50/50 shot as to which one they’d cast. Jason Bateman is also in it. We all know how much I love him. At least we get Leslie Mann and Olivia Wilde. Though, while Leslie Mann is great, she does tend to be in bad movies. And Olivia Wilde — why do I get the feeling her doing this movie was either to try to become known as a comedienne, or to fuck Ryan Reynolds? I’m hoping it’s not the latter, because I respect her as an actress. But even if it is, that’s not so bad. Either way, this looks really shitty.

Apparently it’s not the big film of the week, because I guess we’re back to assuming America is just a herd of puppets who go see whatever the studios want them to see. Reviews for this are terrible, and people are saying the shittiness of the film, along with possible “r-rated comedy fatigue” will keep people from going to see this. Most people have this between $18-20 million, which, sounds about right. I don’t fucking care. I’m going to watch it to hope Reynolds salvages the movie, Olivia Wilde is hot, and Leslie Mann does what she does. I know it’s going to suck, and I hope it doesn’t make too much money. The end.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes also opens this week. Boy, that title’s a mouthful. I guess they figured just calling it Rise of the Apes wouldn’t play so well down south. They had to add the “Planet” bit to remind you that they are, in fact, desecrating a franchise.

You know this movie’s gonna suck. James Franco came out and publicly said this movie sucked. He said he was basically “an actor for hire,” and pretty much said that the movie blows. I admire his honesty, but, “it is what it is” basically says all you need to know about this one. Early reviews have been really good, actually, but I don’t buy that bullshit. I expect flatlining dialogue, characters whose purpose is only to serve the plot, and maybe twenty minutes of interest as the apes take the fuck over. Do not care about this at all. But apparently they think America will.

Early estimates on the film put it at $40 million for the weekend. So a movie called Cowboys & Aliens (quality aside) is going to make less than a shitty Planet of the Apes reboot/prequel/whatever the fuck it is/shitting on the chest of a franchise? You have to love this country. Almost everyone has this at $40 million, and, honestly, it seems too easy. This movie’s looked like it was primed for failure from a year out. I refuse to believe it does that much. (Then again…I’ve been wrong before. See: Last weekend.) I’m saying mid-to-low 30s. I just refuse to believe it. If it happens, it happens. But why should it happen? There’s nothing here that tells me any of this is leading to a quality film.

Now that I think about it, though, I do mention my father telling me how much they were advertising this on TV. He’s not too knowledgable about what’s coming out. He’ll see billboards and commercials and stuff, and probably only brings them up because he knows I’m interested in them, but he was like, “What’s this apes movie coming out?” And I told him, and he was like, “They’re really advertising that. They had a commercial, then went away, and then another commercial. They really want people to go to this.” Which, when I see that, that to me is an automatic sign of — they’re trying to buy the weekend. Plain and simple. I’ve seen it dozens of times. They know their film sucks, and they spend way too much to market it just so they can have this robust opening weekend and make like their film is a hit. Because, a big opening weekend could lead to some people being like, “Well, it made money, so maybe it is good,” and then instead of a 70% drop the second weekend, it’s only 60% (but make no mistake, it will drop the second weekend). So, maybe it will make the $40 million this weekend, by the sheer fact that they’re spending that much to make it so. IMDB says the budget is about $90 million. Which, if that’s true (with motion capture, almost definite reshoots, and that probably being the planned budget when they started, I doubt it), I guarantee you they spent at least $70 million to market this. At least. Which means they need to make at least $160 million domestically just to get close to breaking even, and then make a lot overseas. No way. Let it make $40 million this weekend. It will not make that budget back.

August is a pretty sparse month, so that’s it. Now for the holdovers…

The Smurfs is actually the big story of the week. It actually overtook Cowboys & Aliens mid-week, and has made more money than it overall. Which is Smurf-fucking-tastic. (Don’t ask what the Smurf part is supposed to be saying. It’s disgusting.) It’s a kids movie, so that does make sense. They’re saying this is gonna finish second for the weekend, which also makes sense, since kids movies hold well, The Change-Up doesn’t look like it’s gonna hit $20 million, and I’m sure there’s some fascination with this, like, “Well it made money, maybe it doesn’t suck.” (Though maybe I underestimated how many adults were gonna be like, “Oh I used to watch the Smurfs, let’s take the kids, maybe they’ll get into it.”) Still most people are estimating a $20 million weekend. And that makes sense. $20-22 million, skewing closer to $21 million. Maybe even $23 million, if it holds really well. It’s not out of the question. Either way, this will finish second.

Then, Cowboys & Aliens, if it wants to remain somewhat respectable, better finish third ahead of The Change-Up, because if not — whoa boy. Even if it does what’s expected and The Change-Up fails, that’s okay too. But, all signs are pointing to this finishing fourth for the weekend, which — ouch. Most people have this going at around $16 million, which — again — ouch. I’m gonna say 16 too, just because — if it’s gonna fail, let’s fail big. That’s the only way change happens. (See: Presidency, 2000-2008. Actually, maybe not.)

Then, Captain America, in its third weekend, is looking around $13 million. That seems pretty standard. Same goes for Harry Potter. That’s looking at around $12 million. $11-12 million. These all seem pretty by-the-numbers. Crazy, Stupid, Love is looking to fall pretty standardly. It’ll do around $10-11 million. Friends with Benefits should do around $5-6 million, and then everything else will almost certainly fall below $5 million.

It’s a pretty standard week. The summer is over. Now we have a dead month before the real interesting stuff comes out. September through November is really where it’s at. That’s where it gets fun. Now, we pretty much just laugh at all the terrible films coming out that were just a huge waste of money. (Looking at you, Conan…)

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