erik lundegaard

Movies - Box Office posts

Sunday November 23, 2014

'Hunger Games: Mockingjay' Opens at $123 Million, Disappoints

Katniss in "the Hunger Games: Mockingay—Part I"

Katniss returns, fewer people show up.

When is a $123 million weekend, the biggest opener of the year, a disappointment? When its predecessors opened at $152 million and $158 million, respectively.

That’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1.” And if Hollywood in general and Lionsgate specifically are wondering and worrying over that total, they might want to look to the movie’s tri-part title:

  1. The franchise name
  2. The chapter within that franchise
  3. OK, just the first part of that chapter within that franchise

I don’t know if we’re all getting franchise fatigue, if that’s what this year of downward box office has been about (and if so, good), but breaking up final chapters into two parts, as with “Twilight” and “Harry Potter,” or three parts as with “The Hobbit,” is just being greedy. Cut to the chase, Hollywood. Just tell us the fucking story.

The first two “Hunger Games” movies grossed over $400 million each domestically. “THGMP1” will need good word-of-mouth to do that. The more immediate question is whether it can unseat “Guardians of the Galaxy,” at $331 million, as the year’s biggest hit. Domestic. Worldwide, it’s that crummy “Transformers IV” movie, which grossed $1.08 billion despite massive deflation in the U.S.

Among the runner-ups this weekend, “Big Hero 6” finished second ($20m for the weekend, $135 domestic total), “Interstellar” third ($15 and $120) and “Dumb and Dumber To” fourth ($14 and $57). “DADT” gained 34 theaters in its second weekend but still feel nearly 62%. So we’re dumb but we’re not dumber.

“Gone Girl” is still in fifth place ($2.8 and $156), “Beyond the Lights” in sixth ($2.6 and $10), and then “St. Vincent,” which earned another $2.3 million (including $10 from me) and has now quietly grossed $36 mil, despite mediocre reviews.

After that, a flurry of potential Oscar candidates:

  • 8. “Fury” ($1.9, $79)
  • 9. “Birdman” ($1.8, $14)
  • 10. “The Theory of Everything” ($1.5 and $2)
  • 11. “Nightcrawler” ($1.2 and $27)

I’d recommend any of these last ones. Use your brains and all. 

Posted at 12:08 PM on Nov 23, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Tuesday November 18, 2014

Weekend Box Office Numbers Recall Goebbels Quote

Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas

With a poster like this, how could moviegoers resist?

I think I’m the only one who thought about Josef Goebbels after seeing this weekend’s box office numbers. I hope so anyway.

It has a little something to do with this quote from Cinemas of the World by James Chapman:

Triumph des Willens represented the high point of Nazi propaganda: it enshrined the 'Hitler myth' so completely that no further films of the sort ever needed to be commissioned. Goebbels, for his part, was firmly of the opinion that feature films should provide escapist entertainment for the masses and that direct propaganda should be confined to the newsreels.

The reason this came to mind were the three movies battling it out for the top spot. No other movie came close to these three:

  1. “Dumb and Dumber To”: $36.1 million
  2. “Big Hero 6”: $34.6 million
  3. “Interstellar”: $28.3 million

Fourth place? “Beyond the Lights” with $6.2 million.

But so what, right? Escapist entertainment is almost always in the top slots. At least this weekend we went to see “Interstellar,” which, now and again, made you think about important matters such as global warming, textbook revisionism in Texas, and the downward trajectory of Anne Hathaway's career.

Except it’s really the two movies with the weakest per-theater-average for new movies that led me back to the Goebbels quote.

Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater” finally opened and ... didn’t do particularly well. At first I noticed its gross ($1.1 million), thought “Oops,” but then realized, “Well, it only played in 371 theaters.” But then I noticed its per-theater average: $3.1K. That’s not good for a new release. Not at all. (“Foxcatcher,” in comparison, opened in six theaters this weekend with a per-theater average of $45K.)

Anyway it made me wonder: This weekend, did any new release do worse, per theater, than Stewart’s film about a journalist held captive in Iran?

Yes. Kirk Cameron’s “Saving Christmas,” which opened in 410 theaters and grossed only $992K for a per-theater average of $2.2K. P.U. Maybe someone needs to make a new movie: “Saving ‘Saving Christmas.’”

I’m not calling either of these movies ‘propaganda,’ by the way. It’s just that Kirk Cameron is on one side of the cultural divide, Stewart’s on the other, and most moviegoers split the difference and went straight for the escapist entertainment. Because that’s who we is, Charlie.

After all this, knowing little about “Saving Christmas,” I checked out its trailer (ick), then its IMDb page, where it’s currently enjoying a bottom-of-the-barrel 2.5 (out of 10) rating. Then I went a step further, to the Message Boards, where the nom-de-IMDb “comrade-newski” asks, “When can we get a good Christian Film?” and lambasts all the ones that have come out this year. It’s a good rant. Truly. But one of the responses comes from someone named “johnsmithbattlenet,” who writes:

when jews evaporate from hollywood

Classy. So we begin with Goebbels and end with Goebbels. L’Chayim. 

Posted at 06:14 PM on Nov 18, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday November 09, 2014

Breitbart Gets One Right! ‘Big Hero 6’ Opens at $56 Million, ‘Interstellar’ at $50

Here’s the Breitbart site last March:

Breitbart site 2014 box office predictions

Let’s run those down:

  • “A Million Ways to Die in the West” opened at $16.7 million in May and kept dying. Its $42 million domestic gross was one-fifth what writer-director Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted” grossed two years earlier. It was perhaps the summer’s biggest box-office disappointment in a summer of box-office disappointments.
  • “Dolphin Tale 2” opened at $15 million in September and managed a $41 million haul before sinking out of sight. Not a bomb, really, but still a disappointment, since that total is about half of what “Dolphin Tale” grossed in 2011 ($73 million).
  • “Big Hero 6” opened this weekend to $56 million.

Way to go, Bretibart! One out of three! Ted Williams’ numbers!

Except ... that one hit? To be honest, it’s more bloop single than line-drive into the gap. “Big Hero 6” is a success but its opening weekend is hardly “surprisingly high.” Put it this way: It’s the 24th-best opening weekend for an animated movie (unadjusted), behind such cartoons as “The Lorax” ($70 million in March 2012) and “Monsters vs. Aliens” ($59 million in March 2009).

Hollywood’s other big opener this weekend, Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,” finished second with an estimated $50 million total.

Meanwhile, last weekend’s No. 1, “Nightcrawler,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a creepy freelance newsman, fell off 47% to finish in sixth place. Ahead of it? “Gone Girl,” which keeps drawing ($6 million, $145 total), “Ouija” (horror, who cares), and “St. Vincent,” starring Bill Murray, which lost only 97 theaters, dropped only 21%, and has quietly grossed $27 million.

Other movies you should see before they’re gone? “Fury,” which finished in 7th ($5.5 millino, $69 million total), and “Birdman,” which finished in 11th ($2.2 million, $8 million total).

So when was the last time two movies opened to more than $50 million each on the same weekend? You have to go all the way back to June 2013, when “Monsters University” opened with $82 million and “World War Z” opened with $66 million.

I haven’t seen either of the new movies yet. But no matter what they offer, I can’t imagine the entertainment value is as high as watching the Breitbart site fall on its face with its preditions.  

Here’s to next year.

Big Hero 6

After striking out badly with its first two predictions, Breitbart manages a bloop single to left with 'Big Hero 6.'

Posted at 10:59 AM on Nov 09, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Monday October 13, 2014

Weekend Box Office: ‘Gone Girl’ Returns at No. 1

Eleven movies opened this weekend, but the second weekend of David Fincher’s trashy, campy “Gone Girl” trumped them all, dropping only 28% and finishing first with $26.8 million. (Review up soon.)

Since the movie stars Ben Affleck, and since the pet project of Robert Downey, Jr., “The Judge,” finished fifth with only $13.3 million, is this a matter of new Batman beating the one and only Iron Man? Is it DC beating Marvel? Or is it DC beating DC, since the new Batman also beat the oldest Batman, “Dracula Untold,” the No. 2 movie with $23.4 million—which used, in its marketing, not-so-subtle bat imagery to conflate itself with the Dark Knight? Either way, people weren’t fooled by “Dracula.” Not enough anyway.

Meanwhile, Steve Carrell’s new kids movie, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” based on the 1972 kids book by Judith Viorst, opened in third place with $19.1 million.

And wait ... 11 movies, you ask? Yes, 11 movies. But many of them, the best of them, didn’t open at a theater near you. “Kill the Messenger,” Jeremy Renner’s true life, investigative reporter/CIA/cocaine movie, got buried by Focus Features, opening in only 374 theaters. “St. Vincent,” Bill Murray’s Wes Andersony “About a Boy” flick, is being treated, in A.O. Scott’s immortal words, “like a hothouse flower,” and only opened in four theaters. “Whiplash,” the jazz drummer movie starring Miles Teller that is garnering great reviews, did only slightly better: six theaters.

Hollywood is playing this story again. The movies you want to see are being parceled out like caviar in New York and LA, while the movies you don’t want to see are as readily available as McDonald’s franchises throughout the rest of the schlubby U.S.

Here, in fact, are the 11 movies that opened this weekend, sorted by theater count, with Rotten Tomatoes’ scores in the right-hand column:

Movie Theaters BO RT Rating
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Etc.  3,088 $19.10 66%
The Judge 3,003 $13.33 47%
Dracula Untold 2,885 $23.46 26%
Addicted 846 $7.60 11%
Kill the Messenger 374 $0.93 73%
Meet the Mormons 317 $2.70 0%
One Chance 43 $0.03 64%
Christian Mingle 15 $0.02 33%
Whiplash 6 $0.14 96%
St. Vincent 4 $0.12 66%
The Overnighters 1 $0.004 95%

It’s almost as if studios are embarrassed by anything that’s well-reviewed.

Dracula Untold poster: straight out of Batman Begins

'Noooo, we're not trying to remind you of a more successful bat-franchise. What gave you that idea?'

Posted at 06:46 AM on Oct 13, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday October 05, 2014

Box Office: 'Gone Girl' is No. 1 with a Bullet; 'Left Behind' is Left Behind

“Gone Girl” has given director David Finch the biggest opening of his career (unadjusted): $38 million. It just barely nipped “Annabelle” ($37.2), the derivative prequel to the excellent horror film “The Conjuring,” to win the weekend.

For those interested, here’s a history of the opening weekends for Fincher’s films:


Movie Opening Thtrs Total Gross
1 Gone Girl $38,000,000 3,014 $38,000,000
2 Panic Room $30,056,751 3,053 $96,397,334
3 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button $26,853,816 2,988 $127,509,326
4 The Social Network $22,445,653 2,771 $96,962,694
5 Alien 3 $19,449,867 2,227 $55,473,545
6 The Game $14,337,029 2,403 $48,323,648
7 Seven $13,949,807 2,441 $100,125,643
8 Zodiac $13,395,610 2,362 $33,080,084
9 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo $12,768,604 2,914 $102,515,793
10 Fight Club $11,035,485 1,963 $37,030,102

“The Equalizer,” last weekend’s No. 1, held up well, dropping 44% to come in third with $19 million. The second weekend of “The Boxtrolls” finished fourth ($12.4) and the third weekend of “The Maze Runner” finished fifth ($12).

In sixth place, with $6.8 million in 1,825 theaters, is something that seem like future MST3K fodder: “Left Behind,” based upon the Christian, ha ha, apocalypse-for-you-heaven-for-me novels by Jerry B. Jenkins. The star? Nic Cage. The movie is currently at 2% on Rotten Tomatoes. Who liked it? Diana Saenger, who operates her own syndicate, and belongs to the San Diego Film Critics Society. She also liked “Heaven is for Real” and “Son of God.” And “Jersey Boys,” for that matter.

I’d recommend reading RT’s page of blurbs on “Left Behind” for fun. Among my favorite lines:

the most boring version of the Rapture I could have ever imagined
--Kevin Carr, 7M Pictures

It believes people might buy a ticket to “Left Behind” and not know the twist, like someone sitting down to watch Godzilla and being shocked by the entrance of a giant lizard.
--Amy Nicholson, LA Weekly

I can't wait for Nic Cage to explain THIS one to God on Judgment Day.
--Martin Scribbs, Mixed Reviews

Score one for Satan.
--Linda Barnard, Toronto Star

Posted at 11:14 AM on Oct 05, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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