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Sunday August 14, 2016

Box Office: 'Suicide Squad' Drops But Not Epically

Suicide Squad

This thing still. 

Last week I said I expected “Suicide Squad” to take a big fall, and it did, 67.3%, but it wasn't an epic fall. I wanted it to be record-breaking to break Zack Snyder's stranglehold on Warner Bros. To save us all from more of this.

“Squad” still won the weekend with another $43 mil, bringing its domestic total to $222 and its worldwide to $465. 

These are the biggest drops for movies that opened in > 4,000 theaters:

MOVIE 1ST WKND* 2ND WKND* DROP THTRS TOTAL*
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $169 $47 -72.00% 4,375 $381
The Twilight Saga: New Moon $142 $42 -70.00% 4,042 $296
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 $138 $41 -69.80% 4,066 $281
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 $141 $43 -69.10% 4,070 $292
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice $166 $51 -69.10% 4,256 $330
X-Men Origins: Wolverine $85 $26 -69.00% 4,102 $179
Fantastic Four $25 $8 -68.20% 4,004 $56
Suicide Squad $133 $43 -67.30% 4,255 $222

* in millons

Mostly “Twilight” movies and shitty superhero flicks. Not a good crew to be associated with. And I still say it won't break $300 domestic. 

“Sausage Party,” the R-rated animated movie from Seth Rogen, et al., came in second with $33 mil. Trailer here. It's all about taking anthropomorphized kiddie cartoons to their logical end. Anyone see it? Looks good. And 82% on RT. 

“Pete's Dragon,” also well-reviewed (86%), came in third with $21 mil. 

The new August Meryl Streep movie, even better reviewed (87%), came in eighth with $6.5 mil (but in only 1,500 theaters). 

Good options, people chose shit. WOTW.

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Posted at 01:23 PM on Aug 14, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Monday August 08, 2016

Box Office: 'Suicide Squad' Blasts Through Negative Reviews to Gross $135 Million

 Suicide Squad: Harley Quinn

Last laugh? Maybe not.

*Sigh.*

“Suicide Squad” was so universally panned that fanboys wanted to shut down the Rotten Tomatoes site, where its shame, its 26% rating, was visible for all to see. But the American moviegoer, or at least those fanboys, still came out in droves. The David Ayer-directed supervillain slash-em-up/blow-em-away grossed $135 million domestically (and $132 abroad), which, if it holds, is our 19th-biggest opener ever.

So the critics lose again, right? Haw haw on us?

Yes and no. 

As I was pondering “Suicide”'s numbers, I casually wondered whether any movie that had grossed more on opening weekend had a lower RT rating. Yes, it turns out: “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1,” which grossed $138 million domestically during its Nov. 2011 opening weekend despite a 24% rating. 

As I was putting together this info, I also noticed something that should be obvious to everyone by now: Blockbusters with low RT ratings tend to have shorter legs than blockbusters with high RT ratings. 

Here's a chart of the 20 highest-grossing openers of all time (sans “Suicide”) sorted by their Rotten Tomatoes rating:

Rnk  Movie Opening $$ RT% Open % 
7 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $169,189,427 96% 44.4%
10 The Dark Knight $158,411,483 94% 29.7%
20 Finding Dory $135,060,273 94% 28.5%
1 Star Wars: The Force Awakens $247,966,675 92% 26.5%
3 Marvel's The Avengers $207,438,708 92% 33.3%
5 Captain America: Civil War $179,139,142 90% 44.0%
11 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire $158,074,286 89% 37.2%
9 The Dark Knight Rises $160,887,295 87% 35.9%
12 The Hunger Games $152,535,747 84% 37.4%
6 Iron Man 3 $174,144,585 79% 42.6%
14 Furious 7 $147,187,040 79% 41.7%
4 Avengers: Age of Ultron $191,271,109 75% 41.7%
2 Jurassic World $208,806,270 71% 32.0%
13 Spider-Man 3 $151,116,516 63%* 44.9%
18 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest $135,634,554 54% 32.0%
16 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 $141,067,634 49% 48.3%
15 The Twilight Saga: New Moon $142,839,137 28% 48.2%
8 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice $166,007,347 27% 50.3%
17 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 $138,122,261 24% 49.1%

* Yeah, I can't believe “Spider-Man 3” got a fresh rating, either.

That last column is the percentage a movie's opening gross contributed to its overall gross. You want a low number there; it means your movie lasted. It didn't nova and then die. And generally, the lower the RT rating, the higher that percentage.

A fresh blockbuster (> 60%) makes an average of 37% of its total gross during its opening weekend; a rotten one, 45.5%. The extremes are even more extreme. A blockbuster in the 90s makes about one-third of its total gross in the first three days; a blockbuster in the 20s like “Suicide Squad”? Half. They make noise for three days, then crickets. 

Here are two recent examples. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is the biggest opener ever: $247 million. But it got great reviews, great word-of-mouth, and grossed nearly four times that: $936 million. “Batman v Superman” is the eighth-biggest opener ever: $166 million. But it got shitty reviews, shittier word of mouth, and grossed just twice that: $330.

If “Star Wars” had grossed just twice its opening, it would've stopped shy of half a billion rather than bumping up against a billion. The difference between a good and bad blockbuster can be half a billion dollars. And that's just domestically. 

So for “Suicide” and its shitty 26% rating, I expect to see a big dropoff next weekend, and a total domestic gross of around $270 million. Which ain't victory for critics; but it ain't exactly victory for Warner Bros. either. 

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Posted at 05:39 AM on Aug 08, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Monday July 25, 2016

'Star Trek,' 'Ice Age' Continue Summer of Sequel Sag

Star Trek: Jaylah

For box office, you should probably be looking down, Montgomery Scotty.

The fifth “Ice Age” movie, “Collision Course,” opened to shitty reviews (13% RT) and shitty box office ($21 mil, fifth place), which is the weakest opening for an “Ice Age” by far. The others opened between $41 and $68, and grossed between $161 and $196. “CC” will be lucky to top out at $100.

The third rebooted “Star Trek” movie, “Beyond,” opened to good reviews (84%) but so-so box office ($59 mil, first place), which is the weakest opening for a rebooted “Trek.” The others opened at $75 and $70. 

Oddly, this is probably worse news for “Trek.”

The “Ice Age”s make most of its money abroad. Chronologically: $206, $465, $690, and $715 million. So the bigger question for “Collision Course” is: How will it play in Bonn or Beijing? The answer, so far, is: not bad: $178 and counting.

I remember seeing the original “Star Trek” in reruns in Taiwan in the late 1980s (Spock's dubbed voice sounded like it was recorded in a big empty metal box), so it's obviously disseminated abroad. It's just not big abroad—grossing, internationally, $128 and $238 for “Star Trek” and “Into Darkness” respectively. It needs those U.S. dollars more. 

The poor opening of “IA” and “ST” continues a summer trend. Yes, the two top movies of the summer, “Finding Dory” and “Captain America: Civil War,” are both sequels, but after that it's originals or reboots. Most sequels are grossing only a fraction of what the previous film grossed:

Franchise 2016 B.O. Previous B.O. %
Alice/Wonderland $76 $334 22.8%
Indepedence Day $101 $306* 33.0%
Neighbors $55 $150 36.7%
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $81 $191 42.4%
Now You See Me $64 $117 54.7%
X-Men $155 $233 66.5%

* Believe it or not, that's unadjusted, so it's actually much, much worse.

I hope Hollywood execs are paying attention. Probably not.

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Posted at 06:58 AM on Jul 25, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Monday July 18, 2016

Box Office: Not Many Call Ghostbusters

Paul Feig's Ghostbusters

Meh reviews, meh box office, but McKinnon (far right) is getting good notices.

Paul Feig's womencentric “Ghostbusters” isn't exactly a bust, raking in $46 million at the domestic box office this weekend, a bigger opening than any of his other movies (“Bridesmaids,” “The Heat,” “Spy”), but it's not exactly a smash. “Ghostbusters” is supposed to be big. The original took in a domestic total of $610 million (adjusted) in 1984, while this version didn't even win the weekend. It finished second to the second weekend of “The Secret Life of Pets,” which fell only 50% to gross another $50 mil. Hell, in the genre “Horror comedy,” “Scary Movie 3” opened bigger in 2003: $48 mil. That's unadjusted. 

“Scary Movie 3” also barely grossed twice that ($110) while Feig's movies tend to have legs, grossing four times (or in the case of “Bridesmaids,” six times) their opening total. So we'll see. The movie got a positive 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which would help, but most reviews were of the “Could've been worse” variety, which won't. But SNL's Kate McKinnon is getting good notices. I'm sure I'll see it at some point. 

“The Legend of Tarzan,” in third place with $11.1, crossed the $100 million mark to $103, with $90 mil in foreign sales, so it's not doing poorly for a poorly reviewed film that never finished in first place.

Meanwhile, “Finding Dory” grossed another $11.1 for a $445 million total, which makes it, according to Box Office Mojo, not only the highest-grossing Pixar movie ever but the highest-grossing animinated movie ever, passing “Shrek 2”'s $441. That's unadjusted, of course. Adjust, and it's still Disney's “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” which is the 10th-best of all time at $935 million. Even so, impressive for “Dory,” which I found B-level Pixar. 

For the year, “Dory”'s on top domestically, while worldwide it's still “Captain America: Civil War” at $1.15 billion. But since “Finding Nemo” grossed $936 worldwide in 2003, I expect “Dory” to eventually pass Cap here, too.

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Posted at 05:59 AM on Jul 18, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday July 03, 2016

Is Steven Spielberg the Most Popular Director in Movie History?

Steven Spielberg on the set of "E.T."

Spielberg, in his heyday, with friend.

Twenty-six movies have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, but Steven Spielberg, the man considered the most popular director in movie history, didn't direct any of them. (His biggest, unadjusted, is “Jurassic Park” at $983 million.) Thirty-nine movies have opened domestically to more than $100 million, but Steven Spielberg, the man considered the most popular director in movie history, directed only one of them: the now-thoroughly and deservedly discredited “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which wheezed across the finish line at $101 million in May 2008.

Which raises the question: Is Steven Spielberg the most popular director in movie history?

Oh yeah. By a long shot. 

The above milestones, $1 bil and $100 mil, are 21st-century milestones, and Spielberg's heyday was earlier. These are the top 10 movies of all time, domestically, adjusted for inflation: 

  Movie Adj. Gross Gross Year Director
1 Gone with the Wind $1,733,542,900 $198,676,459 1939 Victor Fleming
2 Star Wars $1,528,266,100 $460,998,007 1977 George Lucas
3 The Sound of Music $1,221,923,900 $158,671,368 1965 Robert Wise
4 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial $1,217,110,200 $435,110,554 1982 Steven Spielberg
5 Titanic $1,162,371,000 $658,672,302 1997 James Cameron
6 The Ten Commandments $1,123,980,000 $65,500,000 1956 Cecil B. DeMille
7 Jaws $1,098,916,300 $260,000,000 1975 Steven Spielberg
8 Doctor Zhivago $1,065,082,200 $111,721,910 1965 David Lean
9 The Exorcist $948,940,900 $232,906,145 1973 William Friedkin
10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs $935,220,000 $184,925,486 1937 (Six directors)

Spielberg is the only director to make the list twice. James Cameron, a rival for the title of most popular director in movie history, adds his second film, “Avatar,” at No. 15; but then Spielberg immediately usurps him again with “Jurassic Park” at No. 17. George Lucas, another potential rival for the title, adds his second, the abyssmal “Star Wars, Episode One: The Phantom Menace,” at No. 18, before Spielberg adds a fourth, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” at No. 21. 

That's right: Steven Spielberg has four of the 25 highest-grossing American movies of all time, adjusted for inflation, and no other director has more than two.

If you plunge further, into the top 100 American movies of all time, these are the only directors who appear more than once*:

Director  App.
Steven Spielberg 6
George Lucas 5
Peter Jackson 3
Chris Columbus 3
James Cameron 2
George Roy Hill 2
Sam Raimi 2
Cecil B. DeMille 2
Robert Zemeckis 2
Christopher Nolan 2
Robert Wise 2
David Lean 2
William Wyler 2
Joss Whedon 2
Lee Unkrich 2

* Not included are the Disney directors, since as many as 11 directors worked on a single film. 

Only Lucas is close, and that's where he tops out. Spielberg keeps going. He also has No.s 102 and 103. He has no rival. 

This is a long lead-in to the poor domestic box office of his latest film, “The BFG,” which opened to $19.5 million this weekend. It finished behind the third weekend of “Finding Dory” ($41 mil), and the opening weekends for “The Legend of Tarzan” ($38) and “The Purge: Election Year” ($30). 

It's true that most Roald Dahl stories don't do particularly well at the box office—the two Willie Wonkas being the exception. It's also true that Spielberg is turning 70 in December, and the wonder and energy felt in his earlier films has been replaced by muted tones and somber discussions. I get trying to recapture the magic of youth, and I think he did that with the underrated and underseen (in the U.S.) “Tin Tin” movie; but there's something to be said for making movies for adults—particularly in this adolescent age of movies, which Spielberg helped create.

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Posted at 08:17 AM on Jul 03, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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