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Sunday August 23, 2015

Box Office: 'Compton' Wins Sleepy Weekend

Does it feel like summer is winding down? It certainly does at the box office.

“Straight Outta Compton” dropped 55% but still retrained the top spot by a long shot. It grossed $26.7 million domestically against the fourth weekend of “M:I –Rogue Nation,” which finished second with $11.7 million. “Compton” has now grossed $111.4 million in only 10 days, which is the second highest total ever for a music biopic, and only $8 mil behind No. 1 “Walk the Line.” Obviously unadjusted. But it does mean we're likely to see more music biopics of hip-hop artists in the near future. 

Did anyone predict these kind of numbers? Here: It might wind up with three times what “Fantastic Four” is grossing. This weekend, the beleaguered Fox/Marvel property earned another $3.6 mil for 10th place and an overall total of $49.6. How bad is that? Only four Marvel movies have done worse: two “Punisher” films ('04 and '08), “Elektra” and “Howard the Duck.” This FF still hasn't grossed what the 2005 Tim Story FFs grossed opening weekend. Again, I didn't think it was that bad. Or at least I thought there were redeeming qualities amid an obvious director-studio battle. 

The movies opening this weekend didn't exactly take off, either. “Sinister 2” finished in third place with $10.6, “Hitman” finished in fourth with $8.2, and “American Ultra,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, which I reviewed for The Seattle Times, and which has its moments, only managed to scrape together $5.5 million for sixth place. 

The best per-theater average went to Lily Tomlin's “Grandma,” which played in only four theaters nationwide and earned $30K per.

Nine days from September now. 

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Posted at 04:29 PM on Aug 23, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday August 16, 2015

Box Office With Attitude: 'Straight Outta Compton' Sets Record

Straight Outta Compton movie

B.O.W.A.

If you adjust for inflation, the most popular music biopics since 1980 are as follows:

  • Coal Miner's Daughter (1980): $202.7 million
  • Walk the Line (2005): $150.5 million
  • Amadeus (1984): $120.7 million
  • La Bamba (1987): $112.5 million

Unadjusted, “Walk the Line” is top dog. It opened at $22.3 million in 2005 and grossed $119.5. Both are records for the genre. 

Until now. 

“Straight Outta Compton,” F. Gary Gray's adaptation of the story of NWA, opened this weekend with a $56.1 million haul, killing the competition. The third weekend of “Mission: Impossible V” came in second at $17 mil, while “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” debuted to a disappointing $13.5 mil.

More impressive? “Compton” did all this in only 2,757 theaters, for a per-theater average of $20.3K. (No other wide-release movie did better than $5K per screen.) It's the sixth-best August opener ever, the 10th-best R-rated opener ever. All time, it's 136th-best, which doesn't sound like much until you realize that its theater tally is 1,087th-best. 

Put it this way: 180 movies have opened with more than $50 million at the box office and only five debuted in fewer than 3,000 theaters. And only one of those—“8 Mile,” interestingly enough, starring Eminem—debuted in fewer theaters: It grossed $51 mil in 2,470 theaters. Meaning no movie that debuted in fewer theaters than “Compton” made more opening weekend. 

Where will it stop? It will almost have to perform like a horror movie (big opener, then nothing), or like “8 Mile” (44% of its earnings on opening weekend) to not surpass “Walk the Line,” which, remember, had the advantage of AA nominations/wins to add wind to its sails.

“Compton” is another in a string of hits this summer for Universal Studios, which has already scored with “Jurassic World” (No. 1 for the year), “Furious 7” (No. 3), “Minions” (No. 5), and “Pitch Perfect 2” (No. 7).

On the other side of the spectrum is Fox's “Fantastic Four,” which opened abyssmally last weekend, then dropped abyssmally this weekend: 68.9% for fourth place and $8 mil. Despite its bad open, Fox expanded its theater count by 9, bringing it to 4,004 theaters, so it too might set a record. Only 66 movies have appeared in more than 4,000 theaters and the lowest previous box office for those films was “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2,” which grossed a total of $119.7 million. “FF” looks to shatter that. After 10 days, it's at $41.9 mil.

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Posted at 10:56 AM on Aug 16, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday August 09, 2015

If This Be Doomsday! Parsing the Box-Office Disaster of 'Fantastic Four'

Here are a few of the superhero films that did better on opening weekend than Josh Trank's “Fantastic Four” did this weekend, when it grossed $26.2 million:

Movie Opening BO  Thtrs Rel. Date Domestic BO
Daredevil $40,310,419 3,471  Feb. 2003 $102,543,518
Hellboy II: The Golden Army $34,539,115 3,204 July 2008  $75,986,503
The Green Hornet $33,526,876 3,584 Jan. 2011  $98,780,042
Blade II $32,528,016 2,707 March 2002  $82,348,319
Unbreakable $30,330,771 2,708 Nov. 2000  $95,011,339

Fantastic Four's bad box office debut

That's unadjusted for inflation, by the way. Meaning the new FF didn't gross what “Unbreakable” grossed 15 years ago. It didn't even do half the business that the old (and super-crappy) Fantastic Four movies did 10 years ago, when the original debuted with $56 mil in 2005 and the sequel $58 in 2007. And remember, this one was supposed to wash the bad taste of those from our mouths. But judging from the Rotten Tomatoes reviews (9% and dropping), it looks like Trank's version left its own worse taste behind. 

In the end, “Fantastic Four” didn't even win the weekend, coming in second to the second weekend of “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” which dropped only 47% to gross $29.4. It's now grossed $108 domestically, $206 worldwide.

How long has it been since a superhero movie based on Marvel Comics characters debuted in something less than first place? Working backwards chronologically: Not Ant-Man, Avengers 2, Guardians, X-Men/Future Past, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America 2, Thor 2, Wolverine, Iron Man 2, Amazing Spider-Man, or the Avengers. No, you've got to go to Feb. 2012 and the shitty sequel to the shitty 2007 Ghost Rider movie, which debuted in third place with $22 million. And if you remove the odd Satanic/Death Wish titles like Ghost Rider and Punisher? It hasn't happened since “Elektra” in January 2005. And if you focus on just top tier superhero characters? It's never happened. 

It'll be interesting to see who or what gets the blame for this. Trank, trying to deflect blame on Friday, merely had more fingers pointing back at him. But fans know that Fox has a horrible track record with superhero movie titles.

So is this poor performance a sign of: 1) superhero fatigue; 2) Fantastic Four fatigue; 3) Fox Studios fatigue; or 4) that the age of the superhero movie is ending? I think it's a combination, but I also thinking 3) is stronger than people suspect. The fan boys are still out there but they know how Fox screwed them in the past, so they're content to see this one on DVD and wait for the next Marvel Studios movie. 

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Posted at 12:01 PM on Aug 09, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday August 02, 2015

Box Office: How Big a Star was Tom Cruise Anyway?

Tom Cruise's “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” won the weekend with a $56 million haul, beating the reprise of National Lampoon's “Vacation,” which earned $14.8 million after a Wednesday release. If you count its first two days as well, the reboot still comes in at only $21.7.

“M:I”'s gross is the 10th-best opening of the year, behind, among others, “Pitch Perfect 2,” but it's the third-biggest opening of Cruise's career, behind only “War of the Worlds” ($64.8 in 2005) and “Mission: Impossible II” ($57.8 in 2000). 

Doesn't that seem startling? Tom Cruise has been a box-office champ for so long you expect his numbers to be higher. In the big three categories, in fact, here are the biggest movies of Tom Cruises's career, along with their rank in each category:

  • Domestic: “War of the Worlds” (2005): $234.2 million (110th)
  • Worldwide: “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol” (2011): $694.7 million (77th)
  • Domestic (adjusted for inflation): “Top Gun” (1986): $389.9 million (109th)

Each stat is startling in its own way. 

No Tom Cruise movie grossed from than $235 million in the U.S.? And “Ghost Protocol” was his biggest worldwide hit? And even when you adjust for inflation to compensate for Cruise's early years as a movie star, his biggest hit, “Top Gun,” doesn't even rank in the top 100

I thought Cruise was our biggest movie star over the past 30 years but these numbers don't really indicate it. 

So I looked at other numbers—specifically where each movie ranked the year it was released:

Year Movie Dom. Gross Yearly Rank Key moments in career
1981 Taps $35.8 16  <— Stuns in debut
1983 The Outsiders $25.6 28  
1983 Losin' It $1.2 140  
1983 Risky Business $63.5 10 <— Becomes a star
1983 All the Right Moves $17.2 42  
1986 Legend $15.5 56  
1986 Top Gun $179.8 1 <— Becomes a superstar
1986 The Color of Money $52.2 12  
1988 Cocktail $78.2 9  
1988 Rain Man $172.8 1  
1989 Born on the Fourth of July $70.0 17 <— First Oscar nom
1990 Days of Thunder $82.6 13  
1992 Far and Away $58.8 21  
1992 A Few Good Men $141.3 5  
1993 The Firm $158.3 4 <— No. 4 for the year?
1994 Interview with the Vampire $105.2 11  
1996 Mission: Impossible $215.4 3 <— First M:I film
1996 Jerry Maguire $153.9 4  <— Second Oscar nom
1999 Eyes Wide Shut $55.6 42  <— Kubrick
1999 Magnolia $22.4 80  <— Last Oscar nom
2000 Mission: Impossible II $215.4 3  <— First sequel
2001 Vanilla Sky $100.6 20  
2002 Minority Report $132.0 17  
2003 The Last Samurai $111.1 20  
2004 Collateral $101.0 23 <— Villain role
2005 War of the Worlds $234.2 4 <— Couch jumping on “Oprah,” etc.
2006 Mission: Impossible III $134.0 14  
2007 Lions for Lambs $15.0 127  
2008 Valkyrie $83.0 35  
2010 Knight & Day $76.4 45  
2011 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol $209.3 7 <— Still Cruise's only sequels
2012 Rock of Ages $38.5 84  
2012 Jack Reacher $80.0 38  
2013 Oblivion $89.1 41  
2014 Edge of Tomorrow $100.2 33  

All numbers courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

Now his status makes a little more sense. From “A Few Good Men” in 1992 to “Mission: Impossible III” in 2006, the only Tom Cruise movies that didn't gross $100 million domestically were two serious art films with acclaimed directors. Hell, he even raised a difficult film like the U.S. remake of “Vanilla Sky” to the $100 million mark. He had two No. 1 movies in the 1980s, and top five movies in '92, '93, '96 (two in '96), 2000 and 2005. He kept cruising. 

Most likely, his box office numbers would have gone down as he aged and his fans grew up and had kids of their own, but obviously his 2005 Summer of Weirdness, which included couch jumping on “Oprah,” chastising Matt Lauer for being glib on “Today,” and berating Brooke Shields for taking anti-depressants after childbirth, sped up that process. It also probably dinged the b.o. numbers of “War of the Worlds” in 2005, as well as, a year later, “M:I III,” which is the least lucrative of the series by far.

Ever since that summer, Cruise has been crawling his way back, although rather than taking difficult projects he seems resigned to starring in “M:I” movies and smartish sci-fi and/or action flicks that do meh domestic box office. Before “Rogue Nation,” none of his movies this decade opened better than $38 mil—they averaged only $21 mil per opening—so “Rogue” is a nice reprieve for the besmirched, aging Scientologist. But the poster is indicative. Tom Cruise became a superstar by piloting planes and now he's on the outside of them, hanging on for dear life.

Final thought: This will give you an idea how long the man's been around. When “Risky Business” made Tom Cruise a star in the summer of '83, and became the 10th-highest-grossing movie that year, do you know what movie was No. 11? “National Lampoon's Vacation,” starring Chevy Chase. 

 Tom Cruise movies

Cruise: From flying planes to hanging onto them for dear life.

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Posted at 12:29 PM on Aug 02, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Monday July 27, 2015

Box Office: 'Ant-Man' Wins Weekend, Game Over for "Pixels' (and Sandler?)

Jurassic World box office

It's Jurassic's world but it's still Cameron's universe. 

Several milestones this weekend:

  • “Jurassic World” earned another $7 million domestically and surpassed “Marvel's The Avengers” for third place on the all-time domestic charts. It's at $624.08 million. Ahead is Cameron Country: “Titanic” at $658.6 and “Avatar” at $760.5. Has a shot at “Titanic.”
  • Even if you adjust for inflation, “Jurassic” is at 27th all-time, just ahead of “Thunderball,” and just behind “Grease” and “Mary Poppins” and “The Godfather.” Good company.
  • “J-World” also surpassed “Marvel's The Avengers” on the worldwide chart, with a $1.541 billion haul against “MTA”'s $1.519. Again, ahead of it is Cameron Country, but you can barely make it out it's so far ahead. “Titanic” is at $2.1 billion, “Avatar” at 2.7.
  • “Inside Out” earned another $7.4 mil domestically and is now at $320. In pure domestic gross, it's the third-highest-grossing Pixar flick (after “Toy Story 3” and “Nemo”); adjust for inflation, it's seventh (but since 2004, only “TS3” is bigger); while worldwide it's eighth (but Pixar movies tend to open slowly abroad). All in all, a huge success. Moneywise. Quality-wise, it's already a success.

Did anyone pick “Pixels” in the summer box office sweepstakes? I hope not. It earned a mere $24 mil, not even enough to unseat “Ant-Man” from the top spot. The diminutive superhero grossed another $24.9 mil and is now at $106. Meanwhile, the third weekend of “Minions” finished in third place with $22.9 (for a $262 total), while the second weekend of “Trainwreck” earned another $17.2 (for $61 total). 

Jake Gylenhaal's counter-programming boxing movie, “Southpaw,” opened in fifth place at $16 mil, which is better than I thought it would do, while another teen movie, “Paper Towns,” opened in sixth with $12. 

BTW: In my search for box office predictions, I came across Entertainment Weekly's summer 2015 forecast, which ... whatever. The point is the pointed commentary by a guy named Andrew about their predictions:

A lot of these predictions are way off in my opinion. They're saying that Trainwreck will make over $100 million but Pixels and Tomorrowland won't? No chance. I also don't see Magic Mike doing quite that well and I think Ant-Man can crack $200 mil. Especially coming directly after Avengers 2. Never underestimate Marvel.

“Tomorrowland is at $92 and not budging while ”Pixels“ probably won't quadruple it's opening weekend. ”Trainwreck“? Still has a shot at 100. Women-centered movies tend to open more slowly than the male version. But Andrew did nail ”Magic Mike XXL," which EW had at $155 and is currently floundering in the 60s.

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Posted at 05:29 PM on Jul 27, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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