erik lundegaard

Movies - Box Office posts

Tuesday July 07, 2009

Revenge on "Revenge of the Fallen"

Here's the plan. We find every 14-year-old that's propeling "Transformers 2" toward the $400 million mark in the U.S., and possibly the $1 billion mark globally, and in 30 years force them to watch it again. Plus the original. Plus all sequels. Plus the '80s series. Back to back to back to back. As a way of saying thanks.

The movie's box office has fallen off, certainly, but not preciptiously liked I'd hoped. I had my fingers crossed for "Gigli" numbers (-81% during its second weekend) or at least "Wolverine" numbers (-69%), but "Transformers" only fell off by "Terminator: Salvation" numbers: -61%.

I'm hoping for better next weekend. Stop the stupidity. While we can.

Posted at 04:24 PM on Jul 07, 2009 in category Movies - Box Office
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Friday June 26, 2009

Why We're Getting 10 Best Picture Nominees

 The Annual Box Office Rankings for Best Picture Nominees, 1991-2008*

Year
BPN BO rank
BPN BO rank
BPN BO rank
BPN BO rank
BPN BO rank
2008
 1620
82 89
120
 2007 153650
55
66
 2006 15 5157
92
138
 2005 22 49
62
88
95
 2004 22 2437
40
61
 2003 1 1731
33
67
 2002 2 103556
80
 2001 21143
59
68
 2000 412
13
15
32
 1999 2 1213
41
69
 1998 1 18 3559
65
 1997 1  67
24
44
 1996 4 1941
67
108
 1995 3 18 2839
77
 1994 1 1021
51
56
 1993 3 9
38
61 66
 1992 511
19
20
48
 1991 3 4
16
17
25

* Best picture winner represented in red.

Want one more?

Year
BPN BO rank
BPN BO rank
BPN BO rank
BPN BO rank
BPN BO rank
1970
1
2
3
4
11

*ditto

The problem isn't the number of nominees. The problem is the disconnect between studios, distributors, audience and the Academy. We don't make best pictures anymore. And if we do make them we don't distribute them. And if we do distribute them we don't go see them. And if all three happen, but the movie happens to be a cartoon or a superhero film, the Academy can't be bothered.

I'll say it again. The Academy is fixing something that ain't broken (the tradition of five nominees) because of something that is hugely broken. All of the above.

BTW: I charted the above for the drastic change that took place in 2004, but I never noticed —until I created this graph — how the best picture winner is almost always (eventually) the no. 1 or 2 box office hit among the five nominees. That's good to know. Or at least it was in the era of five nominees. Now it's useless knowledge.

Posted at 11:08 PM on Jun 26, 2009 in category Movies - Box Office, Movies - The Oscars
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Tuesday June 23, 2009

The $67 Million Advantage

By the way, and related to yesterday’s post: If you take all 243 films that were released superwide (into 3,000 or more theaters) from 2004 to 2008, and divide them by Rotten Tomatoes' ranking (“fresh” meaning 60 percent or better from top critics, “rotten” 59 percent or worse), and total and then average the box office for each category, this is what you get:

All Superwide Releases, 2004-2008

Type
No. of films
Total B.O.
B.O. Per Film
"Fresh" films
76
$12,064,252,567
$158,740,165
"Rotten" films
167
$15,321,793,613
$91,747,267

That's a $67 million advantage.

Are there extenuating circumstances? No doubt. "Fresh" superwide releases are more likely to open during the prime real-estate months of May, June, July, November and December—by a 66% to 47% ratio. Their marketing budgets may be bigger, too, but of course I have no data on that. (Does anyone?)

Most importantly, "fresh" films open, on average, in 231 more theaters than “rotten” films.

But even if you take away this advantage—by dividing the average box-office take by the average opening theater count—the “fresh” films are still much, much more lucrative:

All Superwide Releases, 2004-2008, by Theater Count

Type
No. of films
Avg. B.O. 
Avg. Thtrs.
Avg.
"Fresh" films
76
$158,740,165
 3,581  $44,331
"Rotten films
167
$91,747,267
 3,350 $27,385
 
It’s even more stark on the extremes—the superwide releases that garnered 90 percent or better from top critics vs. the superwide releases that garnered 9 percent or worse:
 
Best and Worst Superwide Releases, 2004-2008
 
RT Critic Rating
No. of films
Total B.O.
B.O. Per Film
 90-100%
 13 $2,996,670,616
  $230,513,124
 0-9% 25 $1,493,738,755
  $59,749,55

If you build it well, we will come.

Posted at 09:09 AM on Jun 23, 2009 in category Movies - Box Office
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Monday June 22, 2009

Dumb like a Fox

Last week, John Lesher, the president of the Paramount Film Group, was fired and replaced by Adam Goodman, former head of production at Dreamworks SKG. Nikki Finke’s blog listed a number of offenses against Lesher, including drunkenness, while the L.A. Times said his biggest offense in his 18 months on the job wasn’t greenlighting enough pictures.

Maybe the two are related. I have no idea—I’m way the hell up in Seattle, and I don’t read much on internal studio dynamics—but the following, at least, demonstrates a problem Paramount has had for the last five years. It’s a table on how the big six studios (plus DreamWorks) fared with their superwide (3,000+ theater) releases from 2004 to 2008, ranked by average box office:

 Superwide Releases, 2004-2008, by Studio/Distributor

Studio
No. films
"Fresh" films*
% of "fresh" films
Avg. box office
DreamWorks/Paramount
12
7
58%
$153,894,953
Buena Vista
36
11
30%
$132,481,548
Warner Bros.
38
15
39%
$128,921,554
DreamWorks
10
5
50%
$125,634,867
Universal
19
7
37%
$119,575,789
Sony
30
8
26%
$113,209,160
Paramount
22
11
50%
$105,187,877
Fox
39
6
15%
$103,167,684
    * the number of films that garnered a 60% or better rating from the top critics in the country, and compiled on rottentomatoes.com.

If you’re a regular reader you know I’m someone who believes that, with similar movies, good generally beats bad. People are more likely to go see a good popcorn movie over a bad one, and an exciting arthouse movie over a dull one. To paraphrase a famous movie line: “If you build it well, they will come.”

Paramount, according to this chart, builds them better than most, but, on average, fewer people show up.

The bigger question the table raises, though, is this: What’s up with Fox? They have the lowest percentage of fresh films and the lowest average box office per film as well. If you’re wondering what Fox's 39 superwide releases over the last five years look like, here you go. As sorted by top-critics-ranking on Rotten Tomatoes:

Fox's Superwide Releases: 2004-2008

Film
Top Critics' Ranking (RT)
Dom. Box Office
Horton Hears a Who
 81%  $154m
The Simpsons Movie
 81%  $183m
Live Free or Die Hard
 78%  $134m
Robots
 69%  $128m
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
 69%  $380m
Ice Age: The Meltdown
 62%  $195m
Because of Winn-Dixie
 53%  $32m
Nim's Island
 52%  $48m
Fever Pitch
 51%  $42m
Marley & Me
 50%  $143m
X-Men: The Last Stand
 50%  $234m
I, Robot
 50%  $144m
Kingdom of Heaven
 50%  $47m
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
 43%  $186m
Transporter 2
 42%  $43m
The Day After Tomorrow
 41%  $186m
Night at the Museum
 39%  $250m
Meet Dave
 37%  $11m
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
 37%  $32m
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
 31%  $131m
What Happens in Vegas
 30%  $80m
Fantastic Four
 27%  $154m
The X-Files: I Want to Believe
 25%  $20m
27 Dresses
 23%  $76m
Alvin and the Chipmunks
 22%  $217m
Taxi
 19%  $36m
Hide and Seek
 18%  $51m
Big Momma's House 2
 13%  $70m
Elektra
 13%  $24m
Cheaper by the Dozen 2
 12%  $82m
The Day the Earth Stood Still
 12%  $79m
Eragon
 11%  $75m
The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
 11%  $8m
Garfield: The Movie
 9%  $75m
Max Payne
 9%  $40m
Deck the Halls
 9%  $35m
Alien vs. Predator
 4%  $80m
Jumper
 3%  $80m
Babylon A.D. 
 0%  $22m

It’s not pretty. I liked, well enough, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “The Simpsons Movie” and “Marley and Me,” but there’s no standout film here, and most of their menu smells like the glop of McDonald’s. In fact, they’re the only major studio over the last five years not to release a film superwide that garnered a 90% or better rating from the top critics in the country. DreamWorks (“Wallace and Gromit”) Paramount (“Iron Man”) and Universal (“The Bourne Ultimatum”) each did it once; Sony did it twice (“Casino Royale”; “Spider-Man 2”); Warner Bros. three times (“The Dark Knight”; “The Departed”; “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”); and Buena Vista, with a big helping hand from Pixar, did it four times (“Ratatouille”; “WALL-E”; “The Incredibles” and “Enchanted”). Fox? Nothing. Not even close. As you can see.

Equally astonishing is the kinds of movies Fox decides to dump into 3,000+ theaters. “The Seeker”? “Meet Dave”? “Elektra”? The preeminent popular genre of the decade is the superhero film and what has Fox done with it? They’ve taken one franchise that started brilliantly (Bryan Singer’s “X-Men”) and run it into the ground, while taking one of the more famous superhero teams ever created (“The Fantastic Four”) and never got it off the ground. You could argue that Fox’s most successful superhero over the past five years isn’t Wolverine or Mr. Fantastic; it’s Spider-Pig.

In the 1930s studios had personalities. Warner Bros. was gritty gangster stuff, MGM went after glamour and sophistication, etc. Studios are corporate-run now—smaller entities within larger multinational conglomerates—so we no longer ascribe a personality to their output. Lucky for Fox.

Posted at 08:12 AM on Jun 22, 2009 in category Movies - Box Office, Movies - Studios
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Sunday June 21, 2009

Tossed

Bummer.

Hollywood Elsewhere, via Variety, reports that Sony chief Amy Pascal has pulled the plug on “Moneyball,” the Steven Soderbergh adaptation of Michael Lewis' book, which was to star Brad Pitt as Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, and which was to begin shooting Monday. Earlier this month, Patrick Goldstein, expressing enthusiasm for the project, wrote about how it would adhere closely to the book. Maybe that was the problem. Too cerebral? Too much about baseball? Neither of which (baseball, cerebral) plays well in international markets?

Jeffrey Wells, for one, is doubtful:

What this seems to mean is either that (a) Pascal doesn't believe that stars like Pitt mean all that much when it comes to opening a costly film — that the movie itself has to have the commercial goods or it's not worth doing, or that (b) she's half-persuaded that the 46 year-old Pitt — 50 in four and a half years! — isn't much of a star any more. Or a combination of both.

Who knows? Maybe Pascal knew she was taking a chance with Soderbergh, and, after the relative failures of two recent Sony offerings, “Pelham” and “Year One,” she wasn't in the chance-taking mood.

As I said: Bummer. With that talent, and that source material, I had high hopes the movie would be good. Certainly better than “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigilo,” “Stealth,” “Bewitched,” “Guess Who” or “RV,” all of which Sony/Columbia, and presumably Pascal, not only greenlit but opened in more than 3,000 theaters in recent years.

Posted at 07:48 PM on Jun 21, 2009 in category Movies - Box Office
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