erik lundegaard

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Sunday February 14, 2016

Box Office: 'Deadpool' Takes Our Milk Money

In December, my nephew Ryan took me to his neighborhood comic book on 48th and Chicago in South Minneapolis to show it off, since he knows I know a lot about comics and superheroes. While there, I talked to the proprietor about various things, including the new Deadpool movie, which he thought would do incredibly well when it opened in February. He thought it would be a blockbuster. I nodded politely but said nothing. A relatively unknown and profane superhero with a small but rabid fanbase in an R-rated flick? Opening on Valentine’s Day weekend? Right. Good luck with that.

Deadpool: Smart assMea. Culpa.

The previous record for a February opening belonged to “Fifty Shades of Grey” ($85 mil last year), followed by “Passion of the Christ” ($83 mil in 2004).

“Deadpool” blew past them, grossing an estimated $135 million over the first three days of the weekend. That’s the 17th-best opening weekend ever, and the highest ever for an R-rated movie. (Previous: “The Matrix Reloaded”: $91.7 in May 2003.) So the torch has been passed to, or at least briefly stolen by, a new generation of superheroes: born after Frank Miller, steeped in the bankrupt pop cultural miasma, ready to mock anything and everything.

My review is here. (Psst. I wasn’t much of a fan.)

A few extra b.o. thoughts:

  • Why are the top three February box-office hits R-rated movies? Do we just open more “R” movies that month?
  • There are now four months that don’t have a $100 million opener: January (best: $89 mil), August ($94), September ($48) and October ($55). Unless studios switch things up, I assume Sept. will be the last to fall.

“Deadpool” also grossed $125 million abroad, so it’s not just the U.S. Snark is global. 

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Posted at 12:06 PM on Feb 14, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Friday January 08, 2016

'The Force Awakens' Passes 'Avatar" to Become Biggest Box Office Hit in U.S. History (Unadjusted)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens becomes the highest-grossing domestic movie of all time

Some time on Wednesday afternoon, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” passed “Avatar” to become the highest-grossing domestic movie of all time.

Here are the numbers, courtesy of Box Office Mojo:

Top 5 box office hits unadjusted

That's unadjusted, of course. If you adjust for inflation, it's still hugely impressive: 

 Top 20 box office hits, domestic, adjusted for inflation

I love the adjusted list. It's not full of recent and regrettable infatuations like “Age of Ultron” and “Dark Knight Rises”; most are classic films. In the top 10 alone, six decades are represented: 1930s (twice), 1950s, 1960s (twice), 1970s (thrice), 1980s and 1990s. They're also all original films. No sequels or reboots. It's not until you expand into the top 20 that you see any sequels. See if you can spot the pattern among them:

  • 12. The Empire Strikes Back
  • 15. Return of the Jedi
  • 17. Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace
  • 20. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

That's right. And the highest-ranking non-Star Wars sequel? “Jurassic World” at No. 24, then “Thunderball” at No. 30. Rounding out the top 50: “The Dark Knight,” “Shrek 2,” “Goldfinger,” Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.“ 

That's pretty amazing to me—that the top 20 is devoid of sequels except for ”Star Wars“ sequels. I guess that's how much we love George Lucas' universe.

So now that ”The Force Awakens“ has the unadjusted mark, the big question is where it will wind up on the adusted list. I assume it will get to $845 million to become the highest-ranking ”Star Wars" sequel of all time. Might it reach the top 10? That's $938.4 billion. Tougher. And can it reach $1 billion domestic? Toughest. It's already beginning to fall off now that the kids are back in school. Despite a strong weekend, for example, where it fell off only 39%, it wound up falling 54.7% for the week. 

Talk soon.

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Posted at 02:43 PM on Jan 08, 2016 in category Movies - Box Office
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Tuesday December 29, 2015

Could 'Star Wars VII' Be the First $1 Billion Domestic Movie?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Rey

How high will it go?

Let's break it down. 

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (also known as “Star Wars VII,” or “SW: TFA” or just “TFA”) shattered the opening weekend box office record by grossing $247.9 million December 18-20. The previous record, set earlier this year by “Jurassic World,” was $208 million, which was just a hair over the mark “The Avengers” set in 2012. Lost in the numbers is the fact that “Star Wars” did this the weekend before Christmas, when box office is generally as dry as Tatooine. Everyone's just too busy getting ready for Christmas to go see a movie. Put it this way: The previous record for any December weekend was the first “Hobbit” movie, which grossed $84 mil in 2012. So quite a leap. A leap into hyper space, you might say.

Which is why, after “SW7” shattered the record, it began to widen its lead. It was Secretariat at Belmont Stakes, and “Jurassic World” was Sham:

  • 3-Day lead: $39.1 million
  • 4-Day lead: $54 million
  • 5-Day lead: $67 million
  • 6-Day lead: $85 million
  • 7-Day lead: $94 million 

Just a few years ago, the 10-day record belonged to “The Dark Knight” at $313 mil until “The Avengers” broke it in 2012 with $373 mil. That record was then broken by “Jurassic World,” which grossed $402 in 10 days this summer. “Star Wars VII” is currently at $540 million. Its lead is $138 million.  

So at this point it seems assured of breaking the all-time domestic record of $760 million set by “Avatar” in 2009. But the bigger question is really where it stops. Could it break the $1 billion domestic mark?

It could—but it won't be easy. A look at the recent 10-day record holders indicates that most of these films earned about 60% of their total gross after 10 days. For “Jurassic World” it was 61.8%, “The Avengers” 59.8%, “The Dark Knight” 58.8%. If “Star Wars VII” holds to this pattern—if its 10-day total represents 60% of its final domestic gross—it will eventually gross $900 million.

To get to $1 billion domestic, that 10-day total will have to go down to 54% of its total gross. This is actually more difficult than it sounds. We ride movies hard out of the gates now, and they fade quickly. Of the 33 other films that grossed more than $200 million after 10 days, only one, “Avatar” (another December release), came in under this mark:

MOVIE 10-DAY GROSS % OF TOTAL THTRS TOTAL YEAR
Avatar $212,711,184 28.4% 3,456 $749,766,139 2009
Toy Story 3 $226,889,351 54.7% 4,028 $415,004,880 2010
Spider-Man $223,040,031 55.2% 3,615 $403,706,375 2002
The Dark Knight $313,781,677 58.8% 4,366 $533,345,358 2008
Marvel's The Avengers $373,071,647 59.8% 4,349 $623,357,910 2012

(For the record: 11 of the 33 were in the 60-65% range, nine were in the 65-70% range, and eight (bad sequels like “Spider-Man 3”; franchises with a rabid fanbase but no general appeal, such as “Twilight”) were over 70%.)

But my sense is that “Star Wars VII” could transcend all of this. People are going to see it again and again. Families are going. Single dudes are going. Girls are going.

Where will it stop? We'll have a better idea on Sunday. But if I could get long odds on the $1 billion mark, I'd put money down. People love this franchise. They love it even when it sucks. And this one doesn't suck. 

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Posted at 07:51 AM on Dec 29, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Monday December 21, 2015

'The Force Awakens' Shatters Box Office Records

It's true. All of it.

Opening weekend, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” grossed $247.9 million domestically. That shatters the mark set by “Jurassic World” earlier this summer by around $40 million. You expected it, you would have been hugely disappointed if it hadn't, but it's still fun to run through the numbers:

  • Its single-day total on Friday was $119 million, which is the best single-day total by something like $30 million. The former record-holder was the final “Harry Potter” film, which opened to $91 million in 2011. Put it this way: Only 19 movies have ever had better opening weekends.
  • It shattered the best December opening weekend by threefold. The previous record-holder was “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which grossed $84.6 million in 2012. (December tends to be a tepid month for box office because everyone's too busy getting ready for Christmas.)
  • It's the seventh-highest grossing release of the year.
  • It also grossed $281 million internationally, for an opening worldwide total of $528 million: another record.

If it picks up again after Christmas, which I expect it to, all bets are off for the highest-grossing domestic film of all time: “Avatar” at $749 million. But it'll be tougher to beat “Avatar”'s worldwide mark of $2.7 billion. I'd put money on the former, not on the latter. 

My $12 or so was among the receipts, as I saw the movie on Saturday afternoon with Patricia, my nephews, my sister and her husband. “The Force Awakens” is not without its problems (a bit derivative of the first “Star Wars”), but the two new leads are great, and it's the kind of film that will draw repeat customers.

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Posted at 02:55 PM on Dec 21, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday November 22, 2015

Box Office: ‘Hunger Games’ Joins the Ranks of the Fallen

The Hunger Games Katniss salute

The odds were ever in its favor, but the final “Hunger Games” fell at the box office. 

Is it the “Part 2” or merely the “Mockingjay”?

The fourth and final “Hunger Games” was upon us this weekend, and, though the odds were ever in its favor, it disappointed at the box office.

Here are the opening weekends for each “THG”:

  • “The Hunger Games” (2012): $152 million
  • “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (2013): $158 million
  • “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014): $121 million
  • “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015): $101 million

So over two years, it lost a third of its opening weekend value.

What went wrong? Is it the fact that we’re tired of Hollywood stretching out these stories with all of these “Part 2”s? Except the final installment of “Harry Potter” broke records, while “Twilight”’s last go-round improved upon its “Part 1” box office.

Is it “The Hunger Games” itself? I’ve heard the later books aren’t as good as the earlier ones. Maybe the audience knew that and drifted away. Maybe they grew up.

Brad Brevert on “Box Office Mojo” has another suggestion: “Star Wars VII” anticipation. It’s sucking all the air out of the room.

Obviously it’s still a good weekend, but “Hunger Games” joined the ranks of the fallen less than triumphantly.

The latest James Bond, “Spectre,” dropping 56.7% in its third weekend, grossed antoher $14.6 for a domestic total of $153.7. That’s about half of what its predecessor did. Bond fatigue? More “Star Wars” anticipation?

“The Peanuts Movie” dropped 46% and grossed another $12 mil for a domestic take of $98 million. Not exaclty a warm puppy.

Two new movies, the R-rated Seth Rogen comedy “The Night Before,” and the U.S. remake of the Argentian award-winner “The Secrets in their Eyes,” finished fourth and fifth, with $10 and $6 mil respectively. 

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Posted at 01:39 PM on Nov 22, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office
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