erik lundegaard

Movies - Box Office posts

Friday April 25, 2014

What Disney's 'Frozen' Has In Common with the Most Popular Movies of All Time

Frozen

So apparently everyone’s writing about why Disney’s “Frozen” is so popular: 19th all-time domestically in box office grosses ($399.96 million); sixth all-time worldwide ($1.129 billion).

Let me rephrase that. Websites interested in generating hits are generating unremarkable pieces about why “Frozen” is so popular.

Vox gives us three reasons: 1) Inflation (obvious, but not really an answer); 2) foreign earnings (ditto); and 3) “because people like it (duh)” (yes: duh).

Vulture gives us eight reasons: 1) It’s a throwback to classic Disney; 2) the wisecracking sidekick as in the Shrek films; 3) the songs; 4) the “villain” who is not the villain (i.e., Elsa); 5) a resonant tale with real-life overtones (i.e., it’s about Elsa becoming her own person ... through her ability to freeze everything); 6) girl power! (i.e., the twist ending); 7) two Disney princesses (see: William Goldman); and 8) that amazing preshow short. Of these, 6) is probably the most important. 6) and 7). Again: see William Goldman.

Pop Matters? It’s just confused on the subject. It doesn’t get why “Frozen” is so popular. It doesn’t even like the movie.

Anyway, I can only read so many of these things before getting pissed off, because they so miss the point. If you’re doing a piece on the popularity of “Frozen,” surely you mention what the movie has in common with some of the most popular movies of all time. They’re all about this:

A woman choosing between two men against a backdrop of tragedy.

“Gone with the Wind,” the biggest all-time domestic hit (adjusted for inflation), is about Scarlett choosing between Rhett and Ashley against the backdrop of the U.S. Civil War.

“The Sound of Music,” the third-biggest all-time domestic hit (adjusted for inflation), is about Maria choosing between Capt. Von Trapp and God against the backdrop of Nazi invasion.

“Titanic,” the second-biggest all-time domestic and worldwide hit (unadjusted for inflation), is about Rose choosing between Jack and Cal as the Titanic sinks into the North Atlantic.

And now “Frozen.” Here, Anna has to choose between Kristoff and Hans against the backdrop of a perpetual winter.

To this formula you can add the “Twilight” series (Bella/Jacob and Edward/high school) and the “Hunger Games” series (Katniss/Gale and Peeta/dystopian inequality).

Yes, of course, other facets of these movies matter. “Let It Go” matters. Looking up to the beautiful, powerful older sister matters. Comedy relief matters. Quality matters. That twist ending matters. 

But if I were in Hollywood and wanted to make a lot of money? I would only try variations of this story. You do it right (“Frozen”) and you gross a billion dollars. You do it wrong (“Pearl Harbor”), and you only gross half a billion dollars.

Posted at 06:51 AM on Apr 25, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday April 20, 2014

Weekend Box Office: 'Captain America' Threepeats; Christian Movies Play Smallball

Last year, the first movie to reign atop the box office charts for three weekends in a row was “Gravity,” released in October.

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” has just won its third weekend, and, though it’s only mid-April, it’s the third movie this year to threepeat—following “Ride Along” (Jan. 17-Feb. 2) and “The LEGO Movie” (Feb. 7-Feb. 23). Not sure what that means.

Well, it means this anyway: Not many people were interested in Johnny Depp’s “Transcendence,” which got weak reviews and finished a weaker fourth place with $11.1 million. Why weak reviews would matter in a world in which “Transformers” dominates I have no idea. Maybe it’s the type of weak review? Critics called “Transformers” loud and stupid and teenage boys went “Alright!” (Shots of Megan Fox bending over a car’s engine didn’t hurt, either—at least not that way.) Critics call “Transcendence” a “snooze-fest” and teenage boys went, “Yeah ... no. And it stars the Pirate of the Caribbean guy? What is he—like 60?”

“Heaven is for Real” is for real, though. So, apparently, are small-ball Christian movies. I.e., Don’t go for the big bucks of “Passion” or the big production values of “Noah”; just make something small and awful and very, very Christian, and gross in the $40-$60 million range.

So far this year, that’s been done with “Son of God,” patched together from a European TV movie with a superhot Portugese actor (Diogo Mrogado) in the role of Christ ($59.4 million); “God’s Not Dead,” in which an annoying and bland college freshman proves the title thesis to his atheistic and Mephistopholean philosophy professor ($48.3); and now “Heaven,” about a young boy who dies for a moment and then comes back with a certain knowledge of the after-life. It grossed $21 million this weekend for a five-day total of $28 million.

These three films, on Box Office Mojo’s Christian movies chart (1980-present), already rank fifth, sixth and tenth. Caveat: a movie like “Noah” isn’t considered a Christian movie. Because it mentions the Creator but not God? Because it’s Old Testament? Because it isn’t vengeful enough? Who knows?

The Breitbart site, no doubt, will trumpet all of this even though, in box office predictions, it overplayed its hand:

Deadline reports that this Easter weekend at the box office we have two openly Christian films perched in the top ten. Meanwhile, Darren Aronofsky's anti-God “Noah” sailed over a cliff, failing to even rank.

Yes and no. Both “Heaven” (No. 3) and “God’s Not Dead” (No. 10) made the top 10. But so did “Noah,” which shed 745 theaters but still grossed $5 million for ninth place.

So far, “Noah” has grossed $93 million domestic and $290 worldwide. Breitbart dismisses this against its production budget ($125 million according to B.O. Mojo), and calls the film “anti-God"; but imagine if they’d just embraced the movie rather than throwing it to the culture-war wolves. Then they could claim three Christian movies in the top 10. But to do that would require ... what’s the word again? ... charity.

Breitbart site: Christ, America Dominate Box Office

A Breitbart site screenshot this weekend. 

Posted at 09:22 AM on Apr 20, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday April 13, 2014

Box Office: Captain America's Legs are So-So, But He Still Wins Weekend

Captain America: elevator fight scene

Cap wins the fight, but not without effort.  

Captain America has a nice ass but how are his legs? Turns out ... so-so. So far.

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” dropped 56.4% in its second weekend for a $41.3 million haul and first place. It held off new releases “Rio 2” ($39 million), Oculus ($12 million) and Kevin Costner’s “Draft Day” ($9.7 million), which finished second, third and way fourth, respectively.

What kind of drop is 56.4%? It’s not horrible, particularly for a much-anticipated movie that did well on its opening weekend, but it’s nothing to write home about, either, particularly for a criticially acclaimed movie that’s been getting great word-of-mouth. On Box Office Mojo’s chart of second-weekend drops for super-saturated movies (3,000+ theaters), Cap ranks 526th out of 701 listed. That’s closer to the bad end. But it’s still better than the second weekend drops of “Thor: The Dark World” (57.3%), “Captain America: The First Avenger” (60.7%), and “Man of Steel” (64.6%)—not to mention the mother of all second-weekend suphero drops, Ang Lee’s “Hulk” (69.7%).

“Divergent,” which will never be “Hunger Games,” shed 500 theaters and dropped 42% for $7.5 million and fifth place. “Noah,” which Christians are still railing against, shed nearly 300 theaters and dropped 56% for $7.4 million and sixth place. “God’s Not Dead,” which gained 100 theaters, dropped 42% for $4.4 million and seventh place.

(BTW: The headline on the Breitbart site for all this? BOX OFFICE: ANTI-GOD ‘NOAH’ DIVES, ‘GOD’S NOT DEAD’ SOARS. Astonishing.)

For the year, domestically, it goes “The LEGO Movie” ($251), “Captain America” ($159) and “Ride Along,” the Kevin Hart/Ice Cube comedy ($134). “Divergent” is fourth with $124.

Worldwide, it’s Cap ($476), “LEGO” ($411), “300: Rise of an Empire” ($325), then “Noah” ($246).

All-time worldwide, “Frozen” is now in eighth place ($1.11 billion), having surpassed “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Skyfall.” 

Posted at 09:04 AM on Apr 13, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday April 06, 2014

'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Sets April Box Office Record

We all know Captain America has a nice ass but does he have legs? That’ll be the question for next weekend.

The second of the Captain America movies, “The Winter Soldier,” set an April box-office record with an estimated $96.2 million opening weekend, breaking “Fast Five”’s $86.2 million open in April 2011, but in a way it was a disappointment. It got great reviews (89% on Rotten Tomatoes), good audience feedback (95% on same), and its Thursday midnight haul of $9-$10 million indicated it might do $110-$120. But $96.2 million will have to do.

Again, that’s the best April opener, the third-best spring opener, and the 30th best all-time, but the key will be the comeback. How will it do in its second weekend? Does it have legs?

“Noah” doesn’t. It fell off 61.1% this weekend for $17 million and second place. “Divergent” neither. In its third weekend, it fell off by 49% to $13 million and a $114 million total. The would-be “next ‘Hunger Games’” probably won’t gross overall what “Hunger Games” grossed its opening weekend. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in particular, no longer has legs. His “Sabotage” opened abysmally at $5.2 million but still fell off 63.8% in its second weekend. Its total thus far? $8.7 million. Over and out.

What has legs? “God’s Not Dead,” a supposedly awful movie (20% RT score) about a plucky Christian freshman who engages his smug, atheist college professor (former “Hercules” Kevin Sorbo) in a debate about the existence of God. It fell off by only 12% to finish fourth with $7.7 million and a total gross of $32 million. So maybe this is the answer for Arnold. Maybe he needs to find religion. Or attack atheistic Hollywood. Or both.

A better movie that has legs is “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which finished fifth with $6.3 million for a total gross of $33 million. Unadjusted, that’s Wes Anderson’s third-biggest box office hit—after “Royal Tenenbaums” ($52 million in 2001) and “Moonrise Kingdom” ($45.5 million in 2012).

Milestones: “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” added another $5 mil to pass the $100 million mark, “The LEGO Movie” assed $250, and internationally “Frozen” passed “The Dark Knight Rises” to become the ninth-biggest worldwide box-office hit.

The weekend numbers here.

Tune in next week for a peek at Cap’s legs.

Chris Evans Scarlett Johansson in Captain America The Winter Soldier

Hmmm... legs ...

Posted at 09:11 AM on Apr 06, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday March 30, 2014

Hollywood B.O.: 'Noah,' Not Considered a Christian Movie by Box Office Mojo or Christian Groups, Grosses $44 Million

Russell Crowe in NOAH

Over the weekend, Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe, grossed $44 million in the U.S. How does that rank among Christian movies? It took a little work to figure out because Box Office Mojo doesn’t consider “Noah” a Christian movie. This is its definition of a Christian movie:

Movies produced by Christians that promote or embody their religions.

So a story based upon Chapters 6-9 of Genesis is not considered Christian because it was produced by ... Ari Handel? Paramount Pictures? Hollywood? Because it wasn’t Christian conservative?

If we were to consider it a Christian movie, (and why the fuck not?), “Noah” would’ve had the fourth-best opening ever in that category: after “Passion of the Christ” ($83m), and the first two “Narnia” movies ($65m, $55m).

(Sidenote: Where does “Noah” rank among movies starring Russell Crowe? If you don’t count “Man of Steel”—and I don’t—it’s ... No. 1.)

A reason to consider “Noah” a Christian movie besides the Book of Genesis is the fact that the Breitbart site doesn’t. They whine in their usual fashion. OK, writer Sam Sorbo whines. She also promotes her husband Kevin Sorbo’s movie, “God’s Not Dead,” without disclaimer. Classy. Admittedly, hubby’s film did well, $9.5m in its second weekend, dropping only 1.5%, but journalistic rules are journalistic rules. Even for Mrs. Hercules. Or maybe she thinks we all know.

In a way, “Noah” and “God’s Not Dead” demonstrate the Catch 22 that Hollywood has if it wants to, as Sorbo writes, “cash in” on “how the American public is clamoring for faith-based films.” It’s this: Hollywood needs to promote religious movies as if they’re “the religious movies Hollywood doesn’t want you to see.” The movie needs to be part of the culture wars. Christians need to feel like they’re not only showing love for their religion but spiting Hollywood. Which is stronger: love or spite? I’d go for the spite. So: a Catch 22.

Elsewhere, “Divergent,” no “Hunger Games,” fell off 51% in its second weekend and is currently at $95 million. “Muppets” fell off 33% but has grossed only $33 million in a week and a half. “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” a smart animated movie written by my friend Craig (see, Mrs. Sorbo?), fell off only 19.7% for another $9.5 million. It should pass $100 million next weekend.

The sound you didn’t hear this weekend? Anyone going to see Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Sabotage,” which got a 22% on RT and grossed just $5.3 million. Adjusted, that’s his worst opening evah. Question: Is it a tumor? Maybe Arnold knows.

Another sound you didn’t hear this weekend? “Captain America: Winter Soldier.” It grossed a noisy $75.2 million but that was abroad. America gets sloppy seconds on “Captain America” next weekend.

More numbers flooding in here.

Posted at 04:01 PM on Mar 30, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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