erik lundegaard

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Tuesday July 08, 2014

Hollywood B.O.: Worst July 4th Weekend Since 1999

This is how it’s worked in the past.

Other studios accede the July 4th weekend to the second weekend of the “Transformers” series, which then grosses in the $40-50 million range. The other studios might release more serious films (“Public Enemies,” 2009) or comedies (“Horrible Bosses,” 2011), but they don’t want their A-movies getting crushed beneath the weight of all that stupid metal, so they let Michael Bay have the weekend more or less to himself.

This year it was the same. Warner Bros. released “Tammy,” an awful-looking comedy starring Melissa McCarthy, and ScreenGems counter-programmed with the Eric Bana horror film “Deliver Us From Evil." But the fourth “Transformers” movies till won the weekend.

Except it fell off by 63%, grossing only $37 million. (Cf.: $47 million in 2011 for “Transformers 3.”) Meanwhile, “Tammy” merely did OK ($21), while “Evil” bombed ($9.7).

Upshot? A July 4th weekend that was down 47% from last year when (get this) “Despicable Me 2” and “The Lone Ranger” were released. You know you’re in trouble when you can’t match “The Lone Ranger”’s numbers.

In fact, according to Ray Subers at Box Office Mojo, it’s the worst July 4th weekend for the top 12 movies since 1999.

Overall box office has already been weak this year—the tent poles appear bent if not busted—so unless a surprise champion emerges (“Apes”? “Guardians”?), it’s going to be a cruel, cruel summer for Hollywood. But maybe that will mean better summers for the rest of us in the long run. 

Transformers 4

How could Americans not want to see giant robots riding giant robotic dinosaurs?

Posted at 12:14 PM on Jul 08, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Friday July 04, 2014

Are $100 Million Opening Weekends Approaching the Age of Extinction?

Dinobots in Transformers: Age of Extinction

Could we really be getting tired of whatever this is?

While I was away last weekend, the fourth “Transformers” movie, “Age of Extinction,” became the 27th movie, and the first this year, to gross more than $100 million during its opening weekend. Barely: $100,038,390, according to Box Office Mojo and Paramount Studios. That’s down from the $108.9 million “Transformers 2” grossed opening weekend 2009, but up slightly from the $97.8 million “Transformers 3” grossed during its opening weekend in 2011. Is that $2 million jump because of star Mark Wahlberg? Is it his GAR (Gross Above Replacement)?

Either way, it’s a bit late in the year for our first $100 million domestic opener. Here’s the 27 broken down by month:

March 2
May 11
June 4
July  4
November 6

From 2004 to 2008, there was always a $100 million opener in May. In 2009, we didn’t have one until late June, “Transformers 2,” but 2010 gave us Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” inexplicably grossing $116 million during a March opening weekend. The first “Hunger Games” repeated that March feat in 2012 and then “The Avengers” seemed to reset the bar with a $207 million opening weekend in May 2012. We had four $100 million openers that year (none lower than $140) and three last year (none lower than $116). So it seemed like $100 million openings would soon be no big deal.

Until this year. This year, $100 million openings have been the benchmark that would-be blockbuster movies can’t quite bench. “Captain America” came close at $95 million, “Godzilla” at $93, “Amazing Spidey 2” at $91, “X-Men” at $90. But no cigars until “T4.” Kind of. Many in Hollywood feel Paramount’s numbers are inflated. And even with that inflation, it still just wheezed across the finish line.

So are the tentpoles creaking and bending? Is this franchise fatigue or something more?

Look at Box Office Mojo’s summer predictions from April. Its writer, Ray Subers, thought “How to Train Your Dragon 2” would be the big summer movie at $325 million; but after three weekends and $129 domestic, it’ll be lucky to gross half that. He predicted $290 for “X Men,” and it’s done well ($225), but not that well. His “Godzilla” prediction felt low ($230) but Godzilla is still clawing its way there ($197). Ditto “Spidey” ($225/$200). In the superhero realm, there’s a lot of wheezing going on. Comedies, too. Subers thought “A Million Ways to Die in the West” was a $125 million movie but it's stuck below $50.

The one surprise based upon his predictions? “Maleficent.” He guessed $150 and after more than a month it’s at $206. Or about what “The Avengers” did in three days in 2012.

Is there a breakout movie to come? A new normal that gets us past traditional superheroes? The “Planet of the Apes” sequel? “Guardians of the Galaxy”? Or for the year’s first true $100 million opener, will all the boys in Hollywood have to wait for Katniss to come to their rescue in November?

Posted at 05:01 AM on Jul 04, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday June 15, 2014

Weekend Box Office: ’22 Jump Street’ Takes Giant Leap, ‘Stars’ Fall

Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, 22 Jump Street

This weekend, it was all about the Jonahs.

Last month, “Neighbors,” starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, trounced the second weekend of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” with a $49 million opening. It was the third-highest opening weekend gross for an R-rated comedy (unadjusted), after “The Hangover Part II” ($85.9 million) and “Jackass 3-D” ($50 million).

Now it’s fourth. “22 Jump Street,” an R-rated sequel to the 2012 comedy, which was based on the 1980s TV show, opened this weekend with $60 million. That’s almost twice the original’s opening gross ($36 m). It’s also the best opening for either star, Jonah Hill or Channing Tatum, in a non-animated movie. And of course it’s No. 2 all-time for R-rated comedy opening weekends.

Speaking of No. 2s, Jonah Hill and animation: the No. 2 movie this weekend was “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” in which Hill reprised his secondary role as Snotlout Jorgensen. The Dreamworks movie grossed $50 million. (The original opened at $43 million in 2010.) This weekend, it’s all about the Jonahs.

The bigger news? How steeply “The Fault in Our Stars” fell: 67.2%, to $15 million and fifth place. Other movies that opened well and then fell 67% in their second weekend include two of the “Saw” sequels, “Watchmen,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (Keanu Reeves version) and “The Village,” the movie that began to sour everyone on M. Night Shyamalan. So not good company. Most of these movies wound up grossing about twice their opening weekend numbers. Apparently the well for movies about cancer-stricken teenagers in love isn’t as deep as we thought.

Better news for “Maleficent” and “Edge of Tomorrow.” The former fell 44% for $19 million and third place. It’s already grossed $163 million domestically and $436 worldwide. Tom Cruise’s movie, meanwhile, dropped only 43% for $16 million and fourth place. It’s grossed only $56 million domestically but $237 worldwide. It’s also supposed to be good.

Better news, too, for “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which fell 37% for $9 million and sixth place. It’s now the third-highest-grossing movie of the year. Spider-Man Schmider-Man.

What to make of all of these comedies doing so well? I have no idea. I’ve been at SIFF.

MONDAY UPDATE: The actuals were much worse than the Sunday morning predictions. Apparently everyone was watching ... I don't know. The World Cup maybe? Anyway:

  •  “22 Jump” grossed $57 not $60.
  • “Dragon 2” grossed $49 not $50.
  • “Maleficent” dropped a mil to $18 while “Edge of” did a little better: $15.5 rather than $16.

More importantly, “Fault” didn't fall off 67.2% but 69.2%. How bad is that? That's Ang Lee “Hulk” bad. That's “Year One” bad. That's “Jonah Hex” bad. Maybe I don't have to see the movie after all. I wonder what the schoolgirl scuttlebutt is?

Posted at 10:59 AM on Jun 15, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday June 08, 2014

More Box Office: MacFarlane’s Loss is Breitbart’s Loss

I try not to engage in schadenfreude too much unless it involves, you know, the usual suspects: the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter, the GOP, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Fox News, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly ...

OK, so I have a lot of usual suspects.

The point is I get no joy out of how poorly Seth McFarlane’s “A Million Ways to Die in the West” has performed at the box office: $30 million thus far after a week and a half. True, I wasn’t the biggest fan of “Ted,” and I don’t watch “The Family Guy,” but I did defend his Oscar hosting. And I did include one of the lines from “Ted” among my top 10 lines of the year for 2012. Plus when I first saw the trailer to “West,” I thought it looked good. So no joy there.

The joy I get is seeing the right-wing Breitbart site wrong again.

In March, they wrote this among their predictions for 2014 box office:

Breitbart box office prediction 2014

“Remember, you heard it here first.”

Can these guys get anything right?

Posted at 01:26 PM on Jun 08, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Girl, Girl, Boy: ‘Fault in Our Stars,’ ‘Maleficent,’ Top Tom Cruise at Weekend Box Office

The Fault in Our Stars box office

A well-reviewed Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller (89% on RT) got swamped by a well-reviewed young-adult romance about two teenage kids with cancer (91% on RT), and it wasn’t even close. “The Fault in Our Stars,” based on the novel by John Green, and starring Shailene Woodley, grossed $48 million in 3,173 theaters, while “Edge of Tomorrow” grossed $29.1 million in 3,490 theaters. So about half. “Edge” couldn’t even top Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent.” In its second weekend, the upended fairy tale dropped 51% but still grossed $33.5 million in 3,948 theaters.

Will Hollywood studios take notice? Will they assume a greater audience for smaller, more dramatic stories? Possibly starring women?

Eh. It takes a long time to turn that battleship. And in terms of worldwide box office, it’s a moot point: “Edge” has already grossed another $111 million abroad while “Fault” has grossed exactly nothing. Its studio probably figures it won’t play well internationally.

But “Fault”’s domestic performance is interesting nonetheless. It’s a bit of a shocker. In terms of teen romance, 1980 to the present, this is the biggest opener for any movie that doesn’t have “Twilight” in the title. After the five “Twilights,” which opened from $142 million to $64 million, you have “Fault” and its $48 million. Then? “Save the Last Dance” at $23 and “Step Up” at $20. After that, it’s in the teens, and then quickly into the single digits. This order doesn’t change even if you adjust for inflation.

It’s also the biggest opener for a Y-A adapation that doesn’t involve superpowers of some sort: I.e., not “Twilight,” “Hunger Games” or “Harry Potter.” Oh, and plus “Divergent,” Woodley’s “Hunger Games”-ish counterpart that opened slightly higher ($54 million in March) but monumentally more disappointing (“HG” numbers were hoped for).

In other news, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” in its 10th weekend, finally surpassed “The LEGO Movie” to become the year’s biggest movie thus far. Emphasis on “thus far.” It’s at $255 million.

The weekend numbers.

Posted at 10:00 AM on Jun 08, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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