erik lundegaard

Movies - Box Office posts

Saturday March 08, 2014

Breitbart's 2014 Box Office Predictions Obvious, Lack Context

Hunger Games mockingjay dress

Bretibart says Katniss will rise highest two years in a row. Has that ever happened?

The Breitbart site has given us its 2014 box-office predictions two months into 2014, but what the hell. The first two months are always throat clearing for Hollywood anyway.

Among its predictions?

  1. “Mark Wahlberg will become the industry's next big action star.”
  2. “With films 300: Rise of an Empire, Maleficent, Divergent, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Dolphin Tale 2 set to open well, a lot of new talent will be joining current new talent heavyweight Jennifer Lawrence.”
  3. “Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One Will Be Year's Biggest Grosser.”

Wow, going out on a limb, BB. My responses:

  1. Wasn't he 10 years ago?
  2. New talent? You mean Shailene Woodley from “The Descendants”? Or maybe Sir Ian McKellan from “X-Men”? It would be nice if they named names, as their political ancestors did.
  3. The sequel to the biggest movie of 2013 will be the biggest movie of 2014? Shocker!

Actually, wait. Maybe that last one is a shocker. Has the same franchise movie ever been the year's biggest movie in back-to-back years?

Here's a list of sequels that were the biggest domestic box-office hits of the year, followed by time removed from predecessors:

  • 1980: “The Empire Strikes Back” (Three years after “Star Wars” was 1977's biggest movie)
  • 1983: “Return of the Jedi” (Three years after “Empire” was 1980's biggest movie)
  • 1991: “Terminator 2” (Seven years after the first movie was the 21st-biggest-hit of 1984)
  • 1999: “The Phantom Menace” (16 years after “Jedi” was 1983's biggest movie)
  • 2003: “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” (One year after “Two Towers” was the second-biggest movie of 2002)
  • 2004: “Shrek 2” (Three years after “Shrek” was the third-biggest grosser of 2001)
  • 2005: “Revenge of the Sith” (Three years after “Clones” was the third-biggest movie of 2002)
  • 2006: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest” (Three years after the first “Pirates” was the third-biggest movie of 2003)
  • 2007: “Spider-Man 3” (Three years after “Spider-Man 2” was the second-biggest grosser of 2004)
  • 2008: “The Dark Knight” (Three years after “Batman Begins” was the eighth-biggest hit of 2005)
  • 2010: “Toy Story 3” (Eleven years after “Toy Story 2” was the third-biggest hit of 1999)
  • 2011: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” (One year after “HPATDH Part 1” was the fifth-biggest grosser of 2010)
  • 2013: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (One year after “The Hunger Games” was the third-biggest hit of 2012)

Two things you notice about the above: 1) Sequels used to be spaced three years apart and now come more quickly, thanks to CGI; and 2) we're loving our sequels more and more. Or maybe Hollywood's just better at making them. For two decades, in the 1980s and '90s, only four sequels were the year's biggest hit: three “Star Wars” movies and “T2.” But in the last decade? A sequel has been the year's biggest hit every year since 2003 with the exception of 2009 (“Avatar”) and 2012 (“The Avengers”); and you can make an argument for the latter as a sequel.

Anyway, the larger point stands: The Breitbart site seems to be predicting the obvious but is actually predicting something that's never happened. They should have mentioned that in their post.

Except ...

The above stats are taken from Box Office Mojo, which tracks back only to 1980. Numbers before then are an iffy territory (if they're not now). But if you do go back further, as I did with “The Hollywood Reporter of Box Office Hits,” you'll find one sequel that was the No. 1 box office hit of the year one year removed from its original. “The Bells of St. Mary's,” with Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley, was the No. 1 movie of 1945 the year after “Going My Way,” with Bing Crosby as Father Chuck O'Malley, was the No. 1 movie of 1944.

So it has been done. Once. Seventy years ago.

Breitbart site? It's called research.

Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley

Katniss is trying to do what only this man has ever done. But can she sing?

Posted at 09:00 AM on Mar 08, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday February 23, 2014

Hollywood B.O.: Rare, Early Threepeat for 'Lego Movie' and 'Ride Along'

It's the last weekend in February and only two 2014 movies have topped the weekend box office charts: “Ride Along,” the buddy comedy starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, and “The Lego Movie.” That's rare. Movies, particularly at this time of year, are generally more disposable.

Compare with 2013 when by the eighth weekend we'd seen six 2013 movies top the charts: “Texas Chainsaw 3D” and “Mama” and “Hansel and Gretel” and “Warm Bodies” and “Identity Thief” and “A Good Day to Die Hard.”

Compare with 2012 when by the eighth weekend we'd seen eight 2012 movies top the charts: “The Devil Inside” and “Contraband” and “Underworld: Awakening” and “The Grey” and “Chronicle” and “The Vow” and “Safe House” and “Act of Valor.”

Last year, no movie reigned atop the box office charts for three weekends until “Gravity” did so in October. This year, it's February, and we already have two.

It helps to have lame competiton. Only two 2014 wide-release movies have been certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes: “Lego” (96%) and “About Last Night” (76%). “Ride Along” wasn't exactly for the critics, either (17%), but it's ridden the Kevin Hart wave to $123 million and counting. “Lego” is at $183 million and climbing. No other 2014 movie has broken $60 million.

So is this a trend? Are we finally tired of disposable movies? Are we coming together to watch the same thing again? To have the same conversation again?

Naw. So enjoy it while it lasts.

The weekend numbers via Box Office Mojo.

The Lego Movie

“The Lego Movie”: Keeping ahead of the other disasters.

Posted at 10:26 AM on Feb 23, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday November 24, 2013

Box Office: 'Catching Fire' Does, Oscar Films Could Use a Light

In March 2012, “The Hunger Games” had the third-biggest opening weekend ever at $152.5 million, behind only the final chapter of “Harry Potter” ($169m) and “The Dark Knight” ($158m).

A year and a half later, its sequel, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” has opened $10 million bigger—$161 million—giving it ... the fourth-best opening weekend ever, behind “The Avengers” ($207m), “Iron Man 3” ($174m), and the final “Harry Potter.”

So it goes in the battle for opening weekends. You do better and fall behind. A metaphor for our age.

Even so, impressive. Girls rule, etc. Hollywood, take note.

Right. It has. Wrongly, probably.

“Delivery Man,” the poorly reviewed remake of the charming French-Canadian comedy “Starbuck,” was the only other film to open wide this weekend, and it grossed just $8.2 million in 3,036 theaters. Katniss made that in the time it took me to write this paragraph.

Most everything else fell off: “Thor” by 61% (for $14m and second place), “The Best Man Holiday” by 58% (for $12m and third place), “Free Birds” by 34% (for $5.3m and fifth place).

The few quality films huddle together further down:

8.  “Gravity”: $3.3m
9.  “12 Years a Slave”: $2.8m
10. “Dallas Buyers Club”: $2.7m
16. “The Book Thief”: $605K
17. “All is Lost”: $390K
18. “Nebraska”: $350K
21. “Blue is the Warmest Color”: $193K

Of these, “Gravity” has made big bucks ($245m and counting domestic), “12 Years” isn’t doing poorly ($29m and counting), and none of the rest have grossed more than $5 million.

So we know what’s still not catching fire.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Heil, I mean hail the conquering hero.

Posted at 10:43 AM on Nov 24, 2013 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday November 17, 2013

Second Weekend of 'Thor' Beats Thoroughly Mortal Competition

In its second weekend, “Thor: The Dark World” topped the box office with $38.4 million, but its competition was thoroughly mortal. The big opener was “The Best Man Holiday,” a sequel to “The Best Man” 15 years ago. It did surprisingly well, $30.5 million, to take second place.

I’m sort of intrigued (I think I’m the only one) by the performances of both “Ender’s Game” and “Last Vegas,” both of which debuted two weekends ago. Back then, “Ender’s,” the sci-fi kids action flick, finished first with $27 while “Vegas,” the oldster comedy, was third with $16.3. But “Ender’s” keeps dropping and “Vegas” doesn’t. This weekend, “Ender’s” finished seventh ($6.2) while “Vegas” is still in third place ($8.8). A tortoise and hare thing.

Meanwhile, “Gravity” earned another $6.2 million to move from seventh to fifth for the year: $240 million.

Among other Oscar contenders, “12 Years a Slave” finished in eighth place ($4.7 for a total of $24.9), “Captain Phillips” finished in ninth ($4.5 for $97.6), “Dallas Buyers Club” 12th ($1.7 for $3), and “All is Lost” 13th ($.9 for $4.2). Of those, only “Captain Phillips” had a wide release greater than 3,000 theaters. “12 Years” is at 1,411, “All is Lost” is at 483, and “Dallas” at 184.

And that noise you hear off in the distance? That’s the “Hunger Games” sequel, opening next Friday.

Thor: The Dark World

Don't worry, Thor. Competition arrives next weekend.

Posted at 01:27 PM on Nov 17, 2013 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday November 10, 2013

‘Thor’ Hammers Competition for $86 Million Open

Thor: The Dark World

“Thor: The Dark World” opened in 100 fewer theaters than “Thor” but it grossed $20 million more at the domestic box office: $86.1 million to $65.7 million. That’s the 12th-best opening for a superhero film, after the three Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man” movies; the three “Iron Man” movies; the two “Dark Knight” movies; “Man of Steel,” “X-Men: The Last Stand,” and, of course, “The Avengers,” which assembled $207 mil during its opening weekend in May 2012, and which is still probably helping the God of Thunder along.

Where will “Thor 2” wind up? Depends on word of mouth. Reviews were mixed: an RT score of 66% but just 38% from top critics. (My review up tomorrow.)

Of the other superhero films that opened in the 80s, “Spider-Man 2” wound up at $373 (“Thor 2” won’t do that well), “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” wound up at $179 (it won’t do that poorly) and “X2: X-Men United” wound up at $214.9 (it could beat that). But it’s November, not May, and “Hunger Games 2” opens next weekend. We’ll see.

The November thing is interesting. All the other superhero movies I’ve mentioned so far opened in May, June or July. The only November superhero competition “Thor” has—ever—is cartoons (“The Incredibles”; “Megamind”), “Unbreakable” in November 2000, and “Supergirl” in November 1984. (If you’re curious: “Supergirl” won its weekend, too, with $5.7 million but grossed only about twice that total: $14.2. And it didn’t even deserve that.)

“Ender’s Game,” meanwhile, is pretty much over—maybe as a franchise, too. It dropped 62% from its weak open to finish fifth for the weekend at $10.2, behind “Bad Grandpa” ($11.3), “Free Birds” ($11.1) and “Last Vegas ($11.1). After two weekends, “Ender’s” has now grossed just $44 million.

Among October releases with Oscar buzz, “Gravity” finished sixth (and has now grossed $231 million), “12 Years a Slave” finished seventh (and has now grossed $17 million), and “Capt. Phillips” finished eighth (and has now grossed ($90.9 million).

The weekend numbers here.

Posted at 02:48 PM on Nov 10, 2013 in category Movies - Box Office
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