Box Office: 5 Lessons from the First 3 Months of 2016
Nothing says “January box office” like movie stars dunked in frigid waters.
1. Pick a memorable title.
Turns out the movie that grossed the least while being distributed in more than 3,000 theaters was “The Finest Hours,” which managed $27.5 million in 3,143 theaters in January—just a notch below “Zoolander 2,” which grossed $28.8 in 3,418 theaters in February. “Zoolander” I had no trouble placing, but ... “Finest Hours”? Worse, I'd seen its trailer incessentantly in the fall. Oh right, that Chris Pine, Boston Coast Guard thingee. Men fighting big, cold waves; the woman who loves him fighting the uncaring bureaucracy. It probably never would've done well but a title that has weight, that people can remember, might've helped.
2. Shitty sequels to shitty movies generally mean shitty box office.
Here's the domestic #s for the three “Kung Fu Panda” movies: $215, $165, $141.
“Ride Along” did $135, “Ride Along 2,” $90. “Olympus Has Fallen” managed $99, “London Has Fallen” fell to $60.
“Zoolander,” which I always thought overrated, never did much business in 2000, $45 mil, but “2” did just $28. Unadjusted.
My favorite is the “Divergent” series, which was supposed to be the new “Hunger Games.” It disappointed when it opened with just $150. The second one disappointed further: $130. And this one? $62. The fourth (and last) is scheduledl for next year. How low can you go?
3. Are Conservative Christian films dead?
In the spring of 2014, the tepid “Heaven is for Real” grossed $90 mil, the insipid “God's Not Dead” grossed $60, and the European miniseries resurrected as a feature film, “Son of God,” grossed $59. So the moneychangers flocked to the temples.
This spring? Not exactly hosannas. “Miracles from Heaven” did OK biz, $54, but “Risen,” with Joseph Fiennes, in a story similar to “Hail, Caesar!”'s (Roman tribune is converted) managed only $36. After two weeks, “God's Not Dead 2” is sputtering at $15 mil, while “The Young Messiah,” released in February, hardly got out of the manger: $6 mil.
Christian moviegoers: Why have you deserted him?
4. Stars schmars.
Anyone see the Natalie Portman movie, “Jane Got a Gun”? Or Sasha Baron Cohen's “The Brothers Grimsby”? Of course not. They grossed $1.5 and $6.8, respectively. Do I add “Dirty Grandpa” with Robert De Niro and Zac Efron, to the list? It did better, $35, but is that total worth it? For the ickiness factor?
5. Make better movies.
All of these movies sucked. Every one of them was deemed rotten, or way rotten, on the Rotten Tomatoes site—with one exception: “The Finest Hours,” which managed a 63%. Which brings us back to the first lesson.