Hollywood B.O.: Worst Movie Year Ever?
I was wondering whether "Toy Story 3" might reach $400 million domestic (it's at $389 right now, and last week fell off by only 27% for another $14 million, so if it falls off by something similar this week, hey, that's about $10 million right there, nearly the $11 million it needs, BUT its weekend numbers are already off by 43%, SO...) when I saw its worldwide take stood at $826 million. Immediately the more interesting question became whether the movie might crack the $1 billion mark. Only six movies have ever done that. (TRIVIA: Can you name them? They'll be in the comments field at the end of this post.)
It could happen. Pixar movies tend to do better abroad than in the states, generating between 58-60% of their total from foreign sales. Right now "Toy Story 3"'s foreign component is at 52.8%. Is it lagging? Probably not. It only recently opened in France (Bastille Day, actually), Hong Kong (July 15) Spain (July 22) and the U.K. (July 23), and it doesn't open in Germany until August 5th, so the foreign money's still flowing in rather than trickling in. Put it this way: If it doesn't break a billion it'll be close.
For the weekend, yes, "Inception" fell off by only 35% and came out ahead of newcomer "Dinner with Schmucks": $27m to $23m. It's the first movie since "Alice in Wonderland" to be no. 1 at the box office three weekends in a row. Keep in mind, too: "Alice" did it in March, an easier month to stay on top, since the competition is so weak.
On the other hand, "Inception"'s competition has hardly been strong. None of the new films managed even a "fresh" rating from top critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Paramount's "Schmucks" came closest at 47%, and made $23 million in 2,922 theaters. Warner Bros.'s "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," which I'd barely heard of (thanks niche marketing), got a 35% rating of shrugs and managed only $12 million in 3,700 theaters. That's bad. Finally, Universal's Zac Effron vehicle, "Charlie St. Cloud" (19%), grossed $12 million in 2,700 theaters. The three newbies finished second, fifth and sixth, respectively.
The totals here.
Has this been a bad summer? Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Joe Queenan had a blistering, funny, open letter to Hollywood, which included this advice:
Stop making movies like "Grown Ups," "Sex and the City 2," "Prince of Persia" and anything that positions Jennifer Aniston or John C. Reilly at the top of the marquee. Stop trying to pass off Shia LaBeouf—who looks a bit like the young George W. Bush—as the second coming of Tom Cruise. Stop casting Gerard Butler in roles where he is called upon to emote. And if "Legion" and "Edge of Darkness" and "The Back-up Plan" and "Hot Tub Time Machine" are the best you can do, stop making movies, period. Humanity will thank you for it.
I agree with almost everything he says in the piece—the Vin Diesel riff had me laughing out loud—except for the way it was marketed by WSJ: WORST YEAR EVER?
No. Not even close. At least not to me. It hurts me more when Hollywood serves us crap and we eat it all up with a smile. Remember last summer? "Transformers 2"? How's that taste now? Or the summer of 2007? "Spider-Man 3," "Shrek the Third," and all the other crappy 3s? Or the summer of 2006 when the second "Pirates of the Caribbean" ruled the seas? These were each summer's most popular movies. This summer, our most popular movie is a good movie, "Toy Story 3," while a new film, which is creative and dark and forces even adults to tax their minds as they're watching it, is now no. 1 for three weekends in a row. It'll probably wind up in the top 10 for the year. That's not a bad summer to me.
But then, I wasn't forced to watch "Grown Ups."