Movies - Box Office posts

Saturday December 10, 2022

Brooks Was (A Dick) Here. Again.

There was an article in the New York Times yesterday about the poor box office of Oscar films, and since that used to be one of my bailiwicks (box office, Oscars, the twain), and since I totally lost the thread during the pandemic, I checked it out. Then I saw the byline.

Oh right, Brooks Barnes. He still doing this? 

Yes, he, is.

The article is about how serious films, released this November, are doing horribly at the box office. It's sad. No one is going to see “Tar” or “Armeggedon Time” or even Steven Spielberg's “The Fabelmans.” And I'm one of them. Of course, I was sick with COVID for most of the month.

Barnes, though, implies that the poor box office can no longer be blamed on the pandemic. Or he claims that Hollywood insiders feel that:

But studios held out hope, deciding that November 2022 would give a more accurate reading of the marketplace. By then, the coronavirus would not be such a complicating factor. This fall would be a “last stand,” as some put it, a chance to show that more than superheroes and sequels could succeed.

Except ... When did they think this? A year ago? Do they still think it? I mean, isn't COVID still complicating things? Particularly with the demographic (older, smarter) that tends to see prestige pictures in theaters?

So my antannae were already up. Something felt wrong. And then Barnes lays this graf on us: 

This is about more than money: Hollywood sees the shift as an affront to its identity. Film power players have long clung to the fantasy that the cultural world revolves around them, as if it were 1940. But that delusion is hard to sustain when their lone measuring stick — bodies in seats — reveals that the masses can't be bothered to come watch the films that they prize most.

How do you even unpack a paragraph like that? First, he's ascribing a monolithic personality to a hugely mulitfaceted entity—Hollywood—and then he's critiquing that monolithic personality. I don't think anyone in Hollywood is saying, “Yeah, we're clinging to the fantasy that the cultural world revolves around us like it's still 1940.” That's Barnes' reading. Basically, he's slamming people who are just trying to make a few good, serious movies during turbulent times. 

What. A. Dick.

Barnes has a long history of disparaging movies he thinks are hifalutin (“Up”) and cheering on movies he think are not (“The Emoji Movie”), and I guess this is that writ large. But the Times should be better. 

The sad part is I like most of the article. Later in the piece, we hear from film scholar Jeanine Basinger, who says, “When films are too introspective, as many of these Oscar ones now are, the audience gets forgotten about. ... When I think about going out to see misery and degradation and racism and all the other things that are wrong with our lives, I'm too depressed to put on my coat.” I couldn't agree more. This is something I've long argued about serious Hollywood films. Serious used to be more fun. Make it more fun again.

The bigger question is whether the demographic who tend to see serious films in theaters would rather just stream them now. I wouldn't be surprised if we've lost a percentage of those folks. Me, I miss going to theaters.

Posted at 09:21 AM on Saturday December 10, 2022 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday March 06, 2022

Box Office: 'The Batman' Has the Second-Biggest Opening of the Decade

Normally a $128 million opening weekend for a Grade-A superhero movie would be OK but kind of meh. Put it this way: It's $30 million less (unadjusted) than “The Dark Knight” grossed in 2008.

But obviously we're not in normal times. This haul for “The Batman” starring Robert Pattinson is in fact the second-biggest opener of the decade. Plus, even without the spectre of COVID, you'd expect some sort of Bat-fatigue. In the last 17 years, there have been three Christian Bale Batman movies and Ben Affleck has played him in three other films—and apparently in the upcoming “Flash” movie, too. We know how his parents die. We've seen it again and again and again. Now this third 21st-century reboot? With a third Batman, a third Alfred, a third Commissioner Gordon?

And yet ... $128 mil. The reviews probably helped: 85% on RT

“Uncharted,” starring Tom Holland, came in second with $11 mil for a domestic total of $100. Channing Tatum's PTSD “Dog” came in third ($6/$40) while “Spider-Man: No Way Home” was fourth ($4/$786). That $786 million for Spidey is No. 3 all-time domestic.

Anyway, it's a sign of a kind of normalcy. I'll take it. 

Posted at 05:05 PM on Sunday March 06, 2022 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday February 06, 2022

Box Office Returns: Spider-Man vs. China

Once upon a time I did a regular box office post on Sundays. Then Covid. The last one I did, March 29, 2020, was called “No Time to Die,” and included a photo of the shuttered Uptown Theater in Minneapolis and “I ASSURE YOU WE'RE NOT OPEN” displayed on the marquee. A month before that I had a post, “Coronavirus Shutters Chinese Theaters,” which now reads incredibly short-sighted to me. I can't believe it took me that long to figure out why Chinese movie theaters were closed—and with no inkling that U.S. theaters and the rest of the world would soon be next.

All this time I haven't been paying much attention to movie box office. Here's the big picture of what I missed:

  • China had the No. 1 worldwide box-office hit in 2020, “The Eight Hundred,” about a small group of Chinese soldiers who battle the Japanese Army in 1937 Shanghai. Well, “worldwide.” It grossed $460 million in China and $1 million in the rest of the world—and most of that, one assumes, from the Chinese diaspora. Even so, I believe it's the first non-western film, and probably the first non-Hollywood film, to top the worldwide box office. It's always Hollywood. Kind of fascinating when you think about it. A virus that begins in China shutters the rest of the world, allowing China to reopen and take all the goodies. Most conspiracy theories are made of less stuff than this.
  • In 2021, China had Nos. 2 and 3 in the worldwide box office: another historical war epic, “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” in which the Chinese fight the Americans during the Korean War, and which set a record for Chinese domestic and non-English worldwide box office with a $900 million haul; and “Hi, Mom,” a goofy time-travel comedy, in which a woman travels back to befriend her mom in the hope of making her own life better. That did $822 million. (I'm always amazed at how well Chinese comedies do. American comic actors must shake their heads in wonder.)
  • No. 1 for 2021 was Hollywood again, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and by a longshot. The numbers it pulled in during the pandemic's highly contagious Omicron stage are stunning and demonstrate how much people want a return to normalcy: second-highest domestic daily opening ($121 million), second-highest domestic opening weekend ($260 million), fourth-biggest domestic gross ($741 million and counting), and sixth-biggest worldwide gross ($1.7 billion and counting). 

I'm reminded of America flocking to the original “Spider-Man” in May 2002 after eight months of 9/11 news—making it the first flick to gross north of $100 million opening weekend. Now, nearly two years into this thing, Spidey saves the day again. Or makes us momentarily forget the day.

Will the Chinese ever figure out a way to make movies that appeal to non-Chinese? Xi Jinping loves Hollywood movies, and wants China to become that, but over the last five years it's felt like their movies are getting more doctrinaire rather than less. They speak more to the Chinese and less to the rest of us.  

I've only seen one movie in a theater this year, “Drive My Car” at NW Film Forum (which was great), but I hope to see “Spider-Man: No Way Home” soon. Thwip.

Anyway, that's your box office update.

Posted at 11:10 AM on Sunday February 06, 2022 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday March 29, 2020

Box Office: No Time to Die

This photo was posted on Twitter the other day. It's from the Uptown area of Minneapolis—yes, the same as in the early Prince song. It's also the arthouse theater that ran a calendar schedule in the ‘70s and ’80s where I first saw so many classic films: from “Casablanca” to “A Clockwork Orange.”

I like the callout below the marquee to the post-credits scene in “Ferris Bueller.” Nice touch. 

My first blog post on the Covid-19 epidemic related to China closing all its theaters in January/February. If I thought the same would happen to us I didn't think it would be this soon. I also couldn't imagine it. China is an authoritarian country so it can do this. In the U.S., I thought, it would take businesses to do it. And they wouldn't do it; they'd lose money. But they did it. They stepped up. Relatively quickly. SIFF closed all its local theaters on March 13. Regal closed its theaters nationwide on March 16. SIFF canceled its annual film May/June film festival on March 18. Studios pushed back release dates for the 25th James Bond movie, the ninth Fast & Furious, Wonder Woman 1984. The Bond movie is appropriately titled “No Time to Die.”

Of course, box office dwindled down to nothing:

  • March 6-12: $134 million
  • March 13-19: $58 million 
  • March 20-26: $5,176 *

* How is money still being made in theaters? Apparently, two movies are still playing somewhere. One is titled “Lost in America.”

Against this backdrop, then, it was huge news that China was reopening its theaters. It had flattened its curve and could now tentatively celebrate with re-releases of “Avengers,” “Avatar,” “Wolf Warrior II” and “The Wandering Earth.” From The Hollywood Reporter:

China's theater operators have faced two interrelated difficulties: convincing customers it is safe to return to the multiplex in large numbers and convincing distributors that there are enough customers to resume marketing and releasing their most valuable film titles—and without the latter, it would seem hard to achieve the former.

Agreed. The germaphobe part of me thinks this is premature. It still feels like no time to die.

Posted at 12:18 PM on Sunday March 29, 2020 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday March 15, 2020

U.S. Box Office Has Worst Weekend Since 2001

Anyone go to the movies this weekend? Not us. We‘re kind of hunkered down as the coronavirus situation in the U.S. worsens and there are few (no?) signs of leadership from Washington, D.C. So the leadership has to be us. 

People are definitely staying away. The second weekend of Pixar’s “Onward” came in first place with $10.5 million—a drop of 73%. Is that a big drop? God, yes. It's big for a shitty live-action movie let alone a good, Pixar movie. A 30-40% drop is probably more common. Second place was a Christian movie from Lionsgate, “I Still Believe,” which grossed $9.5. Vin Diesel's sci-fi superhero/live forever flick “Bloodshot,” came in third with $9.5. 

Overall, Box Office Mojo reports we spent a total of $53.9 million domestically at the box office. For the 11th weekend of the year (i.e., this one), that's the lowest since ... 1995. Unadjusted. 

How long has it been since we had any weekend that low? Here are the lowest weekend totals for each year this century:

  • 2019: $73.4 million (Feb. 1-3)
  • 2018: $85.8 million (Dec. 7-9)
  • 2017: $69.3 million (Aug. 25-27)
  • 2016: $83.7 million (Dec. 9-11)
  • 2015: $74.1 million (Oct. 30-Nov. 1)
  • 2014: $66.1 million (Sept. 5-7)
  • 2013: $85.0 million (Sept. 6-8)
  • 2012: $67.9 million (Sept. 7-9)
  • 2011: $75.3 million (Dec. 9-11)
  • 2010: $82.2 million (Sept. 10-12)
  • 2009: $90.8 million (Oct. 30-Nov. 1)
  • 2008: $68.2 million (Sept. 5-7)
  • 2007: $77.9 million (April 27-29)
  • 2006: $71.6 million (Sept. 8-10)
  • 2005: $82.9 million (April 15-17)
  • 2004: $71.3 million (Sept. 24-26)
  • 2003: $67.5 million (Sept. 5-7)
  • 2002: $72.6 million (Sept. 6-8)

Box Office Mojo's numbers get a little odd in 2001. They list two weekends worse than our current one—both holiday weekends:

  • April 13-16, Easter weekend: $26.2 million
  • Oct. 5-8, Columbus Day weekend: $2.9  million

$2.9 million? My immediate thought was the anthrax scare after the 9/11 scare, and maybe theaters were shuttered, but I can't find any evidence of that. And it doesn't explain the Easter weekend fiasco before any of that happened. The next year's Easter weekend grossed $136. The previous one, in 2000, grossed $80.

Either way, this weekend was historically bad at the box office. And it's going to get worse as more people stay away and more theater chains close. In fact, it should probably be worse already. We're not taking this seriously enough. Cf., what China did

Posted at 03:44 PM on Sunday March 15, 2020 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday March 01, 2020

Box Office: ‘Wendy,’ ‘Burden’ Open

Six movies opened this weekend and these were two of them:


What's the significance? Wendy Burden is my wife's best friend, the maid of honor at our wedding, and the author of a very good, very funny memoir, “Dead End Gene Pool,” which should be the next book for your book group. I‘ve recommended it to a few groups and they always love it. Several years back, Wendy was visiting us in Seattle and we were standing in line at one of the shops down at Pike Place Market when a teenage girl in front of us, who kept looking back, interrupted and asked, “Are you Wendy Burden?” She’d read the book, loved it, etc., and had to tell her so. It was nice. That kind of thing doesn't happen every day, you know. 

Anyway, I‘ve never seen two movies—let alone two movies opening on the same day—that spelled out a friend’s name. So I had to mention it. Sadly, neither did gangbuster business: “Wendy” finished 36th ($30k in 4 theaters), “Burden” 40th ($20k in 5 theaters). Neither got a fresh rating from critics, either. So it goes.

The big movie for the weekend was the horror/sci-fi amalgam “The Invisible Man,” starring Elisabeth Moss, which grossed $29 mil. The third weekend of “Sonic the Hedgehog” finished second ($16), the second weekend of “Call of the Wild” finished third ($13).

“1917” is still in the top 10 and pulled in another $2.6 million for $155.8 domestic, $362 worldwide. In terms of true WWI movies (i.e., not “Wonder Woman”), it's now the biggest WWI grosser of them all. Well, unadjusted. Adjust for inflation and it's got competition:

  • “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (1921): $430 million
  • “Sergeant York” (1941): $450.9 million
  • “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962): $519 million

The other big post-Oscar grosser has been “Parasite,” of course, and this weekend it grossed another $1.5 million for a domestic total of $51.5. That's the fourth-best domestic showing for a foreign-language film ever. “Hero” is third with $53.7; “Life is Beautiful” is second with $57.2, while “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” soars above everyone else (on invisible wires) at $128.

Speaking of: Chinese movie theaters are still closed because of the coronavirus. Since mid-to-late January, its total gross has been around $120k. A year ago, during the same timeframe, the Chinese box office grossed about $900 million.

Don't forget to read “Dead End Gene Pool.” 

Posted at 02:45 PM on Sunday March 01, 2020 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Wednesday February 26, 2020

Box Office: Three Eddie Murphy Trivia Questions

Rising: The Billy Bear bar scene in “48 Hrs.”

Quick trivia question: What was the first feature film starring Eddie Murphy—i.e., no concert films, no “Best Defense,” which was a Dudley Moore vehicle—that wasn't among the 10 highest-grossing movies of the year?

Answer: it took a while. Here's his ‘80s output:

1982 48 HRS  93% $79 7th
1983 Trading Places  87% $90 4th
1983 Eddie Murphy Delirious  83%  n/a  n/a
1984 Beverly Hills Cop  81% $316 1st
1986 The Golden Child  26% $80 8th
1987 Eddie Murphy Raw  81% $51 20th
1987 Beverly Hills Cop II  45% $154 3rd
1988 Coming to America  67% $128 3rd
1989 Harlem Nights  21% $61 21st

It wasn’t until the end of the decade, with the abyssmal “Harlem Nights,” that audiences finally went “Nah.” to Eddie. Otherwise, in the ‘80s, he didn’t star in anything that wasn't critically acclaimed or box-office gold, and usually both. Since then, the reverse. Here's the ‘90s output—live action only:

1990 Another 48 Hrs.  18% $81 14th
1992 Boomerang  44% $70 18th
1992 The Distinguished Gentleman  13% $47 34th
1994 Beverly Hills Cop III  10% $43 34th
1995 Vampire in Brooklyn  10% $20 82nd
1996 The Nutty Professor  64% $129 8th
1997 Metro  15% $32 65th
1998 Dr. Dolittle  42% $144 6th
1998 Holy Man  12% $12 118th
1999 Life  50% $64 37th
1999 Bowfinger  81% $66 35th

Amazing thing? I actually kept going to his movies. Was I on autopilot? Did I think he would return to form? I definitely saw both “Boomerang” and “The Distinguished Gentlemen” in theaters. I think I waited on “Nutty Professor” until its video release. I think I was disappointed that he even made it. Eddie doing a Jerry Lewis remake? He was supposed to be better than that. But his trajectory followed that of most other SNL breakout stars: mock the cultural crap on “SNL,” then contribute to it in Hollywood. 

“Shrek” and his AA nomination helped obscure how bad the aughts were for him. Here’s the live-action movies. Remember in the ‘80s when his movies were both critically acclaimed and box-office hits? Now he couldn’t manage either. 

2000 Nutty Professor II: The Klumps  26% $123 16th
2001 Dr. Dolittle 2  42% $113 16th
2002 I Spy  16% $34 78th
2002 The Adventures of Pluto Nash  4% $4 177th
2002 Showtime  25% $38 70th
2003 Daddy Day Care  27% $104 26th
2003 The Haunted Mansion  14% $76 38th
2006 Dreamgirls  78% $103 19th
2007 Norbit  9% $96 30th
2008 Meet Dave  20% $12 139th
2009 Imagine That  41% $16 119th

When did it finally feel like it had all slipped away for him? Or maybe if the paycheck was there, he didn't care? What other explanation is there for this? 

So if the first feature film starring Eddie to not be among the top 10 box-office hits of the year was “Harlem Nights,” what was his last feature film—and live-action (no “Shrek”), to have that distinction? The thing that he used to do so easily—when was the last time he did it? 

You‘ve got to go back to “Dr. Doolittle” in 1998. In the most recent decade, he barely did anything. He limped through it and then righted himself at the end with “Dolemite.” He reminded us why he mattered.

2011 Tower Heist  67% $78 43rd
2012 A Thousand Words  0% $18 112th
2016 Mr. Church  24% $1 260th
2019 Dolemite Is My Name  97% n/a n/a

I’d like to think he learned his lesson from “Dolemite,” but these are the movies on his plate according to IMDb:

  • “Coming 2 America”
  • “Triplets” (a sequel to “Twins,” with Arnold and Danny, in which the missing sibling is Eddie)
  • “Beverly Hills Cop IV”

Third and final trivia question: Animated movies and concert films aside, what is the highest-rated Eddie Murphy movie according to the users of IMDb?

Would you believe THIS

Posted at 09:50 AM on Wednesday February 26, 2020 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday February 23, 2020

Box Office: Coronavirus Shutters Chinese Theaters

Not much on the domestic box-office front to report. “Sonic the Hedgehog” fell 55% but still won the weekend with $26 million. “Call of the Wild” debuted and finished second with $24.8 million. Both are in the low 60s on Rotten Tomatoes and look awful. “Birds of Prey” finished third in its third weekend with $7 mil. It's now at $75.2 and seems likely to be the first DCEU movie to not break $100 mil. Previous low was “Shazam!”'s $140. Lowest in MCU is “Incredible Hulk” (the Ed Norton one) with $134. But that was 12 years ago.

That said, the U.S. market is doing great compared with China. 

I'd totally missed out on this story, this obvious story. On Mojo, I looked at the numbers to try to figure out the year's big Chinese New Year movie. This is from today:

Weekend Overall Gross Releases #1 Release
Feb 7-9 $3,956 1 Fighting with My Family
Jan 31-Feb 2 $27,754 2 Knives Out
Jan 24-26 $88,673 4 Spies in Disguise
Jan 17-19 $32,717,677 47 Sheep Without a Shepherd
Jan 10-12 $46,268,900 56 Adoring
Jan 3-5 $51,043,750 43 Adoring

Immediate thought: Wait, didn't Chinese New Year already happen? Yes. It began the last week in January. So why weren't the numbers bigger? 

Second thought: Wait, “Fighting with My Family”? That WWE thing from last year? Where are the Chinese movies? 

Third: Wait, $3,956 total? And that was ... two weekends ago? 

The other shoe finally dropped on my idiot self: Coronavirus. 

The Chinese government actually shuttered movie theaters in January—just as Chinese New Year was happening. Brutal. Imagine American movie theaters being closed just as soon as kids got out of school or during Xmas break. Like that but maybe combined. And this was the year China was predicted to surpass the U.S. as the biggest movie audience in the world. Not likely now, particularly with no end in sight for the Coronavirus.

So are no theaters anywhere in China open? Yep, none. From a story in the Hollywood Reporter a month ago:

Among the big-budget movies that had been set for release on Saturday were Wanda's comedy-action sequel Detective Chinatown 3, Huanxi Media's comedy tentpole Lost in Russia, sports epic Leap, Jackie Chan‘s Vanguard, Dante Lam’s action flick The Rescue and family animation Boonie Bears: The Wild Life, among several others (local regulators have always blocked Hollywood films from releasing during the festival period, giving local studios an uncontested run at the box office).

In the “Detective Chinatown” series, the first was set in Thailand, the second in the U.S. (New York), and the third scheduled for Japan. In the “Lost” series it went Thailand, Hong Kong (homages galore), to Russia.

Posted at 01:43 PM on Sunday February 23, 2020 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday February 16, 2020

Box Office: ‘Birds’ Falls, ‘Parasite’ Leaves Basement


Now at $43 million domestic, $171 worldwide. Beats folding pizza boxes.

There was a lot of chatter on Twitter last week about the opening-weekend box office for “Birds of Pre,” the “Suicide Squad” spinoff starring Margot Robbie and other young actresses playing kick-ass Gotham City villains/not-villains, with nary a Batman or Joker in sight.

OK, the chatter was less about the box office ($33 mil) as the way it was reported: “low,” “down,” “flailing.” The usual suspects attacked the messenger, argued the stats, and talked up organizing groups to go to the movie's second weekend to keep the world safe for women-made and womencentric movies. 

Me: More power to ya.

The results? Yeah, the movie's BO dropped nearly 50% to $17 mil. It finished second for the weekend to “Sonic the Hedgehog,” whose 3-day total of $57 million almost matches “Prey”'s 10-day total of $59 million. The usual suspects will probably object to this now, or to the way it's being framed, but I don't know how you could frame it positively. DCEU movies already plays sloppy seconds to MCU movies, and “Birds” has the worst box office among those. The previous DCEU low was “Shazam!” but even it reached $59 million in four days. For “Wonder Woman” it took a day and a half. “Batman v. Superman”? Not even a day. 

Alright, here's a way to frame it positively: “Birds” opened to about the same gross as Fox's “Dark Phoenix” ($33/$32), but “Phoenix” fell off 71% on its second weekend and wound up with a total domestic box office of $65.8. So “Birds” will at least do better than that. 

Oh, here's another: It's probably not the movie, which got good reviews (79% on Rotten Tomatoes). It's deciding to make the movie in the first place. Yes, Robbie was the best thing in “Suicide Squad” but that's like saying the maraschino cherry is the best thing on a shit sundae; most folks are still going to remember the shit. Plus these are all third- and fourth-tier characters. I suppose you could frame it like that; that it's a wonder it's done as well as it has. But no one in Hollywood is framing it that way. 

Elsewhere, the much-slammed “Fantasy Island” horror reboot (9% RT) finished third with $12.4; the black romance “The Photograph” was fourth with $12.2; “Bad Boys for Life” added another $11.3 as it creeps toward $200 million domestic ($181); and the disappointing “Downhill” (40% RT) with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell finished 10th with just $4.6.

Last Sunday, “Parasite” got all the love at the Oscars, winning best picture, director, screenplay and international film, and its distibutor, Neon, tried to capitalize by increasing its distribution twofold to 2,001 theaters. It worked: the movie earned another $5 mil to reach $44.3 domestic, $171 worldwide. But the Oscar-winner still finished the weekend behind “1917,” which grossed another $8 million to reach $145/$323. That said, “Parasite” is now the fifth-highest-grossing foreign-language film in the U.S., and tomorrow will surpass “Instructions Not Included” for fourth place. I think it'll wind up there. Ahead of it: “Hero” ($53), “Life is Beautiful” ($57) and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” ($128).

Posted at 03:24 PM on Sunday February 16, 2020 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday February 09, 2020

Box Office for ‘Birds of Prey’ Isn't Fantabulous

Sorry. Still trying to get the hang of the Box Office Mojo redesign. Which is actually a Box Office Mojo/IMDb Pro redesign. I.e., the info we used to be able to find on Box Office Mojo (for free) is now on IMDb Pro (for which we have to pay), and it's harder to find. Thanks, Amazon. 

The big release this Oscar weekend is “Birds of Prey,” the spinoff of “Suicide Squad,” one of the DCEU movies that helped make 2016 such an excruciating year. Its full title is “Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” about which I‘ll let Anthony Lane take over:

Beware of movies with long titles. I vaguely recall a Dustin Hoffman film, made in 1971, called “Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?,” but for the life of me I can’t remember the answer to either question. An oversized title has no practical worth, its sole purpose being to give us a mandatory dose of wackiness. Hence the latest contender, “Birds of Prey, and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.” Don't you feel kooked up just reading that?

Don't know how “Harry Kellerman” did at the box office, but “Birds of Prey” isn't doing fantabulous. It opened on more than 4,000 screens and grossed just $33 mil. Yes, that's the second-best opener of 2020, after “Bad Boys for Life,” but it's dead bottom for DCEU openers. And not even close:

2016 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 28% $330,360,194 $166,007,347 50%
2016 Suicide Squad 27% $325,100,054 $133,682,248 41%
2013 Man of Steel 56% $291,045,518 $116,619,362 40%
2017 Wonder Woman 93% $412,563,408 $103,251,471 25%
2017 Justice League 40% $229,024,295 $93,842,239 41%
2018 Aquaman 66% $335,061,807 $67,873,522 20%
2019 Shazam! 90% $140,371,656 $53,505,326 38%
2020 Birds of Prey 80% $33,250,000 $33,250,000 TBD

Shit, I just realize I‘ve seen all of those movies. And in the theater! Meaning I have to see “Birds of Prey,” too? I have zero interest. “Suicide Squad” was so bad, and while I love me some Margot Robbie, I’m not exactly into Harley Quinn.

It's supposedly OK, 80% on RT, which beats the 27% for “Suicide Squad,” but some part of me worries the highish rating is for the female leads, female screenwriter (Christina Hodson), and female director (Cathy Yan). I.e., too many critics seem to be doing PR for PC culture. Lane's review, at least, is scorching. He says it aces the Bechdel Test but is still “an unholy and sadistic mess.” Girl power?

The debate over why it's bombing should get interesting—and decidedly un-PC. Some will point to this and last year's “Shazam!” and say moviegoers are tired of the DCEU. Others will point to this and last year's X-Men movie, “Dark Phoenix,” which also grossed about $33 mil opening weekend, as examples that female superhero leads don't draw the fanboys. Still others will say (or hope) that it's all indicative of superhero saturation, and this genre is running its course. Me, I'd put it all together. The movie stars a second-tier character from a shitty previous film in a shitty superhero universe, and god aren't we sick of all this already? Plus fanboys probably didn't rush out for it.

Second place for the weekend is the fourth weekend of “Bad Boys for Life,” which is now shockingly at $166 domestic, $336 worldwide. Shocking because: 1) Will Smith hasn't exactly been killing it at the box office; 2) Martin Lawrence?; 3) the original came out a quarter-century ago. Yet here we are. Both totals are way ahead of what “Bad Boys II” grossed in 2003, which was way ahead of what “Bad Boys” grossed in 1995. Meaning expect a fourth. Or more Will Smith/Martin Lawrence movies. 

What Oscar movies are people going to Oscar weekend? Mostly the frontrunner:

3 1917 $9,000,000 $132,542,909
8 Knives Out $2,350,000 $158,941,650
9 Little Women $2,325,000 $102,673,143
13 Jojo Rabbit $1,534,000 $30,280,950
14 Parasite $1,500,000 $35,472,282
18 2020 Oscar Nominated Short Films $825,000 $2,655,444
19 Ford v Ferrari $680,000 $116,376,692
20 Uncut Gems $658,936 $49,244,449
21 Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood $280,000 $142,451,868
22 Bombshell $237,000 $31,272,756
28 A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood $95,000 $61,322,240
31 Pain and Glory $60,616 $4,507,256
38 Les Misérables $29,316 $323,210

We‘re having a few people over for the event. I’ll be rooting for “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” and anticipating disappointment. 

Posted at 01:10 PM on Sunday February 09, 2020 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday January 05, 2020

Box Office: ‘Rise of Skywalker’ Does Great for Anything But a Star Wars Movie

The first movie of each trilogy also has the biggest box office for each trilogy. 

What do the following verbs have in common? 

  • Strike
  • Return
  • Attack
  • Revenge
  • Awaken
  • Rise

Yep. They‘re the verbs in the subtitles of the various “Star Wars” sequels. Just tossing in for no reason. I guess for their sameness. Although not quite, right? The originals and the prequels, sure, they’re the same (strike/attack, return/revenge), but the new ones are less about combat and more about ... growth? Self-improvement? They‘re positive, and mostly about the heroes. They’re selfies, befitting the age.  

“Rise” is the latest and it hasn't exactly done that at the box office. Here's a list of the nine SW movies ranked by domestic box office and adjusted for inflation:

1977 Star Wars $1,590,607,135 1 2
2015 The Force Awakens $965,467,843 1 11
1980 The Empire Strikes Back $876,078,543 1 13
1983 Return of the Jedi $839,950,442 1 17
1999 The Phantom Menace $806,487,053 1 19
2017 The Last Jedi $603,618,885 1 44
2005 Revenge of the Sith $529,768,678 1 70
2002 Attack of the Clones $477,473,705 2 99
2019 The Rise of Skywalker $450,796,223* 3* 110*

* Still in theaters, yo

Nothing's coming close to the first one again but “Force” muscled to the No. 2 slot in 2015. Since then, a downhill slog. Most franchises  would take such a slog. In terms of the canon, “Revenge of the Sith” grossed a piffle in 2005, but it was still the No. 1 movie of the year. Only the second of the prequels, on the heels of the disappointing, antiseptic “Phantom Menace,” wasn't the No. 1 movie of its year, and it still finished No. 2—to the first “Spider-Man” movie. “Skywalker” also won't be No. 1, since another superhero movie, “Avengers: Endgame” is in a galaxy far, far away at $858 million. “Skywalker” needs another $93 mil just to reach “The Lion King”'s $543.6 in second place. Can it do it?

Maybe. Here's box office for the three recent films after 17 days—along with the final domestic totals for the first two:

2015 The Force Awakens $742,208,942 $936,662,225
2017 The Last Jedi $517,218,368 $620,181,382
2019 The Rise of Skywalker $450,796,441  

By Day 17, “Force” had grossed about 79% of its total, “Jedi” about 83%. If we assume, say, 80% for “Skywalker,” that's another $90 mil. It‘ll be close.

Of course, domestic box office matters less these days than worldwide, so how is “Skywalker” doing there? Even worse. “Force” earned $2 billion worldwide, “Last Jedi” dropped to $1.3, “Skywalker” is at $918 million. It’s ninth for the year, and I think it‘ll wind up fourth. New territory for “Star Wars.” 

So what makes a franchise lose 3/4 of a billion dollars and a lot of interest? Too many, too soon? And too similar? Or just not interesting enough? All “Star Wars” movies drop, as we’ve seen above, but that's not true for other franchises. The most popular “Avengers” was the last.

None of which matters much to Disney since it owns both franchises. Want to see something sad? These were the studios for the top five films of the year when “Star Wars” was released:

  1. 20th Century Fox (Star Wars)
  2. Universal (Smokey and the Bandit)
  3. Columbia (Close Encounters)
  4. Paramount (Saturday Night Fever)
  5. United Artists (A Bridge Too Far)

And this year:

  1. Disney (Avengers: Endgame)
  2. Disney (The Lion King)
  3. Disney (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)
  4. Disney (Frozen II)
  5. Disney (Toy Story 4)

The No. 1 animated movie in 1977 was Disney's “Pete's Dragon” and it was at No. 11—several notches below “Annie Hall.” We were so much older then; we're younger than that now.

Posted at 03:03 PM on Sunday January 05, 2020 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday December 22, 2019

Box Office: ‘Skywalker’ Doesn't Exactly Rise

How does J.J. Abrams have so much power? What is he considered good at? 

He directed the worst of the “Mission: Impossible” movies—the third. He rebooted “Star Trek” by destroying Vulcan and then directed the worst of the reboots—“Into Darkness.” He made his own Spielberg-homage film, “Super 8,” but it was less than super, then took over the “Star Wars” franchise and promptly killed off Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Now he's directed one of the worst of the “Star Wars” movies. I guess he's more producer (69 credits) than director (15)? Maybe he should stick to that. 

Anyway, the third of the new “Star Wars” movies, or No. IX overall, “The Rise of Skywalker,” opened this weekend to pretty good box office for anything other than a “Star Wars” movie:

  • “The Force Awakens”: Dec. 18-20, 2015: $247 million
  • “The Last Jedi”: Dec. 15-17, 2017: $220 million
  • “The Rise of Skywalker”: Dec. 20-22: $175.5 million

This is the latest in terms of calendar date it's opened—i.e., closest to Christmas, a very busy time for everyone, so it may recover. But “Force” opened with a new weekend box office record, while “Jedi” was still second all-time to “Force.” “Skywalker”? It's 12th. The “Star Wars” opener has fallen off by $75 million.

The other opener this weekend, the much-panned “Cats,” did as poorly as you'd think: $6.5 million in 3,380 theaters. One wonders how many attendees went out of morbid curiosity. 

Interesting to see that “Parasite,” the critics' darling from Korea, has already grossed $21 million. That's got to be top tier for foreign-language films at the domestic box office, but I don't know if Box Office Mojo still lists such a thing, and if they did, where I might find it.

Posted at 01:15 PM on Sunday December 22, 2019 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday December 15, 2019

Hollywood Hits Quadfecta at Worldwide Box Office

What's one more than a trifecta? A quadfecta? Is that a thing? Anyway, we hit it this year—or Hollywood did.

These are the biggest worldwide box-office hits ever by MPAA rating:

  • G: “Toy Story 4,” $1.07 billion
  • PG: “The Lion King,” $1.65 billion
  • PG-13: “Avengers: Endgame,” $2.79 billion
  • R: “Joker,” $1.05 billion

What do they have in common? Yes, they‘re all 2019 movies. 

One might think that happens a lot—movie prices keep going up, China’s movie market keeps getting bigger, etc.—but I doubt it. It's been 10 years, for example, since the last time a new PG-13 king was crowned.

But let's check it out. Has any movie year hit the MPAA rating worldwide quadfecta before?

The last time it could‘ve happened was 2009, when “Avatar” (PG-13) set the worldwide box-office record; but that year, to hone in on just one of the other categories, the highest-grossing R-rated movie worldwide was the comedy hit “The Hangover,” which grossed $467 million, far behind then-leader “The Matrix Reloaded” (2003), at $741 million. 

So what about 2003, then? “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” (PG-13) grossed more than $1 billion, after all. But that was still way shy of “Titanic”’s then-record PG-13 total of $1.8 billion. 

So back to 1997, when “Titanic” was released? Nope. Biggest PG film worldwide that year was still “E.T.,” from 1982. And at that point, in 1982, PG-13 didn't even exist. 

It's never happened before. Not even close. 

Domestically, it didn't happen in 2019, either, since while “Toy Story 4” set the North American record for G-rated films, the others didn't break through. The record for PG films is still “The Incredibles 2” from last year (two Pixars!), PG-13 is still “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” from 2015, while R remains “Passion of the Christ” from 2004. It's only on the worldwide stage that this happened.

Keep in mind: All of these worldwide box-office kings are Hollywood movies. Hollywood. That's the city/industry the right-wing is constantly attacking as “liberal.” Because apprently nothing is more liberal, and angers conservatives more, than an American industry dominating a global market.

Posted at 08:30 AM on Sunday December 15, 2019 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday November 24, 2019

Box Office: ‘Joker’ Has Grossed More Abroad than Any ‘Batman’ Movie

You either die a hero or you live long enough to see the villain surpass you. 

Last weekend, “Joker” became the first R-rated movie to gross north of $1 billion worldwide. It’s currently at $1.035 billion. But what’s truly astonishing to me is less the $327 million it’s earned in the U.S. than the $700+ million it’s earned abroad.

You know how much that is? That’s 30th all-time. Only 29 movies have earned more in international markets than “Joker.”

Exactly. “Joker.” 

Most of the movies ahead of it are what you’d expect: Marvel movies (7), Animateds (5), plus the Tokiens, Transformers, Jurassics, Fast/Furiouses, Star Warses, and the Camerons (2 each). The one-offs include a Potter, a Bond, a Pirates. All of this is basically wish-fulfillment fantasy and Hollywood endings.

“Joker,” meanwhile, is a gritty reboot of Batman’s No. 1 nemesis that owes more to the oeuvre of Martin Scorsese than DC Comics.

It's actually doing better abroad than any DC Movie save “Aquaman.” Yep, it’s already grossed more in foreign markets than any of the “Batman” movies. Apparently people would rather see the villain than the hero: 

Movie Foreign Gross Foreign % Domestic Gross Domestic % Year
Joker $708,800,000 68.4% $326,931,813 31.6% 2019
The Dark Knight Rises $632,902,188 58.6% $448,139,099 41.4% 2012
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice $543,274,725 62.2% $330,360,194 37.8% 2015
The Dark Knight $469,700,000 46.7% $535,234,033 53.3% 2008
Justice League $428,900,000 65.2% $229,024,295 34.8% 2017

The kicker? “Joker” hasn’t even opened in China—and probably won’t. So it’s doing all this without the most lucrative market abroad—a market where “Batman v. Superman” grossed $95 million, “Justice League” $106 millon, and “Aquaman” $292 million. 

Any thoughts on the how and why of this? Is it because it's good? 

Here’s a deeper question: Is “Joker” the most grown-up movie to gross $1 billion worldwide? A good argument can be made. 

Posted at 05:13 PM on Sunday November 24, 2019 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  

Sunday November 17, 2019

Box Office: ‘Ford’ Vrooms, ‘Angels’ Die

The fourth reboot of a ‘70s jiggle show may be the last ... for a while.

Still not a fan of Box Office Mojo’s redesign. So much data is now hard to find on the site, or is now only available if you pay $100+ a year for  IMDb Pro. All this is Amazon, by the way. They didn't create either site, just bought them years ago, and are now mucking them up. No character searches any longer on IMDb; now all this crap. 

That said, there may be advantages to the new setup. The No. 1 movie for the weekend, and the highest-rated (92%) RottenTomates new release, is “Ford v Ferrari,” which grossed just over $31 million. Second was the second weekend of “Midway,” $8.7 million, third was the first weekend of “Charlie's Angels,” $8.6.

Wait, whoa. Third? Not even $10 mil? Shame. Elizabeth Banks directed, which probably means—despite her “Pitch Perfect 2” grossing $184 in 2015—she won't be getting many more chances. On the plus side, maybe this is a stake in the heart of this intellectual property. How many variations have there been? From 1970s jiggle TV show to 2000 hit movie to 2003 disappointing sequel to 2011 disappointing TV show to 2019 disappointing reboot. Three disappointments and you‘re out? Probably not. 

Anyway, I lost the thread. The advantage to the new cross-pollinated amazon setup may be this: I was curious what else “Ford v Ferrari” director James Mangold had done, and checked it out as part of my trial subscription to IMDb Pro. I was like: Oh right, the Wolverine stuff. Also “Walk the Line” and “3:10 to Yuma” and “Knight and Day” (underrated for that kind of film). 

But to get to that info you have to go through “Projects in Development,” one of which, for Mangold, was this:

“Untitled Joe Namath Project”

The story of American football star Joe Namath, who became one of the sport’s early media sensations as well as a Super Bowl champion.

For a second, I was excited. I would totally be there for this. Then I saw how many other “Projects in Development” Mangold has: 10, and with eight of them he's attached as director. No way that's going to happen. So we‘ll see. 

BTW: Elizabeth Banks has 30 projects in development right now, including five in which she’s attached as director, so I probably shouldn't worry too much about her. Or at all, given the state of the world. 

BTW II: Adam Driver as Broadway Joe? 

Posted at 02:27 PM on Sunday November 17, 2019 in category Movies - Box Office   |   Permalink  
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