a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Monday, November 28, 2005

Lessons of Last Weekend's Box Office

There are people who decry the obsession with movie grosses. But let's face it, studios make movies to make money, and they care what movies make -- it drives the business.

So let's look at Thanksgiving weekend. These are the estimated grosses for the 3 days/total grosses so far, in millions.

#1 HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (54.9/201.1 first ten days). No real surprise here, though this is a movie that Hollywood should take a real lesson from. If you make sequels that are better (and HP4 isn't a perfect movie, but it is a solid, entertaining one), you will make lots of money.

#2 WALK THE LINE (19.7/54.7). Another encouraging lesson; this is a movie that's doing fairly well because it is good. If the last few years have shown anything, it is that biopics are very review-driven, but if you make a good one, people will come.

#3 YOURS, MINE AND OURS (17.5/24.5 since Wednesday). Reviews were terrible, but it's a high-concept family movie during the holidays, with a couple of name actors to hook the parents. High concept kids movies are probably one of the most commercial genres out there, because the movies don't have to be great to make money.

#4 CHICKEN LITTLE (12.4/118.2). See above.

#5 RENT (10.7/18.1 since Wednesday). Reviews on this were very mixed, but they sold it pretty well, completely hiding the fact that AIDS plays a major, major part in the movie and that a lot of the characters are gay. Something tells me it's going to drop like a stone, though, and be hard to find in cinemas around Christmas.

#6 JUST FRIENDS (9.3/13.6 since Wednesday). Not bad for a movie with no big stars that got a lot of terrible reviews, though some oddly good ones as well -- Entertainment Weekly, which is getting more and more unreliable, gave Just Friends a better review than Harry Potter. It probably benefitted a lot from the fact that there were a lot of movies out there that skewed younger and older, and they have been advertising the hell out of this.

#7 PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (7.0/15.9). Not bad for an artsy literary tale, and it's hard not to feel good about the fact that this is going to wind up making a lot more than "Domino". I think movies like this suffer from the fact that they just seem like the latest British classic in a long line of similar movies, but it shows that a little buzz can carry it along. Plus Kiera is adorable, and Jena Malone is in it too.

#8 DERAILED (4.7/29.4). Given the largely bad reviews it got, this didn't do terribly, which is proof that name actors and the promise of a thriller will get people to go see something. Still, if it had been good, it would have made a lot more money.

#9 IN THE MIX (4.5/6.2 since Wednesday). Bad reviews, but this is a largely review-proof genre, though one in which most releases tend to top off in the $15-$25 total gross level. They wisely changed the title of this one too; up until about a month ago, the name of the film was "Dying For Dolly", which would have been box office death.

#10 THE ICE HARVEST (3.7/5.1 since Wednesday). Disaster. The reviews weren't that bad at all, but they never figured out a way to sell this; the ads had no real story hook and not enough charming John Cusack. I read somewhere that they released this on the day before Thanksgiving hoping to cash in on some Billy Bob/"Bad Santa" magic, but "Bad Santa" and "The Ice Harvest" are clearly two very different kinds of movies, This one probably would have done a lot better had it been released in October or February, where it would have had a lot less good movies to compete with.

#11 ZATHURA (3.7/26.0). This got fairly good reviews, but in the battle of the kid-oriented fantasy films Harry Potter smushed it.

#12 JARHEAD (2.9/59.4). For a rather downbear war movie without any real combat, $59 million ain't bad. One of those movies that I liked, though I'm not sure I'll ever actually watch again.


At 12:19 PM, Blogger Shawna said...

Good analysis, Scott!

At 2:36 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

I enjoyed Just Friends, mainly because of the actors more than the story. They made it a lot of fun. Jarhead still blows me away, I wish them both a zillion dollars. Thank God In The Mix bombed. That just looked plain horrible.

At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Joshua said...

I saw RENT this weekend - actually, saw it pretty unwillingly (at the request of my significant other, and she now "owes" me one of my type films) and I have to say, I thought RENT was pretty damn good -

I've heard the music on album but never saw the stage version, so I was pretty much surprised by how powerful the performances were and the pure emotional slam the story has, especially the relationship between Jesse Martin's Tom Collins and Wilson's drag queen Angel -

I enjoyed it enough to recommend it to anyone, though it's hard imagine how it will play in some areas of our country - but I really, really liked it and I don't think I've enjoyed a Chris Columbus film since Adventures in Babysitting.

There are some flaws in the story and film, (especially the Sante Fe segment) but for the most part it is thoroughly entertaining and Rosario Dawson kicks friggin' ass.

Just my opinion, Scott - but I think this one will have legs and do really well after its run and on DVD's.

At 8:33 PM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

"#11 ZATHURA (3.7/26.0). This got fairly good reviews, but in the battle of the kid-oriented fantasy films Harry Potter smushed it."

Which is a damn shame, it's a movie that deserved a better slot than to be set up as Potter fodder. Some major theaters in San Franciso literally only had one 11 AM or noon showing.

As a screenwriter, I enjoyed this despite the fact that I knew 91% of what was going to happen in terms of plot. It was kind of like "U-571" in that sense of predictable outcome and yet, the team of Favreau, Koepp, and Kamps did a great job of keeping the audience off-balance and entertained.

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

I think if they stuck Zathura out either in time for Easter or in the Summer it may have done better. When I saw the previews it looked great for its genre, and I figured people would really take to it. Coming on the heels (claws?) of Chicken Little and right before the Potter wagon train was a bad move.

On a side note, I say Aeon Flux sinks like a stone. It just looks lame, I lvoe the Charlize, don't get me wrong, I'd watch her rake leaves, but there isn't enough "cool" action in the trailers, and also their "future" looks silly, and cheap. Ah, but what do I know, nobody is paying me to write (yet, dammit!).

At 8:48 PM, Blogger oneslackmartian said...

I enjoyed Derailed, even with King Arthur and Rachel. I’m always worried, though, about a title that functions as its own review.

At 2:25 PM, Blogger s.warren said...

I really, really did not like Derailed. It's so incredibly hard for a movie to function as a thriller when you can work out the movie's plot and its twists, so I consider it a well earned bomb.

On the other end of the spectrum, I'm really glad that Walk the Line is performing as well as it is. It's a nicely done biopic with a couple of very good performances. Hopefully it'll keep doing business well even after that 10 ton gorilla storms the box office.


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