Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Supernatural Conjures Up the Top Box Office Spot: Scott Reflects the Results of the Past Weekend's Box Office

The weekend box office results are in, and Scott analyzes what were the factors in creating the hits and flops between the new releases.
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This past weekend, four wide release movies burst into theatres and one of them managed to topple Despicable Me 2 from the number one spot.  Of the other films, two did not do too badly (though not as well as had been hoped for by the studios) and the third underwhelmed beyond expectation.  During what is typically a huge weekend in the box office, the winner did away with special effects and high budget and showed that bigger is not always better.

Nabbing top spot in theatres was The Conjuring, a supernatural horror that used effective trailers and internet buzz to haul in just shy of $42 million in its opening weekend, which ranks it second of all time for openings of a supernatural horror.  The movie is ‘based on a true story,’ which can either catch the intrigue of people or start to raise skepticism in the audience, and tells of one particular case of ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren.  It was directed by James Wan (Saw and Insidious), and proposed to be a more methodical, atmospheric, and mature movie than his previous works.  Combine the creepy trailers with the internet buzz and a very strong reception from the critics, and this movie had all the necessary components to be successful.  The question now is what kind of second week drop it will experience.  If it has positive word of mouth, it should only drop 50-55% as it has no direct competition in theatres right now.

Turbo, the digitally animated movie about a superfast snail came into theatres last Wednesday, looking to grab some of the family market.  Unfortunately for Turbo, it is just two weeks removed from the powerhouse that is Despicable Me 2 and four weeks removed from Monsters University.  Family outings are not like heading to the theatre with friends, where you are only responsible for your own ticket and concessions.  Since family trips can cost a lot of money, it is easier to do so with a proven franchise rather than an unknown product.  It may be that they picked the wrong time to release the movie, and that it just didn’t have the depth needed to put up a fight against the franchises.  Sure, the movie starred Ryan Reynolds, but this weekend has shown us that is not a strong anchor to rely on.   Over the five days of its extended opening weekend, Turbo earned $31 million and may be looking to overseas markets for some better success there.

Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich returned in Red 2, the follow up to the 2010 movie Red.  In the first go around the crew was able to take in $21 million on opening weekend and finish with just shy of $200 million globally.  It was that success that put a sequel into motion, and the second attempt saw an opening weekend of $18 million. This perhaps shows it was curiosity in the concept of Malkovich and Mirren as aging assassins that made the first movie popular and that it was not the beginning of a bankable franchise.  It is unlikely that the domestic ticket sales of Red 2 will be enough to make back its reported $84 million budget.

In last place among the new wide release movies is R.I.P.D., starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges that earned just $12.7 million opening weekend.  To say this movie under-performed is as ludicrous as saying Titanic 2 would be a good idea for a movie (there actually is a movie called Titanic 2 by The Asylum studios, and it was indeed not a good idea for a movie).  The budget was $130 million, which seems like a huge miscalculation of investment for a movie that looks like a carbon copy of Men in Black.  It is not the end for Universal Studios, as it has become the first studio to reach one billion dollars in 2013 and did so in record time.  They just may be the topic of water cooler ridicule for tent-pole miscalculations such as R.I.P.D. and Battleship.  I am sure they are fine with that.  They have enough money to buy their own water cooler to hang out at.

We spend so much time chatting about wide release movies that it is easy to forget those in limited release.  The Way, Way Back was in 300 theatres and has now exceeded two million dollars in the box office.  It will be expanding to over 650 theatres this upcoming weekend, and has the potential of going to wide release in August.  Fruitvale Station was shown in 34 theatres and earned an average of $21,750 per theatre to put it past the one million dollar mark.  Only God Forgives starring Ryan Gosling and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) opened to mostly negative critical reception and made $313,000 in 78 theatres.  And lastly, Girl Most Likely came out to negative critical response (15% on Rotten Tomatoes), opened in 351 theatres and made just shy of seven hundred thousand dollars.

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