There is nothing like a buffet.


Mr Plinkett, that fine critic from the interweb, suggested in his review of Avatar that Titanic signaled
the sea change of the fall season. Where previously the Summer was for
boys movies and Winter populated with horror films, Oscar wanna
be’s, maybe a comedy or two, and definitely a big
kids– or Christmas themed film. But for the last ten years
there’s been a number of hit films that could have come out in
Summer, that may have also played longer and better than they could
have in summer time.

Big on this was (and is) Harry Potter.
Since 2001 – the first year of the cinematic franchise
– they started in the fall and did around $300 Million.
You’ve also seen DreamWorks and Disney take turns putting out
films around this season – Monsters Inc., A Christmas Carol, Bee Movie, and now Megamind are all going for the Fall Holiday launch. And kids films make sense for the Holidays, so that’s nothing new (Aladdin was a November launch, and that was huge).  

Often, the films play a little more serious. A film like Ocean’s Eleven – even if it is what it is – has an Oscar pedigree in terms of the cast and crew. And a film like I Am Legend was
a huge success, but it’s themes suggested that it was better
served by the fall season. These days I can’t say if
there’s anything fall-ish about Sherlock Holmes, or Tron: Legacy.
Of course, what 2008 and early 2009 taught us is that dates are unimportant if Gran Torino, Paul Blart and Taken could
do over a hundred million dollars with January launches. There are no
hot and cold seasons – though I think the studios like the
breather periods like September or January in the sense that it gives
them a chance to release films that wouldn’t make money with
any real competition. But as studios are less and less interested in
chasing Oscar gold, or what amounts to “real” adult
audiences in that a lot of people who watch Pixar and Iron Man 2 are grown ups, but few children wanted to see Benjamin Button.

In that, I think The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is
going to be the last of its sort for a while (a film that cost over
$100 Million that was chasing Oscar). This year we saw Fincher chase
Oscar gold again with The Social Network
but did so on a budget. The film will be considered successful-ish. But
this year, the only wide release for the rest of the year that appear
to be Oscar contention material from the majors are Fox’s Love and Other Drugs (basically, it’s an Anne Hathaway nomination at best), How Do You Know (don’t underrate James L. Brooks with the academy), and most obviously Paramount’s True Grit.
The latter also appears to be a western with a great cast and
it’s been long enough since a western came out that
it’s possible the film will lead to talk of a resurgence. But
– for the most part – the films that are going to be
launched over the next two months are now the slightly darker cousins
of their summer brothers. Harry Potter is almost upon us, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are not that far away.

so it begins, the top three films should gross over $100 Million
between then, and it’s possible that the top two will do it.
One of which is practically guaranteed to get near $200 Million (Megamind) regardless of quality, the other (Due Date)
virtually guaranteed to get over $100 Million. And then
there’s Tyler Perry’s latest, which has the class to
be his highest grossing title ever (which is saying something). Word on
the streets is that it follows the course of his body of work
(it’s not supposed to be award caliber, which was the threat a
month ago) so there’s that. But also, this has been a very
white year in cinema, so there may be a bounce because of that.


Megamind has
the marketing muscle and the four-quad appeal of an animated launch.
This means $60-ish, no blinking. I didn’t care for the film,
but it’s in 3-D and it is short. Due Date I
also wasn’t that crazy about, but it has two hot actors, and
the trailers and TV spots have been ruthless about giving away good gags
to get the opening weekend numbers goosed up. For Colored Girls has
a longer title, but I DON’T WANT TO TYPE IT. Tyler Perry
– like Kevin Smith – is a known quantity with a
consistent-ish audience for his work. Again, with the respect given the
source material, and the cast this could have a slightly broader appeal
than his previous work. But Lionsgate doesn’t care –
this is going to be a win for them, and they’re going to send
out screeners regardless.

1. Megamind - $57. 8 Million
2. Due Date – $34.3 Million
3. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf – $22 Million
4. Saw 3-D – $7.3 Million
5. Paranormal Activity 2 - $7 Million

Sunday, I’ll be back in Los Angeles, and very excited about going out dancing.