|Film||Weekend||CHUD Pred||Per Tht||Cum. Total|
|1||Green Lantern||$52,685,000||$56 (+3.5m)||$13,806||$52,685,000|
||$21,250,000 (-40%)||$19 (-2m)||$6,235||$72,780,789|
|3||Poppers Penguins||$18,200,000||$17 (-1m)||$5,451||$18,200,000|
|4||X-Men: First Class||$11,500,000 (-52%)||$12.5 (+1m)||$3,407||$119,924,562|
|5||The Hangover 2||$9,635,000 (-45%)||$10.5 (+1m)||$2,785||$232,674,278|
|6||Kung Fu Panda 2||$8,700,000 (-47%)||$2,508||$143,342,797|
|8||Pirates 4||$6,236,000 (43%)||$2,274||$220,336,253|
|9||Midnight In Paris||$5,237,400 (-10%)||$5,046||$21,799,214|
|10||Judy Moody||$2,241,000 (-63%)||$888||$11,166,842|
Avg. CHUD Prediction Difference: +/- $1.7m (rounded to nearest half-million)
There’s a lot of talk of “fatigue” after this weekend, aimed at two specific targets: superheroes and 3D. The argument against the former is how, within the narrow context of this summer, superhero opening have been on a pretty steep downward curve as two more B-characters are trotted out and a long-running franchise is experiencing a sort of soft reboot. With Green Lantern unable, despite a very wide release and higher 3D ticket prices, to even match the opening of X-Men: First Class and a long ways away from Thor‘s similarly B-list/3D/cosmic-centered total, there’s now only more evidence. So are people really tired of superheroes, or is this just an off year, and an off set of characters? We’ve got one hero yet to go and it seems that of any of the comic book films this summer, Captain America seems uniquely poised to capture the attention of audiences. B-list though he may ultimately be, Cap is still a huge icon and the film looks simple, straightforward and fun. The buzz sounds positive thus far, which means the film should at least have an even playing field with audiences, who won’t walk in surrounded by the toxic early response of something like Lantern. Regardless of how well Captain America does though, I’m always skeptical of “fatigue” being thrown around with genres- no matter how fast Hollywood could ever hope to churn them out, there’s still months and months between each wave. With the current pace of media consumption, those months may as well be eons. I think ultimately it’s a question of quality rather than novelty- audiences pick up on it, whether they actively know it or not. I wish there was more of an enthusiastic response to the period/cosmic bravery of these films, but I also wish the films themselves were just better all around. My last hopes lie with you, Steve Rogers…
3D is a different but equally contentious issue, and not a week has gone by this year without a new statistic (overblown or not) that is poured like gas on the fire beneath 3D in effigy. The latest is report that Harry Potter pre-sale tickets are heavily skewed towards 2D, while Green Lantern makes another 3D tentpole brining in less than half of its revenue from 3D screens. There are extenuating circumstances with all of the major releases so far this year, as Thor and Lantern were both mid-level releases anyway, while Panda and Potter are both mid-stream switches to the third dimension. It seems very clear that audiences don’t respond to the addition of the format to established franchises, but the writing is on the wall regardless: fuck the 3D premium. As with superheroes, I don’t for one second believe that the studios are going to stop, but something may have to give…
Back to the numbers. So Green Lantern kind of blew out a bit, right after a midnight opening and Friday number that just about had WB sighing with relief. The drop over the (sort of) holiday weekend was steep and the film is left with a softish $53m. That’s not a terrible number until you start considering the idea of a $300m all-in budget behind it. I’m always reticent to do the usual breakdowns to call whether or not a movie is profitable, as I don’t really believe any of the numbers I read anywhere (ever), and it ultimately doesn’t fucking matter. I don’t care. We’ll never even have slightest idea what money is going into what account, and what is being divided between who, what points were guaranteed off of gross vs net, what books are being cooked, etc. etc.
This doesn’t throw everything out the window- we can all look at the gross returns and pontificate on them as a membrane of sorts, between which passes the studio’s interpretation of what we are hungry for and then our reaction to what they give us. To go beyond that and play armchair bookkeeper though- it’s certainly beyond my depth, and it’s a rare thing to find someone who can pull it off without sounding like a presumptuous asshole grasping at made-up straws. More often than not it comes across as vitriol or fellatio aimed at whatever movie one loved or hated, backed by the circumstantial evidence of money and numbers in a very of bothersome way. I suppose there’s some value in trying to determine whether or not a studio will greenlight a sequel to a franchise picture, but there are so many other factors that come into play that even those predictions are like throwing a hotdog down a hallway (that phrase is a metaphor for specious conjecture, right?).
Either way, Green Lantern is soft and unlikely to hold. International isn’t great (it opened number one in a few territories, but was beaten by second/third-frame films in others), or at least not great enough to create a Pirates 4 scenario (which is a stone’s throw from crossing a billion worldwide, beeteedubs). I didn’t have to look hard to find some things to like in the film, and I’d like to see another one (with a decent script and more interested director) be made with Reynolds in the same aesthetic. That said, I’m not losing any sleep over its performance. I am left having shits-and-giggles thoughts about whether or not a highly-publicized, legitimate The Dark Knight Rises teaser attached to Green Lantern might have pushed it 5 or 10 million farther. You don’t see much fanfare about special trailers attached to films anymore, but had WB seen what was coming perhaps they would have used that TDKR leverage to grab some more Lantern cash, rather than make the splash with Potter as is currently rumored.
With pretty strong goodwill from most audiences and no over-inflated 3D opening weekend, Super 8 managed to grab a decent enough hold. The film looks to be on track to do District 9 numbers (title/box office synergy!), and will surely cross $100m. Again, it’s a low benchmark for a supposed blockbuster, but actually on the high-end of reasonable if you remove all the arbitrary hype.
From where I sat, Popper’s Penguins was aiming too young to act much like other high-concept Carrey comedies, and yet the film didn’t end up acting like a kid’s film either (stonger matinees and Sunday numbers than norm). It’s an awkward flick that has Uncle-fucking-Junior playing the gentle old man. Silly penguins are worth some cash, but Cars 2 will annihilate it.
So much for the First Class hold- it’s dropping faster than any previous X-flick. Even $150m will be tough, and unless The Wolverine brings back the spark, Fox has some difficult decisions ahead with this series. Whereas Warner Brothers has The Hangover 2, which is about to be a billion dollar franchise. Part 2 has outgrossed the original, is the biggest-ever R-rated comedy, and will be over half-a-billion very soon. Dim lanter or not, WB has no reason to cry with this and Potter’s finale happening in the same year. And then next year is Batman again. And then after that is another Hangover, which won’t do these numbers (unless it’s really, genuinely good) but will still be a hit. The view is nice from the water-tower.
On the smaller end of things, Tree of Life has finally gotten just the tiniest bit of traction, and has grossed just under 4 million total on a touch over 100 screens. Midnight in Paris is cruising past the totals of the more recent Woody Allen “hits” and continues to get great buzz. I’ll finally have to make it happen for myself this week.
Buzz says Cars 2 is about what you’d expect (standard, but underwhelming by Pixar standards), but that won’t stop it from showing Dreamworks exactly how you follow up an unexpectedly enormous animated hit. Expect Cars 2 to make all the extra money Kung Fu Panda 2 was hoping for. There’s also Bad Teacher, which I hear is Bad Santa funny. I couldn’t have hoped for more.
I went a little more highfalutin than usual in this week’s wrap-up, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topics at hand. Tweet at me: @rennbrown, or drop a great load in the comments or message boards!