July 7, 2011



With a summer movie season bracketed by the first weekend in May on one end, and Labor Day on the other, we’ve reached the midpoint of 2011’s array of blockbusters, and for the next week, here at SHOWBUZZDAILY, we’ll be providing our judgments on how the studios are doing.  US Grosses are as of July 4, 2011; Overseas Grosses are as of July 3,2011.
Today:  PlayStation Central

PRIEST (Screen Gems)
US Release:  May 13
US Gross:  $29,136,626
Overseas Gross:  $47,367,388
Worldwide Total:  $76,504,014
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (Sony Pictures Classics)

US Release:  May 20
US Gross:  $34,998,139

Overseas Gross:  n/a (Sony has domestic rights only)

Worldwide Total: n/a

BAD TEACHER (Columbia)

US Release:  June 24
US Gross:  $65,211,014

Overseas Gross:  $28,600,000

Worldwide Total: $93,811,014

Sony is having a remarkably quiet summer, mostly letting its lower-budget divisions do the talking. (Possibly the studio is conserving its strength for next year, when it’ll have 2 of the biggest mega-busters of the season:  Men In Black 3 and the Spiderman reboot.)  “Lower-budget,” of course is a relative term, and Screen Gems’ PRIEST cost $60M, which means more like $125M with global marketing.  At that price, a worldwide gross of $76M is bad news.

BAD TEACHER is a more successful example of keeping to a budget.  The studio says the film was produced for only $19M (Cameron Diaz took just $1M upfront), and even with worldwide marketing costs and the traditional softness of American comedies overseas, $94M in the bank with plenty of revenue still to come should make for comfortable profits.

While Sony Pictures Classics is run as a completely separate division within the company, and has only limited territorial rights to Woody Allen’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, the film is a tremendous hit on its smaller terms, with $35M earned in the US and a relatively puny marketing budget (hardly any TV ads).  It’s the biggest specialty release anyone’s had since the holiday/Oscar season bonanza.

The studio has run the gamut in its limited number of releases this summer.  Priest was a terrible movie even within its grubby genre, and richly deserved its boxoffice fate.  Bad Teacher is no classic, but it’s amusing and likable.  Midnight In Paris may be the best picture released during the first half of 2011.

ZOOKEEPER – July 8: A co-production with MGM (Sony is in business with the still-moribund lion through its James Bond deal, which gave MGM interests in several other high-profile Sony releases).  Zookeeper has the good fortune this week of hitting the third weekend of Cars 2, a much weaker Pixar release than it could have anticipated, which could boost its weekend receipts.

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS – July 22: Another Screen Gems release, this is the better version of No Strings Attached, but coming along second and without the Black Swan-driven star power of Natalie Portman–and with the superior Crazy, Stupid, Love opening a week later–it may not have much impact.
THE SMURFS – July 29:  Counterprogramming to Cowboys & Aliens on the one hand, and Crazy, Stupid, Love on the other, it’s not likely to hit beyond its kiddie target audience. 
30 MINUTES OR LESS – August 12:  More low-budget R-rated comedy, although this one has a buzzy cast (Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride).  It’ll have to hope that The Change-Up, the prior week’s comedy with Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, doesn’t have any staying power, which may not be a bad bet. 

COLOMBIANA – August 26:  Coming from yet another low-budget division (TriStar), this is a negative pick-up from the Luc Besson action factory, with Zoe Saldana as the assassin heroine.  This isn’t the slot for a picture with legs, but Jason Statham has made a cottage industry out of some quick late-summer dollars here in movies like Crank, Transporter 2, War and Death Race, and since his new Killer Elite doesn’t open until Sept 23, there’s a brief window for Sony to take those revenues.


THE MONEY:  C, any gains by Bad Teacher are erased by Priest, and Sony doesn’t even feel like it is playing in the big studio league.

THE QUALITY:  B-, but they’re lucky Woody Allen was on the team.

Click HERE to read the other studio report cards.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."