June 4, 2011

Box Office Footnotes – 6/3/11

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Written by: Mitch Salem


It’s good that the weekend’s total will beat last year’s awful group of Get Him To the Greek, Killers, Prince of Persia and Sex & the City 2, but on a picture-by-picture basis, the news is a lot less pleasant:
X-MEN:  FIRST CLASS is headed for the lowest opening of any picture in its franchise (look for Fox to avoid that taint by getting their weekend estimate higher than the $54.5M earned 11 years ago by the first X-Men, still not much to boast about).  It happens to be a very good movie, so it’d be nice to think word of mouth will help in the longer run, but for now–did the period 1960s setting put audiences off?  If so, Marvel may have reason for concern about their WWII-set Captain America next month.
Despite its gigantic opening, THE HANGOVER PART II‘s 2d weekend swoon suggests it may struggle even to match the $277M earned by the first movie.
KUNG FU PANDA 2 may end up as much as 1/3 below its predecessor–and if the 3D ticket prices are considered, that would mean only half as many tickets were actually sold this time.
Domestically, PIRATES 4 will be the lowest grossing of its series, perhaps 25% below the previous low–and again, that’s without 3D tickets being taken into account.  (It does remain quite strong overseas.)
So what’s going on?  It may be that audiences are getting sick of Hollywood’s endless run of franchises.  The only summer opening so far to be technically “original” was THOR, and even that’s part of the Marvel Avengers franchise.   (Next weekend we’ll see the first genuine original of the season when SUPER 8 opens.)  There may also be superhero overload, and even beyond the specific genre, all too much giant CG–there comes a point in these movies where even though the technical wizardry makes things look “real,” what’s being depicted is so patently impossible that the mind rejects them as anything other than special effects trickery, and therefore not worth emotional commitment.  We’ll see as the summer goes on; there’s still TRANSFORMERS (which has earned its money for the sheer insane size of its effects, reality be damned) and HARRY POTTER (one of the very few franchises to be about story and character as well as spectacle) to come.
Weekend bright spots:  BRIDESMAIDS continues to roll along with tiny weekend declines; MIDNIGHT IN PARIS expanded beautifully and now seems certain to be at least Woody Allen’s 3rd biggest hit of the decade (and remember, for him a decade means 10 movies); and THE TREE OF LIFE expanded nicely to about $30K per theatre, still in a small 20-theatre run.  
The limited opening for BEGINNERS was strong, headed for around $25K per theatre in 5.  The quirky, charming SUBMARINE, though, hasn’t found its audience, with only about $8K per theatre in 4 (guess that “Ben Stiller Presents” credit didn’t mean much).  And no one was interested in BEAUTIFUL BOY, which may only do $4K  per theatre in 4.

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."