Because Luke was on vacation this weekend, I’ll have to step in for today to cover his box office recap. Doing so just reaffirms that I have absolutely no idea why people pay to see certain movies and not others.
Take, for example, the two movies that tied for first place: ‘End of Watch‘ and ‘House at the End of the Street‘ with $13 million each. I don’t think I’ve seen any advertising for either of these pictures on TV. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of ‘House of the End of the Street’ at all until it opened on Friday. Sure, it stars Jennifer Lawrence, whose career is hot right now from ‘The Hunger Games’, but it looks like some piece of crap she made a couple years ago that had been sitting on the studio shelf until now. I had at least seen one trailer for ‘End of Watch’. It didn’t look particularly good or (more importantly) like anything that would have much broad audience appeal. I realize that the entire week’s box office is pretty poor, and $13 million isn’t a lot of money for either of these pictures to have pulled in, but I’m still mystified that anyone went to see them. Both of these look like direct-to-video fodder.
Meanwhile, the movie that was expected to open in the top spot totally flopped. Even with the 3D ticket surcharge, ‘Dredd‘ debuted at a pathetic sixth place with barely $6.3 million. This is disastrous, and I can’t figure out why. This is a slick-looking sci-fi action movie with lots of shooting and explosions and CGI. The buzz from fan circles seemed strong, and Lionsgate advertised the hell out of the movie in recent weeks. Why didn’t anyone want to see it? Was it the lack of any major stars? (Karl Urban is a great supporting actor, but perhaps he’s not ready to be a lead yet.) Were potential viewers afraid that it would be too much like the old Sylvester Stallone cheesefest that it reboots? Did the R rating kill it?
More than twice as many people went to see terribly-reviewed and very dull-looking baseball movie ‘Trouble with the Curve‘. I guess that even an elderly, slightly batty Clint Eastwood still has box office appeal. I still like Clint, but I feel kind of embarrassed for him after that “Old Man Yells at Chair” debacle at the RNC recently. I don’t pay attention to such things; did the Tea Party organize a ticket-buying campaign to support him?
‘Finding Nemo 3D‘ swam to fourth place in its second weekend. This is a 43% drop from the first weekend, which some pundits are claiming is a big disappointment in comparison to more successful 3D re-releases such as ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Titanic’. Personally, I find that perspective a little wonky. This is a 9-year-old movie that kids have watched endlessly on DVD in the meantime. Isn’t any amount of money the re-release earns just gravy for the studio? The $30 million it’s pulled in so far should be more than enough to cover the expense of the 3D conversion.
More troubling is the 68% drop-off for ‘Resident Evil: Retribution‘, which slid from first to fifth place. Is this zombie franchise on its last legs?
In the #7 slot is Paul Thomas Anderson’s much-buzzed ‘The Master‘, which expanded to 788 theaters after making news about shattering per-screen average records the previous week. The new number ($5 million, or $6,345 per screen) is fairly decent, but not nearly as impressive. With very divisive critical and audience reaction (this seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it project), the film is not expected to do as well as Anderson’s last, ‘There Will Be Blood’.
This just confirms for me what I’ve long believed, that per-screen averages are meaningless statistics that have no bearing on a film’s overall box office prospects. If a movie only plays on two screens, everyone in a city who wants to see that movie will go to those two theaters, thus inflating the per-screen average. Yet if the movie plays on fifty screens in the same area, the city may still have the same number of people who want to see it, no matter how many screens it’s on. There is no linear correlation between the number of screens a movie is distributed to and the number of people who will pay to see it.
1. (Tie) ‘End of Watch’ (Open Road) – $13 million
‘House at the End of the Street’ (Relativity) – $13 million
3. ‘Trouble with the Curve’ (Warner Bros.) – $12.7 million
4. ‘Finding Nemo (3D)’ (Buena Vista) – $9.4 million
5. ‘Resident Evil: Retribution’ (Screen Gems) – $6.7 million
6. ‘Dredd’ (Lionsgate) – $6.3 million
7. ‘The Master’ (Weinstein) – $5 million
8. ‘The Possession’ (Lionsgate) – $2.6 million
9. ‘Lawless’ (Weinstein) – $2.3 million
10. ‘ParaNorman’ (Focus) – $2.29 million