Monday Morning Quarterback
By BOP Staff
August 28, 2007

First of all, I would like to apologize to Snoopy, Pluto and the Cleveland Dawg Pound.

Seth Rogen takes on Shia LaBeouf in a cage match!

Kim Hollis: Superbad, the raucous sex comedy starring no one truly famous, finished in first place this weekend with $18 million, a decline of 46%. The movie has a running total of $68.6 million after ten days. Do you consider it a bigger success story than Disturbia, which earned $80.1 million in its domestic run? Why or why not?

Reagen Sulewski: Disturbia is more impressive to me, since it didn't have any obvious marketing hooks to capitalize on, and thrillers are tougher to sell than comedies, especially to teen audiences. Shia LaBeouf vs. Michael Cera & Jonah Hill is a wash for me, buzz-wise.

Shane Jenkins: I think Disturbia's success is a little more out of left-field. It was pretty obvious from the trailers (and the reaction they got) that Superbad was gonna kill - it was just a matter of how big it would go. Plus it was riding the coattails of its big brother, Knocked Up. Disturbia's trailer wasn't anything special, and there wasn't much reason to think that the Holes kid was going to pack in the crowds at that point, so I give the edge to Disturbia.

David Mumpower: I am of the opinion that Superbad is slightly more impressive for two reasons. The first is that it is going to make quite a bit more money than Disturbia despite having a similar budget (both are in the $20 million range). This is what matters most, so the better performer is the bigger surprise, all other things being (relatively) equal. The other is that Disturbia faced a much weaker market place. There were four other films in the top ten this weak than are estimated to earn $10 million or more. During Disturbia's month of box office domination, there were other four films to do that well if we combined all the weekends. Superbad is a bigger fish in a bigger pond.

Dan Krovich: I think if you go all the way back to the greenlight, they're very similar. The one difference is that by opening weekend, I think people had pretty much figured Superbad would be a mid $20s opener with a shot at $100M while I think Disturbia was still somewhat under the radar when it opened.

Pete Kilmer: I also tend to think that Disturbia was riding the wave of recent horror films of the last three years. I think it just squeaked in before the bottom fell out of the horror market. And granted, while it wasn't one of the torture porn films or a hack and slash, it was an intense thriller that appealed to a lot of those fans. Superbad, on the other hand, I think is a bigger success due to the fact that comedies will draw in more audience over the long run than horror films. Let's compare box office when Superbad ends and see where it stands compared to Disturbia.

Tim Briody: What Shane said, basically. People still don't believe you when you tell them Disturbia is the only 2007 release with three weeks as the number one film. Sure, the competition was a bit weaker when it ruled the month of April, and it's a teen Rear Window adaptation, but $80 million for it is pretty impressive. Superbad was going to be a big hit the second Knocked Up was.

Jim Van Nest: I'm with the Disturbia crowd. While David makes good points, I don't think you can automatically say the better performer is the bigger surprise. Not with our current knowledge. Now, if we went back to January and compared the two, I'd agree Superbad would be the bigger surprise. But as soon as Knocked Up went nuts, Superbad's future seemed pretty well laid out. Disturbia had nothing going for it. I'm still not sure what put people in the theaters for it.

Max Braden: I think Disturbia did face weaker competition, but that was also the time of year. Disturbia's success is due to it being a competent thriller that teens could actually take dates to. Disturbia is certainly the bigger surprise, but total success? I think Superbad wins that title. Not only will it outperform Disturbia in the theaters, it will certainly eclipse Disturbia on DVD. And if you had to pick one of the two production teams to work with again, wouldn't you pick the guys from Superbad?

There's Something About Matt Damon...

Kim Hollis: The Bourne Ultimatum finished in second place with $12.4 million, giving it a running total of $185.1 million. It has become the most successful Bourne movie domestically and will assuredly wind up somewhere north of $200 million. Are you surprised that a month later, it's still the second most popular film in North America? How do you explain its success?

Dan Krovich: It's obviously a great success story with great legs, but the #2 spot at this point also has a lot to do with the fact that we're in the late August dumping ground for films.

David Mumpower: I think we did a good job of chronicling its success when we discussed its opening and second weekend performances. Reviews oozing with heartfelt adoration for the movie combined with arguably the best word-of-mouth of the year to date have led to a marvelous demonstration of legs. Dan dismisses its finishing second as no big deal due to the scarcity of quality late August releases, and I guess that's fair. I want to put it in some different context, though. The Bourne Ultimatum earned an estimated $12.4 million in its fourth weekend. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End earned $12.4 million in its fourth weekend. We are talking about a title that opened $45.5 million larger that Bourne is now matching. That's impressive, plain and simple.

Pete Kilmer: I think the fact that Bourne is smartest action movie of the summer is a key factor. It continues to generate word-of-mouth with great story, strong editing, terrific acting and a strong director all point to a big success. Compare it to the Pirates movie of this had some terrific acting, but poor editing, sloppy direction and frankly it was just a mess and yet it was still an event movie that was nearly immune to bad word-of-mouth until later on. While I don't think Bourne will be a billion dollar film like Pirates almost will be better remembered.

Tim Briody: Quite a bit has to do with the fact that it came next to last in the Summer of Three-quels, and that it doesn't suck.

Shane Jenkins: Yeah, aside from shakycam-phobes, I don't know anyone who hasn't called it one of the high points of the summer.

Jim Van Nest: I think one other thing that bodes well for Bourne is the audience. While it definitely has its fanboys that had to see it opening night, the crowd skews a little older for these films and those people are in no big hurry to rush to theaters and in a lot of cases prefer to wait until the hype dies down so they can be in a less crowded theater. I haven't seen Bourne Ultimatum yet, but my wife and I will see it in theaters, we just see no big rush and would prefer a more empty quiet place to enjoy it. It would appear we're not alone.

Dan Krovich: Of course, I saw it opening night in a sold out theater and there wasn't a peep the entire time. In a time when movie theater etiquette is often lacking, it was somewhat of an anomaly to have absolutely zero annoyances at all. Either the audience was so taken in by the movie that they were completely silent or else I was so taken in that I didn't notice.

Max Braden: It's a great movie that holds up to repeat viewings for a fairly broad audience, with little competition.

We want our Blackadder movie!

Kim Hollis: Mr. Bean's Holiday, the sequel to the 1997 worldwide blockbuster Bean, surprised almost everyone by being the most popular of the four new openers this weekend, earning $10.1 million. How did this happen?

Reagen Sulewski: There's a real dearth of family options out there right now, and Mr. Bean is a really well known name, although not as much as it is outside the U.S. I suppose it's the inoffensive choice out there right now. The only reason I didn't expect this to do well is because it looked absolutely terrible compared not just to other family films, but the previous Bean film.

Dan Krovich: I think the character's popularity flies somewhat under the radar. It's had huge grosses overseas so I think that pointed to the fact that the character still maintained fairly good relevance with the fans that were around when the first Bean movie was released.

Shane Jenkins: There is nothing else for young children to see at this point, with the tanking of Daddy Day Camp and the underwhelming Underdog fading fast. Bean's G rating means it's safe for kids, and parents, who probably know Rowan Atkinson from his more adult work, might think there's something there for them to enjoy as well (whether or not that's actually the case).

David Mumpower: It's funny but we harped upon the impact of Rush Hour 2's positive recollection with consumers influencing them toward Rush Hour 3 while allowing the original Mr. Bean's success to slide under the radar a bit. That's a 1997 release that had an opening weekend of $12.7 million and final domestic receipts of $45.3 million. Those numbers inflation adjust to an $18.8 million opening and $67.0 million in box office. Against a budget of only $22 million and at a time when marketing costs were much, much lower, it was a nice, solid hit for now-defunct distributor Gramercy Pictures. Ten years later, some of the people who enjoyed its Charlie Chaplin-esque slapstick innocence were clearly willing to give a sequel a chance. $10.1 million means about half of the people who enjoyed the original came back. That has to feel like a win for its domestic distributor, Universal Pictures.

Tim Briody: I think the G-rating helped more than we think. Hit or miss, anything it earned in the US was gravy, anyway.

Pete Kilmer: Young teen boys love Mr. Bean with his slapstick humor and with the rise of BBC America and programming on various cable providers...more people have been exposed to Mr. Bean than ever before.

Marty Doskins: I agree with the previous comments about the G rating being the biggest factor. Pete, I've got to disagree with you about your "young teen boys" comment. Once a boy hits his teenage years, he's going to be *running* away from anything with a G rating. Unless he's been forced to accompany his younger siblings while mom and dad go see some grown-up movie choice.

Jim Van Nest: More on the G-rating. My mom decided she wanted to take my kids to a movie this weekend (we had plans so they didn't go, but that's not the point). Before she called she checked the listings and while she was leaning toward Underdog for sentimental reasons, Bean was also an option because she saw the G and knew that she didn't have to worry about something being inappropriate for an eight-year-old.

Max Braden: The Rush Hour comparison does make sense, but I still had the feeling that U.S. audiences had written off Atkinson's goofy characterizations after Johnny English. The G-rating does offer something for the back to school crowd, and I did see more advertising for this than any other movie recently.

David Mumpower: Actually, when we adjust Johnny English for 2003-2007 ticket price inflation, it's nearly identical to Mr. Bean's Holiday at $10.3 million.

So it was like I was declaring War. WARRRR!

Kim Hollis: War, the second teaming of moderate action stars Jet Li and Jason Statham, earned an estimated $10 million during its opening weekend. Is this less, more, or about exactly what you expected from the film? What do you think of this result?

Reagen Sulewski: It's a little less, but not extraordinarily so. Jet Li fans and Jason Statham fans are the same animal, so putting them both in the same movie doesn't add too much to the appeal for them. What has separated these kinds of action films from the pack in the past has been some kind of money shot or hook a la The Transporter's door-kick. War was basically marketed as "Statham and Li fight". So if you like that sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you'd like.

David Mumpower: It's a bit eerie how consistent the box office of these two actors is. The Transporter earned $9.1 million, The Transporter 2 had a holiday-inflated three-day total of $16.5 million, Kiss of the Dragon opened to $13.3 million, Unleashed made $10.9 million in its debut, and Jet Li's Fearless started with $10.6 million. This appears to be the range for the two actors' opening weekends.

The only true exception is The One, the first title where the two men faced off. It earned $19.1 million, but that was with a much larger scale advertising campaign than the rest of their respective titles had received. War is what The One looks like without that marketing onslaught...and allowing for the fact that The One looked much, much better.

Pete Kilmer: Plus with The One, if I recall correctly, Jet Li was coming off his Matrix movie exposure and that surely helped as it came with a huge marketing push and if I recall correctly they showcased a lot of the CGI/wire-fu in the tv ads to get that 'Matrix' flavor. War will be a huge international movie and huge DVD and on demand release. I just wish they had a better story for the both of them to have fun with.

Max Braden: I'm a big fan of Statham's, but after the pointless noise of Crank, I decided to wait for this one on DVD. The numbers make sense to me: the fan base comes out to the theaters while the rest stay home. There was nothing I recall from the trailers besides tough talk that would have been a draw for bigger box office.

A Hot Nanny film would have done better.

Kim Hollis: The Nanny Diaries, the first film where Scarlett Johansson could claim to be the primary draw, earned $7.8 million despite having the largest venue total of any of the new titles. Why did it fail?

Shane Jenkins: Like Running With Scissors, it looks like they screwed up a sure thing. The book the film is based on is frothy and fun, and you can almost see the movie adaptation while you're reading it. The actual movie apparently has nothing going for it aside from Laura Linney's performance (much like Annette Bening's in Scissors). I think people were scared off by the reviews.

David Mumpower: Face it, the power of the distributor matters and thus far, The Weinstein Company is Hoodwinked away from laying a goose egg to date. When they were running Miramax, these guys were masters of maximizing profits for low budget fare. Out on their own, they are experiencing the same struggles DreamWorks had when it was a start-up. Mrs. Henderson Presents, The Libertine and Sicko are all titles that should have earned more than they did. The Weinstein Company has not gotten it done yet and perhaps no title reflects their current struggles better than Pulse, the film that almost ruined Kristen Bell for me...almost. Now, with The Nanny Diaries, I guess they are trying to do the same with Scarlett Johansson. Someone stop them before they get their claws into Samaire Armstrong.

Max Braden: I saw zero advertising for this movie. With all the release date changes, maybe people thought it had already been released months ago.

Jon Voight isn't dead yet!

Kim Hollis: Resurrecting the Champ earned only $1.8 million from 1,605 venues. With a performance this poor on opening weekend, it's probably unlikely to expand wider, correct? Does this performance also eliminate it from end-of-year awards contention?

Dan Krovich: I would say yes and yes. I think they may have been better with a platform release.

David Mumpower: I think that the release pattern here was less of a platform strategy and more of a "This sucks and we're burying it" one. As for the latter point, I think that the reviews had largely done that. Even the positive ones are not glowing enough. It might get a stray nod here or there, but it's largely a fait accompli.

Max Braden: It's likely out of sight, out of theaters, and out of mind pretty quickly.

Four beeeeeeeeellion dollars!

Kim Hollis: With this weekend's results, Hollywood notched its first ever $4 billion summer and has surpassed 2006's tallies for seven consecutive weekends. Meanwhile, actual ticket sales are going to fall almost 50 million short of the modern era record of 653.4 million in 2002. Are you more surprised by the revenue record or the fact that even with such a loaded summer of quality titles, ticket sales are still flagging?

Pete Kilmer: I'm not surprised that this was the biggest summer so far, because ticket prices have been raised even more. And I'm not surprised with the low attendance for this summer. Home theater systems with HDTV, people who don't know how to behave at movie theaters, people using the theaters as babysitters and the quick turnaround to DVD and on demand are giving moviegoers options on how to watch movies.

Shane Jenkins: Before having seen any of the movies, I would have expected the summer totals to be quite a bit higher than they are. But since I'm still trying to recover from May's trifecta of terrible three-quels, I'm actually surprised some of these movies didn't drop off bigger and die quicker as word-of-mouth got out. If there's a success story this summer, it's the unusual bounty of quality mid-level titles performing admirably at the box office.

Max Braden: The money record surprises me a little, though the huge sequel openers should have been a clue. I'm at the theater a lot, though, and I just didn't get the sense of long lines like in some previous summers. I happen to think the high quality of cable television series and TV on DVD had something to do with reduced attendance. I haven't heard anything about "gas prices prohibit me from going to the theaters anymore" in long while.