Vampires are sooooooooo November
Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
January 26, 2009
Kim Hollis: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans opened to $20.7 million. Why do you think it didn't quite match the previous successes in the franchise? Should Sony be pleased with this result?
David Mumpower: Obviously, this had seemed like a franchise on the rise when Underworld: Evolution opened to $26.9 million, a solid improvement over the original's $21.8 million. The decision to focus upon a prequel with better actors was probably at least partially based on the fact that Len Wiseman wanted to do Live Free Or Die Hard and his wife, Kate Beckinsale, wasn't in a hurry to wear that saucy costume for another director. The end result is the return of Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy, characters who died in the original Underworld, and the addition of that sexy minx Rhona Mitra to wear the outfits Beckinsale wouldn't. Depressing though the knowledge may be, Sheen, Nighy and Mitra in combination simply do not mean as much to this franchise as Beckinsale does on her own, and I think audiences knew that. I actually see $20.7 million as a decent result given the circumstances in a vacuum, but it's a setback in a box office era where all things gothic horror are in.
Brandon Scott: I think this is a legit result. To echo David's comments, who doesn't want to see more of Beckinsale with less on? Or something skimpy and tight? Anyhow, I think when you figure in the fact that Rise of the Lycans is a prequel along with the knowledge that this is the third time through on a franchise that's never exactly been big with a new lead who is essentially an unknown, this is a pretty good result. I think this should signal the end for the series' theatrical run though. Stranger things have happened, but I liken it to the Saw franchise in the respect that there has been enough, even if the ticket buying public tends to disagree to some extent. That's my final answer and I am stickin' with it. Let's say this U3 ends at $40-50 million. It's a decent result but is there really a strong demand for another effort? I doubt it.
Reagen Sulewski: I think while part of this can be put on the cast (a lot of people still would probably ask what the gas mileage was when asked what they think of Rhona Mitra), but as I touched on in the forecast, taking this back to a prequel removes a lot of what people cared about with this series. The success of the first movie was based on "modernizing" werewolves and vampires, to some extent, and going back makes it like pretty much any other blue-filtered gothic film. They could get a fourth film out of this, but it would have to come back to modern times.
Scott Lumley: I like Reagen's take on this. The modern telling of these stories draws people in more than a historical look at the series. Granted, it looked like there were some pretty bad ass battles going on in the commercials, but if that was all it took to get people to come to a theater, The Incredible Hulk would be the box office king this year, and not The Dark Knight.
Shane Jenkins: I'm inclined to blame the INCREDIBLY AWFUL trailers. This looks terrible, and I'm someone who paid money to watch the other installments. I thought it was a Sci-Fi spin-off series at first.
Sean Collier: Shane, I thought it was a direct-to-DVD movie that was being marketed unusually heavily. To me, this one looked like Crisis in Generictown: Vampire Edition, and I'm shocked it did as well as it had, especially without a bankable star. Sony should be very pleased, and the distributors of Repo! should be noting all the money they lost in not going for a wide release, as this stuff appears very in.
Joel Corcoran: Sony should be moderately pleased with this result. At the end of its box office run, it should at least break even and might make a small profit, so post-theater income should be pure profit. And I agree with other comments about why this third installment has faded in the stretch. I think a prequel was the wrong way to go here - the better option would've been a continuation of the storyline established in Underworld 2. But I think there's enough juice left to go for a fourth installment.
Fat guys. We love 'em.
Kim Hollis: Paul Blart: Mall Cop was #1 for the second straight weekend, earning $21.5 million. It has a running total of $64.8 million after ten days. In terms of successful dumb comedies (i.e. Big Momma's House, Ace Ventura and the like), what do you see as a good comparison for this surprise?
Brandon Scott: It's hard for me to say, simply because I don't watch these types of movies. I know that it is a huge success, so Big Momma's House seems semi-apropos other than the fact that Martin Lawrence was already a known (star) quantity at the box office. This one is out of left field. I do know that I prefer there not be a sequel and I do suspect that I will not get my wish.
David Mumpower: I think Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is the best comparison at this point. Carrey was at the time a complete unknown to the part of North America that wasn't watching In Living Color...which was almost everyone. When that film made $72 million, it was a shocking result and the sequel's $37.8 million opening was one of the biggest box office shocks ever. Paul Blart is slotting between the two in terms of immediate success and it's got a decent chance to surpass When Nature Calls' final box office of $108.3 million. That's shock upon shock for me, but it reinforces the idea we've been espousing about Home Alone from way back when. In times of turbulent news events, people use dumb comedies as comfort food to help them get through the troubling days.
And Brandon, I think the odds of Paul Blart: Mall Cop not getting a sequel are about the same as the odds of Tom Cruise becoming Pope.
Eric Hughes: Now that's a scary thought. Even worse would be a Tom Cruise reigning over the world's Catholics looking like he did in Tropic Thunder.
Daron Aldridge: I think of it in terms of fellow Adam Sandler-produced "INSERT NAME: INSERT OCCUPATION" titled film, Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo. While Deuce didn't opened as robust as Paul Blart, it held surprisingly well. Deuce debuted with $12.2 million ($17.1 mil adjusted to 2008 prices) in 1999 and in its second week it also dropped only 32%. With a final tally of $65.5 million ($91.6 mil adjusted), the Schneider film was surprisingly strong considering, like James, he was untested in a lead role.
Shane Jenkins: This is a really surprising result, and Kevin James and Adam Sandler should be pleased with themselves. Well, at least from a financial perspective...
Here's my idea for the sequel - Paul Blart foils terrorists at a Renaissance Faire theme park. Imagine: Paul Blart in armor, Paul Blart falling off a horse, Paul Blart applying the Heimlich to someone choking on a turkey leg. You're welcome, Hollywood!
Tim Briody: I...did not see this one coming and I continue to weep for humanity. It held remarkably well for a stupid comedy. Kevin James is no longer to be trifled with.
Sean Collier: John Hamann pointed out the big shocker in his wrap-up. Somehow, Kevin James has a string of three $100 million films on his hands. Considering what a non-entity he was considered to be before Blart, I'm not sure there's any good comparison for his sudden success.
Joel Corcoran: I agree with David's comments - the most apt comparison is with Ace Ventura. But I'm still utterly flabbergasted by how well this movie is performing at the box office. I like Kevin James as an actor, but please - for the love of all that is holy - can we just stop the Paul Blart franchise after the sequel? Please?
Jim Van Nest: While I like the Ace Ventura comparison, I think another decent comparison could be Wayne's World. It opened to $18 million and finished with around $12 0million. Who ever saw THAT coming? The sketch wasn't all that funny on SNL. I think Blart will likely follow Wayne's World insomuch as a sequel would just tank horribly, unlike When Nature Calls.
Jamie Ruccio: I'm not sure what is a good comparison at this point, but the drop of only 32% is what surprised me. I absolutely did not see this coming. If this thing has decent legs on top of the opening, well...to quote someone here last week:
"I hate people".
I really think that people, however, very much underestimate Safe Comedy. There's an entire TV network that's prospered satisfying an audience who wants nothing edgy. There's nothing wrong with family friendly comedy either. I'm just surprised that this continues to do well into it's second week.
Adam Sandler is just ruining everything for everyone this week.
Kim Hollis: Inkheart, the unheralded Brendan Fraser family film, opened to $7.7 million with a per venue average of $2,910. Given its $50 million production budget, how poor a result is this?
Brandon Scott: Poor enough that it won't recoup more than roughly 35-40% of its budget. I would say it's a big failure, other than the fact that awareness was (seemingly) minuscule and this type of thing has recently been done with Bedtime Stories still in theaters. I see this as a studio dumping a movie in a slot to make whatever it could and move on. At least it wasn't Delgo.
Reagen Sulewski: I think it'll be a solid DVD title, so it's not all bad news, but this is a victim of bad timing, vis a vis Bedtime Stories. I wouldn't rule out the idea that people are just sick of Brendan Fraser in these type of roles - how many "Brendan Fraser battles CGI creations" movies can you watch?
David Mumpower: We had the debate a couple of times last year about whether Brendan Fraser was a draw, and I asserted that he was. I still feel that way in the right kind of role, but it's been readily apparent since the January release date was confirmed that the dissolution of New Line had left this project relatively abandoned. The one key facet here is that it's already earned about $15 million worldwide before ever earning a dollar in North America, but it's still clearly a bomb. I do find myself wondering what would have happened had New Line not been absorbed by Warner Bros. On a side note, the next commercial I see for this movie will be the first, assuming that even happens.
Daron Aldridge: It's awful - especially when using the often and justifiably mentioned likeminded film, Bedtime Stories, as the yardstick. That movie opened to $27.5 million its first full weekend (minus Christmas Day) and has about a 3.8 multiplier for its current gross of $105 million. If Inkheart performs similarly, then this debut would still put it with less than $30 million from theaters.
David Mumpower: If we are going to look at Inkheart in those terms, Daron, a good example in terms of scale would be Space Chimps. That one opened to $7.2 million and wound up with $30.1 million domestically. It was aided quite a bit by summer legs, a benefit Inkheart will not have. As such, I think it's pretty safe to say that barring something unforeseen, $30 million is a best case result here and under $25 million wouldn't be that surprising.
Daron Aldridge: I knew it wasn't a perfect apples-to-apples comparison but didn't think it was too much of a stretch. If you compare to Meet Dave, a similarly budgeted ($60 million) bomb with a $5.3 million debut, the outcome is quite grim. With a laughably low multiplier of 2.3, that film ended with $11.8 million. Obviously, summer legs didn't apply. That would give Inkheart $17.3 million. As a side note, the only marketing I saw for Inkheart was a standee at a theater, so there might be something to the Warner Bros.-dumping theory.
Shane Jenkins: Inkheart always looked like a tough sell to me - it's hard to sum up its fantastical premise in a 30-second television ad. And, as Daron mentioned, the idea is startlingly close to that of Bedtime Stories. I feel like families kind of shrugged their shoulders and said, "Didn't we just see that?".
Tim Briody: Well, it's more than Monkeybone made in its entire run.
Sean Collier: Tim wins most forgotten movie reference for the week. I submit Inkheart as Exhibit Z that (unless your protagonist's name rhymes with Barry Kotter) kiddie fantasy is dead and gone.
Max Braden: That's a crappy average regardless of the budget. I guess the "moviegoers saw Paul Blart to escape Oscar downers" theory isn't a tide that lifts all boats.
Jim Van Nest: David's comment about not seeing any ads for this is dead on. Until looking at the topics for MMQB, I had never heard of this movie. That has to mean SOMEthing.
Ben Farrow: It went into the tank because 1) the books sucked after the first one and 2) the money shot of the house didn't look fantastic. Instead, it looked like a Sci-Fi Channel one-off.