Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
May 5, 2009

There's a lot of afterglow to be had here.

Oh, they have A Christmas Carol in the movies now. How creative.

Kim Hollis: Ghosts of Girlfriends past opened to $15.3 million with a per location average of $4,827. What should Warner Bros. take from this result?

Josh Spiegel: First of all, counter-programming the first major summer blockbuster with Matthew McConaughey may be a bad idea. Second of all, having Matthew McConaughey in a major movie is a bad idea. Okay, I'm not his biggest fan, but none of his recent films are huge hits and this one hasn't been heavily marketed, as opposed to the late-summer counter-programmer, The Ugly Truth (not a movie I want to see, but I've seen ads since Christmas). But, again, the biggest lesson to learn is that counter-programming doesn't always work.

Brandon Scott: I don't know, the counter-programming isn't going to stop anytime soon. Maybe all the ghosts of McConaughey's girlfriends past came, but since they are ghosts, didn't buy tickets? It's another ho-hum result from a movie most pegged as bad and simplistic from the start. This result tells me nothing, nor will it ultimately tell WB much. I think the idea Josh hints at could have merit though, that it is a risky proposition to counter the first big film of the summer.

Pete Kilmer: Unless you put Matthew McConaughey in a Sex and the City project, he's got to stop making rom-com's. They don't work.

Reagen Sulewski: Well, define "don't work". I don't have a budget number for this, but Failure to Launch cost $50 million to make, and if this cost more than 10% over that, I'd be surprised. They're never going to be blockbusters, but they don't need to be.

Max Braden: Maybe this would have worked if they had cast Kate Hudson. Maybe it would have worked if they didn't base the story on such an obviously predictable plot device.

Tim Briody: Perspective, people, perspective! This is fine for something that couldn't have have been terribly expensive. And look, people still remember who Jennifer Garner is!

Sean Collier: It's becoming my greatest hit, but once again, I'm calling failure on the marketing. There was something of a gimmick to this one - for those of you fortunate enough to have not seen the film yet, it's a romantic comedy version of A Christmas Carol, with Michael Douglas as the Marley character - and that was sort of glossed over in the preview and commercials, in favor of trying to sell a generic, dime-a-dozen romcom. I don't even remember seeing Douglas in the previews. If they had made it clear that this one had a hook, they could've done a bit better, I think.

David Mumpower: The fact that this wasn't pushed more tells me that Warner Bros. knew they didn't have it. Instead, they created a low key campaign around the film's proven box office draw, Matthew McConaughey (what are you people smoking in saying he's anything else?). The result is a modest debut and a probable final domestic performance around $50 million for a film that was relatively cheap to make. Circling back to the earlier discussion, this is what would pass for a huge hit for Hugh Jackman outside of the mutton chops look. So, everything is relative.


Kim Hollis: Matthew McConaughey's last three films have all opened in the $15-25 million range. All of his last five films have all earned at least $43.5 million, with an average of $78.2 million. Based on this data, do you agree or disagree with the notion that he is a box office draw?

Josh Spiegel: He is and he isn't a box office draw. Let's not forget that one of those movies was Tropic Thunder, which was successful, but not because of McConaughey's cameo role. McConaughey's never going to be a huge star; only one of his romantic comedies, How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days, broke 100 million dollars. Moreover, his last few films have been successful on a downward slope; after How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days, his comedies have been less successful. My guess is that people are becoming a little less enamored of him because he always plays the same, not-so-interesting role in these films.

Brandon Scott: Dude's acting range at this point is equivalent to a banana as a sexual object. We have sadly long ago forgotten what drew us to him with A Time to Kill and that first Linklater stoner film. He is what he is, a pretty face, essentially playing himself, but he still gets the gigs. I think his time in these roles has to be diminishing, though.

Pete Kilmer: I agree with Scott, McConaughey has long ago stopped taking roles that would challenge him as an actor. And it shows. He's an extrememly affable guy and in Tropic Thunder he shows some comedy chops, I hope he branches out into different things as I think he's an engaging guy on screen.

Reagen Sulewski: But this kind of ridiculous script choice doesn't seem to be hurting, oh, let's say Nic Cage, who seems to be coasting by on a some unfathomable sense of audience loyalty. McConaughey is fun to hate for his roles, but he's earning his paycheck.

Jim Van Nest: I'm thinking he's just laying low right now. Eventually he'll hook back up with Steve Zahn for a Sahara sequel and the money will start pouring in. Bottom line, he's a dude you'd want to hang with, not plop down $20 to see on the big screen.

Reagen Sulewski: Do you own a set of bongos, Jim?

David Mumpower: Reagen is the voice of reason here. People deride McConaughey for not having more upside, so let's put this in fantasy baseball terms. He's the guy who isn't the least bit surprising in his performance. He'll give you 30 homers and 100 RBIs each year, but nobody expects him to ever break out with an MVP campaign. Because of this, much less proven/consistent hitters get drafted well ahead of him at the start of every seaosn. Then, those guys wind up with disappointing seasons and their owners are left to lament the fact that they ignored, the strong and steady performance of the 30/100 guy they could/should have drafted. McConaughey may not be pushing himself as an actor; I agree with that sentiment. What isn't praised about him enough, however, is his remarkable ability to find exactly the sorts of projects his core fans want to see him in. He doesn't rock the boat. Instead, he keeps making similar movies that make at least as much money as was expected if not moreso. He's box office arbitrage.

Maybe if it had been 3-D...

Kim Hollis: Battle for Terra opened to $1 million with a miserable per venue average of $861. Say something funny about Battle for Terra.

Josh Spiegel: It was funny when this happened to Delgo, but now it's just sad. I mean, how much of that per venue average was from friends and family of the cast and crew?

Brandon Scott: Battle for Terra Firma landed in deep water and drowned.

Reagen Sulewski: I'm not sure the producers of this film knew it came out this weekend.

Max Braden: Pretend it didn't come out, have Woody Allen dub his voice over the characters, and rerelease as "What's Up, Space Ants?" $1,000 per venue, easy.

Sean Collier: I don't necessarily have a problem with the "throw crap at the screen and see what sticks" school of film marketing. I'm pretty sure they missed the screen entirely, however. There may be some remaining plot elements out in the parking lot.

David Mumpower: The Battle for Terra was lost. I for one salute our new aquatic overlords.