We're such better studio execs than the actual studio execs.
Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
June 14, 2011
Kim Hollis: Now that we've discussed our satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the opening, do you believe there is anything Paramount could have done differently to ensure a much larger opening weekend?
Brett Beach: Having not seen the film yet, my answer may not be as informed, but outside of J.J. Abrams making a completely different film from the one he did, no. The Thursday "sneak" opening may have proved to be a win-win, but in any event, I don't think anyone on the money or numbers side of things was expecting this to open huge. And that's fine. I think it's very similar to District 9's opening where Peter Jackson's name meant something, and a sense of the unknown drew in the opening week crowd. Abrams may have been more of an established name, but he is directing his first original screenplay here and a "period" piece at that. Higlighting Spielberg's involvement was smart, and selling the mystery vs shooting their wad in the trailer was a risk, but ultimately a smart one.
Max Braden: Max Braden: They could have sold out with the trailer by showing a lot more of the climax, but that would have been a trade-off; a front-loaded opening with less impressive legs. I think the bigger payoff would have been to change the title (to what, I don't know).
Also, I will make the claim that if Abrams hadn't insisted on using his damn lens flare, he would have doubled his money. Ridiculous assertion? So is the damn lens flare, J.J.
Bruce Hall: I think I agree with the things that have been said so far. I would only add that I think genuine interest in this film was somewhat limited to begin with. For those who understood what kind of movie this was, the semi mysterious marketing campaign was self evident. For everyone else, it may have just been a little confusing.
Matthew Huntley: Getting back to Brett's comparison to District 9, I wonder if the movie would have opened bigger had it been pushed to late summer. Like District 9, Super 8 has positive reviews and a story-driven concept, so it might have come as a welcome relief to all the sensational, effects-driven fare that dominate the first three months of the summer season. Still, I can't imagine this would have made a huge difference. I think the marketing team did just about everything they could with what they had and I'm thankful the mystery wasn't revealed in the trailer, not for the film's marketing sake, but for simply preserving the surprise until audiences had a chance to see it.
Jason Lee: I agree with Bruce. As I wrote in response to the previous question, I think the appeal of this film was always going to be somewhat limited. Moving the release date to a period in which it wouldn't have required a summer blockbuster performance (September maybe?) might have been a smarter idea.
Shalimar Sahota: Keeping your big secret from your audience in the hope that they'll pay for a ticket is something Paramount knows how to do pretty well. Cloverfield opened to $46.1 million and Paranormal Activity 2 opened to $40.6 million. I'd say that applying the same principle for Super 8 has worked, but I'm also kinda leaning towards Matthew's theory. Rather than being sandwiched between two comic book adaptations in the summer, maybe releasing the film later could have helped, though I feel that the difference would have been small. Overall, I think the marketing has been great in building up curiosity.
Edwin Davies: I'm in complete agreement with Brett that the marketing people did just about the best job that could with the film that they had to work with. Being a filthy Limey, I won't get to see the film for another two months (Why? I don't know. Maybe Abrams is still really pissed about the War of 1812 and thinks we should be chastened for it.) but based on what I have read and the ads that I have seen, Super 8 isn't the sort of film that could be easily sold without resorting to just showing everything in the trailer, which would then ruin the mystery that seems to be central to the movie. Even Inception, a film that relied upon mystery about its central concept to drive interest, had plenty of spectacle in its trailer to make up for the fact that no one really knew what it was going to be about until right before the film opened, something which the more modest Super 8 can't really fall back on. It's risky hoping that mystery and the promise of something cool, rather than outright showing them something cool, will be enough to bring people in, but I think it'll pay off handsomely in the case of Super 8.
Reagen Sulewski: First impressions matter, as the classic example of Hulk shows us. Super 8's Super Bowl teaser was a headscratcher, and put them off on the wrong foot to ever be a gigantic opening film. A couple of stars here or there in supporting roles might have made a big difference as well.
David Mumpower: I'm clearly in the minority on this, as I am diametrically opposed to the idea that building the mystery of the box was good marketing. To the contrary, I believe strongly that Super 8 would have done better if it had shown what that was and used it as a building block. Some consumers may have been disappointed by the movie itself based on that marketing, but it's such a well intended story that I think they would have been won over in the end. Cloverfield opened huge because it had that killer bit with the Statue of Liberty's concrete head decapitated and flying at the citizens of New York. Super 8 went an entirely different direction with its subtlety and subtlety almost never leads to best case scenario opening weekend results. We may not collectively enjoy that thought process, but it gets proven over and over again.
Who names their kid Judy these days anyway?
Kim Hollis: Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer opened to $6.1 million. Should Relativity be pleased with this result for such an unheralded property?
Max Braden: I think I saw more advertising for this than for Super 8 in the last week. The most recent comparison I can think of are the two Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies, which opened at three to four times what Bummer just did. On the other hand this is a similar sized opening to Nanny McPhee and other family-friendly animated films in the last few years. I'd call it a wash, I guess.
Matthew Huntley: To me, it's sort of a no-brainer this movie opened so poorly. For one thing, the trailers and advertising were just plain obnoxious and to parents/adults, the whole experience probably seemed like a headache waiting to happen, which is why they opted not to take their kids to it. Still, kids are entitled to movies too, and I'm sure really little ones will find it funny and appealing. But the trick is convincing adults to take them, and that just didn't happen this weekend.
Relativity shouldn't be too bummed out, though, as the movie cost under $20 million to produce and it will likely see the bulk of this made up on the home market. But plans to turn the other books in the series into feature films have probably all been scratched.
Jason Lee: I am not a girl. I don't have a daughter. I don't have a niece (within driving distance). I am not friends with any couple that has a daughter/niece-within-driving-distance. Relativity wasn't going to get my money, and I'm betting that Relativity should have known that they weren't going to get too many people's money outside of the four categories I've listed. As such, $6.1 million for a $20 mil budgeted film with home video still to come seems like a moderate win to me.
Edwin Davies: I imagine that Relativity would have hoped for a bit more given the popularity of the books, but considering how horrible the film looks (and, based on the reviews, is) and the knowledge that all the kids who love the books will probably bug their parents until they buy it for them on DVD, I can see this one eventually becoming a win for them. Not an unequivocal win, but a win.
Reagen Sulewski: It's Nancy Drew and Ramona and Beezus and Harriet the Spy all over again. Boys won't go to movies with female protagonists, and that's unfortunate, but it's the way it is. The best you can hope for is to keep the budget low and make your money on ancillary sales.
Brett Beach: To follow through on Reagan's mentioning Nancy Drew and Ramona and Beezus, the fact that it made fairly close to what both of those (far more pedigreed literary sources) did opening weekend should be as much a cause for Relativity to mildly celebrate as to suggest that$ 6-7 million may be the breaking point for a project such as this. Although the true research may lie in determining how many men of a certain age went who just wanted to see Roller Girl play the wacky aunt (Heather Graham, the next stage of your career has begun.)
David Mumpower: Brett and Reagen are absolutely correct in that Beezus and Ramona (the title is reversed for the book) was published in 1955; the initial Judy Moody book was released in 2000. Ramona and Beezus opened to $7.8 million and we should also factor in that this was aided by the presence of Selena Gomez, one of Disney's most popular stars. Judy Moody's primary "draw" is Rollergirl and this is an *ahem* slightly different part from Boogie Nights for Ms. Graham. She can't guarantee a second episode of a television series, much less enhance opening weekend box office. It'll get lost due to the difference in scale but relative to reasonable expectations, Judy Moody is a much better opening weekend performer than Super 8 in my estimation.