Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
September 5, 2012

People let me tell you 'bout my best friend!

Oogie Fever!

Kim Hollis: Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure became the worst opener of all time in terms of per location average. The film garnered $206 per venue over the weekend, which amounts to $69 per day. How did a film in this many locations earn only $670,253 in five days? Also, say a LOT of funny things about the Oogieloves.

Brett Beach: The trailer made the film look like a lobotomized Teletubbies adaptation on Day-Glo acid. I don't know how 2100 theaters were convinced to take a chance on something like this that was intended to launch a franchise from nothing (I like how the film's producer was inspired by audience yelling at the screen for films like Madea Goes to Jail and classic participation films like Rocky Horror). The only joke I got: I don't think the inevitable porno parody will need to change any words in its title.

Matthew Huntley: This movie reportedly cost $20 million to produce and another $40 million to market. I can believe it, especially the latter figure - all around Los Angeles are posters and billboards for it, although they come off as rather nondescript. And despite the copious advertising, very few people actually knew this movie existed or what it was about. What does this say about the Oogieloves? Either they're really unpopular or parents thought they were too creepy/stupid even for their kindergarten-age kids to have to endure. I can't say I blame them - to me, the characters really are ugly and disturbing and the thought of sitting through the movie makes me shudder. The Oogieloves look like they should be torturing little kids in a twisted horror movie rather than singing pop songs to them.

Edwin Davies: This strikes me as a major miscalulation on the part of the creators; they assumed that the best way to launch a franchise aimed at toddlers was a feature film, forgetting that parents probably aren't going pay to sit through something like that unless there's something for them as well, which there evidently wasn't. Had the Oogieloves (I am so glad I'm never going to have to type that word again) started as a TV series then built up to a feature, then I could see the film version being more successful than, well, this, but launching the film into a market where no audience of obsessed tykes already existed seems like commercial suicide, especialy considering how few historical examples there are of these sort of films performing well. Even Barney's Great Adventure, which was released when the character was at its height of popularity,only grossed $12 million against a $15 million budget. What chance did a new property have?

Tim Briody: The funniest part? The sequel is still in the works.

Kim Hollis: I don't know, Tim. The funniest part might be that it was *overestimated* on Sunday.

Felix Quinonez: I think when a movie is as ahead of its time as Oogieloves is, it's just natural for audiences to be hesitant to embrace it at first. But when it's all said and done I think people will look back and realize that it's a cinematic masterpiece in the lines of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Or maybe people thought this balloon adventure was just TOO big for them. I'm kidding, of course. Seriously, someone needs to put the pipe down.

Reagen Sulewski: I think we have the all time champion for "Trying To Make Fetch Happen, Children's Division". I think the really disturbing thing will be three months from now when all the sleeper agents created by watching this film will be launched upon the world. It's the perfect cover for a delivery mechanism, when you think about it.

Max Braden: Katherine Heigl and Zyzzyx Road are redeemed! I had not even heard of the movie or seen the trailer before it earned this dubious distinction. Judging from the poster, audiences must have had the same reaction I'm having: I don't want to go anywhere near that thing.

David Mumpower: The funniest part is that it's front-loaded. After earning $670,253 in five days, exhibitors started reducing the number of locations displaying the film as well as the number of daily screenings as well. There is a legitimate chance Oogieloves does not earn $1.5 million despite the fact that it's already at $900,000 after a week. Also, its box office total for the weekend was holiday-inflated.

I understand this gambit and in fact admire a great deal about the project. When The Avengers was destroying the box office, we discussed how much toy sales were the hidden boon for Disney. Similarly, Cars 2 was inevitable due to the historic toy sales revenue of Cars. Movies and television series are trojan horses for the toy industry. Trying to create something from nothing is not cheap and the opportunity cost here is almost $60 million for The Oogieloves team as well as several million more in lost revenue opportunities for the theaters that exhibited it. Despite this, the gamble was based in acceptable logic.

If The Oogieloves had become a popular thing, this easily could have grown into a nine-figure licensing property, maybe even ten-figure. The problem is that these are some genuinely terrifying looking creatures. If you release these same characters as a horror movie, The Oogieloves might have opened in first place.

Goodbye, summer. Hello, football!

Kim Hollis: As the summer concludes, what are your lingering thoughts for the 2012 campaign? Which movies impressed/disappointed you the most?

Brett Beach: Since Kim did use the word "campaign", the season started with a financial explosion courtesy of The Avengers, got hijacked by reality when one of the most anticipated films of the summer became synonymous with a horrific act of violence, and finished in infamy with a box performance for the ages by the Oogieloves and a film icon on the small screen carrying on both sides of the conversation with an inanimate object. I have personally seen none of these, and saw very little. And now for my wrapup:

Moonrise Kingdom made me swoon (though it's not my favorite Wes Anderson film), Celeste and Jesse Forever argued that maybe best friends shouldn't have the Hollywood ending (though it ultimately swerved to the light when it could have lingered in the dark), Dark Shadows introduced me to Seth Grahame-Smith's tendency to make camp that argues to be treated with deadly seriousness and not as much fun (not sure if this means he is the perfect fit for Burton/Depp), Prometheus flirted with me and promised to be different, but wound up as another "people dying horrible deaths in space dressed up as religious/spiritual profundity" epic. Still, Roomi Napace's attempted abortion in close quarters was the "is this really happening?" moment of the summer for me. Madagascar 3 was trippy beyond all belief. The series seems to be in some race with itself to go completely gonzo-schizoid. I hope that indie hero Noah Bambauch (Kicking and Screaming, Squid and the Whale) was the genius behind Circus Afro. And Tony Scott's passing leaves me more than a little hollow inside.

Edwin Davies: It's been a summer of some considerable highlights, both in terms of quality and box office, with The Avengers looming over all comers in both. However, unlike last year when there were a host of decent quality, mid-level blockbusters (Thor, Captain America, Rise of the Planets of the Apes) this year seemed a bit fallow in comparison. The highs were incredibly high, but the lows were pretty depressing, as was the aforementioned moment when an awful tragedy permanently derailed all discussion of what should have been a bright spot on the summer calendar.

Pixar made some amends for Cars 2 with Brave, which by their standards was merely good, rather than spectacular. Prometheus provided the greatest trailer of the year then forgot to deliver a movie worthy of it. Moonrise Kingdom livened up a fairly moribund arthouse scene, though both Killer Joe and The Imposter were pretty great in their own right as well. The Bourne and Spider-man reboots made me wish those series had been left on the shelf for a couple of more years, whilst That's My Boy should hopefully convince Adam Sandler that constantly making crap will eventually leave a lingering stench following him around. In summary, it was a pretty uneven season.

Jason Barney: It was a great summer movie season and I only wish I had the money to go more. In April and May I went quite a bit, then in June and July I didn't go as much as I would have liked. I think back to my Mom and Dad bringing my family to the drive-in when I was a kid, and I know I have handed similar memories down to my son. I've been taking him to the drive-in for years now, and this summer he got another good dose. Pirates: Band of Misfits, Madagascar 3, and Ice Age 4 are the ones he got to see this year. Having the kids fall asleep in the backseat and watching the late movie is just so nice. He saw Brave in the regular theater. Summer movies really are about the family and kids.

Of all the summer films, I think Prometheus left the biggest impression on me. It had some holes, yes, but artistically it was a success. It was a very thought-provoking film and I hope it made enough money for the next two films two be made. It asked some meaningful questions and was very entertaining.

And here we sit at the end of the summer box office season and I wonder why this time of year is so weak for theaters. I think it is possible for some significant movies to open during these frames, but Labor Day has become the dumping ground for movies that studios don't know what to do with. I mean really, are the weekends of late August that different than the weekends in October? Even March? I think quality could be released about now and people might be surprised by the results.

Max Braden: My first thought about the summer overall is that it was very ho-hum. I had no urge to go see a bunch of the big sequels (Men in Black, Madagascar, Spider-Man, Ice Age). Of the ones I did see (Avengers, Dark Knight, Bourne, Expendables) I could have plenty of good things to say about them, but I'd still prefer the originals. Other spectacle movies like Battleship and Total Recall were briefly nifty on the eyes but left no good memories. Prometheus left me with raging memories, so I'd rather leave that there. Every summer should have a couple good raunchy comedies, and The Dictator failed there while I heard The Campaign was okay. I still have yet to see the alternate programming like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom. I think if I were to pick my top three of the summer, The Avengers comes out on top easily, with maybe The Bourne Legacy and Brave occupying the second two slots. After all that, I still come to the conclusion that this summer was very ho-hum.

David Mumpower: My lingering memory of the summer box office campaign is that commerce was chosen over art o'er and o'er again. I am not criticizing this practice; ordinarily, I am first in line to say that this is an acceptable business practice. Despite this, Battleship, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Bourne Legacy will comprise my three lasting memories of this year's popcorn films. All of them were immediately damaged the instant they were announced.

Battleship, while not a bad movie, fails the laugh test due to its tie-in to an archaic board game that has no relevance in the gaming app era. The Amazing Spider-Man is the most insulting reboot in the history of the industry and I am not exaggerating for effect when I say that. There was absolutely no need for the project. And The Bourne Legacy is a disappointing money grab using the name of a franchise whose first three movies are all exceptional.

This is the state of the industry right now. Financial modeling software determines the movies that are made rather than human instinct. The end result is a bunch of mediocre garbage that will inevitably lead to a shrinking number of customers (i.e. movie goers). While I love The Avengers, my strongest fear about Hollywood right now is that a bunch of people who have no understanding of why that movie succeeded will now attempt to duplicate it. This is like someone who cannot cook attempting a nitrous oxide milkshake. It will not end well...unless the video gets posted to YouTube.

The real story of the summer has nothing to do with box office and everything to do with a madman in Colorado. The impact of this news extends far beyond our silly little corner of the internet. And it will leave a lingering stain on our memories of the summer of 2012. The entire situation speaks volumes about the reputation that Christopher Nolan has built over the past few years. Any lesser film would not have survived this sort of negativity during its news cycle.

The Dark Knight Rises overcame the stigma of being associated with cold-blooded murder to become one of the ten most popular movie releases ever. I am impressed with the courage of movie goers who refused to be deterred by the actions of a feckless thug. That too will be something I always recall about the summer of 2012.

My final thought is that "Puny God!" will make me laugh every time I think about the quote from now until the end of time.