Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
September 24, 2012

I was wondering how your family is doing! Jerk!

Jake Gyllenhaal: The World's Blandest Cop

Kim Hollis: End of Watch opened to $13.2 million over the weekend. What do you think of this result?

Bruce Hall: I think it's great. I believe End of Watch was budgeted at around $7-10 million, and it ends up in first place. It's also receiving good audience feedback, so it might hang around for a little while. I'd say it was a solid weekend.

Edwin Davies: This is a very strong and definite win all around. Considering that End of Watch went into the weekend being seen very much as the underdog compared to Katniss and The Chair Whisperer, for it to take the top spot is more than anyone expected. Having said that, the numbers themselves are pretty low, so this is not by any means a breakout hit, but considering that it had most likely covered its production budget by Sunday morning and will likely wind up with around $30-$40 million, this is still a very good result.

Matthew Huntley: I think the numbers say something about the quality of the film and the marketing campaign. True: generally speaking, the trailer for this movie made it look like just another L.A. cop movie a la Training Day, S.W.A.T. or Street Kings, but it also took things a step further with its unique camera work and uncommonly gritty style. On top of that, the relationship between the two cops seems genuine and credible, which is conveyed with just a few clips in the previews and TV spots, so it's clear the cast and filmmakers have taken the material seriously. In such a sluggish movie-going period, this kind of dedication feels fresh and audiences responded in kind. Granted, the figures aren't explosive, but they suggest the movie will be around for a little while (at least longer than expected). To the writer-director David Ayer, who was so humble at the End of Watch panel at Comic-Con, I say, "Good for you, man."

Felix Quinonez: I think it's hard not to call this a win. It's a solid opening and because it's got great reviews and its Cinemascore was an "A-," I think it could even have some legs. I think it's all the more impressive because it seemed to be the least storied of the three opening movies.

Jason Barney: As pretty much everyone else has stated here, this has to be seen as a win. I think from a box office perspective we all get a little nervous talking about such small totals as good news, but the numbers just don't lie. A project that makes its money back on its first weekend is a solid investment for the studio. Yes, we would all like to be discussing opening weekends tied to blockbusters, but money is the real discussion here, and End of Watch will make money during its run.

David Mumpower: The aspect of this I find most impressive is that while a pair of other distributors (Relativity Media and Warner Bros.) chose to lie a *lot*, at least percent wise, Open Road estimated a $13 million opening that proved to be $150,000 low. They could have rightfully boasted a much larger estimate yet they were honest, which is refreshing in this industry.

In terms of the movie itself, I *HATE* this film. You have no idea how much I hate it. Regal is based in our town so we see almost all of our movies at Regal theaters. This trailer has been attached to everything for what feels like eight months now. I remember thinking in July that I couldn't believe that End of Watch was yet to be released due to the onslaught of trailer advertising for it. I am relieved that I no longer have to suffer through it. This is regrettable in that I had a negative disposition toward the film before I ever saw it, and I am pretty much THE target audience since Dark Blue is one of my favorite films of the 2000s. This is the same writer creating a new story in the same genre yet I can muster no enthusiasm for the project due to the ubiquity of the trailers for it. This is a cautionary tale for future Open Road releases. A commercial can and will be run into the ground if there are no boundaries established.

With regards to the box office, I mentioned in the discussion for Lockout that Open Road has cleverly mined the industry for this sort of revenue arbitrage. They are unearthing titles that would slip between the cracks for other studios; then, those are released by a pair of exhibitors who can claim almost all of the revenue stream from ticket sales. This is a very clever business endeavor with End of Watch proving itself as the latest example of frugal investments leading to box office profits.

Tim Briody: Matthew, I don't know if you did that intentionally, but the three films you mentioned (Training Day, S.W.A.T. and Street Kings) were all written or directed by David Ayer, so he's carved out quite the niche for himself over the last decade. End of Watch's usage of dashboard cam and hand-held shots were a decent twist on the subject, even if it does end up looking like a high end episode of Cops.

Reagen Sulewski: I think the happiest person out of this is Jake Gyllenhaal, who proves that he can open a fairly generic title to solid numbers. He's typically needed a high concept to get him to larger opening weekends, but here he was, playing against type in a genre that has failed with recognizable names. Gyllenhaal is a guy who has lots of exposure but little marquee power, and even though this isn't a blockbuster, it's a weekend win, and a profitable movie.

This year seems to be a race for most generic horror movie title

Kim Hollis: House at the End of the Street, a horror movie featuring The Hunger Games' Jennifer Lawrence, opened to $12.3 million over the weekend. What do you think of this debut?

Bruce Hall: Odd that this film should be just behind End of Watch, a movie that benefited from opening weekend in similar ways. House theoretically earned back its production budget, and for a day, it got to call itself the number one movie of the week thanks to creative estimates from the studio. The difference is that it reviews haven't been as kind to this film, and the future therefore not quite as bright. Still, it's the least you could ask of a horror flick. Open strong, pay your bills, and enjoy an afterlife on home video.

Edwin Davies: This is a perfectly fine result for a film that would be of little interest were it not for the fact that Jennifer Lawrence went from being an unknown to a huge star in the time between when it was filmed and when it was eventually released. There's an argument to be made that the film demonstrates that Lawrence is not a draw outside of her two franchises, but personally I think it more strongly demonstrates that these kind of cheap, crappy horror films will generally do okay with the right marketing and release, whilst the actual star is pretty much irrelevant.

Matthew Huntley: When I first saw the preview for this movie, and then learned it was rated PG-13, I pretty much knew it would perform just as it did this weekend (I think we all probably did). There are absolutely no surprises here and Bruce hit the nail on the head when he outlined the general flow of cheap, shock-inducing horror movies that are chiefly meant for teenage girls. And even though Halloween is approaching, I don't think House will show any type of reasonable legs, likely ending up between $30-35 million overall, which simply means we'll see another one just like this time next year, or maybe a few in between. Another sure thing: this is probably the last we'll see of Jennifer Lawrence in a movie like this, at least for a while. By now, her asking price is probably too high.

Felix Quinonez: I think anytime a movie makes back its budget on opening weekend, it should be a win. I really don't think it'll have any legs but it should make real profit by the end of its run and definitely when it's out on home video. I also think it was smart of them to try and capitalize off of Jennifer Lawrence's rise to fame, which couldn't have hurt at all.

Jason Barney: am not the biggest horror film fan in the world, but in the lead up to Halloween, there certainly is a market for these films. Just in the last couple of weeks we have had The Apparition, (which bombed) The Possession (which has made almost three times the cost of making it) and now The House at the End of the Street, which is already making money. The leaves are starting to turn, nights are getting colder, and the Halloween candy is in the stores. If it is a money maker, it is a win.

David Mumpower: Matthew is absolutely correct that all of us could tell that this would be a profitable winner for Relativity Media now that they have finally cleared up (at least some of) their financial woes. Sometimes, a production like this catches a break. Without Jennifer Lawrence, this may still be sitting on the shelf if not being considered for a straight to video release. With her, the movie earns double digits on opening weekend and temporarily laid claim to being the number one film for the weekend. Kim and I mentioned in the Weekend Wrap-Up that House at the End of the Street becomes one of those weird horror flick footnotes a la Leprechaun and Nightmare on Elm Street because it features a legit A-list actress in an otherwise wholly forgettable film. And yes, slasher nerds, Nightmare on Elm Street is otherwise forgettable. Dream Warriors, on the other hand...

Kim Hollis: Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the least forgettable films I've ever seen. I saw it in the theater on opening night in a double feature with The Terminator and both films have stuck with me over those long years. I still have Freddy Krueger nightmares occasionally and it sure isn't because of Dream Warriors, because I have never seen that movie.

As for House at the End of the Street, I am having trouble distinguishing it in my mind from The Last House on the Left, Silent House or House on Haunted Hill. The studio has to be pretty pleased with the result, because without Jennifer Lawrence attached, it'd be the most ordinary of horror titles.