Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
February 19, 2013

Best owner ever.

Kim Hollis: A Good Day to Die Hard earned $24.8 million over three days and $33.1 million from Thursday through Sunday. What do you think of this result?

Brett Ballard-Beach: To be noted upfront: I could not force my wife and I to spend $20 on this after hearing the early reviews so I will be waiting for the cheap seats in April. Performance: It's somewhere between disappointing and terrible, but may be a counted as a victory for wholly unnecessary sequels that are critically savaged and seem intent on frittering away 25 years of (mostly) goodwill. Some may point to the hiring of John Moore as a slap in the face to the fanbase (although I felt that way in advance about Wiseman and Live Free or Die Hard, and I stand corrected as that film was a hoot and a good way to bring the character into the 2000s) so I am laying the blame at the feet of Skip Woods. Skip Woods is the James V. Hart of the '00s and his continued employment astounds me. And yes, I acknowledge that this was "made for the foreign markets" but ya know what? Everything is nowadays. It's a lame excuse. Find a new one.

Bruce Willis Hall: Like the similarly moribund Indiana Jones franchise, the original is the best and I accept the existence of the others only because I can't avoid them forever. That said, I think it's very exciting that in its first week of release, Die Hard 5 just managed to squeak past a film that almost everyone saw but almost no one actually liked, and is in its second frame to boot. I'm not surprised, and I doubt anyone at Fox is either, otherwise they would have found a way to release this in June.

Shalimar Sahota: The reviews seem to be unanimous in their hatred here, which is what I feel stopped this from topping the previous film. That it's earned this much already really comes down to the benefit of being a part of a successful franchise that had the fans come out regardless. If it wasn't called Die Hard then we'd be looking at another fatality to join Bullet in the Head and The Last Stand. However, I can't really fault Fox on the marketing on this, which was spot on (that Valentine's Day trailer was excellent).

Matthew Huntley: I agree with Shalimar the trailer was spot on and believe Fox's decision to release it on Valentine's Day was risky but effective counter-programming (I don't think it would have done any better had it come out during the summer). In the end, though, I think it paid off only slightly, as this movie is going to need a lot of help to recoup its near $100 million budget. It will likely do this with the help of its international receipts, but I don't think this particular Die Hard movie will make it over the century mark domestically. The consensus is the reviews are overshadowing the fan loyalty and moviegoers are choosing not to give it a chance. Man, 2013 just hasn't been kind to the former owners of Planet Hollywood (Schwarzenegger, Stallone and now Willis).

Felix Quinonez: On one hand, I am really surprised by this result. I know it looks terrible and I have no interest in seeing it...period, but I still expected other people to go see it. I knew the terrible reviews would have some impact on the box office performance but I thought it would be review proof at least opening weekend. This is well below what I expected. On the other hand, I am pretty happy. This was clearly a cynical cash grab and I'm glad to see it didn't pay off (at least as much as they would have wanted.) I'm tired of all of these unnecessary sequels that do nothing but tarnish the memory of the original.

Jason Barney: I think it is a sad day for one of the most interesting action franchises out there. I am a big fan of the original Die Hard; in my book it is one of the best action flicks, ever. The second movie was okay, and I like the third film more than most people. The most recent entry a couple of years ago was pretty good, and a few months ago I was glad to see there was another movie in the works. I'm old enough to be a strong fan of the original, and have been with the series ever since.

I don't think it is a very good sign that an aging action star makes a fifth film in a series and that film opens about $10 million below tracking numbers. With a budget of $92 million, this is not going to be a good performer over the next couple of days, and with horrible reviews, I fear the Die Hard franchise may be put to rest. It is sad. You would think professional writers and professional film makers could come up with a product, especially with a proven brand, that could garner better than 10% positive reviews at RT.

Kim Hollis: Generally, reviews don't really make much of a difference to a film's opening weekend performance, but I think A Good Day to Die Hard is an exception. I have heard many people say that they decided not to see this movie after seeing the reviews. Maybe that should be a lesson that putting some thought and effort into the screenplay is critical. Who knows what Die Hard 5 would have made had it been good?

Edwin Davies: This falls squarely into Best Case Scenario territory for the film, considering that the reviews and word-of-mouth were fairly toxic and began circulating very rapidly. Not rapidly enough to stop the film being number one, but the overwhelmingly negative response no doubt hampered its performance and will probably ensure that it tops out somewhere below its $92 million budget, at least domestically. It'll do well enough overseas to make that less painful, but that just strikes home how cynical and mercenary the whole endeavor has been. This is probably (hopefully) the nail in the coffin for the Die Hard franchise, which peaked with the first film and has seen nothing but diminishing returns since (I haven't seen A Good Day to Die Hard, but I soured on the series at roughly the point where John McClane killed a helicopter with a car in Live Free or Die Hard).

David Mumpower: I agree with Jay that Die Hard is one of the seminal action films of all time. I also agree with Brett that Live Free Or Die Hard was absolutely stunning in terms of its quality. It is my second favorite title in the franchise, and I say that as a huuuuuge fan of the second film. We at BOP have maintained for years now that the quality of the previous film directly correlates to the opening weekend of its successor. This is the reason why I vehemently disagree with Edwin.

Even allowing for the reviews and word-of-mouth, I still believe this is a worst case scenario rather than best case scenario. The Die Hard brand has always mattered in this industry. The only previous title that had not reached $100 million in domestic release was (amusingly) the original feature. Live Free Or Die Hard is the top domestic as well as top global earner; it is also an exceptional movie. Another Die Hard title should have capitalized on its quality by becoming easily the biggest opener in the franchise. The bar is only set at $33.4 million, after all. Somehow, A Good Day to Die Hard failed completely in this attempt, earning less in four days (including holiday inflation!) than its predecessor. I consider this opening weekend failure a stunning reversal of fortune for a previously bulletproof franchise.

Kim Hollis: Safe Haven, the latest movie based on a Nicholas Sparks romantic novel, earned $21.4 million from Friday-to-Sunday and $30.2 million since it opened on Valentine's Day. What are your thoughts on this performance?

Brett Ballard-Beach: I am chalking this up as a big win for the Nicholas Sparks brand since Duhamel and Hough are no Tatum and McAdams (or even Tatum and Seyfried). Yes, it was the pre-ordained Valentine's Day romantic option, but to hold pace with the expected victor (John McClane 5) over the five days is impressive. This will most likely flame out quickly but that will still put it closer to the top two grossing Sparks adaptations - The Notebook and Dear John, each with about $80 million - than I would have predicted. (I always have work hard to remember that The Vow is not Sparks, although it is a jaw-dropping allegorical encapsulation of the upheaval, unrest, and anxiety - for some - in the age of Obama.) On another note, the erratically great Lasse Hallstrom lives to peddle Sparks schlock another day. My recommendation? Check out 1991's Once Around instead.

Matthew Huntley: Well, the movie has two attractive leads, which featured them embraced in each other's arms on the poster just under the line, "From the author of THE NOTEBOOK and the director of DEAR JOHN"; it has a romantic title; and it was released on Valentine's Day. Of course it was going to make at least $20 million over the weekend. It's sad to think, but on this weekend in particular, most couples don't seem to care about the quality of a romantic movie as long as it is one. So there are really no surprises here, and with this movie already topping its $28 million budget, we'll see the same thing next year. It's a vicious cycle, I tell ya!

Felix Quinonez: This seems to be right in line with expectations. There's nothing surprising about this result but it is clearly a win and it assures the fact that we'll be seeing more of these Nicholas Sparks adaptations hit the theater.

Edwin Davies: I'm a little surprised by this result since, as mentioned, Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough are not the first names I would pick to headline a $20 million+ opening, and not merely because of how the alphabet works. This does serve as the greatest example yet of just how much of draw the Nicholas Sparks name is, though, since this is the first such adaptation not to feature at least moderately well-known actors in the lead roles since The Notebook, which had the advantage of better actors and not being completely awful. Clearly slapping his name on something - or, in the case of The Vow, making something that looks like something that he might as well have written - is pretty much a license to print money at this point.

David Mumpower: I've been on a Houseboat kick lately (don't ask). In re-watching one of my favorite classic movies, I've realized how little I care about the plot when the leads are as regal as Cary Grant and Sophia Loren. This thought process bleeds into what Edwin is saying in that Duhamel and Hough are never going to be thanking the Academy for anything, but they are gorgeous human beings. Safe Haven's popularity is not rocket science in this regard. A couple of attractive people star in a Nicholas Sparks adaptation, and consumers show up to watch on Valentine's Day. The mediocre nature of the story combined with the saturation of Sparks romances is probably all that kept the movie from doing a lot better. I view these projects as win/win in that people who seek out romantic comedies have low enough expectations for these schlocky titles to satisfy. Meanwhile, the rest of us can enjoy the SAVAGE reviews for this monstrosity.