Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
August 26, 2015


Kim Hollis: Hitman: Agent 47, a new adaptation of the videogame, earned $8.3 million. What do you think of this result?

Ryan Kyle: Fox just can't catch a break revamping their dormant properties. The original Hitman opened to $13.2 million in 2007 dollars and had better than expected legs for the genre, ending up close to $40 million. This one opened to $8.2 million. YIKES! I'm surprised they just didn't make a sequel to the original instead of a reboot, since I doubt Timothy Olyphant and Olga Kurylenko's asking price went up that significantly over the years. With a rumored budget of $35 million, Fox will have to search overseas to make up the US deficit, but I have a feeling that was their plan all along as a very Luc Besson-esque aesthetic was given to the film's trailer. Speaking of Besson, The Transporter Refueled will probably take over almost all of this film's screens within two weekends.

Ben Gruchow: I'm surprised this many people saw it. I think some of those might have wandered in because the movie's title, if you glanced at the poster and didn't squint and read the fine print, was just "Agent 47".

This might break even with the combination of domestic and international grosses, but it's not really a sure thing since I figure the worldwide gross needed is probably somewhere around $100 million to clear the combo of production budget and marketing; the original Hitman tapped out at $99 million, and this movie is starting slower both domestically and in foreign markets. I'm gobsmacked as to who at Fox thought this was $35 million worth of a bankable idea. The screenwriter's history reads like the resume that you only accept for show, and shred as soon as the applicant leaves. It looks like Paul Walker was originally attached to play the lead role when this was in development in 2013, and there was a reboot/remake of the Hitman game announced in early 2014. The only thing I can think of is that by the time Walker passed away and the game fell through, the movie's producers had spent enough money to keep going with it.

On a lighter note, my research reveals that Thomas Kretschmann's character is named Le Clerq. No first name. I find that strangely amusing.

Felix Quinonez: This is bad but not at all surprising. I can't imagine anyone who considered the first one a big enough hit to warrant a sequel or reboot, or whatever this is. I would have loved to been present in the pitch meeting for this. It boggles my mind that at least one person wanted this to get made and at least another person approved it.

Matthew Huntley: Felix stole the words right from my keyboard.

Edwin Davies: This may be the least surprising story of the year so far. The first Hitman wasn't a hit even when it starred someone with a hint of name recognition and the game was at its peak of cultural relevancy. That anyone at any point thought that a newer version would do better with a virtual unknown in the lead and at a point where people have more or less forgotten about Hitman borders on insanity. Aside from that, the basic premise is super generic when you take it out of a game and put it on screen, so the chances of people who don't know the game being interested in it will always be pretty minimal unless you cast a big name or promise a lot of super cool action in the trailers. The ads for Hitman didn't provide that, or at least couldn't persuade people that watching Tom Cruise hang off of a plane might be a better option.

Jason Barney: Almost everything involved at this point smells of "whoops.” First, the points about a franchise sequel vs a reboot are well taken. It is not like the first one set the world on fire and perhaps 20th Century Fox was trying to build something...but the math just doesn't pan out either. I actually think films released in late August CAN make money, the numbers just have to work. Generally, end of summer films just aren't going to get the widespread support movies get at other points in the year. Family vacations are wrapping up. Schools are opening. That said, cheap, well marketed, flash in the pan films could make money....but $35 million for Hitman: Agent 47 is just way too much. Even if it sticks around in the top 10 for a few weeks because of lack of competition, I don't think this has enough support to be profitable.

Kim Hollis: American Ultra, the pothead CIA killing machine movie featuring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, earned $5.5 million this weekend. What do you think of this result?

Ryan Kyle: Maybe this is the final nail in the coffin of people believing that Kristen Stewart can open up a film that doesn't have the "Twilight" prefix to the title. Starring Stewart and Eisenberg as the two most unlikely looking CIA agents ever (I think that's what they are in the most confusing yet prevalent marketing campaign of the month), Ultra is an acquisition for Lionsgate and the budget is a light $12 million, so there isn't much skin in the game for anyone. I'd call this a loser of a result given that $5.5 million in 2,778 theaters is pretty terrible, with a PTA below $2,000, so it shouldn't be sticking around very long to have the chance to find an audience. I'd be surprised if this can finish with much more than $11 million.

Ben Gruchow: The trailers for American Ultra were misleading, but they weren't as rancid as the movie's posters - which basically made it look like a movie about two stoners who stumble into being assassins. The movie itself is better than the promotional materials give it credit for, to a degree that sort of surprised me. There's more at play in the movie's weird little head than I would've guessed, even if what's there is still undisciplined and messy and unbelievable.

It's, in all likelihood, the very best movie opening this weekend, so it's only appropriate that it makes the least amount of money. That's actually not incomprehensible to me; as said, and as Ryan pointed out, the marketing campaign seemed terrifically confused as to what type of movie they were actually selling. Sinister 2 and Agent 47: Le Clerq Strikes Back may be asinine, but they're more easily sellable.

Afterword: Ryan, I find that you're right about Kristen Stewart's only big headlining openers being the "Twilight" movies. This irritates me to no end, because since the last of that blasted series evaporated from the public conscience, she's gone back to proving that she does actually have some measure of talent and charisma.

Felix Quinonez: It's pretty bad considering the supposed star power of its leads. But on the other hand, its budget was $12 million, so it won't be a huge loss for anyone involved.

Matthew Huntley: Given the material, the time of year, and the limited box-office potential of its leads when they choose less high-profile roles, this isn't terribly surprising. The movie wasn't very heavily marketed, either, so I'd say its numbers are fairly decent, given the circumstances. They'll be enough to put the movie on the map for DVD/Blu-ray/VOD, where it'll probably do better business.

Edwin Davies: I thought that the ads for American Ultra were pretty decent in terms of getting the idea across and presenting a distinct viewpoint, but there wasn't enough in there to make me actually go see it. (In fact I went to watch Jesse Eisenberg's other current release, The End of the Tour, which is great.) There was just something about it which screamed "I will rent this from Redbox at some point!" The timing probably wasn't great either, since the ads emphasized the action at a point where audiences have probably had their fill of it. That left the comedy, which was probably a bit too odd for a lot of people.

Jason Barney: With a $12 million budget, this is the definition of a late summer movie that might not fail. Don't get me wrong, opening sixth place during a late August weekend is NOT good, but the road to profitability for American Ultra is a lot easier than something like Hitman: Agent 47 or The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

While it won't be around for long, this project seems much smarter than other options out there.