Summer in Review: July
By BOP Staff
October 30, 2008
Hancock - Fun fact: Will Smith now actually functions as an ATM. Hand him your bank card, and money will just start pouring out. Don't ask from where.
Meet Dave - Poor, misguided Eddie Murphy. After serving as the only watchable part of Dreamgirls, it seemed that he might have figured a thing or two out. After Meet Dave, he seems more lost than ever. We can hope in vain that this will serve as a wake-up call, but talks of another Beverly Hills Cop sequel - with Brett Ratner attached - are still in the works. Let's all just go watch Eddie Murphy Raw and try to forget all of this.
Journey to the Center of the Earth - I wouldn't have given this a scrap of a chance, but it clawed its way to $100 million after a ho-hum opening. I suppose the 3D-in-normal-movie-theaters gimmick is still novel enough to pull in families.
Hellboy II - Guillermo del Toro seems to enjoy making movies that have no target audience whatsoever. The dark subject matter and violence of Hellboy II made it distinctly a film for older audiences, but (like the far superior Pan's Labyrinth,) this one had the soul of a children's film. I suppose making the budget back was all a project this quirky could hope for, so call it a victory.
Space Chimps - *insert flinging poo at the screen and learning that it did not, in fact, stick joke here*
Mamma Mia! - A movie where Pierce Brosnan sings off-key at great length and a young, hairless island boy hits on Christine Baranski has made $430 million worldwide. I'm going to get my The End is Near sign, but I'll probably be humming "Dancing Queen" as I march.
Step Brothers - As it was, a so-so comedy that did well enough and will escape our memory soon. What if they had actually made a movie about ten-year-old boys in a blood feud, and just cast Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly instead of children? Now that would've been big.
X-Files: I Want to Believe - Hey, you know what's better than this movie? Californication.
8) Meet Dave - Eddie Murphy is less consistent than Rex Grossman. For every hit he has, there are a couple of Meet Daves. The good news here is that the production budget is "only" $55 million, which is better than Holy Man or The Adventures of Pluto Nash could claim. Meet Dave is clearly a disaster, but it's not Murphy's worst performance. Wait, that's not making it any better, is it?
7) X-Files: I Want to Believe - A year ago, I was convinced this project would be huge. The timing appeared perfect for X-Files to make its dramatic return to theaters. By the week of release, I had come to terms with the fact that the studio thought they had a largely unmarketable product. Boy, did they ever call that one correctly. I Want to Believe made less during its domestic run than I expected it to earn on opening weekend. Given the conservative budget, it's still not a massive loser. It's just not a winner, particularly relative to the opportunity cost of revenue lost from not producing a satisfactory film for the diehards.
6) Space Chimps - A harmless release, this is the rare title that does almost exactly what was expected of it. One of the film's creators was kind enough to drop BOP a note indicating how pleased they were that the film had met its modest expectations. Not all titles are intended to be The Dark Knight, after all.
5) Hellboy II: The Golden Army - We have moved up from the failures, #7 and #8, and the achiever, #6, to the (ever so) modest winner. If we only factored in domestic receipts, Hellboy II wouldn't qualify as such but once international revenue is added, it's a clear cut hit. Guillermo del Toro must be frustrated by the fact that he has created two exceptional superhero movies that have done mediocre numbers relative to the rest of the genre, though.
4) Step Brothers - This is one of my least favorite trailers ever. I loathe everything about it from start to finish and had expected most people to agree with me on the point. That's why I am all the more surprised by this title reaching $100 million, a full $16 million ahead of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. People make me sad.
3) Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D - This is a textbook example of why it is important to go back and re-evaluate titles a couple of months after release. After ten days, this title was only at $43.5 million and already out of the top three. The odds of it breaking the $100 million barrier would have been solid in 1998, but in 2008, it was a massive longshot. Somehow, it hung in there the requisite 86 days in order to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat, making it the best demonstration of old school legs not just this July/summer but in recent box office history. The fact that it is poised to duplicate this feat overseas is that much more impressive. The important aspect of this to remember moving forward is that 3-D is the right sort of cinematic novelty now. My Bloody Valentine 3-D will be the next proof of this.
2) Hancock - How brutal was July? Hancock is the #38 release of all-time in terms of worldwide revenue yet only the second biggest of the month. And it isn't certain to have a lock on second place depending on what the film I consider to be the biggest non-The Dark Knight success of July does next. What is certain about Hancock is that it has continued Will Smith's incendiary hot streak of box office blockbusters. This is his eighth straight $100+ million release, and it has actually surpassed I Am Legend and Men in Black in terms of worldwide revenue to become Smith's second most successful overall release behind Independence Day. Given what a glorious mess of a movie Hancock is, it is clear that Will Smith has bought a significant line of credit with worldwide audiences. The fact that his last two films have accrued worldwide revenue of $1.2 billion hints at the fact that Seven Pounds is poised for greatness as well.
1) Mamma Mia! - Mamma Mia! is about to surpass Titanic. Okay, only in Britain but still. How in the world did we get to a place where a musical featuring the songs of Abba could pump in $553.2 million worth of worldwide box office? This simple little singalong recently surpassed Peter Jackson's King Kong (!) to become the 50th most successful release ever. It is within days of passing Armageddon as well. Anyone who claims that they saw this level of box office coming is lying. And if they're not, I'm buying them a beer the next time we hang out. This is quite possibly the most impossible success story since The Passion of the Christ or maybe even My Big Fat Greek Wedding. No sane person looked at the July schedule and said, "Yup, Meryl Streep's going to have a $550 million movie." Hell, Meryl Streep's last FIVE movies haven't combined for that amount of worldwide revenue and we're including The Devil Wears Prada in that batch. Even if we throw in her previous two films prior to that, it is still basically a wash with what Mamma Mia! has done on its own. Given how rapturous the reception has been for Streep's singing, maybe Sony should go back and re-release Postcards from the Edge.