Summer in Review: August
By BOP Staff
November 3, 2008
Swing Vote - I blame election fatigue and the studio's lack of promoting the film. The ads were sparse and fairly unimpressive. If it's a comedy, then you should probably make the commercials funny. Given the zero international appeal of this film, Swing Vote is just short of profitability, like our stock market.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - Who knew Arnold Vosloo was such a box office draw? That spells good news for his role as Zartan in next summer's G.I. Joe. With only half the domestic take of The Mummy Returns, this sequel seems like quite simply a disappointment. Luckily, the rest of the world bailed out Fraser and company and made this one a moneymaker.
Pineapple Express - The public acceptance of Apatow, Rogen and Franco is nearly ten years late. If only it was 1999, then, Freaks and Geeks would be making new episodes for many seasons. $60 million over its budget is great, but this one seemed to be a prime example of frontloading. With its first five days (Wednesday-to-Sunday) equaling $41.3 million, Pineapple Express already had almost half its end result.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 - This is a victory for Warner Bros. Keeping the budget reasonable was the key. Since it was never going to be a runaway hit or even a sleeper, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 performed in a way that had to at least give the studio another reason to smile. Not that they were a bunch of sad sacks, with stacks of money flooding in from Batman.
Tropic Thunder - With a debut of $25.8 million, it wasn't widely believed that this one would pass its lofty budget but it did. Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black had a stellar summer.
Star Wars - That is a tiny budget. Monetarily, Clone Wars is a hit but there has been much loathing and venomous rage spewed about how Lucas is betraying the fans and the series. As he is credited on IMDb, George Lucas created the "characters and universe". Sorry, fanboys, he can do with them whatever he wants but to protest you don't have to watch the TV series when it starts.
Mirrors - There was a dearth of horror/suspense options for fans this summer. The Strangers did well but the Happening and Mirrors didn't make much of a ripple. Mirrors eked out its budget but this one got some regular advertisements on TV, which didn't yield a great box office haul.
Fly Me to the Moon - It amazes me that this film had a steeper budget than Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This film seems interchangeable with Space Chimps and therefore, releasing this so late in the summer meant diminishing its potential box office. Just a little bit more mileage would have put it in the black. Poor Buzz Aldrin was even hawking this on The Colbert Report to no avail apparently.
Disaster Movie - And here is the second step for redemption. Like Meet Dave before it, the fact that audiences ignored this tripe restores my faith in humanity.
Swing Vote - Wait, this movie happened? Huh. I didn't notice.
The Mummy 3 - On the one hand, this could pretty easily be considered a miss and a victim of The Dark Knight. On the other hand, Brendan Fraser starred in $512 million worth of worldwide box office in the space of eight weeks. I'm going to go watch Airheads and think about that for a while.
Pineapple Express - I blame the mediocre returns fully on the fact that "Paper Planes" did not appear once in the actual film. Seriously, though, as much as I love that Judd Apatow is the undisputed king of the Universe and everything, he could start spreading out his projects a little bit more. There may be an overkill factor here.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 - They could've focused on the stars that have emerged among their cast between the two films, but instead just marketed a direct sequel with little or no mention of the celebrities they had on their hands. The film wasn't exactly a bomb, but think of what they could've done with more pointed marketing.
Tropic Thunder - The legs were the real story on this one. A lot of it can, obviously, be put on weak competition, but the fact that this managed to dethrone The Dark Knight, stay at number one for three weeks, and remain in the top five for over a month is really something, considering the hard-to-market nature of true parody. Also, how did
Robert Downey Jr. become the most bankable person in Hollywood not
named Will Smith overnight?
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, this movie might've made a lot more money. (Is that the only pun I can work into this comment? Wait for it...wait for it...) Thankfully, its dismal performance gives us a new hope for moviegoers. (Yes!)
Mirrors - The fact that this only barely clawed its budget back worldwide should be seen as a huge failure. Horror has a substantial built-in audience, and with a little marketing and halfway-decent buzz, should be a pretty sure thing. This was especially true since Mirrors was the first horror flick to hit theaters since The Strangers and The Happening - two months without a scare, and Jack Bauer couldn't rustle up a decent audience. Maybe if Alexandre Aja had made a movie that didn't, you know, suck.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona - It certainly wasn't a huge success, but Woody Allen long ago stopped regarding things like money and audiences. (He mostly regards Scarlett Johansson these days. Hey-oh!) Vicky Cristina Barcelona was perhaps the most mainstream Allen film of the decade, and successfully transitioned Javier Bardem from murderous pageboy into European Casanova. Good enough for our yearly entry from
Fly Me to the Moon - Pixar called, they want their everything back. Seriously, in a summer where Wall-E, the most visionary animated film in years, utterly dazzled us with a perfect plot and beautifully created outer space landscapes (spacescapes?,) why did Fox and Summit, respectively, think that anyone would bother with Space Chimps or Fly Me to the Moon? Planning? Anyone?
The House Bunny - It's great that Anna Faris is becoming a star. It's just a shame that it had to be in a clunker like The House Bunny. Still, praise to them for hitting a specific target of the demographic - 12-17 year old girls and the boys trying to make out with them - and turning a nice little profit.
Death Race - Breaking news: the American public will no longer buy a ticket for anything with an explosion and boobs. Details at 11.
The Longshots - Obvious "appropriately named film" jokes aside, I can't help but fault the marketing. They could've pulled in the urban market, the children's market, and a chunk of the sports-movie fans, but they pulled in no one. Even just releasing the film to a decent number of screens probably would've done it. Sort of a bewildering result, here.
The Rocker: I guess this one just lost a footrace with The House Bunny (and suffered because of Tropic Thunder, furthermore,) but I can't quite figure out why. The film was amusing enough, if not particularly memorable, and Rainn Wilson certainly has a big enough following via The Office. Perhaps it's a result of taking a character from a more highbrow TV show and putting him in a lowbrow comedy, thus losing the audience, but still, this result is alarmingly low. Sorry, Dwight. Back to your day job.
Babylon A.D. - Vin Diesel, you've become the poor man's Jason Statham. Congratulations. Try putting on a ridiculous accent, maybe.
Disaster Movie - If you saw this movie and enjoyed it, please let us know. We'll be dispatching a horde of rampaging killbots to your home to eliminate you and thus substantially improve the gene pool. That being said, these films have become no-longer-automatically-profitable - celebrate!
College - was this movie actually based on the t-shirt John Belushi wore in Animal House? Is that what we're down to? Basing films on t-shirts? Draw inspiration where you find it, I guess. The filmmakers here forgot one key thing: the people who really, really, really liked Old School are perfectly content to get drunk and watch Old School again. They do not need to come to the theater to see your third-rate knockoff.
Traitor - This is a decent enough result for an under-the-radar thriller. It's a shame that Don Cheadle isn't a great big star yet, but generic action movies aren't going to change that.
...in conclusion, there were too many movies released in August...