Monday Morning Quarterback
By BOP Staff
December 15, 2008
Most people prefer the Futurama episode The Day the Earth Stood StupidKim Hollis: The Day the Earth Stood Still earned $30.5 million. What do you take from this result, and what do you think prevented it from breaking out?
David Mumpower: I see this as an okay result. This is a total that avoids disaster, but it's certainly not a strong performance. $30 million openings were the hallmark of big budget action films in the late 1990s. We've moved past that level now, even with December releases. While there was a time where a deflated opening weekend this month was indicative of nothing other than the standard box office behavior, recent years have shown the potential for breakout hits. The fact that The Day The Earth Stood Still failed to do so is almost certainly product of the difficulty faced by the advertising department. The movie looks shiny as well as otherworldly, which is a good achievement for a sci-fi flick. The question that the trailers never answered is what is being sold here, and the answer to that likely stems from the fact that no one involved with the project seems to know. I get the vibe that this is going to go down as the latest example of the failures of most modern re-makes of classic films. I see it as fitting end-of-year bookend to the same mistake Fox made with X-Files: I Want to Believe.
Joel Corcoran: I think this film suffered indirectly from our current economic malaise. And I don't just mean from the general consumer belt-tightening that is affecting the entertainment industry overall. I think the palpable fear about where the U.S. economy is heading turned people off from seeing this film. If you're worried about whether you'll have a job next month - or worse, whether you can pay your rent or mortgage this month - then the last thing you want to do with what little discretionary funds you have is go out and see some depressing, apocalyptic movie about the world being torn apart. It strikes a little too close to home. In a way, it's an effect similar to that which kept people away from past movies about the Iraq War. Had The Day the Earth Stood Still opened a year ago, I think it would've earned a more respectable box office - maybe even somewhere around $50 million.
Brandon Scott: Since everyone is taking the deeper approach so far to the topic, I will just say that nothing seemed particularly interesting or moving about this pic. That amount of money is nice, but we've seen far bigger openings this year and even in recent weeks. The film didn't look incredibly interesting, nor did it have a clear-cut message as to what it was about, so it didn't clean up at the box office. Nothing about it felt original - the fact that it was a re-make aside. Nothing spoke to me saying, "you must see this movie," so I didn't and I think a lot of people felt the same way.
Eric Hughes: I'm actually surprised this one eclipsed $30 million. I can't think of anyone that had the flick on their radar this weekend. I mean, who's really interested in seeing Keanu Reeves act alien? Doesn't he appear that way every time he's in a movie ever?
Jason Dean: Well, I'd rather see Keanu act like a cold, emotionless alien in a movie where he is supposed to be an alien as opposed to seeing him in other roles where he still acts cold and emotionless.
David Mumpower: But enough about Sweet November...
Jason Dean: Our history must go way too far back and/or I must really be that transparent a fan boy, because it is utter jealousy/disdain for his Sweet November performance that inspired my initial remark. I just didn't want to bring it up but since you did...
Scott Lumley: I think we're being a little hard on Keanu here. While he certainly has the track record to open a movie like this up in a big way, I think this is a combination of bad timing and poor marketing. The effects for this looked impressive but I had no clear idea what exactly was the threat in the movie. The trailers I saw showed various things exploding or disintegrating, Keanu in a Tie acting severe, and another shot of him being questioned by an agent and acting very ominous. I didn't really have a visceral reaction to anything in the trailers and I don't think many other people did either. Combine that with the actual disaster that a lot of people are facing in regards to their economic future, and you can see why there wasn't a lot of buzz for this film. My feeling is that $31 million isn't bad, but the drop next weekend is going to be pretty shocking.
Jason Lee: I'm still a little baffled as to why they opened this in December. Sure, you've had I Am Legend and King Kong, which tend on the destructive/dystopic side of things, but they had Will Smith and Peter Jackson behind them. Keanu just doesn't match up.
David Mumpower: Jason, if nothing else, what mystifies me is why Fox put Australia in November and this one in December. The awards bait movie should be released for the holidays and the sci-fi action film should be released in the month of massive openings. That's the playbook everyone knows and Fox ignored it to their significant detriment.
Jamie Ruccio: A $30 million opening feels about right to me. It's nothing if not average for what I expect. There's nothing remarkable in the commercials or trailers other than some effects shots, Reeves and some general shots to give you an idea of what the movie is about. The opening of this movie feels very much like the recent remake of King Kong by Peter Jackson to me - a remake of a classic that did fairly well at opening and will plod along. It'll be a footnote or at best a paragraph when people discuss the original, is my guess.
Also, related to the discussion regarding choice of opening weekend I'm really wondering if either A) people are trying new strategies that we just aren't catching onto or B) people are about to lose their jobs. It began with Bolt and Twilight opening on the same cannibalizing weekend and continues now with The Day the Earth Stood Still opening this weekend. I'm surprised it didn't open on one of the more traditional weekends for this type of movie. (We'll forgive the people who opened Transporter 3 so close to Quantum of Solace given that Transporter was such a god awful waste of time. It had to open when it did so it could go off to die.) I really wonder if people are trying new strategies...