Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

July 26, 2010

Why yes, those are daggers Jeff Fisher is shooting with his eyes.

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Needs more Pepa

Kim Hollis: Salt, the spy film starring Angelina Jolie, opened to $36 million. How should Sony feel about this result?

Matthew Huntley: Considering Salt's figures were (more or less) exactly in line with tracking expectations, I'd say Sony should be very pleased with this result. It's what they were banking on and it's what they got, so why complain? Some other things to note are this is a late summer entry (even though the third week of July is only considered late summer by movie industry standards); the film's star (Angelina Jolie) is its primary selling point; and compared to other summer fare, its marketing campaign was relatively low-key. All these factors make the $36 million opening a bit more impressive. I saw the movie and must say I was surprised by how un-black and white its plot ended up being, so I think word-of-mouth should be decent enough to propel this one past the $100 million mark.

Brett Beach: I think Sony should feel particularly pleased that in a time when an A-list star's name no longer guarantees a spectacular opening, even for an action film, Salt did as well as it did. This figure falls in almost halfway between the opening weekends of the first two Bourne films, a series that Salt was clearly hoping to emulate in its subject matter/box office results. Without being based on existing material, and with a horrendously bland/ridiculous title, this is a solid opening. The caveat is that the budget ($110 million) appears to be equal to the cost of the third Bourne which was the most expensive by far. I don't think this will suffer from any sort of front-loaded rush and as adult moviegoers move on from Inception (for the first, second, or third time), it should hold up for three-four weeks with 40-45% drops and make its way to $125 million. If it can make back its budget here, particularly considering what we have seen this summer, it should be called a win.


Josh Spiegel: Agreed, this is a solid result. Jolie lives in the rarefied air of the movie star who's famous, but not for her movies. Frankly, though I know she's in movies, she's more recognizable to me (and, I'd wager, most people) as a tabloid fixture. It's smart to capitalize on her playing a female Bourne, or something like a grown-up Lara Croft. Moreover, with Inception tearing it up at multiplexes everywhere, for Salt to do this well is great news for Sony.

Tom Houseman: Salt is one of only a handful of films that was banking almost entirely on star drawing power, and Grown Ups is the only one that found more success (Killers, Knight and Day, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and to a lesser extent Robin Hood are the others). Clearly, Angelina Jolie is one of the only non-comedian actors who can open a movie just with her name. Sony would have been happier had they been on the other side of $40 million, but they can't really complain about this number.

Some people might point to Mr. & Mrs. Smith as another original property Jolie starred in that opened much bigger ($50 million), but Salt never had a chance. Mr. & Mrs. Smith had a much clearer concept, another big star on the marquee, and a fantastic promotional campaign. It also had the free publicity of being "the movie that broke up Brad and Jen." Word-of-mouth will pave the way for where Salt goes from here, but this is a solid opening.

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