Weekend Wrap-Up

Soft Openers Slow Box Office Roll

By John Hamann

February 19, 2012

We cannot wait for Gibbs from NCIS to interrogate him.

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It is not surprising that studio behind The Vow is Screen Gems, who has literally made something out of nothing. Screen Gems is no stranger to pulling rabbits out of its hat following its reinvention in 1999. This is the studio behind films like You Got Served, which was made for $8 million in 2004 and went on to earn $50 million worldwide, or the Underworld franchise, which has its fourth film in the series out now and is approaching a half-billion in total sales, against a combined production budget of about $180 million. Then there is the Screen Gems' horror series, which includes The Exorcism of Emily Rose, an $18 million production, that earned $75 million domestically and $144 million worldwide; Boogeyman, made for $20 million and grossing $67 million worldwide; When A Stranger Calls, made for $15 million and earning almost $50 million domestically; and Quarantine, made for $12 million and earning $41 million worldwide, just to name a few.

More recently, the studio has jumped off the horror bandwagon, and has been making more down to earth films like Easy A with Emma Stone. That one cost $8 million to make, and took in $58.4 million domestically. They also had Dear John, an admittedly not very good movie that cost $25 million and earned $80 million at the domestic box office. Unfortunately, it was Dear John that likely angled Screen Gems toward making another not very good romantic drama in The Vow, which cost the studio $30 million, and is a lock to earn more than $100 million. Screen Gems is not the go to studio for your Oscar fave, but they do seem to make movies the masses are drawn to. The Vow is the most recent example, as it has a 10-day total of $85.5 million.


Finally in third we get to our openers. Nic Cage is back in Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance, the sequel to the really bad – no, painfully bad – Ghost Rider, which earned $240 million worldwide back in 2007. That Ghost Rider, which came in on the heels of the insipid Wicker Man, opened to a ridiculous $45.4 million over the same weekend in 2007. This Ghost Rider proves that people do learn. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opened to only $22 million from 3,174 venues. It had a venue average of $6,931. The filmmaking failed to improve with this outing of Ghost Rider, as this one sits at 17% fresh at RottenTomatoes with only 11 critics out of 63 liking it. Of the 11 that liked it, most referred to it is a guilty pleasure, or a "good" bad movie, much like Battlefield Earth.

Is Nic Cage insane? Does he need money this badly? Of the 15 movies he has made since 2006 when World Trade Center and The Ant Bully were well received, only two – Kick-Ass and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, have received a fresh rating. Despite that, a few have made decent money – National Treasure: Book of Secrets earned more than $200 million domestically, and Ghost Rider and G-Force earned more than $100 million (he needs more hamster roles). However, his string of recent roles have been neither profitable nor good. Season of the Witch made only $25 million at the domestic box office, Drive Angry less than $11 million. The Sorcerer's Apprentice – a Disney film – earned only $63 million against a $150 million budget.

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