Daily Box Office Analysis

By David Mumpower

July 31, 2012

Mob warfare has really changed.

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Theoretically, we should be spending this week discussing last weekend’s new openers. The problem is that the most recent entrants into the marketplace were so ineffectual that they were effectively sacrificed to the box office deities on behalf of Batman. If The Dark Knight Rises is the superstar quarterback earning $20 million a year plus endorsements, The Watch and Step Up Revolution are not even the backup QBs holding the clipboards. They’re the practice squad players who only play if somebody good gets hurt.

The Watch is the most doomed project since Big Trouble. The Tim Allen comedy you probably do not know was a 2002 release, at least technically. The Barry Sonnenfeld production features a deep cast of talented actors including several performers who would later become integral players on popular television series. Omar Epps of House, Jason Lee of My Name Is Earl and Sofia Vergara of Modern Family were joined together in a very funny film.

There was just one problem. Dave Barry, the world’s reigning champion of gentle humor, chose to include an unfortunate subplot in the climax of Big Trouble, which was faithfully adapted in the movie. All of the primary characters wound up on a plane, partially aware of the fact that there was a bomb onboard. Yes, Big Trouble was a movie about a bomb on a plane. Its original release date was September 21, 2001, 9/21/11. For obvious reasons, the movie was delayed several months prior to release and there was virtually no marketing push when it was about to debut. Big Trouble never had a chance.


I mention all of this in combination with The Watch, because you may not be aware that the original title for this Vince Vaughn/Ben Stiller comedy was The Neighborhood Watch. Fox originally advertised the movie as such in February. Soon afterward, a young Floridian named Trayvon Martin became a national headline for all the wrong reasons when he was shot by George Zimmerman, a (psychotic) member of the local – you guessed it – neighborhood watch. Worst of all, the initial trailer for the movie featured the film’s third major star, Jonah Hill, pretending to shoot teenagers.

Fox chose to change the title to The Watch while keeping the release date of the last weekend of July. The stated directive was to switch the focus of the marketing campaign to the science-fiction nature of the premise. The plot is basically District 9 as a comedy with Stiller, Vaughn and Hill portraying the incompetent cops.

Seven days prior to the release of The Watch, a psycho whose name we at BOP are choosing never to mention by name killed a lot of innocent people in Aurora, Colorado. The primary commercials for The Watch feature Stiller and Vaughn repeatedly shooting a (presumably) dead body. Fox correctly gave up at this point. The Watch never had a chance. There are some movies that fate seems to hate.

After debuting to $12,750,297, the $68 million production of The Watch is clearly a loser. Its abysmal reception (currently 15% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes) reflects the thought process that this movie didn’t deserve to be a hit anyway. Its Monday revenue of $1,588,869 is indicative of the fact that consumers have reached a silent consensus to stay far, far away. After four days in theaters, The Watch has domestic receipts of only $14,339,166. There is no good news here. Like the earlier 2012 comedy Wanderlust, The Watch will be quickly forgotten and available on home video much sooner than anticipated.

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