Friday Box Office Analysis
By David Mumpower
September 8, 2012
If you are reading today’s column, you have an unhealthy obsession with box office. And this is ME saying this. I love box office so much that I founded a Web site about the topic over 11 years ago. Still, even I have a difficult time mustering any enthusiasm for yesterday’s box office. There will be no movies earning more than single digits this weekend, which is my way of saying, “Thank God football season has arrived.”
There were two new movies that opened yesterday. The more expensive of them cost $20 million to produce. Amazingly, The Cold Light of Day will fall far, far short of financial outlay as the Henry Cavill (aka Next Superman) movie earned roughly $637,000. I don’t know about you but I really miss summer box office.
With an expected $2 million take this weekend, the Summit Entertainment project demonstrates exactly why they had to sell the company to Lionsgate. Think of The Cold Light of Day as an SAT question. If you have $20 million to invest and your film earns less than $10 million during its domestic run, how fired are you? The correct answer is very.
The “better” performer of the two new releases is The Words, quite possibly the dullest title ever given to anything since 1980s alt rock band The The. The Words earned a comparatively massive $1.6 million yesterday and should wind up in the $5.2 million range for the weekend. The hallmark of CBS Films thus far is that their flicks are frugal investments. The Words fits under this umbrella as the movie cost a paltry $6 million to create with CBS Films paying $2 million for distribution rights. As shocking as the words (lower case, not upper case) may sound, The Words (upper case, not lower case) will prove to be a respectable investment for the upstart distributor.
Reviews indicate that an entire movie comprised of nothing but words on the screen would have been better as the film is only 17% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. And if those words were from 50 Shades of Grey, box office would have been a factor of 50 larger. Plus, your date would have wanted to have sex with you when you got home, maybe even before then. If, on the other hand, you took them to watch The Words, you should be getting the “It’s not you, it’s me” text any minute now. Spoiler: it is you. Your date is simply being polite.
Last week’s number one film, The Possession, becomes the least likely repeat weekend box office champion since a fellow September box office release from 2001, Hardball. The Keanu Reeves drama opened to $9.4 million then fell only 14% to $8.1 million; remarkably, both of these totals were good enough to win the box office during a particularly grim September for the movie industry.
The Possession earned roughly as much with last weekend's $17.7 million as Hardball did in its first two weekends so the comparison is a bit of a stretch. I could not help but think of it when I realized on Tuesday that The Possession was all but certain to win again this weekend. Sure enough, its $2.9 million is the envy of its peers…and this is sad. The Possession should garner about $8.7 million this weekend, thereby becoming one of the worst weekend box office winners in recent memory.
Lawless, the second best opener of last weekend in terms of box office, fell a respectable 36% from last Friday to $1.8 million yesterday. It has a running total of $19.3 million after 10 days. The news is less positive for the already legendary Oogieloves. After a disastrous opening weekend wherein the film broke the record for worst per-location average ever, exhibitors ran away screaming. After debuting in 2,160 venues last Friday, only 281 brave (and economically inept) vendors were willing to screen the movie this weekend. Oogiemania is already dead.
Perhaps the only decent movie in theaters yesterday was Raiders of the Lost Ark. The classic action flick that introduces the world to Indiana Jones received an IMAX re-release this weekend. In the process, the movie earned almost $500,000, thereby proving that Harrison Ford is still more popular after 30 years than Henry Cavill is today. This is *not* good news for the upcoming Superman movie. Okay, the failure of The Cold Light of Day has no bearing on Superman but it's still pretty funny that a 1981 release shown in only 267 locations earned almost as much as a new movie exhibited in 1,511 venues.
Now let us all go back to watching football.