Shop Talk: The Big Wedding

Here and Gone

By Jason Barney

May 1, 2013

My agent told me this would be the movie that made me famous.

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The point of studios releasing different pictures at different times of the year is that they have a chance to capitalize on the seasonal and emotional aspects of life. Big budget action movies tend to be released during the summer when people can get outside, there is plenty of energy in the air, and families are together. The holiday season tends to bring us family-friendly films. There are usually a number of horror flicks in the lead up to Halloween, when the leaves are falling off the trees.

The late April and May period of the calendar involves proms and weddings. In recent years, studios have made sure to release romantic comedies with the blooming of the flowers. While not the bread and butter of the pre summer box office, execs will roll the dice and put a good date movie on the schedule. It is called counter-programming. People are interested in going to the movies after being pent up in their apartments and homes all winter, and those not wanting a smash em’ up, explosion-filled experience want something different.

Last year there were two films that defined this effort, What to Expect When You’re Expecting and The Five-Year Engagement. In 2011, it was the very well received Bridesmaids. In 2010, Letters to Juliet and Date Night were the options.

You get the idea. This year was no different, with one film slotted in as counter-programming to films like Oblivion, Pain & Gain, and Iron Man 3.

This movie is The Big Wedding.

The stars had aligned for this to be the only nationwide release that could serve as a good alternative to the other films on the schedule. The Great Gatsby is still two weeks away, and Silver Linings Playbook is nearly out on DVD.

The Big Wedding not only had no competition for its core audience, it also had a family album’s worth of big name stars, including Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams, Diane Keaton, and Amanda Seyfried. It should have had substantial interest and ought to have been a near lock to at least make its budget back.


Even industry tracking, which follows the interest and potential ticket sales for movies, had The Big Wedding enjoying an opening over $10 million, maybe as high as the low teens. That would easily put it on the path of reclaiming its $35 million dollar budget.

It opened to a dismal $7.6 million dollars.

The level of failure of this film cannot be overstated. If over half of American families go through divorces, this is one of those that started to fail after the vows were complete. There won’t even be time for the groom to carry the bride into the new home. The Big Wedding is going to start exiting theaters THIS WEEK.

A more detailed look at the numbers shows just how bad a showing it had in the first three days. First, it was a nationwide release and it earned only one-third of the other new release, Pain & Gain, which took in $20 million. The Big Wedding wasn’t able to beat Oblivion, last week’s number one film, which didn’t have a very good hold. In fact, this opening was so weak, it was not able to beat out the baseball film, 42. While 42 has been earning respectable reviews and garnering solid holds, the last weekend of April was its third weekend of release. The numbers between 42 and the Big Wedding are certainly telling. The Big Wedding took in only 70% of 42’s gross this weekend. 42 has been out for over 21 days now.

The Big Wedding opened in fourth place.

But that is not all. Before the first weekend had played out, the disaster was even worse for the folks at Lionsgate. The Big Wedding managed to lose significant business against its competition, not just from the alternatives above it.

The Croods, which was released all the way back on March 22nd, six weeks ago, managed to overtake The Big Wedding on Saturday and Sunday. The difference between these two films was at least measurable on Friday night, about $1 million - the only day The Big Wedding was actually in fourth place. By Saturday, disgruntled audiences were avoiding the chick flick. Both films earned about $3 million, but the Croods had pulled ahead. By Sunday, it wasn’t even close. The kids film, which had been out for well over 30 days, was ahead for the second day in a row.

What does this mean for the new release?

It means its time in theaters is going to be extremely limited. It could not hold up to the competition during its opening weekend. Even though it was meant to be counterprogramming, Iron Man 3 is going to start pulling screens from this disaster. Oblivion and 42 will hold on to a larger percentage of their screens than the Big Wedding, and the Croods may end up being the counter-programming for a totally different target audience.

With a Rotten Tomatoes Rating of only 7%, The Big Wedding will be totally forgotten by the time The Great Gatsby arrives on Friday, May 10th.



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