Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

May 14, 2013

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Kim Hollis: The Great Gatsby became the latest hit for Leonardo DiCaprio and arguably the first hit in auteur Baz Luhrmann's career as it earned $50.1 million over the weekend. What are your thoughts on this performance?

Jay Barney: This is a huge opening weekend for The Great Gatsby, pretty much blowing away everyone’s expectations. The tracking estimates were varied, with most predicting an opening around $30 million. A few sources had it pegged a bit higher, but this opening is just fantastic. To put it in context, with Iron Man’s very big second weekend, Gatsby just achieved the third largest opening of 2013. Even if the reviews are mixed, this DiCaprio offering has achieved what The Big Wedding failed at just two weeks ago. Much of the success has to do with the trailer, I believe, which did a sufficient job of selling the glamour, sparkle, and lifestyle of the 1920s. Putting this in between Iron Man 3 and Star Trek was a bold move, but any nervousness experienced by Warner Bros was eliminated on Thursday and Friday. Coming within striking distance of Iron Man the first night of release is a major accomplishment.

Where it goes from here will be interesting, but business is going to be strong for at least the next two weekends. Star Trek will knock both Iron Man and Gatsby down a peg, but this opening weekend will create significant buzz. People will be curious, and there are plenty of folks who don’t need to see two hours of explosions, violence, aliens, or comic book characters. As the calendar ticks away, Gatsby will do significant business running up to Memorial Day weekend.

This is also another feather in the cap of DiCaprio, whose career has really gone much further beyond his early days. Questionable reviews of the film won’t matter, as it is the artsy, energetic, and romantic counter programming that will work like a charm. Beyond Titanic, the guy has an incredibly impressive resume of success. There are a few misses, like J. Edgar, but there are far more successes for him. Gatsby will be another positive on his list.


Brett Ballard-Beach: It is one of the top five biggest non-#1 openings of all time. And only one-third of the gross was from 3D, meaning attendance was even larger than what one might suspect. The Saturday drop-off was slight and the Sunday performance was buoyed by its becoming a de facto Mother's Day viewing option. As noted elsewhere, Luhrmann finally has what can be deemed a smash (on the domestic front, where he has never had one) and Warner Bros can be commended for a marketing effort par excellence, and like the vastly similar GIJOE: Retaliation, they were rewarded for a delayed release.

Matthew Huntley: When I first heard Warner Bros was delaying Gatsby's release from Christmas 2012 to May 2013, I figured it was a mistake (and probably had something to do with the quality of the picture) since this movie doesn't exactly scream "summer blockbuster," but I stand corrected. From here on out, I'm sure the big studios will now be more conscientious about opening female-targeted movies during the second weekend of May, not only to coincide with Mother's Day, but to also let the behemoth, male-targeted summer opener (in this year's case, Iron Man 3) die down a bit.

As far as its $50 million+ weekend, I think we can all agree the holiday, the popular cast and the glitzy/glamorous trailer all played a role, and not necessarily the source material or the quality of the film. With the latter in mind, I don't think Gatsby will show good legs and will likely end up in the $120-$130 million range from North America, which will be enough to cover its budget, but it probably earn a lot more from international territories, which will then eat into its P&A costs. In my opinion, Warner Bros. took a gamble with this one and they got lucky, but nevertheless, it's arguably a hit.

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