Elysium Number One but Millers True Winner
By John Hamann
August 11, 2013
For Matt Damon, this is not a good result. The A-lister has had only one film gross more than $100 million at the domestic box office (True Grit, which was more of a supporting role) since the last Bourne and Ocean’s films came out in the summer of 2007. Since then, there have been some good films for Damon (The Adjustment Bureau, Invictus), but no real breakout successes. I find it interesting that while Ben Affleck was going through his career pain, Matt Damon was on top of the world with two highly successful franchises. Now that Affleck has transformed into a mega star-slash-director, Damon’s fortunes have waned.
Worldwide rights to Elysium were sold to Sony by Media Rights Capital for $115 million, and the true budget is not known. That pick-up cost for Sony would not include prints and advertising, so we likely need to add at least another $100 million in worldwide marketing costs to see the true expense for the studio. Given the opening weekend, Elysium is going to need to find some success overseas if Sony is going to come out ahead. An issue that the studio must be worried about is the fact that District 9 earned $20 million LESS overseas than it did at the domestic box office. If that trend holds, Sony will lose a bundle on Elysium.
The entertainment press (yes, I’m looking at you, Hollywood Reporter) has had some fun this summer bashing Sony over After Earth, the Will Smith release that earned only $60 million domestically against a $130 million budget. What you may not know is that After Earth took in $184 million overseas, leading to a worldwide gross of $244 million. Yes, Sony will lose money on After Earth, and a lot of money on the $150 million White House Down, but the sky is not falling. Smurfs 2 was soft domestically but will make it up overseas; Grown Ups 2 and This Is the End were comedy hits; and they still have Mortal Instruments coming in late August. Elysium is a disappointment, but don’t believe people that will call it a flop.
Finishing second is We’re the Millers, the comedy that dominated Wednesday and Thursday, and then grossed even more on Friday when the big competition was supposed to be showing up. The Millers earned $6.8 and $4.7 million over Wednesday and Thursday respectively, impressive numbers for an original comedy opening mid-week. The Friday number grew to $8.5 million, which meant word-of-mouth was good, and Elysium caused no problems. Over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend, the Jennifer Aniston comedy earned an impressive $26.5 million, and the film had a five-day gross of $38 million. What would you rather hold in your portfolio, a $115 million sci-fi epic that opened at number one with $30.5 million or an R-rated comedy that cost only $37 million to make and took in more over five days?
Jennifer Aniston continues to make great choices for movie roles. While Wanderlust, last year’s miss with Paul Rudd, didn’t do very well, it’s more of an exception than a rule. Prior to last year, Aniston had two consecutive $100 million plus movies with Horrible Bosses and Just Go With It. Prior to that, she had $100 million wins with The Break-Up, Marley and Me, and Bruce Almighty. Next up for Aniston is Life of Crime, and comedy caper flick from Elmore Leonard, due out in September.