Monday Morning Quarterback

By BOP Staff

October 15, 2013

Someone just told him about the ending of Old Yeller.

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Kim Hollis: The Tom Hanks film Captain Phillips opened to $25.7 million this weekend. What do you think of this result?

Matthew Huntley: You know, 10 or 15 years ago, like most box-office websites are pointing out, a $26 million opening for a Tom Hanks starrer would have been viewed as a disappointment, but in 2013, it's seen as a "comeback" of sorts. Just because Hanks hasn't been as strong over the past five years as he was in the late '90s/early 2000s, should we really lower our standards and consider $26 million a good opening for him? On one level, I still see it as disappointment, not only because of Hanks' popularity and continued power to sell tickets, but also because of the revered director, major studio backing and reliable subject matter. Still, on another level, namely in the wake of the behemoth that is Gravity, which is competing for the same audience and clearly winning, Captain Phillips' performance is arguably a solid one, and given that its budget is more or less half of Gravity's, and relatively modest for an action thriller, it should be in the black by the time its run is over. Whether it will show the same legs as Argo, to which it's being overly compared, remains to be seen, but I think it will stick around theaters at least through Thanksgiving, although the competition for adults is getting fierce.


Edwin Davies: I think this a solid result for an awards contender based on a real life event, but perhaps, as Matthew pointed out, a slight disappointment for an awards contender based on a real life event starring Tom Hanks. Then again, the fairly intense story and subject matter are probably a little bit limiting as far as reaching a big audience goes (and puts it very much in the same category as Zero Dark Thirty or Paul Greengrass' early film, United 93), and Captain Phillips strikes me as the sort of film that will open well but benefit from strong word-of-mouth. This might be especially true if Gravity and Captain Phillips share an audience, which seems possible to me considering they are both aimed at adults, and would suggest that people will check it out over the coming weeks after prioritizing the film that is currently the much bigger deal. A finish around or higher than $100 million might be a stretch, but the film will more than recoup its budget within the next week and will probably do very good business overseas. All in all, this is a win for Hanks, but also for Greengrass, whose last film was the incredibly costly failure Green Zone. Shifting to a more modest budget and delivering more visceral thrills seems like a smart move for him.

Felix Quinonez: I think this is a great opening. As it's been already noted, Tom Hanks isn't the draw he once was and I don't think that Paul Greengrass has ever been a box office draw by himself. But I don't think this movie ever really needed to have a huge opening to succeed. With its great reviews, it's already been labeled an Oscar contender so I think it just needed to have a decent opening, similar to Argo, to keep its momentum going. It not only achieved the desired opening but actually over performed. I think this will assure that it isn't forgotten in the Oscar race. I also think that - even though it's overshadowed by Gravity - Captain Phillips will produce some of its own positive headlines which should keep people talking about its movie. And the strong "A" Cinemascore suggests it will have great word-of-mouth which should lead to strong box office legs.

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