Openers Fail, Flop and Fizzle as Gravity Soars
By John Hamann
October 20, 2013
Financially, Captain Phillips is going to work for Sony, as this one cost $55 million to make, and has $52.7 million at the domestic box office after only two weekends. Going back to the Flight example, that one opened slightly lower, had a bigger second weekend drop, and still managed $93 million at the domestic box office, along with $68 million overseas. Captain Phillips should perform similarly, but I expect it to earn more overseas, as the story is more international than Flight.
There was a lot of talk this week about Carrie opening to $30 million, a number I thought (knew) would be impossible for it to reach. I remember back to 1999 (yes, I’m old) when MGM tried The Rage: Carrie 2. No one showed up for that one, as it opened in second with $7 million way back when, despite a strong marketing campaign. While not quite as bad, the remake of Carrie showed up at theaters this weekend with the same bombardment marketing efforts used to no avail. This version, which at least had some star power with Chloe Grace Moritz and Julianne Moore, opened with force at 3,167 venues, but was only able to score $16.3 million over the weekend following a Friday take of $6.6 million. Tracking was looking for $30 million, but MGM was tempering that with an $18-20 million estimate. Missing both estimates shows that audiences simply weren’t interested in what they were selling. The Carrie brand simply doesn’t support more films than the first, iconic one.
Legs are likely not an option here, as Carrie is a horror film and the reviews were so so at best. Rotten Tomatoes has critics split down the middle, with 46 to the good and 46 to the bad. The good news for MGM and Screen Gems is that this mistake won’t cost them too much. Carrie cost the studios only $30 million to make, so if it makes two and a half times the opening weekend, it will pull in $40 million plus. Add another $20 million from overseas markets and the studios should see some profit, based on the cost of producing the film. The problem is in the marketing costs, as advertising for Carrie was heavy leading up to release.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 drops one spot to fourth this weekend, as it continues to enjoy being the only kid-friendly title in the top ten. Cloudy 2 earned another $10 million this weekend, declining an excellent 27%, considering it’s in its fourth frame. The Sony release still has another weekend on its own before Frozen Birds opens on November 1st, but for me the jury is still out on whether a Thanksgiving movie can work. The original Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs earned $11.5 million weekend four and had a running total of $95.8 million, on its way to an eventual $124.9 million. This one will likely come up a little short in comparison, but cost about $25 million less than the original.
Escape Plan, the $70 million throwback to '80s action movies is fifth this weekend, and its failure should be a surprise to no one. The Stallone and Schwarzenegger team-up failed to draw audiences this weekend, and the Lionsgate release could only find $9.7 million over opening weekend. This is at least better than Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand ($6.3 million opening) and Stallone’s Bullet to the Head ($4.5 million opening), but the budget for Escape Plan is unexplainable at $70 million. Did someone really think this would earn $200 million plus worldwide? I could see putting both of them in the jungle with Predator, or Rambo vs Commando, but not this. The story (a jail break) didn’t have an impact on audiences, and off it goes into the 99 cent bin at Target.