Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
August 26, 2014
Kim Hollis: All right. Let's address the enormous elephant in the living room. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, earned just $6.3 million this weekend. That's less than the original film earned on any of its first three days in theaters, and an absolutely awful result. What went wrong?
Brett Ballard-Beach: For a film to open nearly 80% lower than its original with nine years of ticket inflation and being in 3D is catastrophically embarrassing. I know everyone is rightfully addressing the fact that "it took almost 10 years to do a sequel" but as 300: Rise of an Empire showed earlier this year that years of distance won't kill a project. I have read some analysis that a sequel in 2006-2007 could have opened to nearly twice what Sin City did, but I think that is mistaken. I think Sin City was an (admittedly rare) example of a film that had novelty appeal the first time around, did well at the box office, and became a cult film in the interim, but neither the original audience nor those who discovered it from 2005 on were itching to see more of it. (The weekend audience, what there was of it, was comprised mostly of males under the age of 25, so those who caught it in the theater the first time around were definitely missing en masse.) Robert Rodriguez has not had a film crack $40 million domestic since Sin City. The only films in his arsenal he has not made/been involved with that have had sequels of some kind or another are: The Faculty, Sharkboy and LavaGirl, Planet Terror, and Shorts. I think he needs to recharge his creativity, or work with more collaborators.
Matthew Huntley: Brett touched on the lack of "novelty appeal" factor as it relates to Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and I think that essentially says it all, although who could have foreseen it would have had such a detrimental effect to its numbers. The 2005 film was obviously more about style than narrative, which is fine because its style was so original, but a sequel has to expand upon that and actually be about something and I think audiences saw this latest incarnation of Frank Miller's graphic novels wasn't about enough to justify a trip to the theater.
Don't get me wrong: I saw A Dame to Kill For this weekend and enjoyed it, but its stories simply weren't as involving as they should be. The movie is still great to look at and there's plenty of atmosphere to absorb, but if I wanted that kind of effect, I could simply re-watch the original. That seemed to be most peoples' feeling. Still, like most people in the country who follow Hollywood box-office data, I'm completely shocked by how much this movie was ignored. It kind of doesn't make sense, no matter how much we criticize it for it retreading the same material.
Reagen Sulewski: The more insane comparison to me is that this earned less during its opening weekend than The Spirit, that horrifically conceived comic strip adaptation that used the same tech and was laughed out of theaters. It's almost certainly going to earn less in final box office, which means less than $20 million, an inconceivably low number a week ago. We can talk about the lack of plot or the ratio of style to substance all we want (it was in fact, the best reviewed film of all the wide releases this weekend), but this is just a total failure to judge the audience.
I expect a lot of this is that comic movies have "grown up," so to speak, in the proceeding nine years since the first Sin City, and audiences no longer need a gimmick to be drawn into them. But really, I think Frank Miller is going to have a lot of trouble getting his phone calls returned for the next forever.