Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
February 3, 2015
Kim Hollis: Project Almanac, a found-footage film from Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes and Paramount, earned just $8.3 million. What do you think about this result?
Jason Barney: I actually find the numbers this weekend fairly interesting, if only to analyze how the box office performs when expectations are really low. Obviously Sunday night’s game is going to cut into the numbers for the weekend, but even though it may be a dumping ground of sorts, three new releases do give us something to talk about.
Project Almanac is the type of film I might consider viewing, as I don’t mind spending money on a well put together science fiction flick. However, the film appears to be for teen audiences and the Rotten Tomatoes rating is definitely something that will keep me away. Despite my negative reaction, and the reactions of a lot of other people, Paramount will probably make money when all is said and done. The point is that its budget is only $12 million and the marketing costs are not going to be huge. Even if the opening is abysmal, Project Almanac only has to do a small amount of work in the coming days to earn a profit. I’m going to give Paramount credit for having enough faith to put this one out there and letting the chips fall where they may. I don’t expect Project Almanac II, though.
Bruce Hall: I keep seeing word that Project Almanac "flopped" - but that's true only if you're judging it dollar for dollar against American Sniper, which a lot of people seem to insist on doing.
I see a low budget drama about time traveling teenagers that made nearly 70 percent of its production budget back opening weekend. Not only is the marketing expense on this movie likely to be minimal, but as far as I knew, the "found footage" craze was already over.
Before the books are closed on Project Almanac, it almost can't not make money. And that's really all a movie like this needs to do to be a success.
Edwin Davies: Bruce is right that the film didn't flop in relation to its budget, and the comparison to American Sniper is ridiculous because we're talking about two films that occupy entirely different ends of the spectrum as far as the cultural conversation is concerned.
A more apt comparison might be to Chronicle, which opened on Super Bowl weekend a few years ago and earned more than $20 million, but even then it's a little unfair because Chronicle was better marketed, had a stronger hook, and came at a point when people were beginning to tire of found footage but were enticed by someone taking the form and applying it to a genre other than horror (see also: Project X, which came out a month after Chronicle and did the same thing to similar business). Project Almanac is coming at a time when even stalwarts like the Paranormal Activity series are faltering, so it's unsurprising that fewer people are willing to take a chance on a found footage film.
What we have here is a film that was delayed and renamed multiple times, that seems to contain a lot of warmed over ideas which are presented using an increasingly unpopular format, that was released on a weekend which is historically unkind to new releases, but which cost relatively little to make. In that context, I think this is a win for very modest ambitions, even if it's a disappointment relative to other efforts from Platinum Dunes.