Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

February 24, 2015

Where is my milk?

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Kim Hollis: McFarland, USA earned $11 million this weekend. What do you think of this result?

Jay Barney: The numbers for McFarland, USA are right about what I would expect, and probably a hair below what the studio wanted, but the people at Disney have to be satisfied. The money locked into this was fairly cheap; it was made for about $17 million. So expectations were not super high. This week’s number eats into much of that expense. It’ll match its budget during its second weekend of release, and the rest of its run will swallow up much of the marketing costs.

I know we have discussed Costner a bit in recent weeks, but this is another example of his making pretty good career moves, albeit safe, and returning to a level of prominence at the box office. Since Man of Steel’s release in June of 2013, he has been one of the busier actors and done quite well. Jack Ryan, Shadow Recruit was the only true disappointment. His two other 2014 films were nothing special, but did okay at the box office. Three Days to Kill made a little money. Draft Day was a push. Black or White is at the end of its run, but quietly has made money. Now he is going to have another small success on his hands. My point is this, and all things are relative, but Costner is getting work and making studios small amounts of coin. Guys like Johnny Depp or Nicholas Cage can’t claim that at the moment.


Matthew Huntley: There will always be an audience, myself included, for inspirational sports films like McFarland, USA. They're safe, reliable, feel-good pictures, and while they all won't make as much money as, say, Remember the Titans, they'll probably continue to thrive enough to sustain the genre. This is something Disney excels in and I've got to say McFarland's numbers are actually higher than I would have expected seeing as it revolves around a cross country team and not football, baseball or basketball. If the movie follows the same trajectory as the last Disney film of this type, Million Dollar Arm, it will cap out at around $40-$45 million, which, as Jay suggested, will ensure profitability. And given that McFarland has better reviews, there's no reason to think it won't at least do this well. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm already happy for it in this regard. Maybe it's the whole feel-goody nature of it.

Michael Lynderey: It's a good number, and the film will be another minor notch in Costner's belt. But I'm just really confused why Disney didn't release McFarland USA on its original date of November 21, 2014? The movie is solid filmmaking, and has been reviewed as such. It would have opened to at least as much in November at it has now, but holiday legs could have gone so far as to even double the total amount it'll take in now. Yes, it would have opened against Hunger Games and a week before the Penguins of Madagascar, but this strategy has been pre-tested: The Blind Side, a similarly inspirational culture clash sports film, opened on the same weekend as Twilight 2, and cleaned up even in the first three days as counter-programming (and that was before its unprecedented 2009-style legs set in).

I'm not saying this film would have repeated Blind Side's performance (some key audience-pleasing elements are missing, though I think McFarland is the better film). But McFarland, USA grossing $100 million wouldn't have totally been out of the question, especially since the early December period in particular was bereft of any major releases. Instead, it's going to pull in relatively low-key numbers in a part of the release calendar almost invariably used as filler. I really don't understand this schedule change.

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