Monday Morning Quarterback
By BOP Staff
March 10, 2015
Kim Hollis: Chappie, Neill Blomkamp's latest science fiction flick, earned just $13.3 million this weekend. What went wrong here?
Jason Barney: This is an unfortunate opening for Chappie, as I thought the trailer had nice appeal. It seems like quieter science fiction films are becoming more rare, and the content was thought provoking. However, I appear to be in the minority, as things did not go well at all for Chappie this weekend on a number of fronts. None of these things indicate Chappie will achieve the type of success needed for Neill Blomkamp's resume to garner serious attention.
First, the early reactions appear to be in the “blah” range to outright disliking it, which does not bode well for the film’s prospects in the coming weeks. The Rotten Tomatoes score is really concerning at only 30% Fresh. This sort of reaction prevented any sort of buzz, and I would expect the drops to be pretty significant from here on out.
Also, with a budget in the $49 million range, an opening below $15 million just hurts the project’s chances of making any money in the long term. It will lose 50% or more of its audience next weekend, and with five wide releases in the next two weeks, it is going to get lost in the shuffle pretty quickly. Competing with Kingsman: Secret Service, Fifty Shades of Gray, and American Sniper for ninth or 10th on the top ten list two weekends after opening is the likely result here. Chappie is going to be gone pretty quickly.
Reagen Sulewski: I made the comparison to both the Wachowskis and M. Night Shyamalan in my forecast, in that it's very easy for a genre director to fall out of favor if they happen to catch the zeitgeist with their first (major) film. With no track record to fall back on, it's very easy for audiences to dismiss you as a fluke and turn their back on you. You can see it happening in the revisionist take on District 9, as if it didn't have some of the more exciting action sequences in some time. Now, I personally happened to like Elysium, but I can recognize its flaws. Chappie, on the other hand, seemed like a big mistake from the get-go. You hope that it boils down to him being from South Africa and not realizing what a cultural joke Short Circuit has become - because if he knew that and made the decision to make this film with that knowledge beforehand... oh boy.
Michael Lynderey: Blomkamp's films have always arrived with a certain aura of mystery, which was perhaps their appeal, initially. They live or die based on what's inside the package. District 9 got fantastic reviews and great buzz, and Elysium had a big movie star and at least pretty good critical notices. Chappie is a mystery package without any critical support or a well-known leading man, so the numbers shouldn't be that surprising (especially since Elysium wasn't particularly well received by fans). I suspect if the reviews had come in at 75% Fresh rather than the current 29% Rotten, Chappie would have opened north of $25 million. As such, it's going to be a blimp on this season's radar, like a lot of other failed genre films we've seen (pretty much all of which were also not very well reviewed). By the way, I can't help but notice how the season's calendar has shifted: the first weekend of March used to be a sort of mini-first weekend of November, and we would have a big comedy, action film, or something CGI (the 300 sequel, The Lorax, Rango, Alice in Wonderland, Watchmen, and I go back to the wonder days of Bringing Down the House and The Pacifier). Now, as other spots on the calendar get attention, the March opening seems to have been deflated in terms of importance. The first weekend of April (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Fast 7) looks bigger these days.