Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
August 18, 2015
Kim Hollis: Straight Outta Compton continued Universal's amazing year as it earned $60.2 million during its opening weekend. How did they pull off such a fantastic result?
Jason Barney: I didn’t see this coming and I don’t think the box office world really did either. To put this in perspective, depending on the final numbers, Straight Outta Compton will be in the range of the top 10 openers for the year. That is very impressive. It has put itself in the range of Mission: Impossible, SpongeBob, and Ant-Man, all recognizable and probably very profitable ventures. Here we are in late August with most of the year in the rearview mirror, and it opened well over 90% of the films released this year. That is saying something.
Another aspect of this which is surprising is the profitability numbers. Holy Cow. Universal brought this to market for less than $30 million. The marketing costs for something like this are anyone’s guess, but even if they were on the high end, Universal will be making real money by the time BOP readers get this information. There have been a couple of other films to achieve this so early this year, but it is rare. From this point on, everything is gravy. This success will fund future projects pretty quickly.
I hope the folks at Universal are being well compensated. Or demand raises. A lot of people are making noise about this year’s numbers, and they should. Any group that brings money makers like Jurassic World, Furious 7, Minions, Pitch Perfect 2, and Fifty Shades of Grey to market in the SAME YEAR has earned a Hollywood Star or something. And those are just the big name successes. Trainwreck, The Boy Next Door, Unfriended, hell, even Ted 2 will probably earn them a little coin. Perhaps they should write a “how to” book about money making in the film industry.
Edwin Davies: I thought that Straight Outta Compton would be a hit, but an opening of $40 million would have been the upper range of my expectations. This is a truly spectacular result for everyone involved.
As to why it happened, I think there are a lot of factors working in the film's favor. Firstly, N.W.A. is an iconic group whose appeal spans multiple generations, thanks to their considerable influence over hip-hop and the continued relevance of Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. That was reflected in the makeup of the audience, which included plenty of people over 25. The story also struck a nerve with modern audiences in light of the ongoing news stories surrounding instances of police brutality, so it didn't feel like merely a legacy film, but something vital.
The lead up to the release was also expertly handled. Not only were the trailers great and brimming with energy, but you also had a new Dr. Dre album to coincide with the release - his first in 16 years - which made the film feel like even more of an event, and the film's marketing team struck gold with the Straight Outta meme, which reinforced the fact that the film was coming out in a fun way that dominated social media for days. It's hard to say if that meme made more people go and see the film, but the way in which it took off indicates the level of excitement that already existed.
Finally, the film turned out to be really good, with great reviews and word-of-mouth. The film could have been a one-day wonder if it had turned out to be bad, but its quality made more people seek it out, and could make it an enduring presence in the weeks ahead.