Monday Morning Quarterback Part III

By BOP Staff

November 12, 2015

Don't talk to him anymore about Burnt. Or Aloha.

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Kim Hollis: Last weekend's opener Burnt, featuring Bradley Cooper, has earned just $10.2 million in 10 days. What went wrong here?

Edwin Davies: The ads weren't particularly interesting, which didn't help, but the idea of a perfectionist chef ON THE EDGE is not all that enticing a premise for audiences. It's pretty low stakes stuff, and you would need terrific reviews to get people out to see it (see: Chef, last year's perfectionist chef ON THE EDGE movie). The reviews were not there in this instance, and at a time when adult audiences are spoiled for choice, a star vehicle that doesn't measure up can easily get lost in the shuffle.

Felix Quinonez: I thought it looked terrible. And although Bradley Cooper has had a lot of hits lately, I don't think he's enough of a box office draw to get people in theater seats just to see him. And also, there are a lot of other options for adult audiences.

Kim Hollis: The Sandra Bullock film Our Brand Is Crisis has earned just $5.9 million since debuting over Halloween weekend. Why didn't more people go out to see this one?

Ben Gruchow: I'd argue that this was never going to be that big, based on the subject matter; the highest-grossing film centered around a political campaign is, well, The Campaign, and that was a pure comedy with Will Ferrell and an $86 million total. You have to more or less step down to Wag the Dog in 1997 to find a film that mixed politics with comedy, and that was $45 million, with good reviews. I was mildly interested in this one, because I'm almost always in favor of stories about media, messaging, and the effect that has on judgment and rationality. Then the reviews started coming out, and they weren't even really close to mixed. I sort of lost interest from there. I evidently wasn't the only one.

Edwin Davies: Similar to Burnt, this was a film that desperately needed critical support to stand out and it just was not there. Even with great reviews, it still falls into a commercially unfashionable genre and tells a story that is hard to sell in trailers, but if it had been good, it could have at least eked out a respectable run in limited release like some of David Gordon Green's other recent films. Instead, it flamed out in wide release because hardly anyone wanted to see this story being told, and even those that might have been interested were put off by the reviews.


Felix Quinonez: This just didn't have the critical support it needed. Also I think the studio kind of felt that they had a dud on their hands and didn't put too much effort into marketing it.

Michael Lynderey: It would appear that Bolivian politics interest audiences even less than American politics do. The timing wasn't really right (October 30th is always an odd date to open any film on) and the reviews were't particularly there, although Sandra Bullock's performance has certainly been praised. I think the film would've done better opening on just about any November weekend.

Kim Hollis: Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse was never much of a box office factor despite a wide release. It has earned $3.1 million since debuting last weekend. Say something funny about Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.

Edwin Davies: Since nobody saw it, I guess it earned its Camouflage Merit Badge.

Michael Lynderey: I saw it, Edwin.

What's interesting is that there were really 'four' movies going into wide release last weekend. Not content with just three big underperformers on the 30th, Sony Classics chose to expand the Cate Blanchett/Robert Redford drama Truth out to 1,000 theaters, where it remarkably managed to have an even lower per-screen average than the other three wide releases ($781 to Scouts' $1,220). Sony had another movie out, a horror comedy called Freaks of Nature, which was once set to be a wide release under the name The Kitchen Sink; even at 107 theaters, Freaks of Nature shot under the four wide releases with a $399 per-screen average.

So it wasn't a good week to release movies.

Still, while October 23rd - 30th (and August 21st - September 4th) may have been really bad by modern standards, they felt like a chance for me to live through a typical 1980s box office weekend, the kind I'd only read about. In an age where Chris Pratt is running rampant and $200 million openings are becoming mainstream, there's something quaintly enjoyable and peacefully serene about weekends like this.



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