Weekend Wrap-Up

Movies Sacked (and Sucked) as Super Bowl Dominates Weekend

By John Hamann

February 7, 2016

Oh, it's Super Bowl weekend! Even I don't want to watch movies!

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New releases felt as genuine as Cam Newton this weekend, and we end up with our worst box office weekend in two months.

Yes, it is Super Bowl weekend, but that’s not why the box office blew chunks. Save for Ride Along 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3, new releases in January have provided 10 loser films and we get a couple more head-shakers this weekend. Star Wars and The Revenant have kept the box office pulse going through January but at some point, the lack of new quality films was going to catch up to us. The hammer falls as we have the worst frame since the one-two punch of Krampus and In the Heart of the Sea over the December 4th and 11th weekends. So, instead of blaming some random event, Hollywood needs to stand up and say this is on us, because this weekend's new releases are not cutting it. I have to hope that’s by design..

Openers include the Joel and Ethan Coen flick Hail, Caesar!, a movie that is more Intolerable Cruelty than No Country For Old Men. The Coen Brothers have never really torched the box office save for True Grit ($24.8 million opening), but that one had a prime December release date and a 96% fresh rating. Also up for release this weekend is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a mashup I had high hopes for, but that didn’t carry the sizzle or style needed to break through to the youth culture (also, PG-13 zombie films should be banned). Our final new release is high drama for some and comic relief for others, as another Nicolas Sparks film rolls off the assembly line. This lineup almost guaranteed a repeat victory for Kung Fu Panda 3, as holdovers rule again this weekend.


Our number one film is Kung Fu Panda 3, the Jack Black sequel that got started last weekend with $41.3 million. I expected Kung Fu Panda to hold this weekend – it’s a good movie and its only competition has already earned $900 million at the domestic box office. However, for some reason, it didn’t hold. In its second weekend, Kung Fu Panda 3 pulled in a decent but not at all spectacular $21 million as it falls 49%. Many will point to Kung Fu Panda 2’s 50% drop, but that one was coming off an opening on Memorial Day weekend, and I have stated repeatedly in this column over the last decade that openers on long weekends are destined to drop due to having two Saturdays over a longer frame.

Given the five-year break between the second and third Kung Fu Panda movies, audience apathy from too much of a good thing (yes, I’m looking at you Hunger Games) shouldn’t be there. I have to guess that this drop is indicating that these films have a specific audience – we are not seeing what we see from a Pixar film, where more than just kids are attending. The DreamWorks production also may not be breaking through to girls (as much as the marketing has tried), given the fighting nature of these films. Kung Fu Panda 3 was made for $145 million, and has a domestic gross to date of $69 million and a domestic finish likely around $120 million - $25 million less than its production budget.

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