Weekend Wrap-Up

Jack Reacher, Madea Lift Box office a Little

By John Hamann

October 23, 2016

Does this make Madea a Final Girl?

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The good news for Cruise is that this Jack Reacher was going to improve on the ugly opening weekend of the original, as the first Jack Reacher opened to only $15.2 million in December 2012 before hitting the Christmas box office lottery and finishing with $80 million domestic. Overseas sales saved the film, earning $138 million fron international venues, bringing the worldwide gross to just short of $220 million. The original was made smartly, costing Paramount only $60 million and giving Tom Cruise another shot at a franchise. The sequel’s combined Thursday/Friday came in at $8.9 million – second behind the Madea Halloween movie.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back earned $23 million over the weekend, putting this film in excellent position considering the budget ($60 million again), and the reception the last one got overseas. Jack Reacher 2 represents smart financial moviemaking, as if this had cost $150 million, it would have never had a chance; however at $60 million, Paramount is going to see a decent windfall here.

While the movie is in good financial position going forward, reviews for Jack Reacher 2 put the franchise as risk. The original Jack Reacher was a popcorn movie that earned a 62% fresh rating; the sequel is only a 39% fresh and is being called a popcorn movie in the worst way (formulaic, averse to risk, by-the-numbers). The good news is that the Cinemascore came in at a B+, decent given the reviews, and only one step back the original’s score, which landed at an A-. For Tom Cruise, this opening fits with his smaller movies like Collateral ($24.7 million) and Valkyrie ($21 million). Really, though, the sequel's performance is better than the original – and had to be, as Christmas isn’t coming to save Never Go Back. It already has $31 million from overseas venues.


Third spot goes Ouija: Origin of Evil, prequel to a not very good 2014 original that earned $50 million against a $5 million budget – and another $50 million overseas to bring the cash home for Universal as that would have been one of the biggest cost-to-gross ratios of that year. The problem is the original was 7% fresh, so getting that audience out to those levels again was going to be massively difficult. Thus, Universal set out to make a very good horror film, and it would appear they did. At Rotten Tomatoes, Ouija 2 stands as the best reviewed film of the weekend at 81% fresh, oddly enough giving it the best reviews since Sully opened eons ago. Unfortunately, the Cinemascore came in at C, but horror is always low with Cinemascores.

Did making a good movie pay off? Yes and no. Ouija: Origin of Evil opened to $14.1 million this weekend - a decent score, but well off the $20 million the original opened to. What Universal is hoping is that word-of-mouth will spread (given that it’s a good movie), and the movie will leg it out as Halloween approaches. Even if it doesn’t, Universal has once again put itself into position to win by only spending $9 million on this film (the only recognizable name is Henry Thomas, the kid in ET). What this could do is open the door for another film in the franchise, as it should play well on VOD going forward and will likely make money theatrically.

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