Monday Morning Quarterback Part II

By BOP Staff

July 20, 2005

Dan announces he's coming out of retirement to break the Peyton Manning record.

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This segment brought to you by the letter R

Kim Hollis: Let's move from tiny little people to great big tall ones, like Vince Vaughn. After Wedding Crashers opened to $33.9 million this weekend, New Line's head of marketing, Russell Schwartz, offered the shocking suggestion that the R-rating actually helped the film. Gee, where have we heard that before?

Reagen Sulewski: I think just about everyone who was initiated into the R-rated film with American Pie bought a ticket for this one.

David Mumpower: Obviosuly, this has been BOP's mantra for a while now, but I won't lie. I was a bit taken aback by the fact that a studio exec finally mustered the courage to acknowledge it.

Reagen Sulewski: It's been very frustrating to me, just as a moviegoer, to see films that should have an R-rating cut themselves off at the knees and go for a PG-13. There has to be a sense of, "At last! Some debauchery!"

David Mumpower: That's a great point, Reagen. The stubborn decisions to edit down and kill funny bits in order to get a rating is the perfect cinematic example of cutting off the nose to spite the face. The universality of sex is always going to be a huge draw at the box office, and the raunch is what helps sell it. Having said that, the marketing for The Wedding Crashers was brilliant. They got the beer endorsement from Budweiser and the guy endorsement from Stuff Magazine.

Reagen Sulewski: And, at the risk of alienating 51% of the population, that it was about weddings itself couldn't have hurt.

What do women want?

Kim Hollis: The audience was pretty significantly comprised of women, from what I've read.

David Mumpower: The fact that they got exactly the demographics they wanted, 50/50 split on male/female and an over-25 crowd, demonstrates their success.

Kim Hollis: Hell, there were two cute little old ladies who went into the theater ahead of us. I was worried about them, frankly.

Reagen Sulewski: The female contingent doesn't surprise me in the least. Hell, it had to be a relief to see the conniving guy have to squirm for once.

David Mumpower: That's the one way they could have done better. Had the commercials advertised the torturing of Vince Vaughn, I think a certain sect of the populace would have been much more inclined to go.

Kim Hollis: "Look! The Alias guy is punching Vince again!"

David Mumpower: I must admit I was enjoying his pain. This role was too much like his Made character for my tastes.

Forget Johnny Depp. Vince Vaughn is the new Tom Cruise

Kim Hollis: And yet I do think he was the main draw. More than Owen Wilson, even. His star has really never been higher.

David Mumpower: I think he certainly boosted the box office of Be Cool and Mr. and Mrs. Smith with his presence. He wasn't key to either film, but the marketing played up his parts since they were so funny. Factoring in Old School, I think it's time to argue that he's at least on the Will Ferrell level if not slightly higher than his buddy.

We're going to slump (clap!) you up!

Kim Hollis: For the second straight weekend, box office is up. This weekend, it was up by a significant amount, in fact. Is the slump officially over? Also, did the proliferation of slump headlines give studios and exhibitors some easy free advertising?

David Mumpower: That's an interesting line of thought, Kim. It seemed like most of the slump stories gave consumers an opportunity to gripe about the problems with going to movies. It did, however, put the idea of seeing a movie in the consumer's head *a lot*.

Reagen Sulewski: As tempting as it is to think of it as a dam bursting, it's really got be just some unique movies for the marketplace.

David Mumpower: Agreed, Reagen. It's not that the slump is over as much as that we are seeing the difference in quality products versus inferior ones.

Kim Hollis: And very, very well-marketed films as well. The past three weeks have seen stuff like War of the Worlds, Fantastic Four and then this weekend's new movies debut strongly after a heavy-duty amount of advertising. Kim Hollis: Say what you will about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's strangeness, WB wasn't afraid to put it out there with a lot of frequency.

Reagen Sulewski: Also, if you compare to last year, you had I, Robot, which hit in its own right, but the second opener was a Hilary Duff film. That's pretty much the polar opposite to Wedding Crashers.

David Mumpower: Current box office trending is separating the chaff from the wheat. The big films are still worth an outing to the cineplex. Conversely, is anyone going to go out of their way to see Rebound in theaters when it will be on DVD in three months and in the $7.50 discount bin in six months? It's the bottom of the top ten that is taking more of a beating each week. The legs get smaller and people grow less inclined to see a film in theaters knowing it's that much closer to popping up in the Netflix queue.

Reagen Sulewski: People that see or buy Rebound should have their movie going license revoked, period.

David Mumpower: I swear it is not -that- bad, at least not by 2005 standards (*hands in movie license*).

Kim Hollis: Is it better or worse than Miss Congeniality 2? Because that one is approaching Uwe Boll territory for me.

David Mumpower: So, so much better. Sandra Bullock might not be good enough for her trashy biker right now.

Reagen Sulewski: I had a chance to see that on a plane this week and passed it up for sleep.

Kim Hollis: I passed it up a couple of times for sleep. Last night was the night that I finally stayed awake to the bitter end.

David Mumpower: The "slump" is emblematic of changing box office behavior regarding the shortened iteration of the movie release. The factors causing it are going to get worse, not better, in coming years. It's great to have consecutive weekends with $56 million openers, but that does not mean we're in the clear.

Reagen Sulewski: That 60% drop for Fantastic Four is Lumberjackian, though.

David Mumpower: Or, as I call it, Village-ian.

Reagen Sulewski: M. Night is lucky torch mobs have gone out of style.

2005 is the new 2002

David Mumpower: 2005 reminds me of 2002. That year saw the May release of Spider-Man and Episode II. The rest of the May releases were nothing special, with Sum of All Fears being the biggest.

David Mumpower: June saw a surprise hit in Scooby-Doo, a solid hit in Mr. Deeds and a steady performer in The Bourne Identity. Most of the other May/June releases were dogs. Included in this list are Bad Company, Windtalkers, Enough and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. The stronger summer releases tried to get as far away from Spidey and Star Wars as possible, so it was later on that we had Men in Black II, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Signs and xXx. 2005 is mimicking this trending.

Kim Hollis: If you look at June box office in general, you don't really find all that many box office behemoths. There's a perception that it's a huge blockbuster month, but in reality there have only been eight films to even open over $50 million in June. Meanwhile, July has had 14 such films and May has seen 17 exceed that amount historically.

David Mumpower: We had the one huge May release with Episode III, which is poised to wind up as the seventh biggest domestic film all-time. Madagascar, The Longest Yard, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Batman Begins are all solid performers, but July has already had three strong openings and still has Stealth, The Island, and The Bad News Bears in the queue. August has The Dukes of Hazzard and a couple of raunchy comedies that could surprise in the Deuce Bigelow sequel and The 40 Year-Old Virgin.

Reagen Sulewski: That's definitely a strong finishing kick. I'm also reminded of late 2001, which had that really impressive run of Jurassic Park III, Planet of the Apes, Rush Hour 2 and American Pie 2.

David Mumpower: Exactly. Several of the remaining films are going to do fine. It's the weaker stuff which will continue to do worse than in previous years. 2005 box office is only as strong as its weakest links, and that's what is killing it. It's not that summer of 2005 does not have any strong contenders. It's that they are all spread apart as everyone with similar demographically targeted audiences ceded the early part of the summer to George Lucas.

Remember, cute and cuddly, boys. Cute and cuddly.

Reagen Sulewski: If I might digress a tad, March of the Penguins is starting to look like a real buzz hit, for a documentary, at least.

David Mumpower: It is, and Crash is an underrated box office dynamo. There are smallish success stories out there if you know where to look.

Kim Hollis: People love Penguins. And tiny Oompa Loompa men.

Reagen Sulewski: It's earned about $4 million in four weeks, which is mega bucks for a doc. I have to think this is at least partially related to the best part of Madagascar.

David Mumpower: And one of the best episodes of Futurama!

Kim Hollis: I'm hoping to see it before the week is out myself. Cute little birdies. Amazingly, people weren't deterred from liking the birds after Danny De Vito hung out with them all those years ago.

'Crash'ing the Oscars

Reagen Sulewski: Crash has passed $50 million now. Is that enough to keep it in Oscar contention?

Kim Hollis: I think it's in contention, yes, but by the time fall/winter stuff rolls out, it's not going to stay there.

David Mumpower: Agreed, Kim. The strongest arguments to be made for Cinderella Man and Crash are that they benefit the most from the lackluster early 2005 schedule.

Reagen Sulewski: If there's anything that will make it from the year so far, that will be it. It'd be well served by a re-release in, say, October, though.

Kim Hollis: The way Lions Gate has worked with the film, I wouldn't say that would be out of the question. They are extremely proud of the way it's performed, and rightfully so.

David Mumpower: Out of the sub-hundred million crowd, Crash is the most surprising performer of the year to me except for Constantine's opening weekend. Lions Gate's decision making is consistently excellent.



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