Monday Morning Quarterback, Part One
By BOP Staff
October 24, 2005
Doom got fragged.Kim Hollis: Doom, a film with a budget of $60 million, earned $15.4 million this weekend. It "won" first place, but is this performance really a victory for Universal Pictures?
David Mumpower: Does any non-blockbuster film these days exceed expectations?
Joel Corcoran: I'd call it a moral victory, but not a decisive victory. Universal can feel good about placing first in the box office, but the receipts seem a little shaky to me.
Tim Briody: $60 million isn't bad for a budget figure. Not that it has a chance of making that total back in theaters, it certainly could've been a Uwe Boll-like performance.
Reagen Sulewski: I think that's a decent if unspectacular result. It'll have no legs to speak of, but this is going to do well on video and in international markets, and will play on a loop on TBS.
Joel Corcoran: Not to mention the inevitable DVD - videogame joint releases. I can see a Doom "blockbuster" package available at a store near you in about six months (or less). Couple the movie in DVD format with a Doom 3 expansion set, and you're golden.
David Mumpower: Doom the movie might be available for purchase and download on X-Box Live by the time that the X-Box 360 is released next month.
Kim Hollis: I do think it's about as much as they could hope for. I heard a movie reviewer on Friday discussing how it was excluding teen boys with the R-rating, then saw that in action at the theater yesterday as two boys were stymied by their mother in their attempt to go to the movie. I think making a film that left them in the cold was a mistake, but by the same token, the game is so old that I'm surprised kids that age are very familiar with it.
Believe it or not, there are people who went to this movie who have not played Doom.David Mumpower: What's astonishing to me is that Universal says 69% of the people who saw the movie played the videogame. That means that 31% of the people who went had never played Doom. A) Where have you been for the past 15 years? B) Why in God's name would you want to see this if you don't know the game?
Joel Corcoran: I'll bet the 31% of the audience who had never played Doom went out of curiosity over the game or they were attracted by the general concept. I mean, I never played Final Fantasy, but I still had a great time watching the film when it came out.
Tim Briody: They smelled what The Rock was cookin'?
David Mumpower: Does The Rock get to claim credit for bringing in those 31%?
Kim Hollis: In hindsight, it seems a big mistake to have not had the film released in August so that it could legitimately be released on DVD by Christmas. Two months turnaround is still just *slightly* ahead of the curve at this point.
Tim Briody: I do think The Rock was good for a few million on the opening's total. He doesn't even wrestle anymore, yet he makes a semi-annual appearance on WWE programming and the place goes bananas for him.
Joel Corcoran: That's what I was thinking, Kim - it's really just too quick a turnaround for a DVD by Christmas.
David Mumpower: As synergistic as the overall product is, I just don't see how Doom's result could be satisfying to anyone involved. It's nearly double the budget of Serenity yet only a $5 million improvement in opening weekend.
Reagen Sulewski: Honestly, this one was probably five or six years too late to market. It's all about Halo and Half-Life now in this genre.
Dan Krovich: It's the type of opening where Universal will ultimately be fine with it, but just because studios can ultimately break even and make some money on DVD release doesn't mean they like to wait that long to see some profit.
David Mumpower: Universal's fall releases can all be summarized in that manner, Dan.
Dan Krovich: Yeah, Universal is basically treading water this Fall.
The Rock has established himself as a Hollywood mid-carder. Can he make it to main event level?Kim Hollis: The Rundown opened to $18.5 million, Walking Tall opened to $15.5 million and Be Cool opened to $23.5 million. Doom was estimated at $15.6 million. Has The Rock established himself as an actor who can just open movies in about the $15-24 million range or does he have the potential for greater things down the line?
Dan Krovich: Is there a consistent action star right now?
Tim Briody: He's charismatic enough that he'd break out huge with the right material. I figured The Rundown might be the type of thing that would be right up his alley, but it didn't turn into great box office. Maybe more of a Pacifier/Vin Diesel type of vehicle would work.
David Mumpower: I think that The Scorpion King's $36.1 million opening shows that he can frontline a bigger project than this. I also believe that Be Cool's bump shows that he's just begging for a buddy movie with Vince Vaughn. The two of them were the draws in that movie, not Travolta or Uma.
Joel Corcoran: I think The Rock has the potential to be a major action star, at least in the same ballpark as Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he's going to have to find a vehicle soon.
Reagen Sulewski: I think they gave up too soon on a Scorpion King-ish type franchise for him, but just keep him away from CGI stuff for awhile.
David Mumpower: I agree completely with the franchise comment, Reagen. I would expect he thought The Rundown was that type of franchise title as well. Dipping his toe in might have acclimated him to a wider fanbase early on in the process.
Kim Hollis: I do think Gridiron Gang is one that can work for him (though I'm personally more excited about Southland Tales, which will make no money).
David Mumpower: Even allowing for the disappointing results, though, I do like the decisions he makes when choosing scripts. Although it wound up being a bust, Walking Tall sounded good on paper. The Rundown and Be Cool were both great titles, and Doom, while brain dead throughout, gives his character some interesting liberties.
Reagen Sulewski: How much better would The Longest Yard have been with him in it? A lot better, that's how much.
Kim Hollis: I still hear people talk about how much they enjoyed The Rundown (and I count myself among them). I'd love to see him do something similar that lets his humor shine through because that's where he sets himself apart from "Generic Action Star #7".
David Mumpower: It's criminal how little box office The Rundown did relative to its quality. I'd be hard-pressed to name a better buddy picture from the past decade.
Joel Corcoran: I was going to say that Jason Statham was the most consistent action star out there these days, but then I remembered Revolver.
Dakota Fanning is the natural casting choice for the Damien: Omen re-make.Kim Hollis: Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story opened to $9.3 million. Has Dakota Fanning finally creeped audiences out too much or should this number be viewed as a success?
David Mumpower: I think that adults are oddly transfixed by Dakota Fanning. Kids, on the other hand, can smell the evil from a mile away. Therefore, she's better served doing films like Hide and Seek than "family films". You want to win the scariest Halloween costume next week? Go as Dakota Fanning.
Reagen Sulewski: Other than Hide and Seek, has there really been anything that you can really pin to her as a success?
Dan Krovich: I think Dreamer has to be considered a success.
Kim Hollis: I agree, Dan. I don't think expectations were that high to begin with, and it's the kind of movie that has the potential to hang around for a little while.
Joel Corcoran: Honestly, I think if Dakota Fanning hadn't been in the movie, it would've made half as much. I think "bland" would be an understatement for this movie, and Kurt Russell alone didn't bring people to the box office.
Reagen Sulewski: Let me clarify. I don't think Dreamer didn't do well. But a $9 million opening is just static in the overall box office.
Dan Krovich: A straightforward sentimental live action family film drama is a hard sell, and almost getting to $10M opening weekend is pretty good.
Kevin Smith believes that scatalogical jokes are where the big money is.David Mumpower: More to the point, Racing Stripes earned $18.9 million over the Martin Luther King four-day weekend. Half of that with a "name" actress doesn't strike me as a success.
Tim Briody: It had a small-by-today's-standards theater count so that's not bad for it at all, and it's got potential for legs, being family-friendly and all.
Dan Krovich: Racing Stripes was sold on fart jokes, talking animals, and at least some animation.
Kim Hollis: But mostly fart jokes.
Tim Briody: Always good for a few million.
Joel Corcoran: Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, right?
Reagen Sulewski: Now we know where DreamWorks went wrong!
David Mumpower: Kevin Smith is a wise man.
Tim Briody: The Rock + fart jokes = box office gold!
Dan Krovich: Family comedies are easier sells. This type of film is more in line with Winn Dixie, My Dog Skip, Duma, etc. so within that realm, it's a very good start.
David Mumpower: Because of Winn-Dixie opened to $13.2 million without Dakota Fanning. I'm not seeing cause for excitement.