Monday Morning Quarterback: Part Two

By BOP Staff

November 15, 2005

Raisin' the Roof

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Also Sprach Zathura

Kim Hollis: Zathura opened to $14 million. How strong a debut do you consider this to be and what are your long term expectations for the project?

David Mumpower: As John Hamann pointed out in his column, there was anomalous behavior in the top ten this week due to the Veteran's Day holiday. Family films all got a spike on Friday but didn't hold momentum on Saturday. That troubles me with regards to the long-term potential of Zathura.

Kim Hollis: It's doomed next week in the face of the Potter juggernaut. I researched this some last week for a different project and children's films have universally suffered monstrous drops when dealing with that competition. It could recover after that through the holiday season, though. I think the fact that Zathura has had generally good reviews will help in that regard.

Joel Corcoran: I think it's a very weak opening, Kim. And you've definitely got to wonder what Sony was thinking when they decided to open this movie the weekend before Harry Potter.

Kim Hollis: Oh, I wouldn't call it a weak opening at all. It's about in line with what I would expect. Though if it's less than what Sony hoped for, we'll just call it karma for the bad things they've been doing to customers lately.

Reagen Sulewski: I think this is a pretty decent opening for Zathura, but it would have been better served opening in a similar slot as Jumanji did.

David Mumpower: To my mind, the scheduled slot is a bit head-scratching. If they wanted holiday revenue while avoiding the Potter juggernaut, a December release made more sense. Alternately, opening on Thanksgiving would have worked. Now, it faces the loss of venues the week when its box office could be enhanced by the holiday.

It's the marketing, stupid!

Joel Corcoran: And is it just me, or does the marketing behind Zathura seem pretty weak? I think I've seen only one preview trailer and maybe a TV commercial or two.

Reagen Sulewski: You've been watching different channels, then. Advertising for this has been ubiquitous.

Kim Hollis: It's been on Cartoon Network, for sure.

Joel Corcoran: Hhhhhmmmmmmm ... maybe I need to watch more Adult Swim, then.

Reagen Sulewski: I think I've seen Jodie Foster's daughter from Panic Room hit on Dax from Punk'd about three dozen times now.

Kim Hollis: Oh, then if it fails, it's also karma for the Panic Room kid for the awful, awful movie Catch That Kid.

David Mumpower: I agree with Joel. The few commercials I've seen have not been as strong as the teaser that was initially shown when they decided to open this movie the weekend before Harry Potter.

Joel Corcoran: That's exactly it, David. Even an earlier release might have worked as counter-programming against Saw II and the standard Halloween horror fare. But this weekend? Yeesh ... .

Kim Hollis: I think the opening weekend would have been about the same regardless, but they could definitely have planned a lot better for long-term success.

America's (dumped) sweetheart

Kim Hollis: Derailed opened to $12.8 million. What do you think of this performance?

Reagen Sulewski: I think it's impressive in that this film seemed to have no distinguishing characteristics whatsoever.

David Mumpower: This is right in line with my expectations. I've seen several media reports indicating it's a pleasant surprise. If anything, I am a bit disappointed since the project's reviews are atrocious. The money is okay, but the film isn't what I had hoped it could be. I'm dubious on its legs, disappointing for a project whose script had such great buzz.

Reagen Sulewski: I think it was helped more than a little by the 'jilted woman' phenomenon, with Jennifer Aniston getting a lot of sympathy.

Kim Hollis: I think it's a mild surprise, as I expected it to be under $10 million. Clive Owen is only just starting to develop a name among mainstream audiences in North America, so it was probably bolstered a bit by a combination of him and Aniston's press. She's always in the tabloids these days, so she's definitely a public face.

Joel Corcoran: I can't think of anything to say, other than it's obvious Jennifer Aniston fans don't want to see her in a thriller.

Reagen Sulewski: She's never opened a film to anything in particular solo, Joel, so I can't see this as her fan base running away. Fan base? What fan base?

David Mumpower: Actually, if we go all the way back to 1998, this would be right in line with the performance of The Object of My Affection (adjusted for inflation, of course). Having said that, the commercials make it out to be much more of a Clive Owen film than a Jennifer Aniston one.

Kim Hollis: And you could argue that Along Came Polly was much more Ben Stiller than her. I'm going to choose to blame him for it, anyway.

David Mumpower: I can't decide if the tabloid stuff helped or not. I would argue she's been made out to be the helpless victim of infidelity by the press. Playing an unfaithful wife isn't the angle to capitalize on such concerns.

We bet you've never heard of Duane Hopwood, anyway

Kim Hollis: Amusingly, David Schwimmer also had a movie open this weekend. Well, it amuses me, anyway.

David Mumpower: He made it while he and Aniston were on a break.

Reagen Sulewski: She's started to make the publicist-ordered talk show circuit, which is how Nicole Kidman made her ugly public breakup work to her favor.

Joel Corcoran: From what I've seen, Ms. Aniston is really hitting the image of the "unfortunate victim" in the tabloid press, which strikes a sympathetic chord with her role in Derailed, I guess.

Reagen Sulewski: This wasn't the right film to really make it work, though. If The Break-Up is anywhere near decent, the press for that one will be overwhelming.

Kim Hollis: That one is bound to be a big hit, though it will almost certainly be due to the presence of is-he-or-isn't-he-her-boyfriend Vince Vaughn.

David Mumpower: Sometimes I think we're too cynical but then nonsense like this occurs. I was amused that Parade Magazine (!) painted her as too career-focused and alienating for Pitt.

Kim Hollis: Also, she probably showers too frequently.

Reagen Sulewski: If only she'd baked him more cookies!



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