Monday Morning Quarterback Part Two

By BOP Staff

December 20, 2005

If only BOP was allowed to make all casting decisions.

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Are we talking broken fingernail or Hindenburg?

Kim Hollis: When was the last time you were this surprised (in a bad way) about a movie's box office performance?

Reagen Sulewski: Batman Begins is again the obvious example, but I'd also throw Hulk in there.

Kim Hollis: I'd go as far back as Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

Joel Corcoran: The Hulk. The abject failure of The Island surprised me more than the soft beginning of Batman Begins.

David Mumpower: I agree with Kim that I haven't been this surprised by a film's initial failure since Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. You guys are much more positive about what has happened here than I am. It's 50 cents on the dollar compared to Return of the King. This is disastrous thus far. And nobody saw it coming. The news reports early in the week would have people believe Titanic's total box office record was in jeopardy. It's not a lock for $250 million right now. The disconnect is unbelievable.

Tim Briody: I was worried about it until I saw that it broke $50 million for the weekend. I thought my 3.2 multiplier estimate in the Friday Box Office article was high, actually If it pulled under a 3, even I'd be burying the film right now.

Kim Hollis: Yup, I agree that it's a little early to call it a disaster. The increase from Friday to Saturday was actually impressive.

Joel Corcoran: Which could be a glimmer of hope. Maybe word-of-mouth will take hold over this week.

Reagen Sulewski: Hulk ended under $150 million and killed a franchise. Honestly, I think that's the bigger disaster.

David Mumpower: The percentage increase is impressive, but it misses the big picture. Who had King Kong making less than $20 million on its first Saturday? Where the hell are all the consumers?

Reagen Sulewski: Nobody, but at this point, you have to look forward.


BOP preaches patience but keeps the hammer ready just in case

Kim Hollis: The fact that expectations were perhaps unrealistic (it's a three hour monkey film with no automatic hobbit fan base, for God's sakes) shouldn't immediately indicate it's a bomb. It has great reviews that people will now pay attention to as week two kicks in. It has two distinct holiday weekends to benefit it.

David Mumpower: At this point, you have to analyze the collated data. Looking forward could easily lead to the same mistake as happened opening weekend. Everyone assumed that was a slam dunk as well. We don't know what happens tomorrow or the next day. We know what happened the last five days, and it was a groin shot to Peter Jackson.

Tim Briody: If that last part was in the movie, it would've put Kong over $80 million for sure.

Kim Hollis: I think that if it bombs next weekend, we will all readily agree that Kong was a failure. I simply think it's way, way too early to be counting it out.

Tim Briody: Precisely, Kim.

Joel Corcoran: It is too early to count it out entirely, but man ... .

David Mumpower: No one is saying to count it out. Instead, it's being pointed out that the film has already failed to meet expectations on a grand scale this weekend. That's the story. Next week, when (if?) it redeems itself a bit, that becomes the story. Narnia made more in three days than King Kong made in five. Raise your hand if you had that in the betting pool.

Kim Hollis: I picked Narnia as #1 in my monthly forecast. At that point, I wasn't at all sold on Kong as a big performer. I was led by the damned overexuberant media into higher expectations when initially I was feeling like it might be a tough sell. I think it's a lesson to be learned about over-hyping product in a tricky landscape.

Will the King return at the Oscars?

Kim Hollis: How does the box office performance affect King Kong's Oscar potential?

David Mumpower: It's a temporary setback but I think the bigger concern for Kong is that it is making any end-of-year awards lists. Dan Krovich would quickly point out that we haven't seen the intersection with people who actually vote in the Oscars yet, but it is a concern.

Kim Hollis: I think it was an iffy Best Picture contender anyway. It's still solid with regards to nods for Special Effects and so forth.

Reagen Sulewski: It gives it a tougher row to hoe, but a box office comeback could make for a great story. I'd be somewhat shocked with them honoring Jackson twice in two years, though.

David Mumpower: I assumed we were talking about a nomination right now rather than a potential win. We're still several weeks away from being able to make a call in that regard.

Tim Briody: I didn't think it had a chance in any major categories.

David Mumpower: I still think it can pull in a Best Picture nod. This is a thin year for frontline contenders, and King Kong's reviews are in the A+++ area.

Meet the Pseudo Fockers

Kim Hollis: Apparently, there was another opener this weekend. The Family Stone earned $12.7 million in three days. What makes Focker clones so successful around the holidays?

Tim Briody: Counterprogrammed comedies tend to work. It helped that there were Golden Globe nominations too.

David Mumpower: Consumers love to commiserate about the zany nature of familial relationships at this time of year. The Family Stone is to Meet the Parents as Yours, Mine and Ours is to Cheaper by the Dozen. This genre creates a multiplicity of clones and sequels. I look forward to the sequel where all subtlety is shooed away. It will be called The Family Jewels.

Joel Corcoran: All of these films seem like a mish-mash of caricatures as an excuse for an ensemble cast. I think the popularity comes from people wanting to see stars acting like members of their own families.

Reagen Sulewski: I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the average group size attending this film was significantly larger than other films. This is the kind of film that screams "compromise choice".

Kim Hollis: I think anytime you have a family film involving hijinks, it's an attractive choice during the holiday season. People are already thinking about their own similar situations since they're about to be visiting friends and family, and it hits home to see the same thing portrayed on the big screen.

Fun with Photoshop

David Mumpower: Plus, it's got Rachel McAdams. She's the anti-Naomi Watts with regards to box office appeal!

Kim Hollis: Perhaps they should have combined Family Stone and Kong into one big budget comedy.

Reagen Sulewski: "Oh Kong, you overcooked the turkey! Now you've ruined Christmas dinner!"

Kim Hollis: *everyone stands around kitchen and laughs*

David Mumpower: I wonder what the XBox 360 version of that movie would look like.

Kim Hollis: Time to go get Chinese food!

David Mumpower: It's so easy to visualize him in a CGI Kiss the Cook apron.

Narnia 1, Kong 0

Kim Hollis: Narnia declined 52% and made $31.2 million. Isn't this an impressive performance considering that it was clearly choice number two this weekend?

Tim Briody: Even factoring in King Kong, it's a bit excessive of a decline. But that doesn't matter when the holiday box office bonanza starts up soon.

Reagen Sulewski: This is an incredible demonstration of why it's important to get your film out first.

David Mumpower: Wow, I was thinking just the opposite. A 52% decline for a $67 million opener strikes me as sensational in this day and age.

Kim Hollis: This does go back to my earlier comment about the inanity of scheduling two major tentpoles in consecutive weekends in *December*. It damages both films.

Tim Briody: I'm sorry, that was the 1999 version of me talking. He's been dealt with accordingly.

David Mumpower: Box office behavior is evolving so quickly that I expect it to attain cognizance and move to undo the global economy by 2009.

Kim Hollis: All it needs to do is join up with Google.

Reagen Sulewski: Acceptable and maybe even expected, sure, but sensational? I disagree with that.

David Mumpower: What has to make Narnia happy is that at this point, the best case scenario for Kong is that it slightly surpasses Narnia. Worst case is that it gets whipped. Being the clear leader in the clubhouse is exactly where Narnia hoped to be.

Fox News moves to Mauve Alert

Kim Hollis: The biggest story outside of Kong's disappointing performance is Brokeback Mountain's appearance in the top ten despite being in only 69 venues. The weekend performance of $2.4 million is indicative of an extraordinary venue average of $34,194. The film did 41% better than Aeon Flux despite the fact that Flux was available in 30 times as many theaters. Can Brokeback Mountain maintain this momentum as it platforms into mainstream America?

Reagen Sulewski: I think that it's already doing so. That many theaters isn't exactly a token release, and those are huge numbers. There's likely a brick wall that it'll run into at some point, but at this point, Ang Lee and its distributors have to be thrilled.

Kim Hollis: The numerous award nominations are obviously helping, and I also think that the people who support the film are very vigorous and vocal supporters. It's likely to keep a steady word-of-mouth performance for a significant period of time.

David Mumpower: I've been predicting for a while that it would do quite well in limited exposure but die once it hits middle America. These early numbers are insanely good, though. There is no superlative I could give this performance which would be a strong enough compliment.

Joel Corcoran: I'm not sure the Brokeback Mountain tidal wave is going to break against the rocks of middle America, David. This movie is not a "gay film" in the usual sense of the genre, and I think that is going to appeal to a lot of people who don't traditionally go see "gay films" (like Latter Days or Beautiful Thing). There's always going to be the far right, culturally conservative element who utterly refuse to see it, but at the same time, I anticipate a lot of fair-minded, salt-of-the-earth, moderately conservative people in Middle America will go to Brokeback Mountain, just to see what all the buzz is about.

Reagen Sulewski: The "If it only..." game is potentially dangerous, but it doesn't have to keep much of those numbers to be a huge success once it expands.

Reagen Sulewski: It's weird to talk about momentum here, but that's exactly what it's got. There's a strange sort of effect with what seems to be a right-wing backlash, which is only giving it more exposure.

David Mumpower: It should lead to a fascinating expansion behavioral pattern, that's for certain.



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