Monday Morning Quarterback Part One

By BOP Staff

June 5, 2006

Hey, don't tell me I'm not dressed for Monday Morning Quarterback, man.

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Mutant activity sighted on Memorial Day!

Kim Hollis: In our Memorial Day absence, X-Men: The Last Stand has experienced the highs and lows in box office, opening to $122.9 million over the four-day holiday period. Now it has dropped 67% to $34.4 million in its second weekend. Should we focus on the good or the bad here?

Reagen Sulewski: It was the fourth highest start in history, so it's tough to downplay that, especially when the big box office openings just haven't been happening, really.

David Mumpower: If the had staff been working on the holiday last week, we certainly would have been glowing in our praise of its performance. Since the opening day, though, every piece of information about X3 has been negative. Almost 25% of its ten-day take was tallied in the first 24 hours. That's an insane percentage, even for a frontloaded title.

Tim Briody: We could sort of see this coming after last Saturday's numbers came in, but it's still kind of shocking. I don't think it's the fault of the movie at all, really. It had a huge built-in audience, and people had both ample availability and time to see it over the long weekend. This is just how blockbusters work nowadays.

Kim Hollis: Thanks to its mongo opening, it's going to be remembered as a success regardless of its performance in the future. The average movie-goer won't say, "Oh, it had huge drop-off, so that's bad." No, they'll just say, "Big movie opening, big deal!" The honest evaluation is that anyone who wanted to see it has been able to do so.

Reagen Sulewski: Some measure of this fall is mitigated by how much was earned in preview screenings, as well. It's not as "bad" as it looks, but it's about the largest "one and done" we've ever seen.

David Mumpower: I guess I'm tougher on it than everyone else here. Percentage-wise, this is the largest second weekend drop a Memorial Day release has ever had. You can say that the large opening number is a factor, but even in real dollars rather than percentage, this isn't much better than The Day After Tomorrow's second frame.

Reagen Sulewski: But no one expected this film to have legs, even if it was good. The first two had second weekend drops of over 50%, and we generally consider them to be successes.

David Mumpower: The key, though, is that this one had $35 million more than X2 after its first weekend, yet the two are going to wind up with relatively similar performances after inflation adjustment. There's no way to spin that as a positive. Last weekend, X3 looked like a $300 million domestic performance. Now, even $235 million isn't certain.

Reagen Sulewski: You really thought 300 million? I wish you'd said so. I could have bet you.

Tim Briody: Ditto.

Reagen Sulewski: Now, I think Ratner has poisoned the well a bit quality-wise with this film, but if you told Fox you were going to make a sequel that would make exactly what X2 made, but got a larger portion of it to them a week earlier, I think they'd have been ecstatic.

David Mumpower: After $120 million in four days, it certainly looked like a strong possibility. Simply consider that out of the three movies with larger opening weekend numbers, the *lowest* performance was Episode III's $380 million.

Reagen Sulewski: I just didn't see that growth potential for it. You mentioned Matrix Revolutions in comparison to it elsewhere, but that was one with upside. X3 had a more or less known ceiling of about $250 million, no matter when that money was earned, unless it was the best damn superhero movie ever.


Exhibitors are crying into their popcorn

Kim Hollis: We've witnessed The Da Vinci Code and X3 both absorbing body blows in their second weekends. Is this to be the summer trend or are these noteworthy word-of-mouth failures?

David Mumpower: I suspect it's a combination of both factors. $77.1 and $102.8 million openings are going to have stiff declines. This is the nature of the industry now. Even so, these depreciations are harsher than normal because there was a sense of disappointment from many of the early adopters.

Reagen Sulewski: That neither film was particularly good certainly didn't help.

Tim Briody: Sequels and films with ready-made audiences are pretty much guaranteed to collapse on their second weekend. Something is going to come along that's actually, you know, good, and that's going to show some positive word-of-mouth effect...sort of like Wedding Crashers last year.

Kim Hollis: Word-of-mouth obviously didn't help matters any. I know I was telling co-workers that neither Da Vinci nor X-Men was particularly good.

Vince Vaughn as a mutie scum would = $$$$$$$$

Kim Hollis: The Break-Up earned $38.1 million in its opening weekend and, even more impressively, beat X3. We all agree that this performance is extraordinary, right?

David Mumpower: This is exemplary. None of the trades or tracking data was giving The Break-Up any chance to beat X3. Now, part of this is X3's fall from the face of the Earth, but $38.1 million for a romantic comedy is dynamic.

Reagen Sulewski: Combine that with the reviews for The Break-Up that were basically trying to flag people down in the ticket line and steer them away, and it's remarkable.

Kim Hollis: Especially in a year where not many films were finding the sort of huge success that the last few openers have been able to attain. What about The Break-Up said to people "I can't *wait* to see that!" versus other stuff being "wait until DVD"?

Tim Briody: Focusing on Vince Vaughn's rants in the advertising made it so successful. He was the highlight of the Mr. & Mrs. Smith ads last year, too.

Reagen Sulewski: I wonder what a poll of people that went to see this movie about their Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood viewing would reveal.

David Mumpower: I liked John Hamann's point in the Weekend Wrap-Up about this being in Mission: Impossible 3 territory and well beyond Over the Hedge's opening. That crystallizes its success as beyond CGI and within striking distance of Tom Cruise action films.

Reagen Sulewski: Some of this is certainly carry-over from Wedding Crashers last year, but this is pretty much the "Sympathy for Aniston" moment I've been thinking was inevitable. It just took some time for her publicist to find exactly the right project.

Kim Hollis: An important point of fact is that exit polling showed that 67% of the audience was female. I would suggest that the movie was filling a void for a certain segment of the market.

Tim Briody: It did not behave like a typical romantic comedy, managing a weekend multiplier in the mid-2s. So next weekend I imagine we'll be talking about why The Break Up collapsed in its second weekend.

Reagen Sulewski: That, and there's a certain Double Jeopardy wish fulfillment going on here. The ads clearly portrayed Aniston as having the leg up on Vaughn in the movie.

David Mumpower: If two thirds of the audience for this is women, it's going to have a strong holdover in coming weeks. The internal multiplier is indicative of the fact that some of them simply changed their movie-going patterns and went Friday instead of Saturday.



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