Monday Morning Quarterback

By BOP Staff

October 24, 2006

I'm being vilified because someone else cheated. Can you believe this?

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Kim Hollis: The Prestige anchored a relatively dull weekend at the box office by earning $14.8 million. Are you surprised it won the weekend?

Joel Corcoran: I'm not surprised at all, really. I mean, what else out there could beat it?

Tim Briody: I think we all had figured it would go to Flags of Our Fathers. After all, this movie was already released a month or two ago when it was called The Illusionist.

Kim Hollis: I know a lot of forecasters were thinking Flags of Our Fathers would grab the weekend, but given the modest screen count and the subject matter (war), I figured it was going to be more of a slow-grower. The Prestige at least had some intriguing ads and a solid cast.

David Mumpower: Tim, I certainly thought Flags of Our Fathers would win the weekend. I didn't expect any of the new releases to break out, but I am caught off guard by the surprisingly strong debut by The Prestige.

Joel Corcoran: Flags of Our Fathers struck me as too much of a "serious movie" versus The Prestige, though. With Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman versus a film directed by Clint Eastwood, I was giving a slight edge to the action/thriller over the historical drama.

Tim Briody: I guess there was something to having Batman and Wolverine in your movie.

Reagen Sulewski: Yes, but Flags of Our Fathers is the perfect kind of fall movie with both critical acclaim and an easy to understand premise. It really should have been no problem.

Kim Hollis: I don't think the Batman/Wolverine connection is a bad one at all. Separately, they're not particular draws (though Jackman is perhaps a small one). Together, they're interesting.

Reagen Sulewski: It's odd, since this is almost exactly my prediction for the film on the weekend. But it's just a weak number to top a weekend.

Tim Briody: Especially in mid-October.

Joel Corcoran: And throw in the director of Batman Begins, Kim, and you've got an even more intriguing mix.

Kim Hollis: What urgency is there to see any of this weekend's new films, though? For most movie-goers, they all scream "I can wait for DVD".

Tim Briody: Or "I'll wait to see if it gets any award nominations."


Clint Eastwood just filmed 14 movies while we had this discussion

Kim Hollis: Flags of Our Fathers debuted with an estimated $10.2 million. Should Warner Bros. be satisfied with this performance?

David Mumpower: I think it's a yes and no situation. Million Dollar Baby didn't cross the $10 million barrier until its seventh week of release; however, that movie had the staying power to earn $100 million. I think we all agree Flags of Our Fathers won't do that barring unforeseen behavior later in its run. As such, it's a disappointment of sorts.

Kim Hollis: It's right in line with Mystic River's wide release number. I'm sure that they're hoping for a slow expansion with word-of-mouth building, but the trouble on this one is, it's a hard sell. With a real war going on and the bloodiest month ever in Iraq, this sort of thing is not something people are going to rush out to see.

Reagen Sulewski: This is a pretty troubling number for a film starting out in wide release. It's a long way to go for it to still be around when awards are being handed out.

Joel Corcoran: I think Flags of Our Fathers is one of those "we'll have to wait and see," movies. The strategy behind it seems more focused on getting awards buzz than a box office hit right off the bat. If it does get some recognition, it could have considerable staying power. I think Warner Bros. should be cautiously optimistic, though not entirely satisfied. At least not yet.

Kim Hollis: Yeah, Warner Bros. all but stated that they were simply hoping to build momentum here early last week. It's tough for a film when you don't have a big-name star on whom you can hang your hat.

Tim Briody: It had some odd advertising, including a commercial of Clint Eastwood just talking about it. I'd rather see scenes from the movie.

Kim Hollis: I really don't think any of this weekend's movies were particularly well marketed, to be honest.

David Mumpower: The other negative aspect going against opening weekend is that it doesn't exactly skew young. The demographic that carries movie box office these days mainly sees World War II as an X-Box Live activity.

Joel Corcoran: You bring up a good point, Tim. The advertising behind this movie seems rather unfocused. The commercials have some good action shots and battle scenes, but it doesn't seem like the typical action-based war film. But then again, the marketing isn't casting it as a character-driven drama set in the context of war and conflict, either.

Kim Hollis: From what I understand (I haven't seen it), it's *not* an action-based war film. It's a reflective "now they are home and famous" movie.

David Mumpower: I look forward to tracking the performance of Letters from Iwo Jima, the de facto sequel that tells the same story from the Japanese point of view. This is something new in the industry, and I am always excited by that.

Joel Corcoran: That's what I was expecting, Kim. I haven't seen it either, but it seems like Clint Eastwood is doing something along the lines of what he did in Million Dollar Baby. That was a film set in the world of boxing that actually had very little to do with boxing. It seems like Flags of Our Fathers is set in the time somewhere around V-J Day, but actually has little to do with the war itself.

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