Archive for the ‘Cloverfield’ Category

The Beginning Of The Year Is Scary: A Decade Of Horror Movies At The Box Office

January 7, 2009

Go grab your flashlight, blanket, and stuffed animal. We’ve reached the doldrums of winter, and on the box office calendar, that means its time for our annual onslaught of horror films. What was once merely regarded as a tough time to release a movie, has in recent years become a veritable dumping ground for studios to release cheaply produced horror films. If people were afraid to the officially label the trend before, there’s simply no denying it in 2009. In the next six weekends, five horror films are coming out. On the docket we have The Unborn, My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans, The Uninvited, and Friday The 13th.

We all know that Hollywood never makes bad decisions, so if all these films are being released in the next few weeks, it must be a well documented fact that horror titles in January and February make lots of money, right? To answer that, let’s look at January/February horror releases over the last decade of box office history. Here’s the horrific box office retrospective:

2000
Feb. 4 – Scream 3 – $84 million
Feb. 18 – Pitch Black – $39 million

2001
Feb. 2 – Valentine – $20 million
Feb. 16 – Hannibal – $165 million

2002
Jan. 25 – The Mothman Prophecies – $35 million
Feb. 22 – Queen Of The Damned – $30 million

2003
Jan. 24 – Darkness Falls – $32 million
Jan. 31 – Final Destination 2 – $47 million

2004
Interestingly enough, none.

2005
Jan. 7 – White Noise – $56 million
Jan. 28 – Hide And Seek – $51 million
Feb. 4 – Boogeyman – $46 million

2006
Jan. 6 – Hostel – $47 million
Jan. 20 – Underworld: Evolution – $62 million
Feb. 3 – When A Stranger Calls – $47 million
Feb. 10 – Final Destination 3 – $54 million

2007
Jan. 12 – Primeval – $10 million
Jan. 19 – The Hitcher – $16 million
Feb. 2 – The Messengers – $35 million
Feb. 9 – Hannibal Rising – $27 million

2008
Jan. 4 – One Missed Call – $27 million
Feb. 1 – The Eye – $31 million

2009
Jan. 9 – The Unborn
Jan. 16 – My Bloody Valentine 3-D
Jan. 23 – Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans
Jan. 30 – The Uninvited
Feb. 13 – Friday The 13th (Gimmicky? Yes. But The Omen did make $12 million on 06/06/06…)

There are a couple of trends that I see in these figures. First off, movie titles are getting worse. According to current horror movie titles, if I really wanted to scare you, I should have just named this entry “The Blog Post.” Second, the horror pattern doesn’t really start until 2005. Until the successful debut of White Noise, the early weeks of January seemed off limits to a studio with a horror film. They stuck mostly with family-friendly affair, instead. Third, people were very tired of horror in 2007 and 2008. After years of Japanese remakes and torture-porn flicks, the genre felt stale. Fourth, these movies suck!

Sometimes I wonder why Hollywood is so obsessed with establishing patterns. If 300 can open to $70 million on a random weekend in March, a Hannah Montana concert can earn $30 million over three days in February, and Cloverfield can debut to $40 million in January, doesn’t that do anything to prove that people will go see what they want to see, regardless of its release date? I don’t know why studios feel the need to pigeonhole bad horror movies into these first two months of the year. By consistently releasing sub-par, only-somewhat-scary movies in January and February, Hollywood is conditioning film goers to stay at home. At a certain point, people wise up to the lack of quality. It took them a while with the “____ Movie” movies, and according to the above results, the horror genre is now seeing similar diminishing returns in January and February.

The reason that studios haven’t minded settling with the smallish figures is that these movies are ridiculously cheap to make. They usually make up their small production budgets by the end of their theatrical runs, and it’s pretty much the DVD revenue that earns the studio money. But, oh you foolish movie executives- you could make so much more!

How can the problem be fixed? Start by getting someone to make a really good horror movie, and/or do something truly innovative. Then, release that film whenever you want. It really doesn’t matter. Actually, at this point, it’s probably a little bit better to not release it in January, because people are starting to realize how bad January horror movies usually are. Bottom line: If the movie is good n’ scary and has a solid advertising campaign behind it, people will go see it. (Ex: The Ring)

As far as the 2009 films go, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans has a small legion of fanboys, Friday The 13th‘s release date plan will probably generate some business, and both films will get a boost since they are part of franchises. As far as the rest of the films go, they’ve all had surprisingly strong advertising campaigns, but 3-D is becoming kind of cliche, and The Uninvited‘s psycho woman plot isn’t as flashy as The Unborn‘s evil dead twin story. Because it’s coming out before the horror glut, I’m giving the slight edge to The Unborn, but I don’t really see any of them breaking out. If they fail, I blame the scheduling completely.

Here’s a good comment question: If you were to combine the RottenTomatoes T-Meter for all five of the horror films debuting in the next two months, what do you predict the total score would be? Will they collectively break 100%? Let me know what you think.

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Weekend Fix: Fanboys And Girly Girls Run The Box Office

January 21, 2008

This weekend at the box office, 2008 continued to trounce 2007, thanks mostly to the huge debut of Cloverfield, and 27 Dresses‘ solid bridesmaid performance. Over three days, the Top 12 films earned a fantastic $131.8 million, which represents a 24% increase over last weekend, and an enormous 84% over the same weekend last year. This is made even more eye-popping when you factor in the holiday weekend. Over four days, the Top 12 churned out $157.2 million in ticket sales. Where did this box office surge come from? The fanboys.

Monster movie Cloverfield stomped onto the scene and claimed first place this weekend, grossing a huge $46 million over four days. The super-secretive Paramount picture proved that if a trailer can truly whet an audience’s appetite, they’ll show up to get their fill when it debuts. The fanboys (self-included here) have been raving about Cloverfield for months now, excitedly anticipating it in forums across the web. All that excitement translated into big box office for the J.J. Abrams produced project, which broke the record for best three-day opening in January, but I’m expecting Cloverfield to fall pretty quickly. Movies that appeal to the movie-geek community (still self-included) usually open big and fall fast. We saw it last month with AVP:R, and we’ll see it (to a lesser extent) with Cloverfield. The trend is already apparent in its opening weekend: After a $16.8 million opening day, the film fell 17% on Saturday, which implies front-loadedness. Still, with good reviews, a widely-appealing story, an $11,738 (three day) venue average, and an innovative spin on the monster movie, Cloverfield shouldn’t have much trouble crossing the $100 million mark some time in the future. In second place, the romantic comedy 27 Dresses earned about $1 million for each of the dresses in its title, garnering a sweet $27.3 million four-day gross. This is great news for both of the film’s leads, for Katherine Heigl’s star continues to rise, and James Marsden proved that he can open a movie as the romantic lead. The one-two punch of Cloverfield and 27 Dresses reminds me very much of June 30, 2006, a weekend when Superman Returns opened with $52.5 million, and chick flick The Devil Wears Prada came in second with $27.5 million. (Coincidentally, Prada and Dresses were written by the same woman, who must have a knack for penning girly movies that open well against action films.) After that weekend, The Devil Wears Prada ended up having way better legs than Superman Returns, finishing with $124.5 million versus Superman‘s $200 million, and while 27 Dresses probably won’t reach these heights (it will have trouble pulling in any men), I wouldn’t be surprised if it finished with a total very similar to Cloverfield‘s. Its three day per theater average of $7,442 is strong, and Fox has got to be happy with these results.

In third place, The Bucket List pulled in $16.1 million over the holiday weekend. Showing some fairly promising endurance, the three-day gross only fell 28% from last week, though the Morgan Freeman/Jack Nicholson comedy’s three-day venue average of $4,806 was just alright. Still, with $43.7 million after ten days, Warner Brothers’ The Bucket List is doing quite well, and that makes me pretty happy. Any time old actors can prove themselves at the box office, I’m thrilled. Juno, the little comedy that could, came in fourth place this weekend, grossing $12 million over the four day period. Over the three-day weekend, the widely released indie darling (finally) started to show some very slight signs of its age, dropping 27% and earning a $3,917 venue average, which is actually still fairly strong. Fox Searchlight has platformed Juno gradually with amazingly effective results. The teen pregnancy comedy has earned a tremendous $87.1 million over seven weekends.
First Sunday fell hard this weekend, earning just $9.4 million. Over the three-day frame, the “Hey, let’s rob a church!” comedy had a low $3,525 per theater average and fell an alarming 56%, which is pretty awful, since the four day weekend usually leads to soft declines. Still, ScreenGems (who reached a similar audience with last year’s This Christmas) will ultimately be pleased with First Sunday‘s performance. After two weekends, it’s earned $30.1 million.

In sixth place, Disney’s juggernaut National Treasure: Book of Secrets continued its great run with another $9.4 million over four days. This is and always was money in the bank for Disney, and after five weekends, the Nicholas Cage adventure film has earned $199.6 million.

Mad Money, the estrogen-heavy heist film starring Diane Keaton, Katie Holmes, and Queen Latifah, opened poorly, stealing just $9.2 million over the holiday weekend. Unable to convince many women to watch a robbery film, Mad Money lost most of its audience to 27 Dresses. The comedy earned terrible reviews and had a weak $3,022 venue average over the three-day weekend, and it should disappear from the Top 12 faster than some shredded money from the Federal Reserve.
In eighth and ninth place are constant companions Alvin and the Chipmunks and I Am Legend, respectively. The former held better than the latter, and Alvin scooped up $9.2 million, while I Am Legend earned $5.7 million. After six weekends, the CGI rodent comedy has earned $198.6 million, and the Will Smith apocalyptic thriller has earned $248.3 million.

Atonement held onto the tenth place spot, earning a $5.7 million in the holiday weekend after its Golden Globe win for Best Picture. Helped by its expansion into 1,291 theaters, Atonement increased 13% over the three-day weekend, and it earned a $3,687 per theater average. The period piece has been a great performer for Focus Features, and it will have no trouble breaking $50 million in the weeks to come. If it wins some Oscars (that is, if there are any Oscars this year…) it could go very far.
The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything managed to hang on to a spot in the Top 12 this weekend, earning $3.6 million over four days. The entirely overlooked Universal release from the VeggieTales has grossed a tiny $8.5 million after two weekends.
Providing a nice surprise at the end of the Top 12, There Will Be Blood earned $3.5 million. The Paramount Vantage film has received lots of awards attention for Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance, and with a strong $7,416 per theater average, it should be around for a good while. Thus far, in just 260 theaters, it has earned a very encouraging $8.6 million.

Top 12 for January 18-21

# Movie Title Weekend Gross Total
1 Cloverfield $46,037,000 $46,037,000
2 27 Dresses $27,270,000 $27,270,000
3 The Bucket List $16,110,000 $43,669,000
4 Juno $12,000,000 $87,125,533
5 First Sunday $9,400,000 $30,066,000
6 Nation Treasure: Book of Secrets $9,359,000 $199,242,000
7 Mad Money $9,200,000 $9,200,000
8 Alvin and the Chipmunks $9,200,000 $198,580,181
9 I Am Legend $5,715,000 $248,292,000
10 Atonement $5,690,199 $32,815,005
11 The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything $3,631,400 $8,518,310
12 There Will Be Blood $3,541,000 $8,575,000

All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Three-Day Estimates: Cloverfield Stomps All Over Competition

January 20, 2008

     One of the most important things for a box office analyst to be able to do is recognize when the movie business is changing.  Sometimes, films just don’t behave the way you think they’re going to, and you must realize that the traditional box office behavior of yesteryear may no longer apply.  This seems to be the case with January.  With fantastic performances from Cloverfield, 27 Dresses, and The Bucket List (one of the films which I egregiously underestimated this weekend), January has become a totally viable month for studios to release big titles, leaving poor September as the worst month of the year.  This weekend proves that with solid marketing and a catchy concept, a movie can open well at any time of the year.  Fueled primarily by Cloverfield‘s record breaking opening (highest ever in January!), this year’s three-day weekend was huge, blowing past 2007’s grosses.  Check back in tomorrow for the four-day weekend analysis.

Three-Day Estimates for January 18-20
1. Cloverfield – $41 million
2. 27 Dresses – $22.4 million
3. The Bucket List – $15.2 million
4. Juno – $10.3 million
5. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $8.1 million
6. First Sunday – $7.8 million
7. Mad Money – $7.7 million
8. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $7 million
9. I Am Legend – $5.1 million
10. Atonement – $4.8 million
11. There Will Be Blood – $3.1 million
12. One Missed Call – $2.8 million
All numbers courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Friday Estimates: Cloverfield Has Monster Sized Box Office

January 19, 2008

     What month are we in again?  January?  Really?  Alright, but last time I checked, January was one of the worst months of the year in terms of box office.  With Cloverfield and 27 Dresses‘ fantastic opening day grosses, it looks like times must be really changing.  At least Mad Money is behaving normally…

     Cloverfield exploded onto the scene with an awesome $16.8 million on Friday.  Paramount’s experimental advertising campaign has paid off in a big way.  I’m expecting this one to be very frontloaded, so a 3.0 multiplier over four days could be in order.  Still, this would give Cloverfield an amazing $49 million over the holiday weekend.

     In the appropriate bridesmaid position on the chart, 27 Dresses will claim the second place position on the chart.  On Friday, the Katherine Heigl/James Marsden rom-com earned a delightful $7.7 million.  Just like opening Alvin and the Chipmunks against I Am Legend, Fox counter-programmed this film very well, and 27 Dresses should match my prediction of $27 million over the next three days.

     Way back in fifth place, Overture Films’ flagship title, Mad Money, got off to a disappointing start.  The lame comedy featuring Diane Keaton, Katie Holmes, and Queen Latifah (who only seems to find success as part of an ensemble) earned a meager $2.3 million on its first day, and it will only find about $7 million overall.

     The rest of the chart should behave pretty much as predicted, though with just $2.2 million yesterday, First Sunday is falling harder than expected.  The real surprise on the chart, though, comes from There Will Be Blood.  Hot on the heels of Daniel Day-Lewis’ Golden Globe win for Best Actor, the stunningly reviewed Paramount Vantage release popped in at twelfth place on Friday with $0.8 million.  In only 389 theaters, it could be looking at a strong $3 million weekend.
     Alright, tomorrow I’ll post some three-day estimates, but there won’t be any analysis.  Because of the four day weekend, the Weekend Fix will be up on Monday.  Have a great weekend!
Friday Estimates for January 18
1. Cloverfield – $16.8 million
2. 27 Dresses – $7.7 million
3. The Bucket List – $4.2 million
4. Juno – $3.1 million
5. Mad Money – $2.3 million
6. First Sunday – $2.2 million
7. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $2.1 million
8. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $1.6 million
9. I Am Legend – $1.4 million
10. Atonement – $1.3 million
11. One Missed Call – $890,000
12. There Will Be Blood – $820,000

Weekend Preview: Is Cloverfield The New Snakes On A Plane?

January 18, 2008

     Hey, fellow Box Office Junkies!  Sorry for the lack of posts this week- life’s been utterly crazy for the past few days, and I haven’t been able to update nearly as much as I’ve wanted to.  Luckily for you, though, everything is back on track today with this Weekend Preview.  I have to confess, because of the sheer amount of analysis that a certain monster movie has required me to do, I’m only going to be writing about the three new releases this week, but you can see my full Top 12 predictions at the end of the post.  Suffice it to say, January 2008 should remain very well ahead of January 2007 in this third weekend of the year.  Alright, let’s get started.
     Remember way back in 2006 when a little movie called Snakes On A Plane debuted?  You know, the one where Samuel L. Jackson yelled the famous line, “I have had it with these mother f***ing snakes on this mother f***ing plane!”  Greeted with an absolutely deafening amount of online buzz, from the moment Snakes On A Plane (Whoa- you can abbreviate with SOAP!) debuted its title, it had what seemed to be an endless legion of die-hard online fans who could not wait to see the movie as soon as it came out.  It was the first virally promoted film to take full advantage of the tech-savvy blogging community, as almost all the excitement and anticipation for SOAP came from the web.  Box office analysts were expecting a huge opening and a great box office total.  After all, we’d never seen a movie with this kind of online excitement behind it.

     Well, when SOAP finally debuted on August 18, 2006, analysts quickly realized that judging the movie’s potential success based on internet buzz was a mistake.  Snakes opened with a disappointing $15.2 million, and then went on to a totally underwhelming $34.5 million.  It was one of the biggest letdowns in recent history, based on the gigantic expectations.  How is this all relevant, you ask?  Well, the reason I bring this up now is that there is another film hitting screens today that has followed a very similar viral-crazed path of promotion: Cloverfield.
          The brain child of hotshot producer J.J. Abrams (the creator of the TV series Lost), Cloverfield is a super-secretive monster flick that’s been buzzed about since its very first trailer, which featured that glorious shot of the Statue of Liberty’s head falling onto the street in NYC.  Bloggers and fanboys have been raving for months anticipating the film, and awareness for Cloverfield is very high.  Judging by the apparent excitement on the web, it would seem that this mystery-monster-movie was poised to open with the kind of numbers that many people expected SOAP to start with.  But will it similarly disappoint?  I don’t think so, and here’s why:

     Cloverfield‘s marketing contains one essential ingredient that SOAP‘s lacked, and that is mystery!  People who went to see Snakes on a Plane got exactly what title said they would get: snakes on a plane.  Cloverfield, on the other hand, is totally mysterious.  What does this monster look like?  Is it anything like Godzilla?  How tall is it?  Does it get killed?  Does it destroy all of New York?  Why does it decapitate Lady Liberty?  Curiosity is going to drive a lot of people into the theaters this weekend, and it helps that Cloverfield is not so clearly a B-movie for geeks only.
     Also, Cloverfield is a proven formula with a slight tweak.  Special-effects-driven disaster movies have impressed time and time again at the box office (Jurassic ParkThe Day After Tomorrow, I Am Legend to name a few), and Cloverfield‘s slight tweak of a familiar story should keep the crowds coming.  Also setting this film apart is its unique photography style.  Supposedly captured entirely on the protagonists home video, Cloverfield takes a page out of The Blair Witch Project‘s book with a shaky cam style.  Some critics hate this, but most are praising the film for the freshness it brings to the table, and it’s getting some very good reviews.  Personally, I think the shaky cam can get a bit annoying (Paul Greengrass, can we just watch Jason Bourne fight sometimes?!), but I appreciate the stylistic chance that Cloverfield is taking with it.  All of this is to say that I think that Cloverfield‘s opening (and the second weekend drop) is going to be big.  Launching onto 3,411 theaters, Cloverfield might find about $39 million in three days, and $47 million over the extended weekend (because of MLK Day), easily giving it the #1 spot.

     The other big opener this weekend is Fox’s romantic comedy 27 Dresses, which should do some very solid business with women this weekend.  Starring Katherine Heigl, who’s hot off her debut in Knocked Up, and James Marsden, who actually isn’t the third wheel here, 27 Dresses tells the story of a woman who has been a bridesmaid 27 times.  Just when it looks like her love life is hopeless, she suddenly finds herself falling in love with her own sister’s fiancee.  The story is a fresh one, and Fox, which has been pushing this film hard, has done a great job of selling the story.  It looks like the massive amounts of advertising should pay off.  Heigl, already popular with women because of her role on TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, proved her comedic chops with Knocked Up last summer, and while 27 Dresses is not pulling in anywhere near the kind of reviews that that movie received, her rising star should help the romantic comedy debut well.  James Marsden has never carried a movie as a leading man, so it will be interesting to see how he fares.  In March 2006, the Sarah Jessica Parker/Matthew McConaughey feature Failure To Launch debuted to $24.4 million on its way to a fantastic $88.7 million total, and it looks like 27 Dresses could surpass that performance.  Walking down the aisle in 3,057 theaters, 27 Dresses should earn about $27 million over the four-day weekend.

     And then we have Mad Money, the female heist film about robbing the Federal Reserve.   Proving that Hollywood doesn’t have any roles for older women, Mad Money stars Diane Keaton as a down-on-her-luck janitor at the Federal Reserve, who pairs up with sassy Queen Latifah and ditzy Katie Holmes to steal a huge load of cash that’s meant to be shredded up and recycled.  Critics are trashing the film (who would’ve thought that Katie Holmes could get an even more negative response for this than her role in Batman Begins?), calling it unfunny and implausible.  The excitement meter is very low for this one, and of the three leading ladies, only Keaton has any real drawing power.  The main problem for this film is that 27 Dresses will be the primary choice for women this weekend.  The aforementioned romantic comedy will provide direct competition for Mad Money, which is the first release for fledgling studio Overture Films.  Unfortunately, the young studio will probably be mad at how little money Mad Money makes.  Entering into 2,470 theaters, the female heist comedy might earn a small $8.5 million over the holiday weekend.
 
Predicted Top Twelve for January 18-21
1. Cloverfield – $47 million
2. 27 Dresses – $27 million
3. The Bucket List – $12.6 million
4. Juno – $11 million
5. First Sunday – $10.3 million
6. Mad Money – $8.5  million
7. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – $6.7 million 
8. Alvin and the Chipmunks – $6.5 million
9. Atonement – $5 million
10. I Am Legend – $4.9 million
11. One Missed Call – $2.9 million
12. P.S. I Love You – $2.6 million