Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend Box Office (02/17/13): Die Hard 5 tops, Save Haven opens well, Beautiful Creatures tanks.

Thanks to an unexpectedly strong second-weekend showing of Identity Thief, there's going to be a lot of wrangling about rank this weekend.  But as you know, I don't care about rank, so let's just get into the numbers.  The biggest opener of the weekend was the stunningly terrible A Good Day To Die Hard, which earned an estimated $25 million for the Fri-Sun weekend, $31 million over the four-day Presidents' Day holiday, and a projected $38 million since opening on Thursday the 14th.  This was the first Die Hard film to open outside of summer, and it's arguable that Fox knew full-well that it had a turkey on its hands.  There were no press screenings until the last minute and Fox didn't even bother to attach a teaser to The Wolverine to prints this weekend, which seemed like a no-brainer save for the danger of being associated with a stunningly bad film.  Nonetheless, the brand is still somewhat strong, although it's obviously waning. Not even playing the inflation game compared to the first three installments which came out in 1988, 1990, and 1995, the fifth Die Hard earned just $3 million more in five days then the fourth picture, Live Free or Die Hard earned over its Fri-Sun weekend back in June 2007.

It also had a five day debut, opening on a Wednesday, and it pulled in $48 million by the end of its five-day debut.  If you want to play the inflation game, the first four films debuted with the adjusted equivalent of $13.9 million, $41.3 million, $41 million, and $39 million respectively.  So far the film's quality hasn't had too much of an impact, as the film still pulled an okay 4.5x five-day weekend multiplier (Live Free or Die Hard had 5.3x).  Obviously compared to the likes of Bullet to the Head and The Last Stand, this is a solid result.  And let's be honest here, 20th Century Fox doesn't give a crap about domestic this time around.  The film may-well end up grossing less than the $83 million earned by the original Die Hard back in 1988 and still make a killing overseas.  The film will probably do well in Russia since it's set there and the minimal grunting that allegedly qualifies as dialogue should require minimal translation.  It's already earned $61 million overseas, giving it a $100 million+ worldwide cume by the end of this holiday weekend.  We may well get a I've Got Nothing Better to Do So I Might As Well Die Hard in few years time on the strength of the foreign numbers alone.

The film cost $92 million, which is significantly less than the last two installments (even Die Hard: With the Vengeance cost $100 million back in 1995).  Normally I'd applaud such a thing, but the film looks like it spent $85 million on Bruce Willis's salary and a first act chase sequence, leaving $7 million for the rest of the film.  It will be interesting to see how the film's stunning badness impacts the box office.  I simply cannot believe the alleged B+ from Cinemascore, as I can't imagine anyone anywhere thinking they got what they wanted out of this film.  In a logical world, we should expect an epic crash on par with the 2010 Valentine's Day release The Wolfman and a quick sprint to $55 million.  But this is the last of the hard-action films until, ironically, the Die Hard in the White House thriller Olympus Has Fallen on March 22nd.  Those who want R-rated (not really) action and don't want to sample the Stallone/Schwarzenegger/Statham entries (which are gone from many theaters already anyway) may convince themselves to take the plunge.  Where it likely loses is its appeal as the 'second choice' for adult moviegoers, which is where Identity Thief wins in the long run.

The next big debut was yet another romantic drama win for Nicholas Sparks, whose Safe Haven debuted with a solid $21 million Fri-Sun and $36 million five-day total.  The total was a bit front-loaded because its opening Thursday was Valentine's Day, but no one at Relativity is complaining.  Romantic dramas aren't huge openers, so even this 'middle of the road' Sparks opener is still the sixth-biggest romantic drama opening of all-time, fourth if you discount the special effects-driven behemoths Pearl Harbor and Titanic.  And hell, two of those openers are other Sparks films (The Lucky Ones with $22 million and Dear John with $32 million) and last year's The Vow with $41 million, had a large portion of moviegoers and critics wrongly believing it was based on a Nicholas Sparks book.  The discrepancy between this one and the upper realms of Dear John and The Vow is merely a question of star power.  Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams and/or Amanda Seyfried are movie stars while comparative newcomer Julianne Hough and Vegas and Transformers vet Josh Duhamel are not.  Still, Sparks is absolutely the main draw this time around.  With the exception of Dear John, Sparks films have generally decent legs, with an average weekend-to-final multiplier of around 3.5x.  Let's give Safe Haven a 3x and peg a final total of $63 million.

The next opener was Escape From Planet Earth, which earned $16 million since opening on Friday and should earn around $21 million for the long weekend.  It's a Weinstein Company animated feature with minimal advertising, no buzz, terrible reviews, and nothing remotely name-brand about it.  So why did it pull $20 million over the weekend?  This one is easy.  There hasn't been a real kids' flick in theaters since Rise of the Guardians back in Thanksgiving.  Oh sure Disney stupidly buried Monsters Inc. 3D just before Christmas, but there hasn't been anything new for young kids, nothing whatsoever at all for those too young to see the very-much PG-13 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (which is  *this* close to crossing $300 million) for two months.  If you've got kids, especially kids who like to go to the movies, this was your first chance in two months.  Even as bad as this film allegedly is, I was sorely tempted to ask my daughter if she wanted to catch a matinee this weekend.  So far I have resisted, as I know the cost of intentionally taking my kid to a bad cartoon just to go to the movies (a far harsher critic than I, she walked out of Gnomeo and Juliet two years ago).  Of course, I liked both Hoodwinked pictures more than most critics, so I may well accidentally enjoy this one.  It's just a question of whether it's worth the risk.

The real heart breaker of the weekend was the disastrous showing of Beautiful Creatures.  Easily the best film of the weekend and the best mainstream theatrical release of 2013 thus far, the film still earned just $11 million over the entire five-day weekend. Warner Bros. did the usual 'saturate its young stars' marketing while neglecting to get word out that the film was really really good (and really funny). The film lost the romance crowd to Safe Haven, lost the action crowd to Die Hard 5, and lost the comedy crowd (which Warner never tried to market to) to Identity Thief.  A less crowded release date might have helped, but Warner is arguably more concerned with marketing the expensive Jack the Giant Slayer for March 1st.  This $60 million fantasy romance is a bust domestically, but hopefully Warner can play up the film's literary smarts for Europe.  There's not much overt analysis here.  But the film was much much better than most audiences probably expected and Warner completely failed to sell the quality of its product.  Opening weekend is about marketing and not quality, but Warner Bros. completely failed to highlight not only how good the film was, but how much there was for older moviegoers (Jeremy Irons is a hoot) and how much it wasn't just  would-be Twilight knockoff.

There's not too much in holdover news.  Django Unchained crossed $200 million overseas for a worldwide total of $364 million, while The Silver Linings Playbook will cross $100 million domestic on Tuesday.  Identity Thief held up well, dropping just 32% over the holiday-inflated weekend for a $23 million Fri-Sun total and a projected cume of $75 million by holiday's end (it's at $70 million as of today).  Argo heads into Oscar weekend with $126 million and Zero Dark Thirty now has $88 million.  $100 million is within reach if it can keep screens after the Oscars.  Warm Bodies benefited from Valentine's Day, dropping just 21% in weekend three.  The zombie romantic comedy earned $10 million over the holiday weekend and now has $50 million with a projected $51 million. Side Effects held on pretty well, earning $7 million over the holiday and bringing its cume to $19 million.  $30 million for a movie like this is indeed a win.  Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters crossed $50 million domestic and $133 million worldwide.  Mama has a somewhat incredible $68 million cume while Les Miserables has $145 million domestic and $360 million worldwide.  Meanwhile the domestic flop The Impossible has $17 million here and $155 million worldwide.  Wreck It Ralph has crossed $400 million worldwide while Rise of the Guardians now has $301 million global.  Not to be remotely outdone, the international sensation Life Of Pi may have a "mere" $111 million domestic, but it has an astonishing $556 million worldwide.

That's it for this weekend.  Join us next time for the Dwayne Johnson 'war on drugs is bad' thriller Snitch and the supernatural creeper Dark Skies.  Until then, please please go see Beautiful Creatures!

Scott Mendelson


MelissaB said...

According to my teenage daughter Beautiful Creatures was boring and the boyfriend was "not hot enough". Failure to reach the demographic intended means it was never going to be a hit. Rotten Tomatoes also lists positive reviews at only 45%. In the long run, casting an actor or actress with more name or face recognition could have helped the bottom line.

Scott Mendelson said...

Indeed, the film was full of vaguely recognizable actors with no box office pull. As for your daughter's concerns, while I can't disagree that Alden Ehrenreich is more charming than handsome, she still had Jeremy Irons to oogle, so that should have been enough! :-)


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