With the amazing high of The Dark Knight in July pushing the yearly tally for 2008 beyond the heights of 2007, the big question for August was whether it would be able to keep up the pace. There weren’t any expectations for this August to beat last August (not after the exemplary performance from both The Bourne Ultimatum and Superbad), but staying within spitting distance would help keep the year on pace.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Prediction: $40m Open, $130m Final
Actual: $40m Open, $100m Current, ~$105m Final
If, at the beginning of the year, you had looked at the two Brendan Fraser films and tried to guess which would be considered a hit and the other a miss, you’d probably have guessed that if any, this would have been the hit. It’s not a flop, and given the overseas success it’s likely to turn a tidy profit when all is said and done, but the domestic tally is disappointing. In comparison, Journey to the Center of the Earth manages to switch itself up twice this summer as a success story, doing it here and with Prince Caspian.
The reason for the lack of success here can mostly be summed up in the loss of fun from the earlier films. Fraser is still game, but in light of what moviegoers can get in 2008, there wasn’t any life around him. The lesson to take from this is that if you want to revive a franchise, you don’t give it to Rob Cohen to direct.
Prediction: $10m Open, $45m Final
Actual: $6m Open, $16m Current, ~$16m Final
For the most part, Americans don’t like politics in their movies. They don’t like films that focus on the failures abroad, and they don’t like films that focus on the troubles at home. When things are relatively bad, Americans don’t like to be reminded that they, as a country, are fallable and mortal.
So over the past couple of years, the extreme failure of any film to deliver a message about the state of the US in relation to the rest of the world isn’t too surprising. Swing Vote didn’t have any of that, but my comparison to Dave was way off the mark. In retrospect, this makes sense for two reasons. First, the state of the US in 1993 was perceived quite a bit better than it is today, so a lighthearted comedy about the presidency could work quite well. Instead we’ve got a situation where all Americans are focused on the election. Second, the election itself is providing far more entertainment than any movie could deliver.
Ten years ago, Swing Vote might have worked perfectly, but not today.
Prediction: $30m Open, $110m Final
Actual: $23m Open, $41m Five-Day, $85m Current, ~$95m Final
The first of many August movies to get a Wednesday release without any holidays, in this case it was done to try and offset the loss of business due to the Olympics. Intially, it seemed to work quite well, because it earned $12m on it’s opening day. By Saturday, it seemed it had failed, because the business wasn’t up on Friday at all. But on Sunday, things looked good again, because it had barely dropped. It was truly one of the weirdest five-day openings we’ve seen in quite some time.
Pineapple Express hasn’t displayed the legs of the stronger Apatow films like 40-Year-Old Virgin or Superbad, but it’s not done that poorly, either. For a film that cost $27m to make and had the prime of its run go up against Michael Phelps, this is quite rosey.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
Prediction: $10m Open, $45m Final
Actual: $11m Open, $43m Current, $46m Final
Much like Pineapple Express and the first Traveling Pants film, this got a Wednesday release. It’s not been a breakout, but neither has it been a disappointment. There’s a showing of quiet consistency with this film, which probably means we could see a third Pants film in the not too distant future (assuming the stars don’t get too old to play the parts.) The book series has two more volumes, so there is room.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Prediction: $45m Open, $140m Final
Actual: $15m Open, $33m Current, ~$35m Final
There really isn’t much of a market for Star Wars outside of the hardcore fans. And apparently this turned them off as well. What this means for the forthcoming TV series remains to be seen, but it’s a terrible result for the film. I believe Lucas saw $100m as the break even point for this one.
Prediction: $30m Open, $110m Final
Actual: $25m Open, $37m Five-Day, $96m Current, ~$110m Final
Like Pineapple Express, this got a non-holiday Wednesday release. It wasn’t quite so spectacular from the start, earning half as much on the opening day, but it’s held up much better. It managed to grab the #1 spot from Batman and hold it for three weeks, only losing the position this past weekend to Nicholas Cage, and even there just barely.
The difference between this and Pineapple Express is the budget. While the Apatow comedy had a small $27m budget, this one apparently cost at least $90m to make. It’s still likely a success, since the home video market will certainly cover the costs, but the road is a bit longer. There’s a chance it might break even with the overseas totals, but that’s not guaranteed. This is a film that’s aimed rather strongly at American audiences.
Prediction: $5m Open, $15m Final
Actual: $11m Open, $27m Current, ~$33m Final
While the shine has certainly come off of Asian horror remakes, there’s still a bit of life left in the genre. The run for this one is eerily reminiscent of February’s The Eye. This is probably an okay result for distributor Fox, as horror tends to be a cheap genre.
The House Bunny
Prediction: $10m Open, $30m Final
Actual: $15m Open, $37m Current, ~$55m Final
Call this one a win for Anna Faris. She can probably do enjoyably dumb better than anyone else in Hollywood, and her success here probably means she’ll have more of a career than Scary Movie sequels. In six or seven years, she’ll probably be ready to do a daring dramatic turn that’ll get her an Oscar nomination.
Prediction: $10m Open, $25m Final
Actual: $13m Open, $30m Current, $40m Final
Some people are calling this a failure, but I’m really not sure why. He makes films that end up in the $25-$45m range, and he does that consistently and usually enjoyably. The niche he’s found in providing low-brow, low-budget, high-thrills entertainment in the dregs of summer is something that Hollywood should celebrate, frankly. It’s not like they have to pay the guy a ton. Death Race is playing right in line with his films.
If anyone deserves the blame here, it’s probably Paul W.S. Anderson. Had this film cost $25m, everything would have been golden, but it cost $45m and it’s considered a failure. It’s not a failure, because it would be nearly impossible for this to lose money after the home video release, but there’s still some headline focus on the theatrical release as the profit-maker.
Next up for Statham is Transporter 3, where he gets a massive holiday upgrade from Labor Day to Thanksgiving.
Fly Me to the Moon
Prediction: $5m Open, $10m Final
Actual: $2m Open, $8m Current, ~$10m Final
There was a plan here, I think, to try and use this film to springboard a studio to getting more computer animation films in wider release. It didn’t work. Neither did the 3D release.
Prediction: $20m Open, $45m Final
Actual: $9m Open, $17m Current, ~$25m Final
Vin Diesel apparently passed on the lead role in Hitman for this. Not that passing on Hitman is anything to be ashamed of, but with Diesel in that role instead of Timothy Olyphant, it might have even gotten to $50m. Instead we’ve got this film, which is a less-good Children of Men. In fact, it’s so bad that director Mathieu Kassovitz disowned it before the release. Not entirely, since this isn’t an Alan Smithee film, but he did contend that the studio had ruined it.
For Diesel, he’s got Fast & Furious coming out next June, which reconnects him with fast cars and Paul Walker, who has arguably had a better career than Diesel since they starred together in the first film. If it doesn’t fly, Diesel might end up taking the Wesley Snipes career route.
Prediction: $8m Open, $15m Final
Actual: $2m Open, $4m Current, ~$6m Final
With the success of Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express, and The House Bunny there really hasn’t been room for other comedies. There are many reasons this film is a failure, but I think that one stands out: “Best. Weekend. Ever.” is a terrible tagline to try and sell a film. I bet they wish this film was as successful as Eurotrip ($17m final).
Prediction: $2m Open, $5m Final
Actual: $8m Open, $17m Current, ~$30m Final
After an extremely soft Wednesday release of under $800,000, Traitor managed to surprise a bit over the long Labor Day weekend, with over $11m in six days. It hasn’t garnered strong critical praise, but this is going to be Don Cheadle’s biggest headlining film. It’s even bigger than some which have paired him with bigger stars, such as Reign Over Me with Adam Sandler.
Prediction: $5m Open, $10m Final
Actual: $6m Open, $11m Current, $17m Final
Slowly but surely, the [x] Movies are dying and may soon be but a bad memory. I’m not sure how long that will take, though, as they’re dirt cheap to produce.
Prediction: $15m Open, $55m Final
Actual: $3m Open, $6m Current, $6m Final
Well, it got bumped a few weeks, so instead of competing with Step Brothers and Pineapple Express for comedy dollars, it ended up competing with Tropic Thunder, The House Bunny, Disaster Movie, College, Hamlet 2, AND Pineapple Express. There’s really no good news here except that the film only cost $15m to produce. The opening (actually $2.6m) is the worst for any film to open in 2500 theaters or more.
Moreover, it’s second-to-third weekend drop of 84% is terrifically bad, in the territory of Uwe Boll films and Gigli. It also lost the second most theaters going into the third weekend, beaten only by Meet Dave. Rainn Wilson might have wanted to try his hand at movies in the TV offseason, but he really needs to get in on a film with some bigger stars to carry him along.
The Dark Knight’s total is up over $510m, and it’s almost certain to get to $530m. It’s entirely possible that it shoots past $550m, if only because of IMAX screenings. $55m of its total has come from the bigger than big screens and they’re apparently still selling out on weekend. Plus there’s a chance that WB will re-release it for the Oscar season. If they do, it’s possible that it would nudge past Titantic on the all-time list. Of course, the money is likely better if they just do a DVD release in time for the holidays, but there are a lot of bragging rights to being number one. And it’s not likely that the record would fall any time soon. The only real chance is if Star Wars gets another theatrical release which earns it $140m or more. After the reception of The Clone Wars, that’s not too likely.
Also, while there’s some good in August, it wasn’t enough to keep ahead of last year’s pace. 2007 managed to pass $7 billion by the end of the Labor Day weekend. 2008 isn’t quite there and is running about 1% behind right now.