MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks Of Summer: This Year’s $200 Million Movies So Far

As you can see, I have included a few titles that are not at $200m worldwide yet, but are guaranteed to get there. (numbers from BO Mojo)

Seven of the nine studio wide releases to date this summer have achieved this mark. Six have or are highly likely to pass $300m worldwide. (If you are wondering what the two outliers are, they are The Dictator, which is over $125m worldwide, and Chernobyl Diaries, which is not.)

If you want to know why summer at the movies looks like summer at the movies now looks, this is why.

As you all know, a couple of the $300m worldwide grossers will/could still be money losers. But studios would rather gamble big. And the joke that is the slump talk remains glaringly false. When over 75% of your releases are grossing over $300 million worldwide in a season, there is no problem with getting people to the movies. There are often problems with spending too much to make these films or to get the audience to the theater.

It is an odd curiosity, however, that of six $300m worldwide grossers so far this summer, only The Avengers is likely to hit $200m domestic and only four seem headed to $150m domestic or better. And though I see it as wildly reductive to blame international numbers primarily on 3D, only two of the six $300m ww grossers are non-3D.

Will Men in Black 3, just passing the $500m mark, be profitable for Sony? I don’t know. If the deals they had in place for MiB2 are still in place, maybe not. A whole lot came right off the top for the Exec Producer and one of the stars… not to mention smaller pieces to the director and co-star. (Note that TLJ was also not as present in MiB2 as he was in the original, just as he isn’t in MiB3. Not a development choice.) So maybe the deals were more favorable to Sony this time. (I believe they also had finding partners this time out.) But yes, you could gross $500m+ worldwide and still not make money… or make very little. Let’s hope for Sony that this is not the case here.

Part of the urge to chase big grosses with big budget films is what I call “Dark Knight Syndrome.” When any movie earns those kinds of dollars, the urge to chase with a sequel is enormous. In the case of Batman Begins, it was a terrific movie that underperformed the stronger history of Batman movies ($375m ww) and there was a massive payoff with The Dark Knight. But hey… G.I.:Joe, which sucked, did $300 million worldwide. So did the Clash of the Titans sequel. So how can you leave that audience base hanging? Worst case scenario, you make another bad movie and gross another $300 million. (Of course, the real worst is that people smell it coming and you do $127m worldwide the second time around… but you avert your eyes.) Best case, the movie explodes. This phenomenon was accelerated by Fast Five, which added The Rock and blew every prior F&F movie’s gross out of the water.

Remember when the sequel normally earned less than the original?

You have a good memory.

Here is a look at the summer-to-date vs my projections…

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9 Responses to “20 Weeks Of Summer: This Year’s $200 Million Movies So Far”

  1. KrazyEyes says:

    Column headers are your friends.

  2. waterbucket says:

    I’m shocked at the success of American Reunion overseas. Good for them.

  3. Glenn says:

    waterbucker, never underestimate the effect of actors visiting overseas territories as a way of bolstering grosses.

  4. Foamy Squirrel says:

    It is an odd curiosity, however, that of six $300m worldwide grossers so far this summer, only The Avengers is likely to hit $200m domestic

    What is this? I don’t even?

  5. Yancy Skancy says:

    Foamy: I stumbled over that, too; I think he just meant that none of the other five would hit $200m domestic. But I didn’t check the math.

  6. Foamy Squirrel says:

    ..but there’s eight $300m worldwide grossers. And Lorax and Hunger have hit $200m domestic too.

    I seriously have no idea where DP was going with this.

  7. David Poland says:

    Summer, Foamy. Summer.

    I included the other titles for the sake of offering more information.

  8. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Then list them separately? Why put them in the same table as everything else and then be like “Oh, but they don’t count” and not say anything to that effect.

    Also “only The Avengers is likely to hit $200m domestic” is still a horribly constructed sentence.

  9. on_a_ledge says:

    @foamy no issues understanding here, get over it


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon