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David Poland

By David Poland

Friday Estimates by American Counter Klady

Friday Estimates 2015-01-24 at 8.42.30 AM

At the end of this weekend, American Sniper will have both the first and third biggest January weekend gross of all time. (Avatar had a $68m January weekend, followed by a 50 and a 43.)

The size of this success has pushed the screaming about Selma to the side (ironically, a debate over gender and color getting shoved aside by an angry white guy) and seems to have taken the mantle of “controversial must-see,” with Selma dropping in a normal way now after a great box office moment on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with $5 million, which will likely be the biggest single day the film ever has. If Selma gets no further major public discussion, what seemed like was happening last week – $50 million domestic in the film’s sight – may not happen. Regardless, even if the final domestic is just $45 million, the film has done quite well for itself.

This will not be said of The Boy Next Door, which has been raked over the coals by critics, but will still do $17 million or so for the weekend. This is not quite good. But it isn’t a complete carwreck either.

(Editor’s Note, 9:42a: It has been pointed out that The Boy Next Door is claiming a budget of $4 million. I can’t argue the number. If so, the number still isn’t very good. The standard for this kind of film remains the $20 million opening. But it does suggest a likely profit.)

This cannot be said to Mortdecai, which seems to be the moment of Johnny Depp’s midlife crisis. This is the whimper after the bang (Transcendence). It feels like a million writers have already said the obvious… to paraphrase Olivier, “Why not try acting, dear boy?” But Depp has another $50 million or so to acquire from the franchise-slutting Disney Co, so off he will go. Then, perhaps, he will start eating like Brando, though at 50, he may not have enough time to get as big as his idol. Personally, I am rooting for Depp to go make a movie in which he hands himself to a strong director and not to the marketing department. He doesn’t have to slum. The Coens? Ridley Scott? NOT Star Wars. Back to an older Tim Burton to do something great?

Did I mention Star Wars? George Lucas’ exit project at Lucasfilm arrived (ironically, the animation studio infrastructure that made Rango with Paramount, in which Johnny Depp did some excellent work) and was kicked… hard. I haven’t seen it, but the way that Disney released it – showing it a couple days before release – my hopes were low. The hatred of the piece makes me interested. A few smart people hate something and I usually see what they mean. When hatred is universal, the verdict is either really right or really just missed the movie that was being made. I guess I will find out someday.

In the Oscar race, The Imitation Game becomes the #2 grosser in the group of Best Picture nominees this weekend, passing The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Selma passes both The Theory of Everything and Birdman to become the #4 grosser.

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18 Responses to “Friday Estimates by American Counter Klady”

  1. Bulldog68 says:

    Well at this point $300m is all but assured for American Sniper, with only Mockinjay having a bigger total at the end of two weeks. And with a decent chance of being the highest grossing movie of 2014.

    Wow. Did not see that coming.

  2. Mark says:

    How is “The Boy Next Door” $17 million opening weekend “not quite good”? The movie’s made for $4 million only.

  3. Bulldog68 says:

    I read that Universal spent $4m on The Boy Next Door. How is this opening not anything but a success?

  4. David Poland says:

    If The Boy Next Door was made for $4 million than I owe it an apology.

  5. movieman says:

    A “$4-million” production cost, but a $30-million-plus marketing budget?

    If Universal was willing to go the “R” route w/ “BND,” I wish they’d embraced the damn thing. Chickenshits.
    A real missed opportunity to make a truly sexy, indisputably campy guilty pleasure.

  6. EtGuild2 says:

    Not only is “Selma” getting overshadowed, but so is the fact we potentially have a trio of $50 million+ write offs in a two week period. “Blackhat,” “Mortdecai” and “Strange Magic” would rank among the biggest bombs in a normal calendar year. Boy, that OddLot-Lionsgate deal is off to a great start with “Ender’s Game,” “Mortdecai” and “Draft Day,” no?

    Did JLO really not demand upfront on this?

  7. PcChongor says:

    Don’t forget about “Rosewater” too.

  8. movieman says:

    Gawd, was “Mortedecai” ever lousy!
    To call it leaden would be an insult to pencils.
    It reminded me of the crappy non-Blake Edwards movies Peter Sellers made in the mid-to-late ’60s (“The Bobo,” “After the Fox,” et al).
    Purported comedies in which a funny accent was supposed to automatically translate to laughs.

  9. actionman says:

    Blackhat completely vanishes. Damn.

  10. Geoff says:

    2014 is going to end up seeming like such a strange year in retrospect from a box office standpoint – the two biggest films domestically will end up being released in August and January of the following year.

    Selma’s going to leg it out to over $50 million and at Comic Con in July, Marvel will announce Ava Duvernay as the director of Black Panther.

  11. movieman says:

    Uh, “Mockingjay 1” passed that August Marvel movie last week, Geoff.
    So two (of the three) biggest grossing films domestically were released in August and January.
    And “January” is a bit of a fudge since “American Sniper” really did open in December (albeit on just four screens in NYC and L.A.).

  12. EtGuild2 says:

    @Geoff, “Hunger Games” is locked in at #1 or #2. The amazing stat is that the biggest film worldwide won’t crack the Top 5 domestically, and the top film domestically likely won’t crack the Top 5 worldwide (if its Hunger Games), or insanely, won’t crack the Top 15 worldwide (if it’s American Sniper).

    SNIPER would have to get to $478 million to enter the top 15, which seems practically impossible.

  13. movieman says:

    At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if “Sniper” at least matches the $370-million domestic cume of Mel Gibson’s “Passion.”
    Stranger things have happened.
    It should be able to easily hold onto its #1 slot on the b.o. chart until at least the weekend of February 6th, maybe even Valentine’s Day weekend.

  14. EtGuild2 says:

    It’s probably pretty pointless to speculate at this point, but $350 million feels like a ceiling to me. I just don’t get the sense that this is the type of all-encompassing event necessary to break past that level. Consider that with inflation (I know), that would put it in the same ballpark as “Pretty Woman,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Rain Man” among R-Rated films. $370 would put it in the same ballpark with “Saving Private Ryan.” Does “American Sniper” feel like it’s something in that range? Not quite to me, but who the hell knows at this point.

  15. pat says:

    It’s what everybody is talking about, and will remain so at least until the Oscars.

  16. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I know people are focusing on Mortdecai flopping because it’s headlined by Depp, but Strange Magic opened wider for lower BO. Given it’s a George Lucas production (he wrote the story) and released by the Disney marketing machine, the dumping and resultant flop is the more interesting story for me.

  17. LexG says:

    One more week.

    THE LOFT. Movie event of the year.

  18. Triple Option says:

    I’m curious, did you not look at the Mordecai trailers and not know it was going to be awful? I guess you’ve got to make an effort but every time I’d see a trailer, which exceeded the number of times I was confronted about erectile dysfunction, I wondered why would any marketing dept continue to throw good money after bad?

    I get going just cuz you go see every new movie or every one w/Depp but did anyone actually see anything that might suggest it wouldn’t be anything short of an attack on senses? I would not see that film w/out John Belushi sized dose of Dramamine. Was it just the names involved or did anyone see anything that made you think there was potential? I just imagine the experience of trying to sit through that movie would be just as annoying as trying to take a nap on a planned day off but the neighborhood kids, gardeners, and trash collectors all deciding to parade by your window, one after the other.

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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.

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