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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by Never Trust A Turtle Under 36 Klady

Weekend Estimates 2016-06-05 at 12.16.13 PM

Modern movie journalists aren’t happy unless they have some great overreaching theory to expound upon, showing they anticipate the future. Few do. Not because they aren’t smart, but because they think in too short a window.

The current rage: “The Mega-Movie Sky Is Falling!!!”

There are absurd analyses that studios will re-think the business model because of flops like Alice 2, Turtles 2, and X-Men 8. But this analysis only holds up for about three weeks. For the first time in movie history, there are four films as of June 1 that have grossed over $850 million worldwide. This doesn’t include the near-$800 million Star Wars 7 brought in during this calendar year.

People forget that there was only one comic book movie last year that did over $550 million-plus in 2015 (Avengers 2) the entire year. This year, we already have three and a fourth that is going to get there (X8).

There is a glut. And it is going to get worse. And the cycle for comic book films will faces a day of reckoning. Yes, yes, yes.

But in reality, X-Men: Days of Future Past (which did $748m worldwide) is the anomaly of the X-Men franchise, not the standard. X-Men Apocalypse is right in line with the franchise, the #5 amongst the eight films after 10 days and destined to be #2 behind only DoFP (less than $57m from that status as of this writing).

Batman v Superman is not a great success for WB or as the fuel for enormous DC franchise success. But it is the #8 grossing comic book movie in history, a group led by 4 Iron Man-led movies, followed by Nolan Batman films 2 & 3, Spidey 3, and BvS. So in terms of reasonable expectations, BvS is a flop only in comparison to two Nolan films. Marvel caught lightning in a bottle with Downey as Iron Man and has never made a $850m ww grosser in which he does not star.

Point is… movie journalists wildly overstate the significance of outliers, successes or failures. There is a hard reality in producing movies that cost $200m-plus and another $150m to market worldwide. The lowest gross – as it reflects on the full revenue stream – to break even on these movies is in the mid-400 millions. But every movie doesn’t need to do a billion dollars either.

Another detail… the top four movies of 2016 so far have a China asterisk of between $25 million and $60 million in studio returns that will not be coming back to the studio because China returns less (about half) of the ticket sales than other international markets.

I know… details are boring. Chicken Little is better over coffee.

All that said… this weekend sucked. With cause.

No one expected Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot to do almost $200m domestic and almost $500m worldwide. The number this weekend, in the much more aggressively dated release for the sequel, is about where people expected the first film to be. Why would Paramount double-down and shove an August film into June? Because they have three movies dated in late July-early August. Not really a big enough to success to believe it needed an upgrade on the schedule. If a 2nd film did $600m worldwide, then it could get ambitious. But best laid plans…

This is similar to the story of Alice 2, which was a surprise monster hit from the previous movie regime (Dick Cook/Oren Aviv) a few months after “off with their heads!” A spring surprise… where movies and their marketing have time to breathe… shoved into the fiery cauldron of May without the benefit of pent-up demand for classic characters and with a lot of satisfied customers for Zootopia and The Jungle Book, which live in some of the same emotional movie space.

And as long as I am making excuses for franchises, was there someone at Fox who actually believed that Jennifer Lawrence in blue paint as Mystique was the same as Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games and she could carry X-Men: Apocalypse by herself, in terms of box office power? Huge misstep by the studio. And Marvel, by the way, deciding to completely wimp out and (SPOILER) not kill anyone in Cap v Irony Man, speaks to this very issue. Marvel is going to milk the original, established talent at any cost for as long as these actors can walk and have their wrinkles erased digitally. Downey doing Iron Man 4 is the end of integrity… sure… but they aren’t handing the keys to their empire over to Taron Egerton, hoping the suit and some jokes will make people forget Downey.

Warner Bros, which has a lot of talent that has opened a lot of hit movies for a lot of years, is in trouble. They can’t deliver the basics right now. They have had just two $20m openers amongst seven 2016 releases so far. One was BvS. The other was just barely over $20m… Barbershop 3, which had the weakest launch of the three films, though all were very close, meaning there is a locked-in audience. $18m for Me Before You isn’t a disaster. No Games of Thrones star has shown they can open a movie, so this is reasonable. But WB needs some wins. The group needs its swagger back. Three of their next five movies will open pretty well, I suspect. But that barely brings them to par, unless there are some shocking breakouts. I am honestly rooting for them now. You hate to see a company of this size and history flail like this, as it has now for a couple of years.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping reminds us how Andy Samberg opens. Fetch isn’t going to happen. Hopefully, it was really cheap and the money can be made up in post-theatrical. The marketing budget was tiny, it seems, so there is that.

The arthouse scene was also weak, with a couple one-screen wonders passing $10k per, but… not really much happening… sadly.

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31 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by Never Trust A Turtle Under 36 Klady”

  1. chris says:

    Not a lot of good news there but Roadside is doing a fine job with the delightful “Love & Friendship.”

  2. EtGuild2 says:

    Yeah, and glad to see LOBSTER get over $3 million. The WAILING is excellent too and did damn well!

    Going to be a lot of hand-wringing next week over 2016 blowing its lead over 2015, or coming close, but given the lineup this year I’m surprised we’re still running ahead at this point. Whoever said its going to be a bloodbath from here on out yesterday is probably right, with the exception of the DORY/CI weekend and ID4 weekend.

  3. Peter says:

    THE NICE GUYS doing so poorly probably cements that Ryan Gosling is more internet meme than box office draw. Sadly, it’s also another nail in the coffin of a studio doing anything remotely R rated thats not “like Deadpool”.

  4. nick says:

    nice guys goes right there with pan in the wb’s “did anyone actually think this would make money?” department.

  5. Bitplaya says:

    Fetch? Did you mean Fletch?

  6. EtGuild2 says:

    No, he meant Fetch. DP is hybrid of a gay male millennial (with his encyclopedic pop culture knowledge and fondness for musicals) and a cuttingly witty female millennial trapped in a straight middle-aged man’s body.

    Nice writeup, btw DP.

  7. JS Partisan says:

    Ethan, there is a reason you are my fave poster, and that Fetch response is a masterful reason as to why. Bravo, sir. Bravo.

    Dave, you are killing it again, but hold on. What’s this?
    “And Marvel, by the way, deciding to completely wimp out and (SPOILER) not kill anyone in Cap v Irony Man, speaks to this very issue. Marvel is going to milk the original, established talent at any cost for as long as these actors can walk and have their wrinkles erased digitally. Downey doing Iron Man 4 is the end of integrity… sure… but they aren’t handing the keys to their empire over to Taron Egerton, hoping the suit and some jokes will make people forget Downey.”

    Bullshit on all of it. For all intents and purposes, Steve Rogers is dead in that world. Hell. Most of those heroes are, because they are off the damn grid. Killing Steve at the end of Civil War, the comic, was bullshit. Having him brought back, via LOST level shit, was even more bullshit. Steve didn’t need to die in the comic. Nor did he have to die in the film. It would be stupid to kill him off, but they could have gone all Nomad on us. Who doesn’t want some NOMAD?

    Also, Downey is going to go, and he should probably die at the end of Infinity War part 2. Who should take over for him? Peter fucking Parker. Seriously. You get Iron Spider, and you get to do something with Pete that’s different. Seriously, there won’t be an Iron Man 4, BUT if there is, then you can kill Tony off there. You can even bring in Egerton, as the kid from Iron Man 3, and have him be reveal his name to be, “Arno.” Which would be fitting, because of the year in which, an IRON MAN IV would be released.

    Finally, Suicide Squad should help Warners, Gosling is a fucking movie star, and it’s not his fault Warners opened an Autumn movie four months early.

  8. EtGuild2 says:

    Thanks JS. BTW, I realized the other day it’s been 10 years this summer since I stumbled over here thanks to Sasha Stone’s gentle ribbing/snarking at Poland over at Oscar Watch, now Awards Daily, and was drawn by DP’s unique/non-conformist tone and the commenters’ approach to commenting as gladitorial combat lol. Things have been a bit more lively lately, though I’ve finally given up on DP ever returning to blogging from Twitter as his primary tool of analysis, and Lex G’s drinking has left us with a permanent, Kristen Stewart-shaped hole. 10 years is a long time on the internet, and it has to be 15 years old in total at least. Thanks for keeping things fun and interesting all these years JS, and thanks everyone for putting up with me for a decade. You deserve some kind of medal 🙂

  9. Stella's Boy says:

    EtGuild2 do you know if The Wailing is just getting a brief theatrical run before it goes VOD? I am dying to see it but I don’t think it’s going to play theaters in Milwaukee.

    Pete if The Conjuring 2 does well (and hopefully it’s good as the first one is great) maybe that will counter The Nice Guys and show that R can make money. It is very unfortunate though that The Nice Guys didn’t find a wider audience. Such a fun flick. Was it a mistake to release two R-rated, adult-skewing movies on consecutive weeks (Money Monster and Nice Guys)? Should one have moved? Maybe then both would have done better?

  10. EtGuild2 says:

    @Stella, I’m not even sure it’s going to VOD immediately since it seems to be taking a Select Cities Bollywood/Stephen Chow approach. THE MERMAID did a whopping $28,000 per in 35 theatres a few months ago, and only made it to 100 total…so unless Milwaukee has a vibrant Korean subculture, don’t hold your breath.

  11. Stella's Boy says:

    Yeah I’m not holding my breath which is why I’m hoping it hits VOD soon. Sounds like an amazing film.

  12. Amblinman says:

    So Marvel, who’s entire franchise sensibility is specifically tied to *not* taking risks or deviating even a little from middle of the road execution is going to unleash Iron Spider on the world? Like, they wouldn’t even go with Miles Morales for this incarnation so naturally they’re going to completely change the IP?


  13. Movieman says:

    SB- Opening “Nice Guys” the very same weekend as another R-rated comedy (“Sorority Rising”) probably had more of an impact than “Money Monster.”
    Neither lived up to their potential. For that matter, neither did “MM.”
    P.S.= Don’t share your enthusiasm for “The Conjuring.” For my money, James Wan is the second coming of Brett Ratner: a hack who got lucky and has (so far) been ridiculously successful at the b.o.

  14. Stella's Boy says:

    I feel like there’s more overlap between Nice Guys and MM than Nice Guys and Neighbors 2, but yeah you’re right, that’s three R-rated movies very close together which is probably at least one too many. I actually hate James Wan movies in general. I despise Saw and think Insidious is dumb and insanely overrated. But I like The Conjuring. That one works for me.

  15. chris says:

    “Wailing” is a slow rollout over the next few weeks, according to its official site (which lists cities and playdates, fyi).

  16. Chucky says:

    @chris: “Love & Friendship” is a hit in arthouses but stiffing in more mainstream venues. It’s already been downgraded at many theaters that don’t usually play arty fare.

  17. Stella's Boy says:

    Thanks Chris. How are those cities selected? Frustrating to see places much smaller than Milwaukee get it.

  18. leahnz says:

    but you’ll always have laverne & shirley

  19. Stella's Boy says:

    Ha yeah don’t I know it. Every time I see a live show here it takes less than three songs for that show to be mentioned.

  20. chris says:

    @Stella’sBoy: Just saw “Wailing.” Egad, is that a jam-packed and crazy, in a good way, movie!

  21. EtGuild2 says:

    Hmm. I’m of the age where my perception of Milwaukee and Madison is imagery of people who protest and demonstrate tirelessly and vehemently, only to see the exact opposite of what they’re trying to achieve happen.

  22. Stella's Boy says:

    Agh I am even more anxious to see it now! EtGuild2, yeah, that’s not entirely off, unfortunately. I work for UW-Milwaukee and campus can be a depressing place sometimes.

  23. leahnz says:

    “Ha yeah don’t I know it. Every time I see a live show here it takes less than three songs for that show to be mentioned”

    yay (or not?) i love laverne & Shirley, it was my late 70’s-early 80’s ‘odd couple’ growing up, those wacky gals, a lot of sitcoms from that era are rerun on the ‘olds’ comedy channel (we have a whole cable channel of shows from that era here now) but i never see L&S. i should probably have an “everything i know about milwaukee i learned from laverne & shirley” t-shirt, i assume there’s lots of beer so i’d probably dig it

  24. Stella's Boy says:

    It gets a little old at times. We do drink a lot of beer here, though, and many of the stereotypes are true. That would be a great shirt.

  25. David Poland says:

    Actually, that Atlantic article is full of tortured stats and logic. I don’t think it was ill-intended, but utterly misleading.

  26. Hallick says:

    I can’t take an article seriously that’s going to wail that the sky is falling after less that six months of weak sequels doing exactly what weak and largely unwanted sequels are destined to do at the box office. The article might not have been ill-intended, but JESUS it was ill-conceived.

  27. EtGuild2 says:

    It might be ill-timed too. CONJURING and NYSM2 should be fine. Both are worse than their predecessors, so according to this article they should be big fat misfires.

  28. John E. says:

    Conjuring 2 – $35 million
    Warcraft – $30 million
    NYSM2 – $20 million
    openings, guessing…

  29. Ryan says:


    It baffles me that I have continued to follow you since Roughcut, and you don’t have more to say about anything going on the in the current media environment, especially with situations like Denton/Thiel, or the restructuring of the studio system to produce sequels only/crap that nobody wants, than ‘Meh…Box Office is Box Office’.

    I don’t comment that often, so when I do, I’m usually shut down and often wrong, but I feel like the Dave that I used to know would want to take a flame-torcher to the Dave I see now. It took me a second to pause and think about whether you would actually get that reference. That in itself makes me sad.

  30. David Poland says:

    Ryan – “Flame thrower,” though perhaps it was dubbed where you live.

    If you follow me on Twitter, it is very clear what I think about Gawker/Theil. Just was on about it this morning.

    I’m not writing enough. I get it. I hear it. I feel it.

    There are reasons. We’ll see what comes next.

    Thanks for the thought.

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