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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by Suicide Sausage Klady

Weekend Estimates 2016-08-21 at 10.26.36 AM

So, like it or hate it, Suicide Squad is the #8 domestic movie of the year and will remain so until November, right behind Batman vs Superman. BvS will generate around $175 million more internationally and even so, it is seen as a disappointment.

So you make the call. What does the $875 million outcome mean and what does the $675 million outcome mean? Both figures (will) rank in the Top 90 worldwide grosses of all time. BvS improved on the gross of Man of Steel. Suicide Squad will be the third best performing first film among comic book adaptations after Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy.

I don’t think either movie is very good, but opinion is opinion and numbers are numbers. The real smack on the two WB comic titles this year is that neither was so strong that they will slingshot the other DC titles the way that Iron Man has, leading to the billion-dollar success of Avengers and the billionaire build-outs for Captain America and, they hope, the upcoming Thor/Hulk combo film.

This is the problem for Warner Bros. The Zack Snyder extended universal is doing mediocre (in context) business and shows the huge muscle of these characters, regardless of quality. Yet, it has not collapsed… not by a long shot.

This phenomenon really started with Sony and the Amazing Spider-Man franchise. Both films grossed over $700 million worldwide. And yet, Sony was anxious to dump this iteration and took on Marvel as an active partner in relaunching as a MCU-connected series.

Keep in mind… only 16 comic-based films have grossed $700m+ worldwide. If that is the standard now, the future looks rough. Batman, Iron Man, and/or Spider-Man have been in 12 of those 16 titles. No comic book film has ever grossed more than $800 million without at least one of those characters (Cap: Civil War features two of the three).

Newcomers Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool were both seen as underdogs and hit home runs. Fox went all-in on X-Men: Days of Future Past, all hands on deck and the biggest budget in studio history, and got the $748m worldwide gross… then backed off a bit and grossed $543 million worldwide this summer.

Peak Comic Book may have been 2014. There were four $700m+ worldwide grossers. Last year, one. This year, three. There are six mainstream comic book titles scheduled for 2017. Among them, only one Batman and one Spider-Man (and Guardians 2). There are seven such titles scheduled for 2018, with probably just one Batman and one Iron Man (and I am betting on a Deadpool sequel).

So we will know a lot more about the future of comic book movies in these next two years, for better or worse, with two brand-new solo films and two sequels to modest hits that aspire to step up to the $700m+ level. We’ll also see if Guardians is a growth business (it should be) and we’ll have the two major team-up franchises (Justice League and Avengers) within 6 months of one another.

Meanwhile, can we stop whining about comic book movies as though they are all that exists?

This massive business of very expensive, very high grossing movies has taken position on top of the film industry that already existed. But this didn’t start three years ago or 8 or 10. It was not the natural evolution of Jaws that led to Star Wars that led to Burton’s Batman.

The beginning of the CG revolution was 1991’s Terminator 2. It was the first time that massive audiences in the post-studio-system era came out to see, primarily, a CG effect.

Until that film, there were only four films that had grossed $500 million worldwide in unadjusted dollars. Two were Star Wars films, then E.T. and Ghost.

Of the 14 films that grossed over $400 million worldwide in original release, before or concurrently with T2, the only ones that were not genre/action/fantasy/animation were Home Alone, and Pretty Woman, and Dances With Wolves… all three from 1990 (suggesting that those numbers were part of a rising worldwide gross profile).

The first film to crack E.T.‘s $619 million worldwide (original) gross was Jurassic Park… not coincidentally, the next massive CG-driven experience blockbuster. Soon we would see that massive numbers were possible for The Lion King and Forrest Gump (which was also driven by a lot of seems-real CG technology). Then Independence Day.

And then Titanic. Could not have been what it was without the CG, even though it was shot with a ton of on-set, in-camera production. It was also the most expensive film ever made at the time (except perhaps for Batman & Robin, earlier that year… whole different discussion).

But still, as of 1997, the first year ever with three $500m+ worldwide grossers, there had still only been 27 films ever to gross over $400 million worldwide. In the next six years (end of 2003), that list would more than double, with 61 titles having hit the mark. Also in that six year period, we went from 5 films to ever have grossed $700m in their initial worldwide runs to 14,

Event movies, with lots of CG content, were driving a new kind of theatrical business on top of a still-robust DVD business. Potter and Rings and Spider-Man and Pirates and Pixar and Shrek changed the game in that window.

2003 set a record with 9 films grossing over $400 million worldwide. 5 were sequels. 1 was animated. One was the first Pirates. One live-action comedy (Bruce Almighty) and one original drama (The Last Samurai). There has only been one year with fewer than 7 such films since (2007) and in 2015, we had 18.

In the 100 or so years of theatrical films before 2004, 61 films had grossed over $400 million worldwide. In the 12.5 years starting with 2004, there have been another 169. And of those 169, I count 20 of them that are not overtly driven by computer graphics or franchise status. Three years stand out with threevsuch films… 2009 (Sherlock Holmes/Angels & Demons/The Hangover), 2012 (Les Miserables, The Intouchables, and Django Unchained) and 2015 (The Martian/Fifty Shades of Grey/The Revenant).

The change, I would argue, did not come with a lowering of the standards or a pandering to international or anything so nefarious. The change has come because technology allowed what has always been most appealing to moviegoers, in the US and across the globe, to rise to another level. Obviously, the expansion of international theatrical has also been a huge factor in grosses.

I have made the comparison before, but I will make it again.

solider field old new

What you are looking at is the old Soldier Field, which is next to Lake Michigan and was mightily cold during winter games and the new Soldier Field, which hasn’t moved or changed a lot… except that they build a modern facility on top of the old Soldier Field that adds sky boxes and high tech stuff and a wind break from the lake so the “outdoor” seating is not nearly as frigid.

That is how I see the CG-driven industry of the moment. Yes, it does take up a significant amount of the studio slates. And it takes up a wildly oversized amount of the media’s attention. But it is, essentially, an expansion of the industry and not an overall replacement for what was.

The 2000 worldwide Top 10 is how things once were:
Mission: Impossible II -$546.4m
Gladiator – $457.6m
Cast Away – $429.6m
What Women Want -$374.1m
Dinosaur – $349.8m
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – $345.1m
Meet the Parents – $330.4m
The Perfect Storm – $328.7m
X-Men – $296.3m
What Lies Beneath – $291.4m

It’s probably not quite a pretty as the memory people have in their heads. Dinosaur was an early CG effort by Disney on which they lost money. X-Men was pretty low tech, emphasizing character over computers when CG movies were insanely expensive and Fox was fabulously cheap. And The Perfect Storm was the first CG-driven drama, really.

Last year, the only non-CG-driven or franchise or animated (though it had plenty of CG) movie in the Top 10 was The Martian. So I understand the feeling that there has been a massive change.

But… The Martian did $630 worldwide. Mission Impossible 2 did $546m. Pretty similar.

Gladiator did $357 million in 2000. The Revenant did $535m last year.

Cast Away… $430m. Can’t find a great analogous film, though The Revenant has some connectivity.

What Women Want, $374m. Fifty Shades of Grey, $571 million.

Meet The Parents, $330m. There was no uber comedy last year, but Pitch Perfect 2 did $288m, Daddy’s Home did $240m, and Spy did $236m. Even the disastrous Ted 2 did $231 million.

What Lies Beneath did $291 million. Can’t find a great analogous film.

So the two Zemeckis films, a long drama with a major movie star and his throwaway Hitchcock movie (which I love) don’t match up. The rest? The business is still making those movies and people are still going to them in large numbers.

Of course, there was a Zemeckis film last year (The Walk), But it flopped.

And there were a bunch more $100m+ grossing films last year that are “the kinds of films that studios aren’t making,” including Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Bridge of Spies, The Hateful Eight, Trainwreck, The Big Short and even Joy.

“But why are all the pretty girls with the 5′ 2″ non-English speaker who is betting $20,000 at a time at the Baccarat table when we $20 blackjack players are so much more fun?!?!”

Same as it ever was, gang.

Spielberg has made 5 movies in the last 5 years. Retired Soderbergh is making his fourth film of the last 5 years while also doing three seasons of very hands-on television. Scorsese hasn’t pumped out as much over a 5 year period since the early 90s. Even Zemeckis (who I revere), who crashed a whole business for Disney in 2009 and was movie-jailed, has made 3 films in the last four years.

I love what is happening on TV and have endless respect for many of the former movie makers who shifted to the medium in recent years… but can you name any of the great TV success stories who made hit films before they made the leap (except as exec producers)? There aren’t many examples. I love Jill Soloway’s work, but Afternoon Delight did $175k in theatrical and Vince Gilligan has never directed a feature. He did write two of my 1000 favorite features, Wilder Napalm and Hancock, both of which showed the glorious kink that would show up on Breaking Bad. But not really a movie guy. Frank Darabont is brilliant… and was a decade away from his last film hit before “The Walking Dead” happened. Etc.

We go from reading and often mocking trend stories to believing them to being convinced of their absolute veracity.

There is no “normal.” The film industry changes constantly. We have seen four major paradigm shifts in the last 30 years. That’s a ton of change. There are great successes and great failures. Important and unimportant trends.

But every time I see a movie these days with a bunch of Chinese company names on the front credits, I remember the German money and the Japanese money and the French money and the corporate money and on and on and on.

You can play the complaints about movies by almost anyone over 40 on a loop that could have been created any time since the 1960s… we all try to rationalize how it really is different now… but it’s not… not by much.

On a one-on-one or internal studio level, there is a lot of room for improvement. Absolutely. Start with more inclusion, continue with more creative ideas about engaging audiences, and then focus on improving the same old same old, because there is a ton of room for that. But big picture?

Everyone’s first rodeo is their first rodeo.

Go see Pete’s Dragon and Kubo or go to your local arthouse and see art, because art is lovely and enriching. But stop the whining. We’ve never had more options or more movies at our disposal to enjoy and appreciate.

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31 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by Suicide Sausage Klady”

  1. Doug R says:

    Any rumors on a Sausage Party sequel? I’m picturing the last reel of Blazing Saddles except way more violent and sexual…

  2. Sideshow Bill says:

    That STAR TREK number depresses me. I had a lot of fun at that movie this Summer. And in honesty I’ve enjoyed the reboot series. Wonder if they’ll go with Hemsworth and the 4th films.

  3. ‘Suicide Squad’ is still US$200 million below ‘Deadpool.’ Will it surpass it or is it out of the question? I would never have believe this could happen to ‘Suicide Squad.’

  4. Movieman says:

    “SS” is only $100-million below “Deadpool,” Gonzalo.
    But I’d hazard that chances of “SS” matching the “D-pool” cume are slim to none.
    Will probably finish up around $300-million, maybe a tad over.
    Which would still put it $30-million under “Batman v Superman.”

  5. EtGuild2 says:

    “I would never have believe this could happen to ‘Suicide Squad.’”

    What do you mean? That it’ll hit $700 million, or that it’s behind DEADPOOL? (I think he meant worldwide BO in USD, movieman) Because both would have surprised me a year ago. Either way, no one can deny it’s locked in as the 4th most profitable summer movie at the BO…and will be way more profitable than BvS if it really cost $75 million less, and marketing was even (for every dollar spent you need to make $2 to get it back). On the flipside, it will remain way, way less profitable than the summer’s big 3 (Cap, Dory, Pets). There are worse fates, to be sure.

    After beating up SISTERS later this week, BAD MOMS will try to roofie STEP BROTHERS. Their run will end well before DADDY’S HOME, however.

  6. dinovelvet says:

    Yeah I would have to say a fourth Star Trek movie looks dubious right now. 231 worldwide, and winding down; the last one made 467. When you lose almost half the audience, it just doesn’t seem like a worthwhile investment to sink another $185 into a fourth one – and I did snicker a bit when they pre-announced their big plan for the next was to bring in noted box office juggernaut Chris Hemsworth.

  7. Peter says:

    I finally saw BvS and honestly didn’t hate it. It wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t a crime against humanity, either. Frankly, I thought it was kinda along the lines of the past 3-4 years of Marvel movies, only bad in different ways. If I find Marvel filmmaking bland and generic in the way a Happy Meal is, then BvS was bad in that it tried to do something different and just fell on its face, for the most part, and showed a lot of desperation in the filmmaking. If I had any advice for Warners, though, it’d be a very simple one: Stop trying to make Chris Nolan movies without Chris Nolan.

  8. EtGuild2 says:

    I like the writeup DP, but I think the trend this specific year is more pronounced. I am going to whine about the Top 10 Hollywood movies worldwide all featuring talking animals or superheroes, because I don’t relish 2019’s inevitable proliferation of 25 talking animal/superhero movies. We’re about one more year of this away from Justice League vs Storks or something.

    Is there a 50 million+ spender this year that made a dime that doesn’t feature talking animals or superheroes?

  9. Del Shores says:

    I’d love to live in Poland’s non-inflationary world.

  10. JS Partisan says:

    Ethan, Rogue One is probably going to be the biggest grossing movie of the year, and it’s a war movie set in space. Not everything is superheroes and talking animals. Sometimes, they are about the space people, and their moon side space stations.

    Peter… bland? Oy to the vey, but the Nolan comment seems on fucking point.

    That aside, David knocks it out of the park again, and guess what? Things change. If you could tell people fucking 16 years ago where the fuck this shit is going. Guess what? They’d be fucking amazed at this shit. This is our world… right now. Once Marvel finishes off everything, that’s when things should change.

    One last thing: fuck inflation.

  11. EtGuild2 says:

    Yes, we get our annual Star Wars movie to satiate us under the avalanche of anthropomorphic rabbits, talking wild and domesticated animals, and men in capes. Yay? Oh and we get to trade Katniss for Potter again.

    Last year we had spies, car junkies, dinos, talking emotions, soft-core porn and abandoned astronauts all make big buckos (Revenant you could put this year or last if you wanted I guess). The year before we had a sniping soldier, wormholes, hobbits, a good princess gone bad, super-mensa Scarjo and singing Legos rake it in. Before that ice princess, desolate Sandra Bullock, car junkies, crony capitalism…you get the point. This has to be the most reptetitive year for checkbooks in Hollywood history, with nothing to break the fever until perhaps Chistmas weekend (unless talking Troll dolls and MOANA–which has to have talking animals I’m sure–count).

  12. leahnz says:

    who was the genius who thought spending 100mil on ben-hur redux was a swell idea – and yet producing fresh, original ideas is deemed ‘too risky’

  13. Stella's Boy says:

    Holy shit Hell or High Water is fantastic. Definitely lives up to the hype. Exceptional performances by the four leads. I would have gladly watched an entire movie about either pair. The relationships feel lived in and authentic, and the rapport is wonderful. It’s beautifully shot and the music is great. It has a rich sense of place. Somber but not without humor. Just an outstanding film. Loved every second of it.

    Did Paramount, at a certain point, just give up on Ben-Hur and severely limit advertising? In the weeks leading up to its release I saw so many TV spots for so many films, but not Ben-Hur. I saw a bunch of spots for Light Between Oceans, but not Ben-Hur. Just a good old-fashioned dump? Or did the studio do the bulk of their marketing to faith-based audiences? I probably don’t watch those channels.

  14. Dr Wally Rises says:

    A point worth making : whatever you may think of the movie, the Blu Ray of BvS has apparently been selling like gangbusters. Just fantastic figures, on DVD (yes, it is still around) and digital too. The strategy of DC saying upfront that the home video cut would be 30 minutes longer has paid off in the longer run. Theatrical is still not the be all and end all, home video is still a potent force in the right circumstances. Same thing applies to the poster above who queried whether Trek 4 will happen. I’m betting it will, because the movie is there at least to some degree to help keep library product in the public eye. A new entry in the franchise is just the meat that sells the whole sandwich. It won’t surprise me if they find a way to incorporate the cast of the new CBS streaming series into the movie though.

  15. EtGuild2 says:

    I don’t track DVD/Blu Ray anymore…is it doing as well as DEADPOOL? Because from pure Box Office, it was less profitable for WB than CONJURING 2.

  16. Steve D. says:

    @ Del Shores says:
    “August 21, 2016 at 5:07 pm
    I’d love to live in Poland’s non-inflationary world.”

    Yep. Crudely calculating based on U.S. ticket price inflation, Mission Impossible 2 would have made around $854 million worldwide in 2015 dollars, easily topping The Martian.

    Concerning the lack of recent “uber comedies”, this genre has been in poor health for years. The last non-animated comedy to clear $200 million domestic was Ted, released in 2012. I guess there just aren’t any comedian megastars these days.

  17. EtGuild2 says:

    Does TED not count? This is a pretty recent dearth of product thing….2013 and 2014 may not have had a $200 million grosser, but they had plenty of $125-200 million hits…Grown Ups 2, Anchorman 2, Identity Thief, We’re The Millers, The Heat, Ride Along, Neighbors and 22 Jump Street.

    Even last year wasn’t totally barren with Pitch Perfect 2 and Daddy’s Home. There just hasn’t been all that much that’s appealing this year…but that could change soon with MASTERMINDS, Kevin Hart chasing Eddie Murphy’s Raw record, KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES, BAD SANTA 2, OFFICE XMAS PARTY…and the big kahuna, imo, WHY HIM? with Franco and Cranston.

  18. Stella's Boy says:

    The Numbers says Deadpool’s total DVD/Blu-ray gross is $67 million. They don’t have a total for BvsS.

    Unrelated, but why did they make a sequel to The Mechanic? It made a grand total of $60 million worldwide. Is part 2 a tax write off or something? As far as unnecessary and no one asked for it sequels go, that has to take the cake.

  19. Hcat says:

    Comedies rely on movie stars, as we move more toward IP being the draw instead of the talent, comedies will draw less attention.

    There is still a lot of money to be made on things like Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect, but quarter of a billion they gross looks puny compared to the blockbuster billion dollar grosses of cartoons.

  20. Steve D. says:


    So maybe the future of blockbuster hit comedy is in animation? Perhaps more Sausage Party-style (but maybe PG-13) adult-focused animated comedies where animated characters are the new comedian megastars? Buzz Lightyear and Gru could team up for Grown Ups 3.

  21. John E. says:

    Hell or High Water is my favorite film of 2016 so far.

  22. Stella's Boy says:

    Same here John. I write down every new movie I see and I looked at the 2016 list this morning. I’ve seen 31 movies in theaters this year (a lot for me with 2 small kids at home) and it’s easily my favorite.

  23. Hcat says:

    Steve D,

    If I weren’t such a luddite I would post a gif of Newman tossing down a bicycle and telling you you can keep your damn future.

    But what you describe has actually been the future for some time. Pre-Ghostbusters the big comedies were ones that could have been made in the fifties, more modern attitudes and adult themes sure, but there is nothing that Wilder/Pryor did that needed a special effects budget. Then came Back to the Future, Beetlejuice, Roger Rabbit etc. Even Ted and the MIBs belong in that crowd. Look at the top tens for this century and there are a pitiful number of comedies, and of those without effects its basically two Hangovers and Fockers.

  24. Movielocke says:

    Couple of things: this is primarily driven by the growth of worldwide releases and the clawback by studios of getting 55% of the gate rather than the old 90% weekend one model. Second, advertising/trailers have become incredibly better with the advent of computer based non linear editing, even crappy dramas have good trailers now, compared to trailers of the early nineties or earlier, advertising is vastly more sophisticated, combined with the expansion of venues for advertising (a million niche channels on TV, the Internet) and the ability of big data to parse and utilize and test and refine and target that advertising, we have the computer tools to to have profoundly changed the way we sell the product we have.

    Third, generationally, the talent that came on line in the mid to late nineties in terms of decision making was the talent that were teenagers in the 75 to 85 age of Spielberg era. By and large this generation of talent wanted to make films like Raiders and Star Wars, and when they got the opportunity they did–making all the movies you listed–and as this is what audiences around the world have always wanted, audiences have responded.with increased box office outcomes whether it is pirates, rings, or marvel, this is what audiences always wanted.

    Remember, most studio execs trying to replicate the success of Star Wars never considered the film was actually good, and thus never considered that their product had to also be good as a result. Instead, they snorted a lot of coke and gave us Flash Gordon and master of the universe and when their shitty efforts yielded shitty results they blamed the audience for steering clear of their shit.

    For all that cineastes are cognitively invested in defining their tastes as anti popular and will howl at the following, the big story is that almost all of the big properties described are pretty damn good movies worth ten or fifteen dollars a ticket, they are NOT the sort of shit we got in the eighties, across the board, mega grossers are simply better made films than what once was.

    And ultimately a better made batman v superman grosses more than a badly made masters of the universe.

  25. Greg says:

    Hell or High Water is like 99 oercent on Rotten Tomatoes. How is this not more widely released? John and Stella, its my favorite too…

  26. Steve D. says:


    “Then came Back to the Future, Beetlejuice, Roger Rabbit etc. Even Ted and the MIBs belong in that crowd. Look at the top tens for this century and there are a pitiful number of comedies, and of those without effects its basically two Hangovers and Fockers.”

    Good point. you could argue the same thing has happened to action films. It’s not enough to have fistfights and gunfights anymore, you need characters with superpowers and dazzling effects.

    Bourne, Mission Impossible, and most Bond films earn small change compared to Avengers, Dark Knight, Iron Man, etc.

  27. Stella's Boy says:

    It’s expanding this weekend right Greg? Not sure how wide, but it seems like it’s expanding each week. Not sure how wide Lionsgate plans to go with it.

  28. Hallick says:

    “who was the genius who thought spending 100mil on ben-hur redux was a swell idea – and yet producing fresh, original ideas is deemed ‘too risky’”

    It isn’t too risky, it’s just too much work for people who don’t happen to be qualified to do it anyway.

  29. Ray Pride says:

    Hell or High Water goes to wide release on August 31.

  30. EtGuild2 says:

    Another chapter in the Leslie Jones-Ghostbusters saga. Sickening. Depraved. Words can’t describe.

  31. leahnz says:

    tangentially related, is it any wonder missus clinton wears a bullet-proof vest (baskin robbins don’t play)

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