Monday, March 06, 2006

Box office woes continue...

While it’s always hard to say with any real accuracy why one film makes money and another doesn’t, it does seem like today’s young audiences are not entirely interested in yesterday’s, or even today's, action stars.

Three weeks ago, Harrison Ford’s Firewall was spammed by other films at the box office, earning only $13.6 million in its opening frame. To date Firewall has drawn around $42 million, which can’t be what they’d been hoping for, especially considering that turgid dreck like the When a Stranger Calls redo has pulled in a healthier $47 million on a presumably massively lower $15 million production budget.

This week, Bruce Willis’ cop action drama 16 Blocks (which looks like a grungier urban version of Clint Eastwood’s The Gauntlet), similarly failed to arrive at its intended box office destination, earning under $12 million and coming in second place, just a bit ahead of the Paul Walker doggie drama 8 Below, now in its third week of release.

The anemic top spot, meanwhile, went to holdover Madea’s Family Reunion, which drew $13 million in its second weekend. However, that’s huge coin for the minority-themed movie, which was drawn a staggering $48 million dollars in ten days on a film costing a puny $6 million. Madea should easily draw ten times its production budget at the theaters by the time it heads home, and presumably DVD and video rentals will only puff those figures much higher than that.

Back to 16 Blocks. Willis’ similar spring release from last year, the already all-but-forgotten Hostage, actually did a bit better than his new movie, drawing an additional $500 per screen. And in the end Hostage ransomed but a paltry $35 million. It’s worth noting that neither 16 Blocks nor Firewall has announced their respective production budgets, and given their box office takes, you can be sure those figures will not be bandied about any time soon.

Action buffs weren’t interested either in Ultraviolet, which pulled in a quite lame $9 million. As Box Office notes: “Grosses for films of the [ass-kicking chicks] genre have steadily declined with Catwoman bowing to $16.7M in 2004, Elektra opening to $12.8M a year ago, and December's Aeon Flux premiering to just $12.7M.” It’s pretty bad when you make almost four million less than Aeon Flux. However, notice that Uwe Boll’s Bloodrayne didn’t rate a mention even in that flaccid company.

How bad was this weekend? It was down 25% from the same weekend last year (and with higher ticket prices), when The Pacifier drew $30 million dollars.

With a summer probably overstuffed with hugely budgeted movies, studios must be freaking out more than a little at a spring in which the biggest box office draws are the arthouse smash Brokeback Mountain and the underwhelming The Pink Panther. Next week offers little apparent relief, with yet another sure to be profitable but low-grade horror pic (The Hills Have Eyes remake), Tim Allen’s Disney remake The Shaggy Dog (which, if it hits with families, actually could be the year’s biggest moneymaker so far), the who-cares romantic comedy Failure to Launch, and the promisingly awful looking Fatal Attraction 2: Risk Addiction.

As of this point, it looks like The Hills Have Eyes might be next weekend’s best reviewed movie.


At 11:57 AM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

Hollywood is still making star vehicles, and I don't think there's a market for them. Bruce WIllis is a good actor but I think people feel they've seen everything he can do and it's all repetition now. (Not that that has kept them away from other movies.)

I just don't think there are stars any more. Tom Hanks will probably have a big opening for DaVinci Code but that will probably be curiousity. I'm sure week two will tumble.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Jessica R. said...

This reminds me of last night's Oscar telecast esp. the parade of montages. The academy was so defensive and hurt that would wouln't go into theaters to see movies and are choosing dvd in droves. Then they show us some great big screen images...most of which are at least 20 years old. Hey I would love to have a revival house around here. And while I would glady pay ten dollars to see Raiders of the Lost Ark or Singin' in the Rain on the big screen I really don't feel like doing the same for Freedomland, so shut it. Hollywood speaks money you think they would get that if you make better movies more people will come to see them but nope.

At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Ericb said...

Better movies? Nah, it's like:

Hollywood 2: Risk Aversion.

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Ericb said...

And all those CGI hyperepics Hollywood seems so fond of lately have all the thrill of watching someone else play a video game, no wonder hardly anyone wants to see them.

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Brad said...

I'll be happy to go see a little arthouse movie (or a big FX epic) in the theater. Just give me a GOOD one! (Before Sunrise was a great example.) Memo to Hollywood: we're paying YOU. In other words, you're our employees. If you don't do a good job, you don't get paid full ticket price. Comprende?

By the way, it's Basic Instinct 2, not Fatal Attraction 2. But I can understand why you'd forget that. Basic Instinct 1 was pretty crappy when you strip away the gloss.


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