Summer 2010 Box Office Review - Or...How I Learned to Love the bombs and the hits and learned a few lessons along the way.
The opening line of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, sums up the summer movie season of 2010 most accurately: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” and so it goes as we hit a revenue record of $4.35 billion yet find ourselves with the lowest attendance since 1997.
What went wrong?
1. Too many underwhelming films and ticket prices that saw steep gains over last year.
This formula does not work – Higher prices plus lower quality equals unhappy moviegoers.
2. A seemingly endless supply of films that felt like video rental candidates, not movies worthy of the big screen and 15 hard-earned bucks! No one cares about the cost of a movie ticket except when the movie sucks, then they care.
3. The seven 3D films for the season did not really generate much box office heat and notably three of the top five performing summer movies had not a single frame in 3D! Summit's The Twilight Saga: Eclipse was a massive hit with the all-important (and presumably 3D crazed) teen audience and it wound up as the third highest grossing movie of the summer with an impressive near $300 million in domestic revenue. Lackluster looking first quarter 3D conversions left a sour taste in moviegoer’s palates and affected their appetite for more (and more expensive) 3D fare.
It will always be true that technology is great, but the best special effect is a good script.
4. Social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook made word-of-mouth (both positive and negative) an hour by hour proposition. Back in the good old days, negative audience reaction to a film could take days to affect a movie, now it can happen in mere hours. Put another way: Big on Friday, dead by Sunday. Unfortunately with many substandard offerings this happened a lot.
5. Comparisons to the super-solid summer of 2009 made comparisons tough. Case-in-point the early August strength in ’09 of District 9 and Inglourious Basterds. Last year we had Quentin Tarantino, Christoph Waltz and Sharlto Copely, this year we got Sylvester Stallone, 3D Piranhas and sucky vampires.
What went right? (Well, a lot more than you would think given my condemnations listed above)
1. Number one with a very surreal bullet: Warner Bros.’ Inception. Brains and brawn manifested in one terrific summer film and one that is worthy of Oscar consideration. The film was not too smart for general audiences as many had predicted and in fact became a studio executives dream by begging for repeat viewing. Lesson learned: Smart and summer can actually go together (especially in the hands of a director like Christopher Nolan).
2. Toy Story 3 – No one does it better than Disney and Pixar and a billion dollars worldwide proves the point. A heartfelt and beautifully executed film that was a worthy successor to the first two installments and became the highest grossing film of the summer and the year thus far.
3. Mid-Summer PG family adventures such as Sony’s The Karate Kid and the critically vilified The Last Airbender from Paramount gave families reason to ignore the tomato-meter and just take the kids on a non-threatening, thematically appropriate epic adventure. M. Night Shyamalan proves that despite having a really tough last name and being the Rodney Dangerfield of directors, he still knows how to pull in the audience.
4. Comedy and mindless action still work. Sony worked up a double dose of late-summer action and comedy The Other Guys and Salt, while Lionsgate scored big with The Expendables. These films worked because they were utterly shameless in their attempt to take the conventions of their respective genres and without flinching, crank the cinematic volume to eleven. Jolie, Ferrell, Wahlberg & Stallone and company gave audiences exactly what they wanted and the audience loved it. Other comedies that worked included Universal's Get Him to the Greek and their animated hit Despicable Me.
5. Indie films still give audiences the antidote to the typical summer blockbuster and films like Focus’ The Kids Are All Right, Fox Searchlight’s Cyrus, Letters to Juliet from Summit, Music Box’s The Girl Who Played With Fire, SPC’s Animal Kingdom and Weinstein Co’s The Tillman Story and others show that there is always a place for challenging and unique films in the marketplace, even in the summer.
Before concluding this overview, an award for the most subversive and daring release of the summer by a major studio has to go to Warner Bros. for the amazing, shocking, frightening and psycho therapy-inducing Splice starring Sarah Polley and Adrian Brody. Released way back on June 4 and earning a total of $17 million, the film deserves kudos for having the courage of its convictions to go all the way and not look back. Love the movie or hate it, you’ve got to give it up for any movie studio that is willing to honor their filmmakers with such a show of support in the pursuit of unbridled artistic freedom.
That said, the summer of 2010 will go in the record books with a revenue win despite an artistic come down. Lest anyone attempt to signal this as the end of the summer blockbuster season as we know it, keep in mind that this is a business that is not only cyclical but ever resilient. The summer of 2005, home of the infamous 18 week down streak, was said by many at the time as the tipping point and the final nail in the coffin of the movie industry. That was pure crap and the next two summer seasons were both huge in terms of revenue and solid in terms of quality. This makes the case that one lackluster summer does not spell any kind of reason for alarm or concern and in fact will make the killer-looking summer season’s of 2011 and 2012 seem all the more like a major return to form for Hollywood.
The movie, starring Sly alongside Jet Li and Jason Statham, and also features cameos from action icons Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, kicked Julia Roberts' Eat Pray Love to number two.
Roberts' feel-good film, based on Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir of the same name, opened with $23.7 million (£15.8 million).
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg kept cinemagoers laughing with The Other Guys, which followed at three after raking in $18 million (£23 million).
Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan's sci-fi thriller Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, added $11.3 million (£7.5 million) to its five-week total, which has climbed to an impressive $248.5 million (£165.7 million).
New action/adventure movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, with Michael Cera in the title role, rounds out the top five with earnings of $10.5 million (£7 million).
Sony’s “The Other Guys” gives Will Ferrell his second biggest opening weekend ever with a bigger than expected $35.5 million as Warner Bros.’ “Inception” continues strong in its fourth weekend of release and Disney’s “Step Up 3-D” draws the younger crowd.
Comedy has been very, very good to Mark Wahlberg this year with a supporting role in the early 2010 comedy smash “Date Night” and now a starring role in the buddy cop comedy “The Other Guys” which opened with a stronger than anticipated $35.5 million. This gives co-star Will Ferrell his second best debut ever after only Sony’s own “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and its $47 million 2006 opening. Great reviews, strong marketing and terrific premise and stars made this one an early August hit. Audiences craving lighthearted fun certainly found what they were looking for and the strength of Saturday’s gross is a testament to the positive word-of-mouth that the film has been receiving.
Warner Bros. has enjoyed almost complete domination of the number one spot since the release of their summer mega-hit “Inception” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by the great Christopher Nolan. With a fourth weekend gross of $18.5 million, a drop of just 33% and $227.6 million in just 24 days, the film has enjoyed simultaneous critical and popular success, thus proving that a smart and challenging action film in the hands of a master director can find favor with summer audiences.
Of course audiences are always looking for variety and certainly younger audiences found what they were looking for with Disney’s “Step Up 3-D.” The film follows in the very capable dance steps of 2006’s “Step Up” which debuted with $20.7 million and 2008’s “Step Up 2 the Streets” which opened with $18.9 million. The 3-D component was an obvious draw for the young dance crazed crowd and added some spring to the film’s box office step and landed the film at number three with $15.8 million.
At number four, Sony’s “Salt” has also been generating very “Inception”-like word-of-mouth and critical reviews since its debut two weeks ago and therefore posted a very respectable third weekend haul of $10.9 million. Angeline Jolie is thoroughly convincing as Evelyn Salt and is backed by an incredible supporting cast including Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor and even the great Andre Braugher who makes an all too brief appearance. A terrific film that has earned $91.8 million to date and will cross the $100 million mark within the next week.
The comedy pairing of Steve Carell and Paul Rudd in Paramount’s “Dinner for Schmucks” took the fifth spot with $10.4 million against a 56% second weekend drop. With $46.6 million after ten days of release, the film which debuted in the second spot at the box office last weekend has found favor with its core audience of fans of Rudd and Carell, but may have suffered a bit from very mixed reviews.
Universal’s “Despicable Me” has been another shining star of the box office since its opening five weeks ago and posts yet another solid week at the nation’s theatres and caps it all off with an amazingly small fourth weekend drop of just 40%, a $9.3 million weekend and most importantly its passing of the $200 million domestic revenue milestone.
A rare “down” weekend (after five “up” weekend s in a row!) is not great news, but since it was by the smallest of margins against last year’s “G.I. Joe” and its $54 million first weekend, the industry is still generating positive energy as we head toward one of the most competitive weekends of the summer. Sony’s “Eat Pray Love,” Lionsgate’s “The Expendables” and Universal’s “Scott Pilgrim” go head to head this coming weekend in a box office battle royal.
Top 10 Movies - Weekend of August 6, 2010 (Actuals)
Movie Weekend Total
1. The Other Guys (PG-13)$35.5 M$35.5 M
2. Inception (PG-13)$18.5 M$227.6 M
3. Step Up 3-D (PG-13)$15.8 M$15.8 M
4. Salt (PG-13)$10.9 M$91.8 M
5. Dinner for Schmucks (PG-13)$10.4 M$46.6 M
6. Despicable Me (PG)$9.3 M$209.3 M
7. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (PG)$6.9 M$26.4 M
8. Charlie St. Cloud (PG-13)$4.7 M$23.5 M
9. Toy Story 3 (G)$3.1 M$396.4 M
10. The Kids Are All Right (R)$2.6 M$14.0 M
James Franco is in final negotiations to join Danny McBride in Your Highness, a Universal comedy to be directed by David Gordon Green this summer in Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the actor is so much in-demand that he's having to turn down some of the biggest movie projects in town.
Franco, says THR, was also in talks to join Leonardo DiCaprio in Christopher Nolan's Inception, but scheduling conflicts made that gig impossible -- the role he would have played remains a mystery.
The actor is also said to have an offer to play opposite Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love, a Plan B drama at Columbia, though it's unclear how that project would fit into his schedule.
Franco is taking classes for his master's degree at Columbia University and he recently sold a collection of short stories to Scribner. He's also playing Allen Ginsberg in the indie drama Howl.
Highness, which begins shooting in July, would see Franco partner once again with his co-star and director of Pineapple Express. The film, written by Ben Best and McBride, centers on an arrogant, lazy prince who must complete a quest to save his father's kingdom.
McBride would play the prince, Franco his more heroic brother.
Scott Stuber is producing via his Stuber Prods.
Full story: http://www.hollywoodwiretap.com/?module=news&action=story&id=34888?3e3ea140
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British guitar legend Eric Clapton secretly married the 25-year-old mother of his baby daughter on New Year's Day.
With family and friends in attendance, Clapton, 56, wed his American girlfriend Melia McEnery in a low-key ceremony near his home in Surrey, England, Britain's The Sun reports.
When they were invited, guests were told they were attending the double christening of the couple's 6-month-old daughter Julie and Clapton's 16-year-old daughter Ruth. After the baptism, it was revealed the couple would marry.
Reverend Christopher Elson, who performed the ceremony, said in a statement, "It was a very happy occasion and I pray God's blessing upon Eric and Melia in their married life as well as for Julie and Ruth at the beginning of their Christian lives."
Ruth was born after Clapton had an affair with her mother, Yvonne Kelly, but he did not meet her until she was 8 years old.
Musician Andy Fairweather-Low attended the ceremony, and his wife Barbara told the paper, "We went there thinking it was a christening for the girls. But at the end of the ceremony the vicar said, 'We have two people here who want to get married as well.'
"Then Eric stepped forward and everyone cheered. Everybody was very happy for them."
The ceremony took place at St. Mary Magdalen church at Ripley, just 15 miles from Clapton's home.
After the two exchanged vows, Clapton took McEnery to visit the grave of his son Conor, who is buried in the church's graveyard.
The 4-year-old died in 1991 after falling from the 53rd floor of a high rise in New York. Conor was the inspiration for Clapton's hit single "Tears in Heaven."
Clapton was married for nine years to Patti Boyd, George Harrison's former partner. The pair divorced in June 1998. Boyd blamed the split on Clapton's affair with Conor's mother, Lori Del Santo.
Clapton met McEnery, a graphic artist from Ohio, in Los Angeles three years ago while working on an album with B.B. King.
Besides the elbow-rubbing and power mongering, let's not forget that the Sundance Film Festival is also about the films.
With that in mind, the annual indie film fest announced today its partial list of films for the 2001 powwow.
The lineup for three categories -- dramas, documentaries and the American Spectrum -- have thus far been announced, and other areas such as premiere, international films and short films will be announced Wednesday.
Films at the festival only compete in the dramatic and documentary categories. Top films coming out of Sundance in previous years include Ed Burns' "The Brothers McMullen" and last year's "Girlfight" from director Karyn Kusama.
The Sundance Film Festival takes place Jan. 18-28 in Park City, Utah.
In the meantime, here's the complete list of Sundance films in competition and in the American Spectrum.
"30 Years to Life," directed by Vanessa Middleton "American Astronaut," directed by Cory McAbee "The Believer," directed by Henry Bean "The Business of Strangers," directed by Patrick Stettner "The Deep End," directed by Scott McGehee & David Siegel "Donnie Darko," directed by Richard Kelly "Green Dragon," directed by Timothy Linh Bui "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," directed by John Cameron Mitchell "In the Bedroom," directed by Todd Field "L.I.E.," directed by Michael Cuesta "Lift," directed by DeMane Davis & Khari Streeter "MacArthur Park," directed by Billy Wirth "Memento," directed by Christopher Nolan "Scotland, PA," directed by Billy Morrissette "The Sleepy Time Gal," directed by Christopher Munch "Some Body," directed by Henry Barrial
"Chain Camera," directed by Kirby Dick "Children Underground," directed by Edet Belzberg "Dogtown and the Z-Boys," directed by Stacy Peralta "The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic," directed by George Butler "Go Tigers!" directed by Kenneth A. Carlson "Home Movie," directed by Chris Smith "Lalee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton," directed by Susan Froemke, Deborah Dickson with "Albert Maysles Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind," directed by Stanley Nelson "The Natural History of the Chicken," directed by Mark Lewis "Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey," directed by William Greaves "Scout's Honor," directed by Tom Shepard "Scratch," directed by Doug Pray "Southern Comfort," directed by Kate Davis "Startup.com," directed by Chris Hegedus & Jehane Noujaim "Trembling Before G-D," directed by Sandi Simcha Dubowski "An Unfinished Symphony," directed by Bestor Cram & Mike Majoro
"Acts of Worship," directed by Rosemary Rodriguez "After Image," directed by Robert Manganelli "Dancing in September," directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood "Diary of a City Priest," directed by Eugene Martin "The Doe Boy," directed by Randy Redroad "Haiku Tunnel," directed by Jacob Kornbluth & Josh Kornbluth "Invisible Revolution," directed by Beverly Peterson "Jump Tomorrow," directed by Joel Hopkins "Manic," directed by Jordan Melamed "Margarita Happy Hour," directed by Ilya Chaiken "Miss Wonton," directed by Meng Ong "Raw Deal: A Question of Consent," directed by Billy Corben "Roof to Roof," directed by Ara Corbett "Women in Film," directed by Bruce Wagner "Tape," directed by Richard Linklater "Wet Hot American Summer," directed by David Wain.