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Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

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Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

Post by Nicky80 on Mon Jun 08 2015, 19:28

Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

"Spy" should have been more of a sure thing at the box office.

The film, which reunites Melissa McCarthy with her "Bridesmaids" and "The Heat" director, Paul Feig, entered the weekend with good buzz, great reviews and modest competition. Pundits guessed it would open as high as $35-40 million.

Its actual opening, estimated at $30.0 million and good for first place, is nothing to sneeze at. Still, a debut that's as much as $10 million off expectations for such a seemingly can't-miss movie has to rate somewhere between disappointing and troubling.

"Spy's" underperformance wasn't the only ominous sign at the box office. Horror prequel "Insidious: Chapter 3" opened on the low end of expectations, premiering in third place with an estimated $23.0 million. "Entourage," which started out strong with a mid-week Wednesday opening of $5.7 million, was supposed to make $17 to $20 million over the weekend -- not bad for a poorly-reviewed, R-rated adaptation of the HBO series that went off the air four years ago. But the continued adventures of Vinnie Chase and his "Bro-pack" eventually underwhelmed, debuting in fourth place with an estimated $10.4 million for the weekend. (Its five-day take is estimated at $17.8 million.)

Overall, the box office was down 4.4 percent from last week -- which in turn was down 10.3 percent from the weekend before, which declined 16.4 percent from the weekend before that. These declines come as the numbers from May reveal a box office that's 17.7 percent behind last year. That's despite such huge May 2015 hits as "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Pitch Perfect 2," and "San Andreas." Then again, even "Ultron" didn't open as big as it was supposed to or maintain the momentum of the previous "Avengers." (At this point in its run, 2012's "The Avengers" had earned $577.9 million, $139.9 million more than "Ultron.")

If this trend keeps up, the summer box office will end up $718 million behind last summer's $4.1 billion take. That would be a disaster for an industry whose bread and butter is summer earnings, particularly from big-budget spectacles that are about all Hollywood knows how to market anymore.

What's behind the unenthusiastic response to this summer's movies? Here are five conclusions the studios can draw from the summer so far.

1. You Can't Count on Star Power

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McCarthy has done well in the past as part of an ensemble, or paired with at least one other star who's a current draw (Sandra Bullock, for example). But on her own? Not so much. Last summer's "Tammy" did earn some $84.5 million overall, but it was all McCarthy's show, and it didn't earn the dollars or the reviews that her teamwork movies have.

Similarly, "Tomorrowland" boasted George Clooney's best opening in years, but his name alone wasn't enough to sell the movie across the board. Neither was Reese Witherspoon (or Sofia Vergara, the highest-paid actress on TV) for "Hot Pursuit." About the only stars who've helped sell tickets this summer are Anna Kendrick ("Pitch Perfect 2") and Dwayne Johnson ("San Andreas"), and both were relentless in promoting their movies on TV and in social media.

2. You Can't Count on Counter-programming

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For months, this column has argued that counter-programming is no longer an effective strategy, whether you're putting out a female-driven film on a weekend where a male-driven movie is expected to dominate, or vice versa.

Certainly, guys weren't drawn to the testosterone-heavy "Entourage" just because "Spy" has a female lead. In a way, this is actually good news. After all, "Spy," "San Andreas," and "Ultron" have succeeded in part because they appealed to both men and women. There have been a lot of (justified) complaints about Hollywood sexism in recent months, complaints about the relative lack of work for women both in front of and behind the camera, but at least the industry is starting to wake up to the fact that women buy movie tickets, too, and maybe it would be a good idea to take their tastes into account.

3. Moviegoers Have Short Memories

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"Mad Max: Fury Road" had some of the best reviews of the year, featuring stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, and was a big-budget action spectacle meant to appeal to men and women alike. It's earned a pretty good $130.8 million in four weeks. But it must have disappointed any industry observers who expected it to do better because it was based on a familiar franchise. After all, the last installment was 30 years ago, with another male lead. (What was his name, again?)

Similarly, no one went to see "Poltergeist" ($44.5 million in three weeks) just because it's a reboot of a horror classic from 33 years ago; indeed, any moviegoer old enough to have fond memories of the original film or its 1980s sequels was likely disappointed with the new version. Hollywood has a tendency to mine any known title for the sake of a little brand familiarity, but after a certain number of years, that doesn't matter to young moviegoers who don't revere the original, nor to old moviegoers who fear their fond memories will be tarnished by the updated version. Which is one of the few clouds on the horizon for next week's "Jurassic World," a franchise reboot that comes 14 years after the previous installment.

4. The "Originality" Problem

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Audiences say they're tired of retreads and sequels, but when an original movie like "Hot Pursuit," "Tomorrowland," or "Aloha" hits theaters, viewers don't show up -- or, in the case of "Spy," don't show up in droves as expected.

Pundits have seen these results as a sign that original movies don't work, but they're really just a sign that original movies don't work if they're not well-made or well-marketed. "San Andreas," derivative as it is, did fine. Hopes remain high for upcoming original films "Inside Out" (the Pixar name should be enough to sell it) and Amy Schumer's much-buzzed comedy "Trainwreck." And it's worth noting that some of this summer's most successful (or most likely to succeed) sequels -- "Ted 2," "Magic Mike XXL," "Minions" -- are from franchises that started out as original films. The sequels should work just as well as the first installments did -- if they're properly executed, and if marketers don't drop the ball.

5. Anticipation

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Some pundits theorize that moviegoers are staying home until the premieres of the films they really want to see -- next weekend's "Jurassic World," perhaps, or "Inside Out" on June 19. Until then, they're saving their money. Why blow your comedy dollar on "Spy" if you can see "Ted 2" in three weeks? Or why see "Poltergeist" when "Insidious: Chapter 3" is opening two weeks later? That seems to be the argument, though "Poltergeist" opened almost as big as "Insidious," with $22.6 million, before dropping like a rock in the two weekends since.

In the end, it should just be as simple as making movies people actually want to see, and getting the word out about them to drum up interest. There just haven't been many movies so far this summer that people wanted to see as much as they wanted to see last year's "Maleficent," "X-Men: Days of Future Past," and "Godzilla." At least two of those films were well-made, and all of them were well-marketed. This summer still has three months left to go. CGI dinosaurs and CGI potty-mouthed teddy bears may be enough to make up for May slackness, but if not, Hollywood had better cross its fingers that it has more to offer this summer that will entice viewers out of their living rooms.

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Re: Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

Post by Joanna on Mon Jun 08 2015, 21:11

Maybe people haven't got much spare cash left over to pay the very high cinema ticket prices ?
So they'll wait until the film's are available through 
their computers, tablets etc etc.

Just a random thought.

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Re: Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

Post by it's me on Mon Jun 08 2015, 22:09

(funny avatar Jo Very Happy )

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Re: Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

Post by LizzyNY on Mon Jun 08 2015, 22:15

Joanna wrote:Maybe people haven't got much spare cash left over to pay the very high cinema ticket prices ?
So they'll wait until the film's are available through 
their computers, tablets etc etc.

Just a random thought.
Too bad the studios haven't had the same thought. If they stopped making so many tentpoles and tried making smaller, less expensive, more interesting movies maybe the ticket prices could come down and the audiences would grow. Who, other than a twelve year old boy, wants to spend the week's food money on another comic book on steroids?

I keep thinking about the Great Depression (which was way before my time, but I have heard of it Very Happy ) when people really, literally had no money and yet the movie theaters were jammed and the movies were great. I know times have changed, but maybe the movie industry should look to its past  to see why things are so different now. At the rate they're going pretty soon only the "1%" will be able to afford to go to the movies.

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Re: Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

Post by Missa on Tue Jun 09 2015, 00:44

None of these arguments seem coherent to me. It's as though this person hasn't seen/read/heard anything about these films. "Why spend your comedy dollars on Spy when Ted 2 is opening in two weeks?" I'd be willing to bet my next paycheck that there is near ZERO overlap between people who go to a Melissa McCarthy film and those who go to a Seth MacFarlane film. The author's other examples, like Hot Pursuit and Aloha, either looked awful, got terrible reviews, or both.  People aren't going to spend $12.00+ on a movie ticket (plus a get a second mortgage to pay for snacks) to see something bad. Or, frankly, something that will look just as good on their television screen at home when it's on Netflix in six months.  The only movies really worth the theater price are the big special effects films, and IMO, horror films, which I always enjoy more with a crowd.

Which brings me to Poltergeist and a larger issue I have with Hollywood: why do they insist on remaking films that are amazing/considered classics?  Leave the Poltergeists and Psychos and Willy Wonkas alone, and remake something that was terrible (i.e., Ocean's Eleven, the original of which is...painful). At best, these remakes can only be "almost as good as" the original. Why set the bar so low when there are SO MANY MOVIES that could be improved (please someone make the film The Good German could have been).

P.S. - One more point of disagreement: Melissa McCarthy is currently the only actor working whose presence in a film almost guarantees I'll see it in a theater.  I haven't even seen George's last three films in the theater. (Please don't revoke my membership card hidingbehindsofa

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Re: Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

Post by Joanna on Tue Jun 09 2015, 23:50

it's me wrote:(funny avatar Jo Very Happy )

Thanks IM....Glad you like it. Thumbs up!

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Re: Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

Post by NewFanForever on Sat Jun 20 2015, 11:53

Well this is my take on the movie situation.

Recently I decided to force myself to go out and see movies and not wait till they came to dvd or tv.

So regardless of cost...normally favouring $6 picture theatre for good value.

But I ended up going to Event Cinemas at a cost of $28 per ticket mainly for the atmosphere and they make a fun evening out of the premieres.  And also you receive a fantastic beauty bag at the ladies night out...part of the attraction as well.

Well I went and saw Cinderella...we all know the story...well the scenery in  its self was enough...omg.

Then one actress blew me away...Who is that?

Such in character that there was no character.

So i waited until the mentions at the end and it ended up being Cate Blanchett...oh gosh...I don't get out enough...but the acting that good I didn't recognize her.

But when I had seen the promo for this movie when I was watching another with the kids I didn't see any mention of her etc...

So perhaps its a marketing problem.

I did see the promo somewhere of George's film and thought how good it seemed but then the promo got messy and I lost plot...it became hard to follow...your left wondering what's in the movie me.

The main reason people go(pay) for a movie is because...they get something out of a movie.

Feel good
Frighted
Stirs up feeling of love
Motivates you

George in The Descendants movie was fabulous as a disconnected 50 year old man he played the part so well.

Before I saw the movie I said to my mum...How can he(George) play the part of a married man with children and yet has never had them...she said Oh these people know these things etc....ummm...

If you watch his performance in that show he really is in character the control he showed in certain situations and I kept waiting to see what would happen next...where is the big punch line etc....but it never came.

It was a really interesting movie...he's acting was great...but the  movie was small...if you know what I mean.

He would have deserved an award in my opinion.

You have to touch an Audience in some way!

imo...lol..

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Re: Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

Post by What Would He Say on Sat Jun 20 2015, 13:31

NewFanForever wrote:Well this is my take on the movie situation.

Recently I decided to force myself to go out and see movies and not wait till they came to dvd or tv.

So regardless of cost...normally favouring $6 picture theatre for good value.

But I ended up going to Event Cinemas at a cost of $28 per ticket mainly for the atmosphere and they make a fun evening out of the premieres.  And also you receive a fantastic beauty bag at the ladies night out...part of the attraction as well.

Well I went and saw Cinderella...we all know the story...well the scenery in  its self was enough...omg.

Then one actress blew me away...Who is that?

Such in character that there was no character.

So i waited until the mentions at the end and it ended up being Cate Blanchett...oh gosh...I don't get out enough...but the acting that good I didn't recognize her.

But when I had seen the promo for this movie when I was watching another with the kids I didn't see any mention of her etc...

So perhaps its a marketing problem.

I did see the promo somewhere of George's film and thought how good it seemed but then the promo got messy and I lost plot...it became hard to follow...your left wondering what's in the movie me.

The main reason people go(pay) for a movie is because...they get something out of a movie.

Feel good
Frighted
Stirs up feeling of love
Motivates you

George in The Descendants movie was fabulous as a disconnected 50 year old man he played the part so well.

Before I saw the movie I said to my mum...How can he(George) play the part of a married man with children and yet has never had them...she said Oh these people know these things etc....ummm...

If you watch his performance in that show he really is in character the control he showed in certain situations and I kept waiting to see what would happen next...where is the big punch line etc....but it never came.

It was a really interesting movie...he's acting was great...but the  movie was small...if you know what I mean.

He would have deserved an award in my opinion.

You have to touch an Audience in some way!

imo...lol..



Very well said NewFanForever.....that I think this is what it's all about!

My estimation of cinema, and nothing to do with George or his movies.....is that the movie biz  likes to work to formula, where as really in art of any type, formula is only half the story, the rest is time and place* intuition...

People (George?) complain about franchises, without realising that franchising is only playing into the human condition.....How many women do you know who say I wear too much black, then go out and by MORE black.....or the pink ladies who are always in pink, blue etc....we all do it, we return again and again to the same thing it's the human condition.....franchises are not greedy they are giving the public what they want, and enjoy seeing.... A bit like George and his boots....Ahaaa moment....

So what do the public want....to me it's kind of simple....it has to be seasonal, and cinema, with the notable exception of Christmas(movies) isn't.......It has to take into account colour and sound more profoundly now with new tech systems.....and story, above all story.....at heart we are all kids, tell me a good story, and you maybe a stranger but you are instantly my friend....Yes a growing number are going to want to be shocked and shaken*(time and place).....but not everyone, many are just looking for a more intense experience than they can feel at home in front of a TV, they are looking for something that feels like "coming home" but is not, it's not because it's new, trick of the light machine....Look to the stories of old cinema, change the colours make them intense, change the sound, pair things to season, time, place and have a narrative with a beginning a middle and an end....and above all that techy stuff (a must).... "You have to touch an Audience in some way!"......with your story....

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Re: Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

Post by LizzyNY on Sat Jun 20 2015, 14:02

What Would He Say wrote:
My estimation of cinema, and nothing to do with George or his movies.....is that the movie biz  likes to work to formula, where as really in art of any type, formula is only half the story, the rest is time and place* intuition...

So what do the public want....to me it's kind of simple....it has to be seasonal, and cinema, with the notable exception of Christmas(movies) isn't.......It has to take into account colour and sound more profoundly now with new tech systems.....and story, above all story.....at heart we are all kids, tell me a good story, and you maybe a stranger but you are instantly my friend....Yes a growing number are going to want to be shocked and shaken*(time and place).....but not everyone, many are just looking for a more intense experience than they can feel at home in front of a TV, they are looking for something that feels like "coming home" but is not, it's not because it's new, trick of the light machine....Look to the stories of old cinema, change the colours make them intense, change the sound, pair things to season, time, place and have a narrative with a beginning a middle and an end....and above all that techy stuff (a must).... "You have to touch an Audience in some way!"......with your story....

WWHS - You make some interesting points and for the most part I agree with you. I would only add that you have to know your audience. Just as you would not read "Fifty Shades of Grey" to a five year old, you can't expect an adult to enjoy a steady diet of children's books. The same effort has to be put into product for all audiences. Right now it seems like the only films that are getting the budget and promotion they need are the tentpoles aimed at younger audiences. Films for mature adult audiences are under-promoted and hard to find in theaters when they are released. Then the studios say no one wants to see them. How can you see them if you can't find them?

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Re: Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

Post by fava on Sat Jun 20 2015, 16:38

I think a good percentage of the adult movie audience are home binge watching Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, etc on their big screens.  Why go to the movies if you can get great content cheaper in your own home? And unless you are really invested in a movie and want to see it in the theatre, you can wait just a few months and get it at home.   People have a lot more choices for distraction than they did in the depression.

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Re: Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

Post by What Would He Say on Mon Jun 22 2015, 13:26

Thanks Lizzy, I see what you are saying about where they are putting their budgets.....doesn't it make you wonder about "Hollywood", how they talk out of both sides of their mouth....They talk talk big budgets, yet there is no Oscar for the highest grossing movie of the year....No Oscar that actually returns on what they measure the standard by at production level...Ummm.

We have movie stars who want to be producers so that they can "find" appropriate vehicles for their talent...Makes me laugh, I imagine Jennifer Aniston in a sports car with her talent, and Steve Coogan sitting with his in a 4x4......

Everything revolves around money....but hush now! don't mention "money and ART" in the same sentence, don't dream of getting into the Meryl's Roller with you filthy money....

What drove Leonardo da Vinci? (and many more of the true greats including Shakespeare)


Money, yet he was one of the worlds greatest inventors.....So yes we have to have the "New" the inventive, but it's as rare as hens teeth it doesn't just  rock up in a vehicle.....Listen to Leo here, mouthing off as usual.....



"Along with the scholars, they despise the mathematical sciences, which are the only true sources of information about those things which they claim to know so much about. Instead they talk about miracles and write about things that nobody could ever know, things that cannot be proven by any evidence in nature."
"It seems to me that all studies are vain and full of errors unless they are based on experience and can be tested by experiment, in other words, they can be demonstrated to our senses. For if we are doubtful of what our senses perceive then how much more doubtful should we be of things that our senses cannot perceive, like the nature of God and the soul and other such things over which there are endless disputes and controversies." 




In other words "franchise works" and can work...do the maths... Also it works on a non franchise basis with the right use of all I put in my previous email above.....


Basic Instinct was on my telly a few nights ago....and Hitchcock never made his customary appearance in any part of it....JK.

Thanks Fava, I totally agree....but you know the human heart yearns for the joy of the shared experience.....Not how long, but how intense....You just don't get that sitting alone at home.....We can all remember sitting in a cinema when the whole auditorium screamed/laughed at the same time....at home that just does not become a memory.....True to say we are more complex in how we perceive an experience than we will ever know.

I am all for respecting the diversity of cinema...but I do not respect the idea that to be good and worthy of accolade it has to be "arty".....money talks....follow the money and the maths will show you what people want, yearn for, what brings them joy, adrenaline-hi's what ever they want....it's there in the bottom line....

Give it an Oscar....and I for one won't feel my Euro/Dollar counts for zilch....

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Re: Is Hollywood Heading for a Summer Box Office Disaster?

Post by LizzyNY on Mon Jun 22 2015, 14:55

WWHS - Like everything else, film production needs to strike a balance. We can't survive on dessert alone, though most of us would love to. We have to eat some veggies, too.  People like George understand the need for films to do more than just entertain.

Films need to cover a broad spectrum of topics and genres and appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The industry has to figure out how to make movies a shared experience again or the theater experience will, as Fava seems to suggest, become irrelevant or maybe even extinct.

There are many fewer movie theaters in my area than there were when I was growing up and we all went to the movies a couple of times a week. I can envision a time in the not so distant future when there are only one or two mega-plexes and all the little neighborhood theaters are gone. Sad.

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