There are three films opening this weekend: Hotel Transylvania, Looper and Won’t Back Down. With the latter, I haven’t heard much chatter about it, but that’s partly because I’m in no way its target demographic, and neither are most people who read movie news websites. Selective and smart marketing could work for that film. Could.
The cinematic landscape is shifting very quickly, it feels, as something like Looper is something of a question mark, when you might think it could be an easy win. It’s an action movie with a science fiction setting, and with stars like Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt (who it’s hard not to refer to as JoGoLev), a decade ago this sort of property would have been money in the bank. But you can’t launch something like this in the middle of the summer, because there’s just too much competition, even if this is theoretically a summer-type movie. In the world now an audience needs to find this picture, though they need to find it right away.
And you can’t count on Bruce Willis to draw an audience in, at this point he’s done some direct to video titles, while Gordon-Levitt is coming off of Premium Rush, which failed to crack the top five when it came out even though he was coming off of The Dark Knight Rises. They don’t have Imax screens, and they don’t have 3D.
What they have is one of the best reviewed movies of the year, and what is supposedly a pretty great film. But can that win, and then what is the win? The film was done for $30 Million according to sources (again, never trust a budget), and should have international appeal because of its stars, and additional footage done specifically for the Chinese market (they get a different cut of the film), so the film should make money. But it feels like there’s a ceiling on it based on marketing and audience attention spans. Hopefully it will buck that.
Whereas something like Hotel Transylvania feels like easy math. Adam Sandler + animated material + 3D + a trailer and TV spots with a couple of good jokes = over $20 Million opening weekend. Yeah, That’s My Boy tanked hard, but its opening weekend numbers would have won most weekends this last month. And this seems to be the battle that cinema is fighting. The struggle of something that is interesting but doesn’t have the quickest sell versus something that has all the ingredients people like however artlessly thrown together. And of late craft has been losing.
As for Don’t Back Down, that title could be more generic, though you never know if adds on places like Ellen, etc. are effective. Perhaps they are, but they’re targeting an audience who doesn’t go to movies that much. And that also speaks to the system. The older people get, the less likely they are to go to movies, partly because of their lives, partly because of cost, and partly because of the movies themselves, which then are targeted at a younger audience. And with films having a three to four month window before they hit DVD/Blu-Ray/VOD, and with many homes having 1080p televisions, and good sound, why not wait, even if that is the problem in a nutshell. The more people decide it’s something they can watch at home, the less likely a system is going to make movies for that audience.
It’s something best represented in this video:
As for numbers:
Hotel Transylvania – $25 Million
Looper – $19.5 Million
End of Watch – $7.9 Million
Trouble with the Curve – $7.4 Million
Won’t Back Down – $5.8 Million
I went high on Looper, but I’m optimistic. We could also see Hotel go up higher. You never know. It looks like Pitch Perfect is doing some sneaks this weekend, and that could be a sleeper hit. We shall see.
What are you going to see this weekend?