There is an argument to be made that critics often give the first films of summer a pass. It’s partly because they’re ginormous studio productions, and it used to be that coverage and/or advertising could be hurt by panning their latest blockbuster. But also there’s often a sense of a soft pass, films that aren’t particularly great (at least in the critic’s eyes) but also not worth going hard on, so a three star or B- review relieves them of hassle from fanboys, while also being the first big movie of the summer so the spectacle is more winning. The theory is then that critics get stingier as they’re forced to sit through more and more of the same sort of franchise tentpoles week after week.
Which makes it surprising that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is currently rotten on Rotten Tomatoes.
With nearly 150 reviews in, Spider-Man is currently at 57%, with many of the fresh reviews offering the faintest of praise: “This reboot-sequel with not all that much reason to exist turns out to be about half of a pretty good movie, and generally entertaining throughout” and “Competent. Nothing more” sum up many of the positive reviews, which means the film did get a soft pass from many, but for a sizable chunk it just wasn’t good enough to not pan. Without pondering whether critics matter or not, this shouldn’t hurt the opening weekend, but it suggests the film will be forgotten by the time Godzilla rolls around.
Perhaps these critics felt they gave the first film too much of a pass (it got a 73%), or perhaps it’s just the film itself, which we didn’t care for that much. Regardless, the lowest opening weekend for a superhero movie opening the first week of May — at least in the last ten years — is 2011′s Thor, which made $65.7 Million, while the worst reviewed, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which sits at 38% on Rotten Tomatoes) opened to $85 Million and wasn’t in 3D. That said, Wolverine only made $180 Million domestic, which means it was incredibly front loaded (it did more than half its business in the first four days of release). It’s possible Spider-Man could open to $100 Million and not make it to $200 Million.
No one on this movie seems to be apologizing for the last one — though there have been some comments about a learning curve — which means no one’s suggesting the first film was a disappointment, and that’s fair, the new iteration has its fans who seem to think the Sam Raimi version is terrible (they’re wrong in every way, but such is life). But if international doesn’t keep up the business (the film has already made $132 Million in foreign markets) this could end up the lowest grossing Spider-Man movie yet. The question is if the film does less than The Amazing Spider-Man‘s $750 Million worldwide, can Sony keep pressing on? Can they hit the reset button again? At what level of audience rejection does it take for them to reconsider what they’re doing?
That said, the film should open, and my prediction for the weekend is:
Spider-Man 5 - $89.5 Million
I may be going low, but I can’t imagine word of mouth being awesome on this one, which should catch up to the film. Then again, there could be a “get it over with” pull to the weekend’s numbers.
Are you going to see Spider-Man this weekend?