Monday, July 2, 2007

This Summer's Box Office

This weekend the release of Pixar's Ratatouille and the latest movie in the adventures of John McClane, Live Free or Die Hard, broke a downturn in box office receipts that has lasted the past four weeks. That having been said, it was still a disappointing weekend, even if the weekend total was up from it has been for nearly a month.

Quite simply, Ratatouille only took in $47.2 million. This gives the movie the second worst opening for a Pixar film and the worst since A Bug's Life. This was below expectations--predictions had ranged from $50 million to $65 million. At $33.15 millions, Live Free or Die Hard was closer to its predicted box office take for the weekend, although some of us would have liked to have seen it done better (it's a good popcorn movie--honest!). While both Ratatouille and Live Free or Die Hard did relatively well, they did not do well enough that we can expect 2007's box office to do anything more than match that of 2006. The past four weeks have seen to that.

The disappointing box office receipts for this movie season are interesting as initially pundits were predicting that this summer would result in a record $4 billion at the box office. By the end of June, it was clear that this was probably not going to happen. It seemed as if film after film this summer earned less than what many expected them to: Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and so on. To me the reasons for the poor box office performance aren't hard to find. First, it seems obvious to me that most people were disappointed by the first two of the threequels this season. Both Spider-Man 3 and Shrek the Third were not nearly as good as the other movies in those franchises. This probably sabotaged the chances of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End performing any better than it did, as people had grown cautious of the various sequels this summer following both Spider-Man 2 and Shrek the Third. It may have even affected the performance of yet other sequels, from Ocean's Thirteen to Live Free or Die Hard.

Second, it seems to me that early predictions for this summer may have been exaggerated to begin with as there were simply too many sequels. This summer has seen or will see the release of Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Ocean's Thirteen, Live Free or Die Hard, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix among many others. This is more sequels than usual, even for the summer movie season, and I rather suspect more than the average person necessarily wants to see at the theatre.

There are those who think that Transformers could save this summer's box office. I have even heard of a few who have proclaimed that this will be the big movie this summer. I personally have serious doubts that it will save the summer box office or especially that it will be the summer's big movie. My reasons for this are simple. First, it seems to me that the audience for Transformers is limited to begin with. It more or less consists of men under 30 who are nostalgic for the cartoon from the Eighties and/or toys as well (that I believe haven't gone out of production since the Eighties). It seems to me that most people over 30 (like my best friend and myself) have almost no interest in the film. Second, Transformers has some very stiff competition. This July 4, and perhaps the following weekend as well, might see a lot of young men electing to see Live Free or Die Hard instead. Little boys who might be inclined to see Transformers might just beg their parents to take them to Ratatouille. And then one has to consider the many other movies still playing at theatres: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, 1498, Ocean's Thirteen, and even Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. The rather fierce competition this holiday will naturally undermine the potential box office of Transformers.

Now don't get me wrong. I do think Transformers will do well. I rather suspect it will take the top spot, beating both Ratatouille and Live Free or Die Hard. But ultimately I think it will drop very dramatically and very rapidly in its box office after its first week of release. In fact, I daresay that both Ratatouille and Live Free or Die Hard will still be in the top ten movies each week long after Transformers has faded away. Quite frankly, I don't see that it has enough of an audience to give it any lasting power.

That having been said, unless Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and/or The Simpsons Movie, or even some other film, does extremely well, I don't think this summer has any hope whatsoever of surpassing 2006 in box office profits. I guess the only good news for Hollywood could be that there is always next summer...

Anyhow, given this is a movie related post, I should perhaps let you know what my blog's rating is. Personally, I was rather surprised as I thought it would at least be rated "PG." I guess maybe I need to throw in more sex and violence...

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RC said...

man i can't believe you're rated G...

i am totally not!!! (We're talkin' R).

Crazy, eh?

anyways...i agree transformers could be really's hard to tell...i agree 1st weekend's were it's at...but who might last.

i'm interested to see how Simpson's performs as well as bourne (i really think bourne will be hurt the most by the over trilogy business)

Mercurie said...

I was surprised at the rating. I mean, I thought the blog would be PG at least.

Anyhow, Transformers might surprise me. It could wind up doing well even after the first weekend. Sometimes movies can be unexpected--movies one think would just do really well their first few weekends out hang on forever while others one think would hang on just disappear.

It'll be interesting to see how The Simpsons performs. I am thinking it should be pretty big, given the show's following. But then it might just do well that first weekend and then drop off. As to The Bourne Ultimatum, I worry it will be suffer because of all the other sequels released this year. It might take the number one spot the first weekend out, but I am afraid it might vanish after that.