Me and My Nine Iron

February 14, 2011

Box office review

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 5:43 pm

The $754 million January box office was a 20-year low for the month, setting a different record after January 2010’s record-high $1.06 billion gross. Ticket sales were estimated at 94 million, the first sub-100 million January since 1995. While part of it was the direct result from fewer new releases–there were only nine new movies in the month compared to an average of 14 the previous 15 years–I’d like to think it had something to do with the movies just being plain awful. Although, it took two big movie stars and a bona fide hottie competing against a 16-year-old’s documentary to kickstart the box office. More on that later.

This post happened because there were a slew of comedies I wanted to see but was just shocked to find out how bad they were on IMDb (How Do You Know, Little Fockers, The Green Hornet, The Dilemma, No Strings Attached and Just Go With It); just about every major comedy that came out in the past couple of months. That and obviously bad movies taking the top spots just because it’s a new release. I’ve noticed every week for the past month that the box office Top 10 was plain sick with regards to IMDb ratings, and big name movies floundered as a result of poor reviews. Here’s a list of box office flops in just the past month:

Movie IMDb Rating Budget (in millions) Gross Revenue (in millions) Weeks in Top 10
How Do You Know 5.3 100 30 1
The Dilemma 4.9 70 60 4
The Rite 6.2 37 29 2
Sanctum 5.6 30 21 2?

That’s a lot of money dished out for little return: James L. Brooks ($10 million), Reese Witherspoon ($15 million), Jack Nicholson ($12 million), Owen Wilson ($10 million), Paul Rudd ($3 million), Ron Howard (can command $10 million), Vince Vaughn (can command $20 million), Kevin James and Anthony Hopkins (can command $20 million). Well, some of them didn’t get all of the money they were hoping for, as Brooks, Vaughn and James Cameron produced their respective movies. But, who cares about the latter, right?

Let’s take a look at the Top 8 from this past weekend:

Movie IMDb Rating
Just Go With It 5.8
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 1.2
Gnomeo and Juliet 5.3
The Eagle 6.4
The Roommate 4.3
The King’s Speech 8.5
No Strings Attached 6.2
Sanctum 5.6

I guess I shouldn’t have expected otherwise from a Sandler movie, as his movies never get positive reviews, but it looked solid in the trailer. As for Justin Bieber, you really have to be doing something horribly wrong to have a worse rating than Tyler Perry movies.

With my new policy of not watching a movie under 6.0 without a friend recommendation, that makes five of the eight unwatchable, including what would be the worst movie of all-time, beating out Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004, 1.4), two barely watchable and one salvaging what could be one of the worst Top 8’s ever from top to bottom, only through its amazing shelf life of 12 weeks and running. Seriously, save The King’s Speech and one or two of the comedies, go down that list again, and you’ll find a piss poor selection of movies out right now. Let’s hope that studios don’t realize not having a sequel or a remake among the list has something to do with it, although besides the two comedies, I believe the other six are all adapted from previous work. Who would’ve thought, right?

I checked the homeland, and it’s not any better with South Korea. In fact, their box office the weekend before of American movies was the exact inverse of its IMDb rating.

Movie IMDb Rating Gross (in thousands) Place Weeks in Top 10
Gulliver’s Travels 4.7 4795 2 2
The Green Hornet 6.5 473 6 2
Megamind 7.3 372 7 4
The Town 7.7 156 8 2
Tangled 8.0 109 9 3

I guess the Koreans like their dose of Jack Black, I don’t know. I played The Town for my parents. My mom hated it, and my dad walked out after the Blake Lively sex scene. I guess the poor taste in movies isn’t just limited to Americans.

Maybe, Jeffrey Katzenberg is right. The CEO of Dreamworks was featured in an L.A. Times article yesterday marking the 20-year anniversary of when his 28-page in-house memo naming names was printed publicly. Then as Disney’s head of production, Katzenberg claimed that big name actors suck up way too much of the studio’s money and offers little reward to the studio because of this, even if the movie becomes a hit.

While you can make an exception to the select few who can touch anything and turn it into gold–Ben Stiller (Little Fockers, 5.3, $304 million) and Johnny Depp (Alice in Wonderland, 6.6, $1.02 billion)–maybe, it is best to not get caught up with big name actors and have a great story. After all, as the article mentions, you won’t find a famous voice in a Pixar movie, and look at their success. Or how little-known Julia Roberts had Pretty Woman make $463 million. Or more recently, how no famous comedian was in The Hangover, which set a domestic record for highest-grossing R-rated comedy at $467 million.

What was lambasted 20 years ago by the acting community, as you can imagine, is now hailed “prophetic” by studios. I mean, take a look at all the big names attached to every single comedy I wanted to see in the list above. And you would’ve thought this was some novel idea.



1 Comment »

  1. The movies out right now suck. There hasn’t been one release I’ve looked forward to since Christmas (the only possible exception being Ed Helms’ Cedar Rapids, which opened to limited theaters — that is, not in San Jose). The coming months doesn’t look much better. My must watches: Adjustment Bureau, Your Highness, Source Code (I heard the script is awesome) and Water for Elephants (ditto). Hall Pass has potential — it’ll either be a poor man’s Hangover or utterly horrible; but I like the supporting cast of Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate, Stephen Merchant and JB Smooth. I’ll decide whether to watch it or not depending on reviews. The Music Never Stopped could be an indie darling. And I’ll watch Scream 4 for nostalgia’s sake.

    Comment by Chris Le — February 16, 2011 @ 9:28 am | Reply

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