Monday, September 06, 2010

Black Sheep presents Summer Box Office Review

I've made little effort to hide my disdain for this summer's film offerings and after looking back at the box office business these films pulled in, it is pretty clear to me that you all were none too pleased as well.  This summer provided some bonafide hits but more often than not just produced mid-range success and disappointment.  2010 proved to be profitable for most (Sorry, Scott Pilgrim), pulling in a combined domestic haul of $4.35 billion, up 2.4% over last year.  Of course, you're all thinking about how much more expensive it is to see movies these days, especially the one's that pop out at you and you're right.  Ticket prices in North America increased on average 38 cents over 2009, a 5% increase.  These figures are what make the next one's more disturbing.  Theatre attendance is down for the third year in a row, dropping 2.6% this summer, down to 552 million tickets sold.  Sure, that is still an incredible amount of filmgoers but consider that 566 million tickets were sold in 2009 and 580 million the summer before that.  With most movies making their money back and then some once you take foreign grosses into consideration, I doubt Hollywood will heed these troubling forecasts.  Why push yourself to do better when what you're already doing puts the money in the bank?

This suit doesn't come cheap, y'know.
Paramount Pictures put the most money in the bank this summer, commanding 20% of the market share.  Walt Disney Pictures came in second place with a 16% share; and Sony finished in third with 15%.  Paramount's lead was established early when the first tent pole of the summer, IRON MAN 2 opened to $128 million, finishing with $312 million domestically and $621 million globally.  The domestic gross is a little shy of the first film's total but exceeds globally by about $35 million.  This is pretty solid follow-up business but considering the second cost about $60 million more to make, I'm sure expectations were higher.  Their second big hit needed the rest of the world to justify its existence.  SHREK FOREVER AFTER, the supposed last chapter in the series, finished the summer in second place globally but a disappointing sixth place domestically.  It's fate was sealed domestically when it opened to about $50 million less than the last installment.  Still, a $540m+ profit is a lot of green.

Don't look so surprised.
When TOY STORY 3 surpassed the billion dollar mark globally this past week, Disney became the only studio in history to command two billion dollar performances in the same year, along with the spring success of ALICE IN WONDERLAND.  TOY STORY 3 is the big winner across every board imaginable.  Not only did it become Pixar's biggest opener and total grosser, it is also the number one film both domestically and globally.  Perhaps even more importantly, it is the biggest animated film in history and was universally considered by critics to be the best film of the summer.  Bravo Woody & Buzz!   Meanwhile, if foreign markets didn't love action films so much, PRINCE OF PERSIA would have been a big embarrassment for Disney.  The Jake Gyllenhaal mess (I saw it; it is very messy - sorry, Jake.) only cracked $90 million domestically but finished with $330 million overall, which is good considering it reportedly cost $200 million to make.  The same can be said of THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE, which made only $61 million domestically and cost $150 million to make.  Jerry Bruckheimer needs to thank someone out there for the extra $100 million that came from abroad.

Maybe you can afford clothes that fit now.
Sony surprised me with both the global and domestic success of THE KARATE KID.  Coming in seventh place on both fronts, the film only cost about $40 million to make and took in a profit of $278 million.  Sony also scored solid success with the Angelina Jolie spy thriller, SALT, and the Adam Sandler ensemble comedy, GROWN-UPS.  Neither necessarily blew up but both performed well enough to make the Top 10 domestically.

Well worth all that trouble.
Warner Brothers had a hard time this summer (see the biggest box office flop list below).  SEX AND THE CITY 2 seemed like it was going to perform on par with the first installment but ended up pulling in about $65 million less domestically.  It also made approximately $125 million less globally but still managed a profit of $190 million as a result of foreign markets.  Fortunately, Warner made up for that misstep with one of the most celebrated films of the summer, INCEPTION.  The Christopher Nolan smash finished third globally with a whopping $695 million and it's not even done yet.  Budgeted at $160 million, that is an impressive $535 million profit.  And given its reputation as the smartest film released this summer, people will likely remember it come awards season too so Warner Brothers will be dreaming of money for some time to come.

More vampire movies need scenes in flowery fields.
Only two other titles deserve significant mention before I wrap things up here.  The first was another big surprise for me.  I saw DESPICABLE ME.  I thought it was cute at best.  And yet somehow, Universal turned it into a $309 million global hit.  More impressively, it beat that big green ogre movie domestically.  And of course, how could I not mention all those crazy teenage vampires and werewolves?  THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE has yet to finish its run but has earned about $54 million less than the last outing did so it would appear interest may be waning.  I realize this is wishful thinking.  And as for the most profitable indie hit this summer, that honour goes to THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, which pulled in about $20 million domestically and cost about $4 million to make.  It was definitely one of the very few highlights of my summer at the movies.

It wouldn't be a summer box office review if there weren't a run down of the season's biggest flops.  In a summer overrun with disappointment, you really have to fall flat to be a bomb and these ones really hit the ground hard.  The biggest money losers domestically this summer were:




Thanks for joining me at this final look back at the summer that was 2010.  It will not be missed.  The regular box office report will return after TIFF.  To read any of the reviews for films in this article, just scroll over the title and click if it's a link.


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