This Week in Box Office History
TWBOH takes a look at the last 30 years of top grossing movies. Sifting through the celluloid, we review audience preferences and spot the trends in movie watching history. Young adult literature is big business in Hollywood, with the Harry Potter franchise ushering in an age of sure-fire hits based on light sci-fi elements aimed at teens. This week brings the latest contender to the big screen with the second installment of The Hunger Games getting suited up to battle the god of thunder for Box Office supremacy. Oh, and I nail my picks from last week.
The Trends: November 14th – 17th
Our number one this week, Thor – The Dark World, is a bit out of place, sharing the top spot with only one other super hero flick, The Incredibles (2004). Generally, super hero movies have aimed at the summer. Thor cleaned up in its debut, but has fallen off precipitously: losing nearly 60% of it’s value. This may bode ill for the Asgardian, as Hunger Games: Catching Fire is due out this weekend and is sure to further cut into its margin. Could a movie with a 85 million dollar opening actually turn out to be a box office dud? It has yet to make back its staggering 170 million dollar budget, so we’ll keep our eyes on it.
The prime movers and shakers this week in history were adaptations of books aimed at younger readers. Two Twilight films (both parts of the final movie, Breaking Dawn 1 and 2) and three Harry Potter films all charted the number 1 spot. With the release of Hunger Games 2, we’re sure to be seeing more of this trend.
Interestingly, the teen movie focus this week is a modern development. The above mentioned films, plus digitally animated films dominated the later 2000’s, but prior to this time period, the list is pretty evenly divided between adult films and family holiday fare.
Holiday flicks, like this week’s number two earner, The Best Man Holiday, take a decent share of the early 2000’s and late 90’s. Elf, The Grinch, and Home Alone round out these roles. This year, the holiday films have been reticent, most scheduled to release mid December. Perhaps the success of teen movies has carved out a unique calender niche, pushing holiday and horror movies out of their usual spaces, as we will see below.
The 80’s and 90’s seem to have extended their Halloween horror seasons significantly, with Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Child’s Play (1988), Once Bitten (1985), Amityville 3D (1983), and Creepshow (1982) all placing in the top spot. Given the complete dearth of horror movies actually releasing this year, it’s surprising to see all of the pure slasher flicks that dominated this time of year.
The Week That Was: Results
I improve my batting average, notching two correct picks this week with Thor as #1 and The Best Man Holiday as #2. I only missed a clean sweep because of those damn under performing birds. I swear to God, I’m going to eat every dang bird I see this Thanksgiving in vengeance. Sweet, sweet, gravy-covered vengeance.
The Week That Will Be: Predictions
#1: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. A no brainer here. This movie is going to dominate, though I wonder if it can pass Thor‘s high water mark of 85 million. Next week’s box history is lousy with teen fiction adaptations. Sparkly vampires and wizards as far as the eye can see. Absolutely no doubt this one is going to take it walking away.
#2: Thor- The Dark World. A little more of a gamble here. I wonder if moderate critical reaction has soured audiences on this film. While I don’t really see Hunger Games being so monolithic that it sucks all the movie-going money out of the market, I worry about how quickly Thor has lost steam after a thunderous entrance. See. Now I’m reduced to bad weather puns. Thanks a lot, you stupid turkeys. Still, I see this movie holding on to about 25 million in eyeballs.
#3: Delivery Man. OK, Vince Vaughan has been on a bit of a cold streak lately, but at one time he was a lock to open in the 20-30 million dollar range. Especially in the Holiday season. So I’m going to bet that he may have a little audience goodwill banked up and help him to open in the lower range of his successful films at 20 million, instead of the range of his stinkers at 10-15 million. I also expect he will draw some people away from Best Man Holiday, knocking it out of the top three, while ensuring that Thor has enough wiggle room to stay at #2…though I can easily see one of these two comedies grabbing 2 and Thor falling to 3. Hedging my bets a little, it seems.
Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Used with permission.