By Todd Allen

How tailored to the Beat’s demographic has the summer movie season been?  7 out of the top 10 films are hitting that cartoon/SF/F range.  It’s really remarkable.  The comedies that were supposed to be “big” are massively under-performing and studio executives aren’t likely to be skipping Comicon this year.  Let’s just look at the Top 10 and bask in themes:

1 Brave $ 66.7 M  — Cartoon
2Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted $ 20.2 M  — Cartoon
3Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter  $ 16.5 M — Fantasy
4 Prometheus $ 10.0 M — SF
5 Rock of Ages $ 8.0 M — Under-performing Comedy
6 Snow White and Thor $ 8.0M — Fantasy
7 That’s My Boy $ 7.9 M — Under-performing Comedy
8 The Avengers $ 7.0 M — SF/F
9 Men in Black 3 $ 5.6 M — SF/F
10 Seeking a Friend For the End of the World $ 3.8 M SF-themed scenario

The fact that the two high-profile comedies aren’t doing better is really interesting, and I’ve seen lists where Snow White is ranked above Rock of Ages, so we’ll have to wait for Monday’s actual receipts to see who’s #5 and who’s #6.  The two are in a dead heat.  It looks like the wide audience has some specific tastes this summer.

As expected, Brave takes the #1 slot by the throat.  Madagascar 3 shows some staying power against direct competition and was aided by a so-so opening from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  On the other hand, Mr. Lincoln has opened to better box office than Rock of Ages and That’s My Boy, and on fewer screens than Rock of Ages.

The interesting subplot this week is per screen average and the surprise is The Avengers.  This weekend, Avengers had another gentle 21% drop-off and finished above Men in Black 3 for totals.  Moreover, it’s $3,157 average would put it at the #5 film, doing better on a theater-by-theater basis than Rock of Ages, Snow White and That’s My Boy.  Truth be told, Rock of Age’s $2,305 average is kind of sad for $75M budgeted wide release in its second week.

Avengers has been sucking the wind out of the other films all summer long.  MiB3 and Battleship, particularly.  Avengers lost another 352 screens this weekend, as it continues to slowly withdraw in its 8th week.  This sets the stage for some interesting programming decisions over the next couple weeks.  Avengers still has legs.  That’s a remarkable per screen average 2 months in.  Newer films are falling by the wayside.  That’s a reason to keep it around.  And that also might create the very interesting question of whether Avengers and Amazing Spider-Man can co-exist in 2 weeks?  I don’t know that Avengers will still command 2000+ screens in two weeks (it’s possible), but at this rate it should still be in wide release.  Sony can’t be particularly happy about that.  Especially not with Dark Knight Rises debuting 2 weeks later.  But… did anybody think we’d be talking about whether Avengers would have 2000 screens in week 10 when the summer schedule was drawn up?  I don’t think so.

Next week’s release are slightly more “normal,” in terms of genre.  We’ll get Stephen Soderbergh’s stripper comedy/drama, Magic Mike, with Channing Tatum; People Like Us, a family-oriented drama; Tyler Perry’s loyal army will probably turn out in good numbers for Medea’s Witness Protection (I’m looking at cast list for this that says Tyler Perry, Eugene Levy, Denise Richards and Tom Arnold — now that’s a diverse cast); and this summer being what it is, Ted — a fantasy-themed comedy about a man who’s teddy bear talked… and is a bit of a bastard to judge by the previews.

Two weeks out, Spidey shows up, along with Oliver Stone’s new crime flick in Savages.

Tyler Perry usually brings numbers to box office.  I’m curious if the non-genre fare of Magic Mike and People Like Us will make any waves.


  1. I don’t see ‘Rock of Ages’ as an ‘under performing comedy’ (as you listed it). I see it as an adaptation of a musical from broadway that flopped.

  2. If Seeking a friend was a short story (or even a novel) it would be considered Science Fiction so to consider it a Science Fiction themed movie is not out of line. (It’s actually a hard film to categorize, it has humor in it but it’s hardly a comedy, it has romance but it’s hardly a love story, it has drama but it also has pointed satire and it’s all wrapped up in a sci-fi scenario).

  3. Brave has even more geek factor than just being animated – it’s co-directed, co-written, and voiced (as The Raven) by a comic book creator — Sam & Max’s Steve Purcell.

  4. I agree with Ron Thibodeau. Rock of Ages is a musical. You can call it a Musical Comedy if you wish, but it is a musical first and it being a musical (made up of ’80 metal songs no less) it a big reason for its disappointing performance. With rare exceptions, movie musicals don’t do well nowadays.

  5. Bill,

    Most movie musicals in the past decade have been successful. Glee underperformed last year though, as did this, so it seems that the shine may be off them.

    Everyone else,

    Anyone that doesn’t think a movie based on Celtic myth written by Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell has geek cred doesn’t know much about geek cred.

  6. Rock of Ages is BOTH a musical and a comedy, which anybody who’s seen the theatrical show could tell you. WB’s confused marketing plan tripped up yet another movie adaptation’s probability for success, which may have led clueless critics to believe that pop metal tunes needed a serious plot, for some inane reason.

    As for Brave, I guess no one wants to talk about how original director Brenda Chapman got fired halfway through production anymore.

  7. Per Nick:
    Most movie musicals in the past decade have been successful. Glee underperformed last year though, as did this, so it seems that the shine may be off them.

    Actually, if you take an informal look at the wide release musicals last ten years (as per this:, you run about 50/50 with flops to successes. You have those films that were hits (The Muppets, High School Musical 3, Mamma Mia!, Hairspray, Dreamgirls, Enchanted and Chicago), a couple that had disappointing domestic grosses and did well overseas (Sweeney Todd, Phantom of the Opera) and flat out bombs (Burlesque, Nine, Across the Universe, Idlewild, The Producers, Rent, and if you want to include Glee and possibly Rock of Ages).

    Bottom line is that musicals are a risky venture because as the above shows that more often than not, musicals don’t do well domestically without Oscar buzz or a kid-friendly premise and if it doesn’t do well internationally, you will end up losing money.

  8. The fact that Rock of Ages and That’s My Boy flopped doesn’t surprise me. Neither looked interesting. The general audience is probably more interested in the behind the scenes aspects of the 80’s rock bands than watching actors do karaoke to their songs. As for That’s My Boy, the bar has been raised for rated r comedies and from the trailers, I don’t think the movie is too concerned about reaching the bar.

    Despite all that, the biggest reason why they failed was due to when they were released. After The Avengers, with a Pixar film plus Ridley Scott’s return to sci-fi and before Spidey? You should probably have low expectations if that’s the case.

  9. I live in a rural area where there’s four drive-ins within maybe a 50 mile radius and every single one of them was playing Avengers this past weekend — most as a double-feature with Brave and one with Madagascar 3. I’m a big fan of the drive-ins for movies in the summer and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film play like that to the point of being literally unavoidable.

    Saw Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, and that was a lot of fun. Very well-done action flick with some excellent sequences.