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« First & Last. Who is He? | Main | Review: "Oz: the Great and Powerful" »
Sunday
Mar102013

BoxOffice: The Great and Platformful

Somewhere over a different rainbow: Gael García Bernal's NO is a deserved hit in platform releaseObviously the oxygen-hogging story this weekend was the release of a new Oz movie. Pre-sold films are Hollywood's favorite thing for a reason. Familiarity and branding goes a long long long long long long long way toward automatic ticket sales. But Somewhere over another rainbow (logo) NO is a more deserved success story. Let's discuss. 

WIDE
01 Oz: The Great and Powerful $80.2 Review
02 Jack the Giant Slayer $28 (cum. $43.8) Review
03 Identity Thief $9.7 (cum. $116.5)

PLATFORM
01 The Gatekeepers $.2 
(cum. $1 now on 67 screens & holding)
02 No $.1 Review 
(cum. $.5 now on 35 screens & building)
03 Stoker  $.1 Review 
(cum. $.3 now on 17 screens & dwindling)

Word of mouth can be your best friend or your worst enemy in movie theaters. The big corporate movie studios are generally very consistent with their strategies though I'd argue too consistent. The would be blockbusters are released on so many screens that people sometimes buy tickets just because it's "the big movie opening" rather than from genuine I Must See This interest. I mean, imagine the financial bloodbath if Jack the Giant Slayer had opened on 10 screens and tried to build trusting that people would be recommending it to others? At least it made some money last weekend before a terrible 63% drop this week.

Meanwhile smaller titles are nearly always platformed in the same way even if that's a mistake for them. I mean, it makes total sense for a movie like Chile's Oscar nominee No which will have a distinctly limited audience proportionately the exact size of its word of mouth. In these cases platforming is wise since the movie is EXCELLENT (seriously, go see it) and people will tell their friends just that. But riskier polarizing movies like Stoker the studios treat in the exact same way, throwing all their chips on reviews and word of mouth even though that clearly won't work as well. I confess that I don't really understand the strategy. When you have a way to hook bigger audiences without word of mouth (i.e. the serial killer genre, some stars, and violent horror which has the most faithful audience ever) why aren't you using it?

the latest "mystery swag" from Stoker -- a creepy box of sharpened pencils with Mia Wasikowska's face staring back at you when you pull them out of the box.

I mean, I know I didn't exactly give Stoker a positive review but I'm glad I saw it. Stoker is, at the very least, a great curio discussion topic. But here's the catch. When they hide the weirdos they even lose their cachet as curios because nobody has anything to discuss having not seen it.  I guess Stoker will have to wait for DVD to find its audience.

What did you watch this weekend?
I skipped the movies and went to see Sigourney Weaver on Broadway. (More on that tomorrow night)

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Reader Comments (23)

I saw "Oz- the loud and endless"- they spent a fortune on this thing and at least they got the colors right. Sam Raimi should go back to making horror movies which is his true calling. I thought the Evil Dead were going to pop up in the dark forest.

March 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Damn. Kidman just has no damn luck when it comes to box office numbers.

Maybe she can go join The Hunger Games? But then again, she's never been the commercial type.

I say this alot but i HATE limited release. Always ends up screwing me over.

March 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

I caught The Monk and enjoyed it enough to say as much here. At some point this week, I hope to see Beyond the Hills and maybe possibly Oz the Great and Powerful.

And yes! I hope to make Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike one of the next shows I catch (after Breakfast at Tiffany's and Hamlet starring Paul Giamatti at Yale Repertory Theatre). Let us know what you thought of it!

March 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDevin D

Nothing in theaters, but I saw West Side Story for the first time, and finally understand what all the fuss is about.

March 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Watched Bernie again. And upon re-watch, the fact it got no awards love, especially Jack Black and the script, beyond Spirit Awards nods is pretty lame. I just love Richard Linklater movies (who by the way has a really ingenious cameo) but there is something both old-fashioned, polite, and darkly hilarious about this whole movie without losing any sincerity. It easily could have become a put-down, mockumentary, Christopher Guest movie wannabe but it was not. I really felt like I was introduced to a specific kind of Texas and even though I have no Texas blood whatsoever, I definitely saw similar qualities of people from my small town to the people in the movie.

Watched the Bigger Than Life Criterion DVD that I just got. Stunning. Interesting listening to commentary tracks by a Nicholas Ray expert and also Jonathan Lethem's view of the movie. Lethem's theory of Walter Matthau's character being gay seems a little reaching (considering Ray has gotten away with much more innuendo of gay characters in his other movies, specifically Plato in Rebel Without a Cause) but overall, he had a really smart reading of the movie. James Mason as the All-American teacher, who is also this fraud, this failed case of male virility and power that was supposed to represent the 50s, should not work based on how that reads on paper. But it does. Also, I had no idea that was Barbara Rush's real hair color. Figured it was much darker from It Came from Outer Space.

Also saw The Imposter for about the 8th time. This feels like a documentary made specifically for me and my binge-watching Unsolved Mysteries childhood.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Saw No on Saturday - great story, solid execution. Not reinventing the wheel, but, you know, its a damn fine wheel.

In anticipation of Spring Breakers I also caught Mister Lonely at MOMI's Harony Korine retrospective, and that was a real eye opener. I'd never seen it before, and recall it getting mostly indifferent/dismissive reviews, but it blew me away - a great movie. Like borderline masterpiece territory. Has anyone else seen it? The actressexuals around here would probably be all about Samantha Morton, who is incredible as a troubled Marilyn Monroe impersonator. And for all the Holy Motors nuts, Denis Lavant plays Morton's husband, a semi-deranged Charlie Chaplin impersonator. It also co-stars Werner Herzog as a priest.

It is amazing.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

A seperation. Again. On DVD of course
Lost some of the pin-you-to-your-seat power now that I know what's to come. But still very powerful. I was still very shaken up by the end.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYuan

I am far from Nicole Kidman's biggest fan. It would be a stretch to even call myself a fan. But one of my favourite things about her is that she so blatantly doesn't give a shit about box office. She just pinpoints an auteur and throws herself into his/her hands. Which is what every intellingent actress with star power should do.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergoran

I watched the original Wizard of Oz on tv and it is still a wonderful film, I refuse to watch the Sam Raimi picture

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRami

Instead of Oz I chose Almodovarland. I saw Los amantes pasajeros. Until it gets a wider release all I'm going to say is:

a) It won't win la Palme d'Or
b) Tequila shots are highly recommended before watching it.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Saw "Oz" and despite a lag in the 2nd 1/2 hour (nothing 10 minutes of tightening couldn't have fixed), enjoyed it immensely. It helps if you are a fan of L. Frank Baum's original books, and don't hold "WIcked" or the MGM musical to be the "only" acceptable versions of the Oz stories. It's made with a great deal of care and attention to detail, and gets better and better as it goes. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen at least at a matinee price, so its visual sumptuousness can be fully appreciated. (The three main actresses--all giving everything they've got--are a hoot, too.) As long as you remember that Oscar Diggs is supposedly a charming huckster--and James Franco plays him that way--he's fine in the role.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDback

CMG-to be fair, Black got nominated for a Globe, which is some solid awards love, even if it didn't score at the Oscars.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Saw "Stoker" - Nat, you said everything better in your review than I could here. Creepy, great production design and sound, good performances from Mia and Nicole and yet...I don't know. I think part of the problem for me was Goode's performance. It was too creepily blank until the last third or so of the movie. I'd explain what I mean but I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't seen it, but to me there could have been a lot more urgency and even enthusiasm considering he's finally where he's wanted to be and with who he's wanted to be with for so long.

Also saw "Keep the Lights On" - not that good. Felt way longer than its running time. It had no insight into addiction, co-dependence or savior complexes. What was interesting was the DVD showed the audition reels for the 2 leads reading sides from the film, and what they read included information that was cut from the final film. Unfortunately, the film could have really used those specific details they cut. In trying to make it more universal (I guess? giving them the benefit of the doubt), the filmmakers made it more generic and harder to follow.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Saw OZ with my mom (she asked me to see it with her, which NEVER happens) and we both enjoyed it a heck of a lot more than we were expecting. She was in love with the 3D. But the big takeaway for me? The 3D trailer for Baz's Great Gatsby. JESUS but that fucker was BEAUTIFUL.

I flat-out do not understand the choice to platform Stoker, especially since it isn't a typical art-house picture. Had they gone mainstream right away, it wouldn't have been a smash, but it would have made far more money than it's going to make now. The buzz has already died. I hate platform releases generally, but accept them for art house and foreign films. But for oddball films that don't exactly fit with mainstream American/Hollywood sensibilities it really makes no sense. You need to capitalize on the buzz and make a splash, otherwise it just fizzles out. The Paperboy could have made a bucketful of cash based just on people who wanted to ogle Zac Efron on opening weekend, but then word got out that it was weird and it sunk. It never even opened near me. I fear the same fate awaits Stoker. I can't wait to see NO, though.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I was shocked my local indie-friendly multiplex didn't get Stoker. It normally gets the first small expansion.

Instead, I suffered through Oz: The Great and Powerful and still don't know how to write a review that isn't 800 words of yelling at James Franco for a terrible performance.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

While husband took the kids to see Oz (and were VERY DISAPPOINTED in the film; my daughter said, "they should have just made Wicked and been done with the whole Oz story."),
I had the good fortune to see Sigourney and company too. Can't wait for your comments on Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike; you better love Billy Magnussen or I may have to hunt you down.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Watched "Dead Man Down" over the weekend and I quite enjoyed it. Colin Farrell seems to be typecasted in these types of roles (In Bruges, London Boulevard, Cassandra's Dream) lately, but he does play it well. Noomi Rapace was very good in her role, as was Dominic Cooper and Terrence Howard (I wish he'd get another great dramatic role in the vein of "Pride"). That finale was excellent, especially in the theater & w/the crowd going crazy.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.

I watched The Deep Blue Sea. Despite some of the movie's theatrical stodginess, I was very moved by it. And Weisz was terrific. I'm thinking she should have gotten that fifth spot that Watts got, but I still haven't seen Cotillard in Rust and Bone.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I saw Oz and Beautiful Creatures. Thought Oz had its charms among them Franco's smarminess, Weisz's proper English diction although Kunis was shouty later in the movie.

Beautiful Creatures solidified my love of Viola Davis and confirmed that she elevates everything she's in. There is a moment late in the movie where the camera lingers on her very emotive face and all the story the movie was trying to tell in 2 hours is right there in her eyes.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMurtada

Murtada -- i guess i need to see that for her and Thompson.

March 11, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I actually do think Nicole cares about box office. What is the point of being a film actress if no one sees your work? She hasn't had a hit movie since Cold Mountain, and that film was very expensive to make. The platform release of Stoker is definitely ... odd. It has already lost momentum and may end up losing money for the studio.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason

@Jason - The Golden Compass made $372 million worldwide and Australia made $211 million. And it's obvious that Nicole Kidman doesn't care about box-office. She seems more interested in improving and stretching herself as an actress and working with talented directors.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLouis

Hmm ... I thought the movie business was about making money, not experimental acting. I know that she is wealthy, but the people at the studios and theater owners who promote her films are not so wealthy. Paperboy and now Stoker have had anemic box office results. Maybe she is choosing poor material? Producers don't spend millions to make chump change.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEl Escritor

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