Of course, the big news this weekend has been the smashing
success of Despicable Me 2, and the huge
box office failure of The Lone Ranger, which we’ll get to in a minute.
But practically overlooked was some even more surprisingly impressive news; I’m talking about Kevin
Hart’s concert film Let Me Explain.
The film opened last Wednesday in only 876 theaters, and has grossed, since then, an astounding $17.4 million. The film was the lowest budgeted film to debut last
week, and opened in the least amount of theaters, yet it had the third biggest
per screen average after Despicable Me and The Way, Way Back for Fox Searchlight.
That beats out Hart’s previous concert film, Laugh At My Pain, which grossed just under $8 million total, in less than 300 theaters.
In other words, Kevin Hart is money in the bank.
And no one was really surprised that Despicable Me 2 opened
to such huge numbers. That was expected.
But what happened to The Lone Ranger, which grossed only $48.9 million in its first five days.
A few things to consider:
did the money go? – Seriously With a budget reportedly of $225 million (though
some have it as high as $250 million)
just where in the hell did the money go? They couldn’t have made the film
cheaper than that? Especially when you compare it to other recent westerns. The
Coen brothers’ True Grit cost $42 million
to make, and Open Range cost an even
more modest $23 million. Django
Unchained, a bigger and more elaborate film, cost around $80 million, which is a lot of
money, but still it’s reasonable
considering what Ranger cost. And all those films were huge box office
successes, both domestically and internationally, especially Django, which
made some $261 million overseas
And, in fact, Disney originally shut down The Lone Ranger
for six months during pre-production because the film was ballooning past its original
$175 million budget (still too high).
They eventually agreed to bump up the budget to $215 million (still way too high), though at the end it’s still
north of $225 million which means Disney,
which needs the film to make around $500 million to break even, is not going to do that with the B.O. overseas
figures the film makes.
2. Bad idea – On
paper The Lone Ranger might have looked like a good idea. Especially when you
consider that those Pirates of the
Caribbean movies with Johnny Depp and
directed by Gore Verbinski (the last
one, Stranger Tides, was directed by
Rob Marshall) have made billions for
Stranger Tides alone grossed over a billion dollars
worldwide, with just over $800 million of that from foreign markets.
Putting Depp in a funny costume doing one of his “weird” bits with Verbinski
directing is about as a sure-thing as you can get.
The Lone Ranger was one of the most popular radio shows ever.
That is back during the 1930’s and 40’s. And it was one of the most popular TV
shows in the history of the medium… which
ended its original run in 1957. What possessed Disney into making such a
massive and expensive film based on the characters that people under the age of
45 weren’t familiar with? If they wanted to go through with the project, then clearly the film should have been made at
a much lower and reasonable budget.
strategy – Disney,
a couple of years ago, decided to change their whole strategy regarding movies.
Almost gone were the low or mid-range budgeted films that they made during the
80’s to the early 00’s, and they decided instead to concentrate, for the most
part, exclusively on spending huge amounts of money on a few tentpole movies
which they could, in turn, spin off into sequels, amusement rides, merchandising,
The problem is that that strategy hasn’t been working all
that well. And when they have serious misfires in the form of huge bombs such as
John Carter and now The Lone Ranger, threatens to put the company into a painful
financial situation, spending all that money for very little in return, though
those Pixar and Marvel Comics films help ease the pain.
This is the kind of risky strategy that gets executives
fired. It happened at Disney after the
John Carter fiasco, and it may happen again (if
it hasn’t happened already). A few more like these and, as Steven Spielberg recently said, the whole house of
cards is going to come crashing down.
Though I suspect that more modest mid-range budgeted
movies may be making a major comeback at Disney soon. And, in fact, plans were
underway for a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, though I wonder if Disney is
now having second thoughts about that. considering how much it would cost.
monkey around with westerns – I LOVE
westerns. They are, without question, my
favorite movie genre. But one thing western movie lovers hate, is when you monkey
around with the genre. When you play it straight like True Grit, Open Range, 3:10 To Yuma or even Django, which, despite
everything in it and the odd flourishes, was basically a traditional western,
they do well.
But when you fool around with it, mainly in hopes of attracting
a younger audience (like with Cowboys and Aliens, which was an underwhelming box
office performer, and The Lone Ranger, which, though entertaining has a smug “we’re too hip for this” attitude, instead
of a more serious traditional western) people tend to stay away.
1) Despicable Me 2 Uni. $82,518,000 Total: $142,076,000
2) The Lone Ranger BV $29,432,000 Total: $48,936,000
3) The Heat Fox $25,000,000 Total: $86,398,000
4) Monsters University BV $19,590,000 Total: $216,127,000
5) World War Z Par. $18,200,000 Total: $158,758,000
6) White House Down Sony $13,500,000 Total: $50,478,000
7) Man of Steel WB $11,415,000 Total: $271,206,000
8) Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain LG/S $10,100,000 Total: $17,460,000
9) This is the End Sony $5,800,000 Total: $85,554,000
10) Now You See Me LG/S $2,770,000 -Total: $110,415,000
11) Star Trek Into Darkness Par. $1,310,000 Total: $223,065,000
12) Fast & Furious 6 Uni. $1,024,000 Total: $235,439,000