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Weekend B.O. Nov.14-16 (Why Didn’t ‘Beyond the Lights’ Light Up at the Box Office?)

Weekend B.O. Nov.14-16 (Why Didn’t 'Beyond the Lights' Light Up at the Box Office?)

Let’s get
some other stuff out of the way first. “Dumb and Dumber To,” the 20 years too late sequel to the popular 1994 hit comedy, actually did better than projected, grossing
some $38 million followed by “Big Hero 6” in second place

“Interstellar,” which took a modest 38% drop from last week, held up fairly well for a 3rd
place finish this weekend, for a total so far of $97 million. While the film won’t
match the box office totals of director Christopher Nolan’s previous “Dark
Knight” Batman films and Inception,” with a $135 million gross so far over overseas and still counting, “Interstellar” should still do very well for Warner Bros.

Meanwhile “Gone
Girl” continues to remain a box office juggernaut with over $150 million to date, headed for a $175 million gross or more domestically, and a worldwide gross of some $314.5 million.

Now let’s
get to “Beyond The Lights.”

The film just failed to catch fire. Opening in 1789 screens,
the film’s $6.5 million take with an average of $3,633 per screen is, to put it
mildly, a disappointment. In fact it’s a lower opening weekend number than
director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s previous films, “The Secret Life of Bees,” which
opened (in today’s dollars) with $11.7 million and “Love and Basketball” with
$11.2 million. And keep in mind that both films opened in less screens than “Beyond the Lights.” All this means that,
unfortunately, many theaters will dump the film by the end of this week for
something else that they think will do better. 
So what happened?

I can only
venture a few guesses:

1) Wrong
time – I’ve always felt that the release date for the film was a bit late. It should
have perhaps come out earlier in Sept or Oct, or maybe held back until
Valentine’s Day next Feb. Mid November, with all the high profile competition
that’s out there now, or about to come out soon, it should’ve been a concern by the releasing studio that the film would easily be crushed.
Especially with “The Hunger
Games: Mockingjay” coming out this Friday. What were they thinking? Counter-programming maybe?

Also, while opening
it on over 1700 screens may have seemed like a good thing, sometimes it isn’t.
Even I didn’t know at first it had opened up so widely, thinking that the studio
would start off small and expand to more theaters as favorable word of mouth
got around, allowing audiences to discover the film for themselves. But again,
that tactic would have likely worked better if the film had opened a month
or two earlier.

2) Publicity
– Yes, we definitely discussed the film a lot here on this site, and it’s
gotten some pretty solid reviews. And on top of that, it was a bona fide hit
when it played the film festival circuit. But I didn’t see much advance fanfare
for the film elsewhere. Did audiences far and wide even know it was out in theaters? And why
didn’t they use the director’s connection with “Love and Basketball” to sell the
film, which, as Tambay pointed out, is one of those films that EVERY SINGLE BLACK
PERSON ON THE PLANET knows and loves? (Well almost
everyone…

Yes it was at the top of the poster in small letters, but who
was paying attention? (I had to go check it myself to see if anything was
there). Tell people “Lights” was directed
by Gina Prince-Bythewood, and they would look at you puzzled. Tell them the film was
made by the director of “Love and Basketball” and their faces light up.

3) What kind
of film and audience – I don’t know about you, but the trailers and the ads made
it look like a sappy, corny, predictable love story, with two gorgeous people, which
could have been a turn off, except maybe for younger filmgoers. And the film’s premise may have turned off
older movie goers, since it dealt with the current hip-hop/R& B music scene, unless
they’re seriously into Nicki Minaj and Rihanna. I’ll admit that even I really
had no interest in seeing it, since the trailer, from my perspective, made it
look like a chick flick for teenage girls. If you were older than 21, or a guy, stay away, seemed to be the message.

4) Stronger
names – True, Gugu Mbatha-Raw has been making a name for herself of late, especially after her star making turn in “Belle.” But she’s not there yet. And is
Nate Parker a box office name draw? Do audiences, far and wide, even know who he is? Parker is, of
course, a fine actor, but he hasn’t had his big break out part yet, that has
everyone buzzing about him, and “Lights,” unfortunately, isn’t going to be it.  

Maybe if the filmmakers had cast actors with higher
profiles. Then again what young dramatic black actor could have been put in the
role, that could have attracted more attention? There seems to a real shortage
of dramatic young black male actors who can pull in mass audience currently at
the moment.

What do you
say was the reason?

1) Dumb and Dumber To  Uni.  $38,053,000 
2) Big Hero 6  BV  $36,010,000  Total: $111,653,000 
3) Interstellar  Par.  $29,190,000 Total: $97,810,000 
4) Beyond the Lights  Rela.  $6,500,000 
5) Gone Girl  Fox  $4,625,000  Total: $152,699,000 
6) St. Vincent  Wein.  $4,025,000  Total:  $33,258,000 
7) Fury   Sony  $3,810,000 Total: $75,941,000 
8) Nightcrawler  ORF  $3,038,000  Total: $25,000,000 
9) Ouija  Uni.  $3,025,000  Total: $48,105,000 
10) Birdman  FoxS  $2,450,000  Total: $11,575,000 
110 John Wick  LG/S  $2,285,000  Total: $38,978,000 
12) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day  BV  $1,558,000  Total: $62,336,000

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