Back to IndieWire

Weekend B.O. June 19-21 (No More “Gloomy Gus” and Why ‘Dope’ Stalled)

Weekend B.O. June 19-21 (No More “Gloomy Gus” and Why 'Dope' Stalled)

Two weeks
ago, I wrote about how the summer film b.o. totals are, so far, down 13% from
last year and 2014 was the lowest summer b.o. take in 8 years. I wasn’t the
only one who was reporting that fact, and we were called by one wag in the media
“Gloomy Guses”. However, I did point out that, though May was a letdown, June
and July had the potential to improve the summer box office totals, and it looks
like I was right.

But after
all is said and done, this summer is still shaping up to be a disappointment in terms of box
office, compared to previous years. However, it won’t be as bad as previously
suggested, and there’s one main reason to thank for that: Jurassic
World of course.

It’s
breaking records and astonishing everyone. First of all, it was the No.1 film
again this weekend, and it’s the first film to have the biggest second weekend gross
ever. It’s also the first film to make $400 million domestically in the fastest
time ever – in just 10 days. And it’s well on its way to becoming only the
fifth film ever in history to gross $500 million domestically. “The Avengers” grossed $600 million domestically and Jurassic World has a good shot at that.
But it will be unlikely match or beat “Titanic” which still holds the all-time record
of $760 million domestically.

The second
place film this weekend, Pixar/Disney’s “Inside Out,” was a huge surprise, with $91 million making it the second biggest weekend opening ever for a Pixar film. It was helped by nothing but rave reviews from critics, and the buzz has been
out for weeks already that not only will the film get an Oscar nomination for Best
Animated film, it’s also practically a shoo-in to get an Oscar nod for Best
Picture and screenplay as well.

I suspect
that, because of the horrible and tragic events in Charleston South Carolina
last week, there was an increase in people going to the movies this
weekend, if only as a brief breather from all the doom and gloom we have been assaulted by.

Meanwhile, not all the news was good. The other major new film release this weekend, “Dope,” did not fare as well as expected. The film, which Open Road picked up for $7 million after its premiere
at Sundance, brought in just $6 million. Much lower than the $10-12 million that was
hoped for; but, at least, the backers of the $2.5 million film made their money back and then some, when Open Road bought their film.

But what
happened? A few things to consider:

– Wrong release strategy – Open Road evidently had a lot of confidence
in the film, opening it on 2000 screens, instead of using a limited platform
release. They should have opened it in a smaller number of screens and letting
it break out slowly over the following weeks on more screens, while building on
good word of mouth. It’s the strategy that Fox Searchlight is using with their
film, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” opening it last week on only 15 screens, with excellent b.o. results.

– Wrong time – Mid-June is simply the wrong time to
release a film like ‘Dope,’ with so much competition from bigger summer films. A late
August/ early September release, once all the big summer films have come and
gone, would have given “Dope” a better opportunity to be noticed. Releasing it
now was probably a bad call on Open Road’s part.

– Too carried away 
– Sometimes when a distributor picks up a film, especially when it comes
along with a lot of hype and positive buzz – as was the case with “Dope” – they get
carried away, thinking that they have a huge hit on their hands, when a much more
carefully planned roll-out would have been more suitable.

– Wrong marketing – Another thing that could have hurt “Dope” may have been that the film and its
marketing skewed too young. “Me and Earl and Dying Girl” had been marketed as more of an adult film that just happens to have teenagers in the lead. “Dope” has been promoted as a film for teenagers. If you’re not between the ages
of 16-19, and not terminally cool, then this film is not for you, which may have turned away a
lot of potential older viewers.

– The “Sundance Hit” Curse – “Dope” is just another addition to the a long line
of films that were hugely popular and critical hits at Sundance, but failed to
catch on when they’re released commercially. It’s been argued that the people
who go to Sundance are quite different from the regular folks who go sees
movies. That the Sundance audience, which likes to think of themselves as hipper and cooler than the general film going public, heavily favors the more weird, quirky and unusual indie films that don’t necessarily appeal to the public at
large. In that sense, you could imagine if “Jurassic World” plays at Sundance; it
would have been booed off the screen as a tired, old fashioned, cynical studio
cash grab (which is what it is really).

What’s your guess?

1) Jurassic World  Uni.  $102,019,000  Total: $398,230,000 
2) Inside Out  BV  $91,056,000 
3) Spy  Fox  $10,500,000  Total: $74,374,000 
4) San Andreas  WB  $8,240,000  Total: $132,229,000 
5) Dope  ORF  $6,018,000 
6) Insidious Chapter 3  Focus  $4,110,000  Total: $45,370,000 
7) Pitch Perfect 2  Uni.  $3,300,000  Total: $177,500,000 
8) Mad Max: Fury Road  WB  $2,815,000  Total: $143,602,000 
9) Avengers: Age of Ultron  BV  $2,723,000  Total: $451,039,000 
10) Tomorrowland  BV  $2,009,000  Total: $87,696,000 
11) Entourage  WB  $1,900,000 Total: $29,610,000 
12) Love & Mercy  RAtt.  $1,695,000  Total: $7,151,000 

This Article is related to: Box Office and tagged