Monday, June 20, 2005

Disappointed In Film Goers

I checked the weekend results this morning at Box Office Mojo, and the sad result is that Batman Begins, a film that is possibly the best superhero film ever made only managed to bring in a mere $46.9 million over the weekend (unfortunately not the $70 million total that Luke reported on his blog here, which was the 5 day total). Batman Begins is a film that deserves to make at least as much as Spider-man or Harry Potter, unfortunately with a weak opening like that it will struggle to pass $200 million total, and probably not break the record for even a "Batman film," (held by Burton's Batman (1989) at $251 million).

The saddest part is that even the relatively mediocre Mr. & Mrs. Smith made more ($51 million) in its opening weekend. This really shows that the truth is that movie goers are stupid and actually like the camp of the Burton/Schumacher series better than the quality that Christopher Nolan (Memento) has given them. They want a Big Mac with their Bat-fries rather than a nice juicy steak. I only hope that this relatively moderate opening doesn't mean that Nolan and company aren't invited back to continue the story (Christian Bale is signed on for two more films).

Reasons why Batman Begins might have fizzled at the box office:

  • people are stupid and didn't realize that this wasn't a prequel to Burton's films and instead a complete reboot of the series from scratch
  • people don't know who Christian Bale is despite the fact that he's a brilliant actor who's managed the transition from child star to adult better than anyone
  • the more "realisitic" take on the project might have turned off casual fans whose only memory of Batman is the Burton film or the 60s TV show
  • the film was sandwiched between Revenge of the Sith and War of the Worlds, and people might instead be more interested in those films and are saving their few visits to the theare for those
It's really too bad. I guess people just don't go to the theatre that much. Myself, I've been to the theatre nine times in the last 32 days (7 of those viewings on Batman and Star Wars). And I plan to go again this weekend (possibly Land of the Dead if it opens here) and again next Wednesday for War of the Worlds.

Either way, I want to encourage people to go see Batman Begins. It's a fantastic film with amazing acting (Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman are the consumate pros), dark and suspenseful direction from Christopher Nolan (check out Memento too if you haven't seen it) and action scenes that are kick ass (the Bat-tank is amazing and fast!). If you think you know what can be done with comic book source material, you're wrong. Check this out now. If there's any justice, it will be getting some award nominations next winter.


At 5:16 p.m., Blogger Johannes de Silentio said...

I think part of the problem could be advertising. I realize I don't have a tv, nor do I listen to the radio, but I knew when Revenge of the Sith was coming out weeks in advance and I didn't know that Batman Begins was coming out until people said they were going to it. Normally you start seeing merchandise a few weeks before hand; with Batman Begins the only thing I've seen (Merchandise-wise)was something at Staples regarding the Norton Antivirus series. That's abnormal. I realize advertising is really frustrating and has the propensity to ruin a movie before you even see it, but I had expected more out of the Batman name. That is all. PS- note the use of the word propensity.

At 5:25 p.m., Blogger Anders said...

You're vocabulary is what I would expect of you. I'd expect it of you, so you don't get any bonus points ;)

Still, even without a TV, ads were plastered all over the internet. I still blame it on the public's lack of taste ($70 million opening for The Longest Yard?), but Anton points out that for the public who doesn't read Batman comics, the bad taste of Batman & Robin still lingers. I think that's probably true, but I hope this film helps change that perception and that the studio has the guts to make a sequel.

At 8:49 p.m., Blogger Luke said...

I knew you were going to point out my error, but in this case I reported 70 becuase i felt it was a bad idea for Bats to open on a wensday. If it opened on the weekend it would have had a juicy total, but becuase of it's early release, it split the fan base. I agree with you that the movie going public is a little dense, and that their may still be a sour bat-taste in the public mouth. After all I heard that kids comments as well. However I think word of mouth will give the film life after opening weekend.I refuse to give up faith until all is lost, but if Fantastic Four makes more money I'll be rolling over in my grave(i'm asuming i'd die of greif).

At 9:56 p.m., Blogger Dean Ziegler said...

Actually Joel, according to old IMDB, they spent more on advertising on Batman Begins than any other movie in history, 100 million.
And Anders, I dont know why your so worried about how much money Batman Begins made, Im just happy that I thought it was a good. Besides, movie grosses are compiled and reported by the production studios, and are usually inaccurate.
...And I went to see BB again for the second time, man it kicks ass.

At 12:36 a.m., Blogger Anders said...

Dean: The reason I care is that often studios make decisions for sequels, etc. If studios think that something like "too serious" affected the box office (wether true or not), they may put pressure on the director to change things. Also, box office information is compiled by the theatre chains (and usually reported early by the studios based on estimates). IN the case of BB, the estimate I reported was short by $2 million.

Luke: Rarely is opening on a Wednesday a bad idea, especially if it's a genre film that has a large, built in fanbase like Batman does. Take the Star Wars or Lord of the Rings films. All opened on non-Fridays, but still posted record breaking opening weekends, not including the Wed-Thu. But you're right, here's hoping that people see FF for what it is. Shit.

At 12:06 a.m., Blogger El Brucio said...

People aren't going to the movies as much as they used too, plain and simple. Why pay $12 a ticket, $7 for popcorn and pop, $3 for parking, and then have to sit through 5 car commercials just to see a movie I can wait to download off Kazaa and burn a DVD of?

The ones still going to the theaters are the stupid ones, the ones that think nothing of wasting all that money on The Longest Yard.

Me, I'll wait until it's in a cheaper theatre.

At 7:36 a.m., Blogger Anders said...

For me the appeal of seeing it in a first run theatre is this: I get to see it first; and I get to see it on the best and biggest screen possible. I haven't seen The Longest Yard, but I go to the theatre lots. As for waiting for a second run theatre, I have better sound and a clearer screen in my home theatre system and I do ALSO buy a lot of DVDs.

I can't stand downloading movies off the internet. The quality is rarely up to spec (unless it's a DVD rip, which won't happen for a while), not to mention, as a hopeful filmmaker myself I don't want to contribute to something that will undercut my own ability to make a living through film.

At 7:47 a.m., Blogger El Brucio said...

I agree that there are tradeoffs with such practices, but the price of the theatre experience has become so steep that the average consumer has made a decision to take the hit in quality.

When I say, "cheaper" theatre, I mean the local one in Outlook. I've been to a few movies in the Saskatoon second run theatres, but not that often. Outlook is local as well and has taken a big hit for being too close to Saskatoon's theatres over the years... plus I can't resist $6 tickets and $3.50 Tuesdays. I'll wait for Batman Begins to play out here.


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