Photo: Warner Bros.
It’s no secret the box office is hurting right now. We’re into the second week of March, and only one film, Universal’s “Identity Thief,” has managed to have both an opening weekend over $30 million and reach the $100 million mark at theatres.
At this same point last year, three films (“Safe House,” “The Vow,” and “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island“) surpassed that milestone. Meanwhile, last year’s highest-opening weekend was taken by Dr. Seuss film “The Lorax” earning a hefty $70 million upon debut.
What’s going on this year?
For one thing, there have been far too many adult movies in theatres. Since January, there have been 14 R-rated films limiting the younger audience going out to theatres.
8 of the 14 have had disastrous opening weekends all under $10 million.
The lowest opening grosses of the year so far included Sylvester Stallone’s “Bullet to the Head,” which brought in $4.5 million, star-stuffed “Movie 43” with $4.8 million, and Jason Statham’s latest action thriller “Parker” earning $7 million.
Even “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” a film with “Avengers” star Jeremy Renner which is based off a childhood tale and had the appeal to draw younger teens, was rated R. The film has fared better, grossing $181 million worldwide.
Last year, by the same time, there were nine R-rated films in theatres including “Safe House” with Denzel Washington which earned more than $100 million after a month in theatres. Another three of those films, “Project X,” “Underworld Awakening,” and “The Devil Inside,” went on to earn more than $100 million worldwide.
One of the latest R-rated flicks to hit theatres, “21 and Over” was expected to piggyback off the success of last year’s low-budget “Project X,” but fell flat at theatres opening week with $8.8 million.
There were also more kid and family-friendly films last year. “The Secret World of Arrietty,” “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” “The Lorax,” and “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” in 3D all debuted early 2012. Plus, Martin Scorsese’s Oscar picture, “Hugo,” was still in theatres.
Photo: The Weinstein Company
Currently, the only new kid’s flick at theatres is The Weinstein Company’s alien film, “Escape from Planet Earth.” Meanwhile, “Wreck-It Ralph” and a 3D return of “Monsters Inc.” from Disney are still playing in theatres from late last year. However, the box-office slump could boil down to something much simpler: the movies just aren’t that good.
Warner Bros. executive vice president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein told TheWrap the films aren’t living up to the hype.
“There’s no mystery as to why the box office is down,” Goldstein said. “It’s the movies. They just haven’t done it for audiences, but that’s the saving grace, too. A couple of hits and things will be back on track.”
This weekend, $200 million budget “Oz the Great and the Powerful” hits theatres, hoping to turn the box office around.
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