It can feel like just about everyone in the country has marked down December 18 as the day “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” comes out. Yet there are two studios that are brave enough to take it on.
You can’t get more counter-programming than that.
It’s safe to say both studios are looking more at the long game with these titles rather than any impressive box office their opening weekend. (Neither would comment for this story.)
But looking at history, there are some interesting motivations for why both of these companies are poking a stick at the giant.
Fox is the old distribution home of the “Star Wars” franchise, before George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012 for over $4 billion. Fox might be thinking that, coming out a week before Christmas, “Alvin” can be the option for the kids market in that week going into the holiday (by then many schools are closed for the holiday).
Universal has a little more teeth in the game. The latest movie to star the extremely popular duo of Poehler and Fey, “Sisters” is the ultimate girls-night-out movie, as opposed to the fanboy-crazed “Force Awakens.” Universal might also be confident from the last time they went up against a testosterone-heavy actioner.
In mid-May, Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 2” went up against Warner Brothers’ “Mad Max: Fury Road” and the Bellas took the opening-weekend box office with $69.2 million.
Now, no one at Universal thinks they will prevail over “Star Wars,” but there is confidence from people within the studio who talked to BI off the record that “Sisters” can do well after opening weekend.
Also going for “Sisters” is the fact that it’s R-rated, which gives it a core audience that’s older and historically skips over a film’s opening weekend.
“I could see ‘Sisters’ opening in the mid-teens against ‘The Force Awakens,’ same for ‘Alvin,'” Jeff Bock, senior box-office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, told Business Insider. “But it baffles my mind why any studio would attempt to cross paths with ‘The Force Awakens.'”
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