I like this as a general statement of what Legend of Tarzan is up again. It comes from Greg Wakeman’s piece in Cinemablend, originally released a while back, but they’ve reposted it today. It’s also worth going there and taking a look at the comments.
Movie fans need to get really excited, because the end of June and July in 2016possesses a genuine feast of cinematic delights for those of us that like visiting the multiplexes. Not only is there Finding Dory, Central Intelligence, Independence Day Resurgence, Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond and Jason Bourne within the space of a few short weeks, but over the same weekend we’ll have to make the impossible decision of whether to take in The Legend Of Tarzan or Steven Spielberg’s take on Roald Dahl’s The BFG. While moviegoers will adore having this option, the respective studios (Warner Bros. for The Legend Of Tarzan and Disney for The BFG) will be well aware that they have a battle on their hands to dominate the oh so important opening weekend. Unfortunately for The Legend Of Tarzan, their task to topple The BFG is a big ask. As the most popular mainstream director in the history of cinema, Steven Spielberg has built up a sturdy reputation that means every new release from him is met with an immediate intrigue from audiences. In fact, the last Spielberg film to approach anything near to a flop was 1997’s Amistad, which grossed just $44.2 million from a $36 million budget. But, with Steven Spielberg making a special effects driven, big-budgeted action adventure for all the family, that is based on an established novel from one of the most beloved writers of recent memory, it’s hard to see how The BFG will fail. The Legend Of Tarzan’s only chance of eclipsing it will be if it’s met with an impressive critical response. But, if that doesn’t happen, it could gust out of cinemas just as quickly as it entered them.
I think that does an excellent job of sketching what the landscape is. I personally hope that what is suggested here actually happens — and that is, moviegoers get fired up with all the good stuff that’s coming out, and as a result the market expands to make room for all the movies and all the movies benefit.
One point — so far, LOT seems to be outdistancing The BFG in every metric from trailer views to Twitter to Rotten Tomatoes ratings, etc. But you still have to worry — with Spielberg directing and Mathisson (E.T.) writing based on a Roald Dahl classic . . . . when they do start making noise, it’s going to be dangerous for LOT.
The thing is — let’s look at the total BOG of the top 12 films for this weekend each year for the last five years:
You see the problem. If it’s like the last two years with total BOG of $125m , there just isn’t enough BOG to go around. But if moviegoers are on fire with the moviegoing habit thoroughly stimulated by the run of good movies, then we’re looking at a better situation — but even then, how does LOT get heard above the crowd.
And please, don’t say — it will start slowly and catch on, have legs, etc, etc. You can’t count on that. Opening day is like election day for a major summer release. You’ve got to get people in there on opening day. At the end of that day, you can project plus or minus 10% where it will end up — plus 10% is good word of mouth, minus 10% is not so good. Maybe in an extreme case you can get plus 20% over the norm. But it’s only once in a very, very long time when you get a mainstream major release that defies the normal patterns. Titanic did, opening at 28M and then actually growing to 35M it’s second weekend en route to $658M domestically. And Avatar opened at $77M en route to $750M domestically. But those are huge outliers. And here’s the thing — with Avatar, for example, they announced it at $72M for the weekend on Sunday morning (which is based on actuals for Friday and Saturday and estimates for Sunday) and then had to upgrade it to $77M because the WOM was so strong that all the patterns for Fri/Sat/Sun were way off.
But those kind of results are like winning the lottery.
The most optimistic “legs” scenario I can see would e something like Rise of the Planet of the Apes which opened with $54M en route to $176M domestically and worldwide $481M. That would be right on the bubble for getting a sequel. And that $54M opening looks really optimistic. Or maybe King Kong — opened at $50M en route to domestic of $218M and worldwide $550M.
Anyway . . . it’s not like me to get on a rant, but I can’t stress enough what an uphill struggle it is. And it’s not only a matter of getting the biggest possible box office gross — it’s getting the right ratio between production and marketing investment and box office gross. In other words — they spent $180M on production (supposedly, that’s not confirmed) and you might think they’re going to spend $100M marketing it, so that’s $280M. Or, alternatively, maybe they spend $70m marketing it (more likely, the way they’re going)…..so that lowers the bar a little bit in terms of what it needs to make to be successful. But . . . if they are too quiet and it gets swallowed up by all the competition, then that doesn’t work either.
Someone in one of the comments said they think they may be waiting for “summer fever” to set in, where people kind of get in the summer mindset. Someone else said they thought getting a little distance from Jungle Book might be part of the logic. I think both of those could be factors. But how long is too long to wait?