Tag Archives: Box Office Bombs

The Fate of Furiosa (2024)

So a few days ago Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga was released and the box office it’s making for the Memorial Day weekend isn’t just weak… it’s dire.

So far, and we’re on Sunday the 26th now, the film has earned a weak $31.9 million and is running neck and neck with Garfield… But the bottom line is that the box office for the Memorial Day weekend is the worst its been in decades.

You can read more about it from Hollywood Reporter:

Box Office Meltdown: Garfield Claims Victory Over Furiosa With Worst No. 1 Memorial Day Opening In Three Decades

Once again I’ll quote screenwriter William Goldman and his famous thoughts on movie making and those films that succeed versus those that fail…

Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.

So, of course, I’m going to offer -for what little its worth- my own thoughts on what’s happening here. Again, though, I strongly suscribe to Mr. Goldman’s quote so I could be just as wildly off about this as everyone else.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, the older I get the more I realize change is a constant in just about everything but especially in the entertainment industry.

When I was very young, Disco music was incredibly popular. Saturday Night Fever made a superstar out of John Travolta when it was released in 1977 and made The Bee Gees household names. Three years later and in 1980 the movie Airplane! comes out and, among the avalanche of jokes you can find in it, we have parodies of Saturday Night Fever and a sequence where the endangered airplane strikes a radio station’s tower as the host announces this is where “disco will live forever”.

See, just a few short years after its golden era, Disco became a pariah musical taste and was scrubbed from most people’s interests. The Bee Gees were viewed as laughable, what with their high pitched singing, and the suits they wore to the Disco were viewed as tacky.

What happened?

I recall a teacher I had way back then opined that what did Disco in was the fact that older people liked the music and started to show up at the Discos. Young people, aghast, fled and, for good measure, ridiculed the whole thing as they moved on to other music.

In the 1980’s we had alternative music, perhaps mostly derived from David Bowie’s work. We had the rise of heavy metal. In the 1990’s that went away and we had the rise of Grunge music. By the 2000’s we had rap/urban music and glitzy boy bands and Britney.

The point is that things moved on.

Which brings me to this: I fear that maybe –maybe– the era of going to movie theaters and seeing films there may be going away.

Not permanently, mind you, but a confluence of things have come together to hurt the box office.

Just to be clear though: I’m not saying that the apparently box office failure (and indeed it seems like it’s happening) of Furiosa -and The Fall Guy’s release and weak box office just a couple of weeks before that movie- portends bad things for all movies. But it does, I feel, expose the things that are hurting movie theaters and movie releases in general.

We went through COVID and entertainment companies began branching out into streaming services. We also have reached a point where we can own -for a reasonable investment- truly gigantic and beautiful TVs in our homes. I strongly suspect these things, in conjunction, have made people realize they don’t have to go to theaters to experience top movie entertainment. Hell, the rise of TikTok may have made people also less patient to sit through two hours of any work when they can be entertained for those same hours with a feast of smaller video bites.

Furiosa also, I fear, had too many expectations for a film series that for the most part was a cult thing. Yes, Fury Road and, before it, the original Mad Max and The Road Warrior (aka Mad Max 2) did well at the box office but the later two films were made with a minuscule budget and therefore made money quickly. Plus, there simply wasn’t anything like them. Fury Road came out decades after the last Mad Max film, Beyond Thunderdome, and benefited I feel from the element of surprise as well as having Charlize Theron -a usually bankable star- playing the lead along with Tom Hardy’s Max.

Thing is, Fury Road came out in 2015, nine years ago and maybe a movie featuring Theron’s character but not Theron in the film itself might have been a mistake. Making it a “prequel” might also have been a big mistake.

We kinda know where Furiosa -the character- wound up because of Fury Road. Was there really any big interest in finding out how she got there? Part of the problem about making prequels is that we know where certain characters will be. We know, for example, Furiosa will survive to appear in Fury Road so whatever dangers she faces in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga we know she’ll survive to fight again.

There’s one other element which has to be pointed out, too: While there are many who loved the film, I’ve also noted there were many who thought the film worked in spurts. They may feel the film is good but not as good as Fury Road.

Could word of mouth be hindering things as well?

Again, “nobody knows anything”. My opinions are just that and maybe I’m very off. Maybe there just aren’t that many people interested in seeing more movies set in the Mad Max universe.

I hope it doesn’t portend to darker realities regarding movie theaters and movie releases, but only time will tell.

Things, as I said before, have a way of changing over time, whether we like it or not.

…the horror…the…horror…

So we just finished up the month of October and over at the movie studios they’re wondering…

October Box Office Scare: Why So Many Movies Bombed

The above article by Pamela McClintock and presented on CNN.com, examines the large uptick in failed movie released during the past month.

While The Martian is doing well, so many other films have severely underperformed.

Films such as:

The Walk.

This movie, directed by Robert Zemekis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, etc) received generally positive reviews but audiences stayed away in droves.  Personally, I wasn’t all that interested in the subject matter.  And if I was, why would I watch this and not Man on Wire, the 2008 documentary that focuses on, and features footage from, the actual tightrope walk?

Further to that, I have a big fear of heights and, from what I understand, this film really wanted audiences, especially those going to the IMAX presentation, to experience a strong sense of vertigo.  Mr. Zemekis wanted audiences to feel the heights which Phillipe Petite (the man who did the walk) felt.

Regardless of how good the film might be:  Why would I want to torture myself like that?!

Another film that didn’t do so well was Steve Jobs.  Written by acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, and Seth Rogan (who in particular received great reviews for his portrayal of Steve Jobs’ partner Steve Wozniak), the film nonetheless also tanked at the box office…even though it too received generally positive reviews.  On Rottentomatoes.com, the film has a positive rating of 85% and yet audiences weren’t interested.

I suspect the problem here might be that we’ve already had our fill of Steve Jobs documentaries…if there ever was a desire for such a thing in the first place.  Only two years ago Jobs, featuring Ashton Kutcher in the title role, came and went and no one cared then -though to be fair unlike Steve Jobs this film was almost universally panned- so why should they care now?

Then there’s the Bill Murray vehicle Rock The Kasbah.  While I felt the trailer was amusing, this one may have fallen victim to very bad reviews.

Truth, starring Robert Redford and Kate Blanchett and focusing on the controversial George H. W. Bush military service story that sunk Dan Rather’s career also didn’t do well.  The reviews for this film were decidedly mixed but I suspect the problem in finding an audience with this movie might lie in that almost everyone -including conservatives- wants nothing more than to forget all about George H. W. Bush and his presidency.  Why go to the movies to revisit even one aspect of it?

Our Brand is Crisis, starring Sandra Bullock, in my opinion, simply didn’t look all that interesting.  Then again, like Truth we’re again dealing with politics and maybe people just aren’t in the mood at this time to deal with it.  Regardless, apart from some humorous content, the movie’s trailer didn’t grab me all that much.  Your mileage, of course, may vary:

Burnt, starring Bradley Cooper as an arrogant chef, was even worse, trailer-wise.  Does anyone want to see the film after this:

Slick though the trailer is, almost nothing about it grabbed me and the scenarios presented felt awfully familiar.  If I want to see an arrogant chef scolding his “pupils” I can watch Hell’s Kitchen.  If I want to see people making great culinary confections, I can watch any of a myriad of programs on the Food Network.  Perhaps this subject matter is a little too overexposed?

My comments above, of course, benefit immensely from 20/20 hindsight.  Though it may not sound it, I do not relish hearing about troubles at movie studios.  As an author, I know the backbreaking efforts that go into creating a work and it must be crushing to see the end results receive (as some of those features did) great reviews but be met with public indifference.  Besides, while these films didn’t appeal to me personally for the reasons I’ve listed, at least the studios were trying to do something different.

Unfortunately, it appears the studios entered a perfect storm of sorts and audiences simply weren’t buying what they were selling this past month.