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Rom Coms: The Verdicts Are In!

2014-02-27rottentomatoesI try to make it a point not to be full of crap on this website so, after I wrote my piece on Valentine’s Day movies, I went back to see if Valentine’s Day movies were actually doing well enough that studios would be buying rom coms and chick flicks by the dozen next year.  The results are below.

Before I get to them though, I should admit something.  I eat numbers like this up.  In television, you get the numbers when you wake up the morning after your show airs.  A few days later you get a spreadsheet with numbers from every little town and hovel in the country.  On top of that, my first roommate in Los Angeles had the job of calling movie theaters around the country to find out how many tickets they’d sold that weekend.  These days here’s how I get my fix:  I pop over to Box Office Mojo to see if their forecast agrees with mine (as soon as I see a trailer, I try to guess its opening weekend.) On Saturday afternoon, between my son’s lacrosse games, I drift over to Deadline to see their weekend predictions.  There’s a formula—based on what a film does on Friday night, that can fairly accurately predict what the film will do for the rest of the weekend.  Then on Monday, it’s back to Box Office Mojo for the official numbers as well as the drop-offs for movies released weeks earlier.

I’ve found that I’m not alone with this kind of thing.  You’d be amazed at how many Monday meetings start with a little number crunching.  You might judge this as a crass commercial addiction that gets in the way of the art of cinema, but think about it this way: How weird would it be if you were watching a professional athlete on Monday who didn’t know how the other teams around the league or the other players in his position had done?  How strange would it be if you were talking to a lawyer who didn’t know about landmark cases or a doctor who didn’t read about the big breakthrough in his field the past week?  Being an artist doesn’t mean you have to be ignorant.  Know your stuff.  It takes twenty seconds.

Anyway, here were the verdicts from Valentine’s Day weekend…

ABOUT LAST NIGHT – The classic remake staring Kevin Hart, who has now set himself into a whole new stratosphere, won the “love off” (2nd place overall).  The movie cost $12.7M and took in $25.6M over Valentine’s Day weekend after getting a 77% Rotten Tomatoes score.  Comedies usually take it on the chin from critics, and urban comedies are ‘persona non grata,’ so a 77 is like a 99 in my book.  And Kevin Hart could sell SHOPPING LIST: THE MOVIE right now.

ENDLESS LOVE – Another remake.  This one stars Whatshisface and Thatchickfromthatthing and took 5th place with $13.4M and a 15% Rotten Tomatoes rating.  That’s not a typo.  Fifteen percent.  It only cost $20M so I’m sure they’ll break even.

WINTERS TALE – Written and directed by one of my heroes—Akiva Goldsman, and starring Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Will Smith, and every other fantastic well-respected actor in town, is smarting with $7.4M and 10th place overall for the weekend.  It registered 15% on the “Tomatometer” (their term, not mine) and cost $60M to produce, so I’m sure there are a lot of nervous executives in the halls of Warner Bros this week.

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT – Stars Zac Effron and my absolute favorite young actor, Michael B. Jordan (I’ve loved him in everything I’ve seen him in).  It brought in $8.7M during its first weekend (New Year’s weekend) and only cost $8M to make, so they’re dancing on their desks at Focus Features after bringing in $22M in 3 weeks.  Its 22% Tomatometer is no surprise considering its genre.

In their second weekends, ABOUT LAST NIGHT, ENDLESS LOVE and WINTER’S TALE all dropped off more than 70%.  That’s pretty darn steep.  THAT AWKWARD MOMENT only dropped off 60.2% which is still no bueno.  Now, knowing what you know, how do you think producers are looking at these numbers?

My Master Class is One Day Away!
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  • Nancy Bates

    Thanks Rob, you have instilled in me the importance of following the film numbers and trends. Muchas gracias!

  • Diane Alpaio

    Hi Rob, great article. You ask what producers are thinking – in general it seems that ensemble love stories fare much worse at the Box Office than the basic boy meets girl stories – most of the great love stories/rom coms have one couple at the heart; a couple who we can root for/cry with for 100 minutes. I’ve found the ensembles (with a few exceptions) to be a cringe-worhty boilerplate of I love/hate your partner – your partner loves/hates me – I envy/fear your lifestyle – I can’t be tied down/alone and on and on with too many characters to get to know or care about. I say save the ensembles for fun stories with boys behaving badly, etc. where more is merrier and the emphasis is on the hijinks. cheers, Diane A.

  • D. Bordeaux

    From those numbers, I’m gathering that these films overachieved over the Valentine’s Day weekend. That could explain the steep drop offs.About Last Night was the only one of the bunch getting positive buzz in my circles so I am shocked it didn’t fair any better than the other films in the following weekend. I think producing a movie in this genre for around $10M and releasing it on Valentine’s Day weekend isn’t such a scary proposition.

  • Bree Woodruff

    I do not know how a producer would view these numbers, but as an investor I would avoid romances, consider rom coms, and throw all my money at Shopping List: The Movie.