Lazy sequels = Lazy box office

Coming off last week’s worst box office weekend since 2008, there was hope that some bigger films would turn things around. Overall they did better than last week, but totals were down 13 percent from the same weekend last year. Sherlock Holmes 2 grossed $40 million domestically, which is decent, but disappointing compared to the last one’s $62 million opening. Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked made less than half what the Squeakquel made on opening weekend (WHEREFORE ART THOU, SQUEAKUEL?). It’s pretty bad when sequels are down significantly from their predecessors, given that even the sh*ttiest ones tend to out-earn the original thanks to name recognition. Mission Impossible was the only success, with its early, $13 million IMAX release qualifying it as the highest-grossing opening weekend for a limited release (fewer than 600 theaters).

Basically, films aren’t the draw they once were. With streaming and cable and TV shows getting better and better, there’s a lot more competition now, and the longer studios ignore it and try to operate like they always have (releasing all their “smart” movies at the end of December, for instance), the more it’s going to continue to decline. Almost without exception, all the decent movies I saw this year were films that the distributors considered too niche for a broad audience and almost no one saw them, because they barely had a chance to. Meanwhile this week’s top three releases have a 2, 3, and 4 next to the titles, and all had concepts created in the 1960s or earlier. If films are going to compete long-term, they’re going to have to start giving the “niche” stuff that gets people excited about movies a chance to compete with the bland blockbusters that make money. There are only so many Dark Knights. The general public has a major ambivalence towards movies right now, and if it doesn’t get better soon it’s going to turn into a grandpa medium the way late-night TV has. Even worse, if people stop going to see movies, they’re probably going to stop caring about movie news, and may even stop reading my website! CAN YOU IMAGINE A GREATER TRAGEDY TO BEFALL HUMANITY? Then what, I have to get a real job? Screw that, bro. Trust me, you don’t want me in the job market.

This Wk Last Wk Title Dist. Weekend Gross Cumulative
# of
1 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Warner Bros. Pictures $40,020,000 $40,020,000 1 3703
2 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked 20th Century Fox Distribution $23,500,000 $23,500,000 1 3723
3 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Paramount Pictures $13,000,000 $13,600,000 1 425
4 1 New Year’s Eve Warner Bros. Pictures $7,420,000 $24,826,000 2 3505
5 2 The Sitter 20th Century Fox Distribution $4,400,000 $17,721,306 2 2752
6 3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Summit Entertainment, LLC $4,300,000 $266,430,081 5 2958
7 18 Young Adult Paramount Pictures $3,650,000 $4,090,000 2 986
8 6 Hugo Paramount Pictures $3,625,000 $39,073,000 4 2532
9 5 Arthur Christmas Sony Pictures Releasing $3,600,000 $38,547,000 4 2929
10 4 The Muppets Walt Disney Pictures $3,454,000 $70,928,000 4 2808

[via Yahoo, BoxOfficeMojo]