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Monday Mixer: 'Star Wars' is 'Back'

Posted Monday, October 26, 2015 at 3:11 PM Central
Last updated Monday, October 26, 2015 at 3:31 PM Central

by John Couture

This is the calm before the storm. Next week promises to be an interesting one with Halloween on a Saturday, but not from a box office point of view. I think it's safe to say that Hollywood is expecting a rather chill weekend at the megaplexes as people revel with fellow witches, ghosts and sexy whatevers.

Oh, what is that? A soapbox? You bet.

As the father of a young girl, what is up with all of the "sexy" costumes? Sexy Donald Trump? Really? Basically, Halloween has become a time for young women to flaunt more skin instead of a "wholesome" day of children going around and making new friends in their neighborhood and raking in candy and the odd rock.

Last year, I was proud that my daughter chose to be a doctor for Halloween and I hope that she continues to make positive choices, but I'm not naive. At the same time, we can do better, no?

OK, that's my rant. Now get off my lawn and enjoy this week's MM.

Box Office 411

If you look up unimpressed in the dictionary, you will find a picture of this weekend's box office results. Actually, unimpressed is probably sugar coating it a bit. Atrocious. Disgusting. Pathetic. You get the idea.

2015 is really turning out to be the year of boom or bust. Take a look here. Two of the top eight grossing films of all time were released this year, five of the top 40 debuted in 2015 with probably two or three more that will sneak into the top 40 before 2015 ends.

And then there is this list. Those films are the worst wide openings (2,000+ theaters) ever. As you can quickly surmise, three of the top six worst openings of all time took place this year - with two of them opening this past weekend.

Boom or bust.

If you are a regular devotee of the site, this shouldn't be news to you as we've been preaching about the perils of having so many massive films schedule for one year. Overall, 2015 is still on pace to become the highest-grossing year ever at the box office, but you have to wonder about all of these films that may have missed out on earning potential if they had only been placed elsewhere on the release calendar.

Two films that will be left asking questions will be those that opened this weekend and found themselves on that list of shame above. Neither Rock the Kasbah or Jem and the Holograms were able to muster much of an audience this weekend and some of that might have been due to their quality - or lack thereof. But, we shouldn't discount the effect that Back to the Future had on this weekend's numbers.

There were various screenings of the films for "Back to the Future Day" last week ranging from just the original or second film to complete marathons like the one that I experienced. Overall, the nostalgia screenings took in nearly $5 million worldwide on that one day. Although such records don't exist, I'm willing to bet that this number would rank right up there all-time for a Wednesday re-release of a 30-year-old film.

In other words, lots of people made a mid-week excursion to their local megaplex and that probably played into this weekend's weak traffic at least somewhat. Others who didn't make the theatrical excursion may have opted out of a theatrical trip this weekend to stay home and watch the Back to the Future films in the comfort of their own home. Whatever the case, you can't discount the Back to the Future effect on these numbers.

And yet, that's not an excuse. The reviews and audience scores for Rock the Kasbah and Jem are abysmal, so while neither film was able to scrape together more than $1.6 million this weekend, I wouldn't expect either of them to make much more than $5 million total.

One other new film that fared better this weekend was The Last Witch Hunter, but even then the Vin Diesel fantasy/horror film only racked up $10.8 million which was significantly less than even the direst of forecasts. Usually a great time for horror films, a late October release also failed to help Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. The latest entry in the popular horror franchise was also the weakest opener earning a mere $8 million, a full $10 million less than the next weakest opener in the franchise.

Steve Jobs expanded wide this week as well. Like a wonky Apple misstep ala the infamous Newton, the expansion was less than optimal. The film played extremely well in limited release, but oftentimes that success just doesn't translate to the big leagues. In this case, it was a bit unexpected given the heavy hitters behind it and the award season expectations, but it happens. It finished in seventh place with $7.2 million.

Quick Hitters

  • Given the significance of last Wednesday, you had to figure that Back to the Future would feature prominently in this week's Quick Hitters. You would be right, of course. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd made the rounds as Marty and Doc Brown respectively. First they hit up Jimmy Kimmel.

  • Next, they starred in a commercial for a new Toyota.

  • Doc Brown got philosophical and then reminded us that the trilogy was available for purchase.

  • Michael J. Fox finally got his pair of self-lacing Nikes.

  • The Onion revealed a new rating from the MPAA that will help viewing find (or avoid) original films.
  • Finally today, the other big news last week was, of course, the final trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Naturally, this inspired some folks to create some rather impressive mashups. Up first is a trailer that is simply called "Han's Flashback" that loops in footage from the original trilogy.

    And then there is this "Ultimate Trailer" that attempts to splice together the footage from all of the Force Awakens trailers to create one comprehensive trailer in chronological order (for the most part).

1.21 Mixers? Great Scott!