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Hit Or Miss: Sony Had Hart, Clint Had A Headache and Jon Favreau Quietly Keeps His Food Truck Rolling Along

Box Office
by Jim Amos
June 24, 2014 10:35 AM
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In this week's Hit Or Miss column we look at the Kevin Hart machine, why "Fault In Our Stars" hasn't hung in the way "Divergent" did and Jon Favreau's Little Engine That Could

All hail Kevin Hart.  Well, to an extent at least.  The garrulous comedian scored another first place finish as "Think Like A Man Too"  topped the box office with $29.2 million this past weekend.  But let's delve a bit further.  First off, the film's opening was less than its original (TLAM--$33.6 million) which is never a good sign.  Generally what occurs with sequels is they open higher than their originals but then fall more precipitously.  With "Transformers" lurking on the horizon this coming Friday the film is likely to take a steeper drop than the 47% decline of the first.  And it's also prudent to notice that he has to be in the right vehicle.  No matter how funny he was he couldn't resucitate the geezers in "Grudge Match" last Christmas and February's "About Last Night" did an acceptable (but not spectacular) $25.6 million.  The good news for the Philly comedian is that he's taking a break for the rest of the year and will next be seen in January's "The Wedding Ringer" with Josh Gad.

It seemed like a good strategy...place Clint Eastwood and the boys from New Jersey in the middle of June, have it open to respectable numbers and then watch it hang in there as most films geared to an exclusively adult audience generally do.  But something happened on the way to the Saturday afternoon Bingo game and that is that his audience didn't really seem to care.  Of course Clint makes terrific films and the A- Cinemascore reflects that but the over 40 (50?) audience that WB expected to attract seem to have had their attentions focused on other matters.  It wasn't as if anything else in the marketplace was drawing their moviegoing dollars.  I doubt my 87 year old mother is going to "Think Like A Man Too" or "The Fault In Our Stars".  Maybe it was the nice weather, maybe Frankie Valli is even too old school for them or maybe filmed adaptations of Broadway musicals have to be, and here's a novel concept, fun.  For every guilty pleasure like "Mamma Mia" ($144 million), "Hairspray" ($118 million) or "Chicago" ($170 million) there's "Nine" ($19 million), "Rock Of Ages" ($38 million) or "Phantom of the Opera ($51 million).  Broadway adaptations are extremely arduous to predict.  Perhaps Generation X-Lax will eventually find the film but hopefully in the clutter of summer tentpoles and multiple screens it won't get trampled by robots, apes and a Cameron Diaz sex tape.

When "The Fault In Our Stars" opened to $48 million three weeks ago Fox must have pulled out their "Divergent" comparison file and laid out successive weeks and total cume on the picture.  But wow, who expected a 69% drop on week two?  Week three stabilized a bit, only falling 42%, but there's no way "Fault" will enjoy the same 2.9 multiple that "Divergent" did.  It feels the difference this time around has to do with social media chatter.  Online buzz was rampant before the film opened but subsequently seemed to go a bit dormant.  If you stack up social media numbers of "Divergent" vs. "Fault" for weeks 2 & 3 you'll find your answer as to the steep decline.  Subsequent weeks might hold in as well as "Divergent"'s did but you're starting at a much lower number, indicating the film will probably top out at around $115 million instead of the $145-150 the company was probably expecting.

Hats off to the job Open Road has done with the Jon Favreau dramedy "Chef".  The film's cume currently stands at $17 million and still in nearly 1,000 runs.  It's one of those rare films that audiences and critics agree on and it's proving to be an attractive alternative to superhero movies, dying in the west and Jonah Hill with a squid on his face.


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