Both The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug and A Madea Christmas did not live up to expectations this holiday movie season.
Smaug was projected to earn something near $82 million, but instead made some $73.7 million this weekend, which is a slight comedown and not a disaster by any means. But it’s below what the first Hobbit movie which earned just under $85 million its first weekend last year. But who’s crying?
However, some people are saying that, stretching out J.R.R. Tolkien’s slim 300 page book into a mammoth, extended three part tentpole movie franchise was obviously too much, especially since done simply for greed. It would have been much simpler and cheaper just to make one movie.
However A Madea Christmas, despite predictions that it was going to be the biggest opening ever, not only for any of Madea film, but for any Perry film ever, also fell short of the mark. Way short.
The film grossed $16 million which makes it the third lowest weekend opening ever for any film that Perry directed. Only 2007’s Daddy Little Girls which opened with $11 million, and the $15.6 million that last year’s Good Deeds made on its opening weekend were lower.
(Yes Alex Cross did poorly as well, opening with just over $11 million and making just over $25 million total, but that was a project he did not produce or direct and was simply a hired actor cast in the lead role which practically everyone thought he was miscast for.)
The biggest opening for any Perry film still remains his 2009’s Madea Goes to Jail which opened with $41 million, so opening with $16 million, which is almost half of The Best Man Holiday’s weekend opening, is a big comedown. Yes, of course, it will still be successful. He makes his films relatively very cheaply, so a profit is almost always guaranteed, but it may be getting harder to do that.
And keep in mind that over the holidays, closer to Christmas and past New Year’s, the film’s box office could keep steady or even improve, eventually putting it in line with other Madea films. Though the competition is going to get even tougher during the next two weeks with several high profile films scheduled to come out.
Still $16 million is surprising for a Madea film - movies that have never done less than a $21 million opening. So what happened?
A few guesses:
Too late - Some say the film opened too late during the Xmas season to take advantage of it, and should have opened a couple of weeks earlier in November. However Best Man Holiday had that already locked up and Madea Christmas would have likely suffered badly in competition if it opened around the same time as that film.
Weather – It’s still pretty bad out there. That won’t stop the hard core fanboys who would brave anything to see The Hobbit, but Perry’s audience, which skews older and female, might have decided to stay home.
TP fatigue – Are people getting tired of him? There comes a point when even the most devoted fans, get bored with what he’s putting out and long for something else.
Bad reviews – Yeah I know what you’re saying. What Perry film doesn’t get bad reviews? But Madea Christmas got maybe the single worst reviews ever for any of his films and all of them focused on a few things: that, remarkably, not only has Perry not improved as a filmmaker, but he seems to have gotten even worse. Even more noteworthy is that all the reviews brought up the fact that there is an increasing carelessness and lack of real enthusiasm in all his films. He’s just content to continue repeating himself by rote and not interested in finding new and more creative ways of expressing himself.
Not that he’s some Scorsese. He never was, never will be, nor claimed he is, but there’s this obvious sense that he’s bored and is just barely going through the motions. So why does he keep making them? Why not move on to something else? What happened, for example, to that 1920’s jazz film he once talked about making a few years ago? Maybe just simply because what he’s doing now still makes money regardless, and he’s too afraid to take risks. Who knows? Do you?
Among other films David O. Russell's (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook) widely acclaimed new film American Hustle, which opened in a limited engagement before opening wider this Friday, made a very impressive $690,000 in just six screens and 12 Years A Slave’s total is now just over $36.3 million.