Steve’s Box Office Report: April 2008
Top 10 Films for the Month of April:
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall – $63,172,463
- Baby Mama – $60,494,212
- The Forbidden Kingdom – $52,075,270
- Nim’s Island – $48,006,762
- Prom Night – $43,869,350
- Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay – $38,108,728
- Leatherheads – $31,373,938
- Street Kings – $26,418,667
- The Ruins – $17,432,844
- 88 Minutes – $17,213,467
- Smart People – $9,511,289
April Winners: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Baby Mama, Prom Night, and Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
We are now into the fourth month of 2008 and after a solid start to the year, business did dip down a bit throughout the month of March and now it would be interesting to see how April ends up faring with most people waiting for the big films coming out in May. As a result of this, most moviegoers decided to forego the films that came out this month and the month ended up being pretty putrid in terms of final numbers though there were a few meager bright spots sprinkled in as we did have a few winners for the month. The first film from this month that makes it into this category is the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a film about a man who breaks up with his girlfriend and goes to Hawaii to forget her only for her to be at the same resort with her new boyfriend. With a lack of romantic comedy films in the market during this time, this was a good spot for this film to do well and it benefited from solid reviews from critics. Even though it would never reach the number one spot in the box office during its entire run, it still did just enough to finish with just over $63 million which was enough for the top spot this month which we’ll delve more into shortly. The next film released this month that ends up being a winner is another comedy film and that is Baby Mama, a film about a woman who wants to have a baby and enlists another to be her surrogate. Carried by the star power of real life besties Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the film was able to overcome mixed reviews from critics and debuted at number one in its opening weekend though it would end up being overtaken by Forgetting Sarah Marshall and finished in the runner up position for the month. The third film released this month that makes it into this category is the slasher film Prom Night, a remake of the classic 1980 film where a girl attempts to avoid a killer stalker during her prom. It was interesting that this film was made since the original film was not well liked when it came out back in 1980, and even worse is that this remake was torn apart by critics who considered it extremely weak even for a typical teenage horror film. However, given it came out during a time when most schools are holding their proms in addition to a lack of horror films and fellow horror film the Ruins falling flat, the film did end up on the higher end of horror remakes and finished with a decent profit for a horror remake. The fourth and final film from this month that makes it into this category is the stoner comedy Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, a sequel to the 2004 film where Harold and Kumar are mistaken for terrorists and attempt to clear their names. While the film was not as well received as its predecessor, it would end up making more than its predecessor and finished with a decent amount of money though it wasn’t enough to finish in the top five of the month. Looking at these four films collectively, they aren’t extremely successful if you end up sticking them in one of the other months of the year though they look even better stacked up in this month which just shows how weak the month ended up being.
April Losers: Leatherheads
Choosing the films that deserve to be losers of the month has been a pretty interesting deal since when the month as a whole does pretty bad, you would expect there to be a bunch of films that should be in contention for this category. However, there are times where films end up meeting their expectations and don’t finish poorly which keeps them out of this category, but their expectations are either so low they can’t do much or they don’t exceed when expected so the month ends up flopping as a result. At the end of the day, we do have at least one film from this month that makes it into this category and that is the sports comedy film Leatherheads, a film about a football star who recruits a supposed college football standout and war hero to his team only for the two men to battle for the love of a reporter. The film was too much of a middle of the road film that wasn’t sure which way to lean in terms of its identity and the middling reviews from critics didn’t help matters either. Coupled with the fact that it finished third in its opening weekend behind 21 in its second weekend and a soft opening by Nim’s Island, and you had all the makings for a film that deserves its spot as the loser of the month.
The Surprise/Story of April 2008: Audiences forget about movies as “Sarah Marshall” leads weak April
So as I mentioned earlier in the recap, 2008 had gotten off to a pretty decent start with good results from January and February, but as we saw with March things to be on a bit of a downturn. None of the releases in March ended up making a major impact aside from Horton Hears a Who and even that was pretty average at best, so the pressure was on April to keep 2008 on even keel and not make it worse. However, looking at what was to come out made that outlook pretty bad and with most of the moviegoers waiting for the films to be released in May, it seemed like the month of April would end up being a barren wasteland. I’m sure there was some hope that perhaps one film would buck the trend and have a surprise run, but in essence that didn’t happen as things were pretty much kept status quo. As a result, Forgetting Sarah Marshall ended up on top of the month with a poultry $63 million which was fine for the month, but was on the low end for the year of 2008 and was a microcosm for how poor the month ended up being. This was not a good sign for the year as it was now in a major downswing so now it is up to May to try and regain momentum, but given what was coming out the next few months I don’t think that would be a problem.
Overachiever of April 2008: Forgetting Sarah Marshall
So going into this month when trying to decide what film was worthy of being the overachiever of the month, and to be completely honest I nearly came to the conclusion that there was no film worthy of this title. None of the films released this month ended up exceeding any expectations that they had though given the films coming out this month didn’t have much expectation to begin with, but you figure that at least one of them could’ve broken out and had a great run. However, this is one of the categories that I always want to have some film represented even with how underwhelming it is, but I will ultimately go with Forgetting Sarah Marshall as the overachiever of the month. Again, this is probably the weakest overachiever to this point in the two years since doing this recap, but it is an overachiever nonetheless as it did make a good amount of money though it will more than likely pale in comparison to the remaining overachievers of the year.
Underachiever of April 2008: Nim’s Island
So this is another very interesting thing in that much like the overachiever of the month, there didn’t seem to be any film released this month that seemed worthy of being the underachiever of the month. As mentioned in the previous category, none of the films ended up exceeding what little expectations they had yet at the same time none of the films completely bombed either nor did they underwhelm when expected to do well. But much like the overachiever, I feel it necessary to choose one film to be the underachiever and for this month I selected the adventure film Nim’s Island, based on the children’s book of the same name where a girl enlists the author of her favorite books to help find her father. Coming out at the beginning of the month, it seemed like it could’ve had a solid run especially with Horton Hears a Who starting to wind down, but the film would receive middling reviews and it seemed like families avoided it which caused it to fall off a cliff though it would end up finishing in the top 5 for the month. But at the end of the day, this was another microcosm as to how poorly the month performed as a whole and this was also a pretty tepid underachiever of the month.
April 2008 Awards Watch: 88 Minutes
As we head here into April of 2008, we had an interesting moment where we had two months in a row where there were no films released that were nominated for any of the Big 3 awards which was surprising to me. Going into this month, I seriously wondered if we would get an unprecedented 3 months in a row where no film was nominated for an award, but that does not happen as this month breaks the streak at two. It is worth mentioning that there is only one film from this month that makes it into this category and that is the thriller 88 Minutes, a film about a psychiatrist who helped convict a killer only for the killer to tell him he has 88 minutes to live on the day he is set to be executed. The film would end up being panned by critics and was one of the worst reviewed films of the year, and the film would be nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards (Worst Actor and Worst Supporting Actress) though it wouldn’t win either one. Again, this just continues to verify the fact that April 2008 was one of the worst months in quite a while and the year has a lot of work to do in trying to regain some ground.
Overall Thoughts of April 2008:
So overall, there is pretty much no question that April 2008 ended up being one of the worst months in recent box office memory which is saying a lot considering we have seen some pretty weak months since we started this in May 2006. Now in almost two years of doing this, only one month has received the dreaded “F” grade and that was January 2007, and even that month seemed to be a bit better than this month was though that might be a bit of a stretch. Looking back at that month compared to this month, this month was a bit more balanced in terms of the money the films made and it wasn’t like January where one film did well while the others didn’t though that one film didn’t do well itself. As mentioned, 2008 has been a pretty interesting year in that it started off pretty well with a solid January and February, but then things started to go off the rails in March and the box office now seems completely derailed when this month ended. As we head into May and kick off the summer season, we will see if the box office can turn things around and things do seem pretty optimistic with some of the films set to come out over the summer. As for the month of April in 2008, it is possibly one of the worst months in box office history and let’s just forget that this month ever existed.
Final Grade: F