Steve’s Box Office Report: October 2008
Top 10 Films for the Month of October:
- Beverly Hills Chihuahua – $94,514,402
- High School Musical 3: Senior Year – $90,559,416
- Saw V – $56,746,769
- Max Payne – $40,689,393
- Body of Lies – $39,394,666
- The Secret Life of Bees – $37,770,162
- Changeling – $35,739,802
- Quarantine – $31,691,811
- Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – $31,487,293
- Zack and Miri Make a Porno – $31,457,946
- W. – $25,534,493
- Appaloosa – $20,211,394
- Pride and Glory – $15,740,721
- The Duchess – $13,848,978
- The Haunting of Molly Hartley – $13,559,812
- Rachel Getting Married – $12,796,841
- The Express – $9,793,406
- Sex Drive – $8,402,485
- City of Ember – $7,873,007
- An American Carol – $7,013,191
October Winners: Beverly Hills Chihuahua, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Saw V, the Secret Life of Bees, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
As we continue on through the fall of 2008, the momentum we had built up from the summer was still somewhat solid though it did taper off a bit throughout September. Much like a few other months from this year, October had a large slate of films come out that would try to cater to all types of people and it would be interesting to see if anything would break out or if they would collapse on top of each other. Ultimately, while none of the films released this month managed to break the $100 million mark, we did have a solid number of films from this month that ended up being declared the winners of the month. The first film from this month that makes it into this category is the comedy Beverly Hills Chihuahua, a film about a pampered Chihuahua who is kidnapped and must return to her home with the help of a German Shepard and another Chihuahua who has a crush on her. Despite the mixed reviews from critics, it did come out in a prime spot with a lack of family films out during this time and it would come pretty close to hitting $100 million which was quite the feat for this film and it was considered a big win for Disney. It wasn’t the only film from Disney that managed to do well as the second film that makes it into this category is High School Musical 3: Senior Year, the third in the High School Musical trilogy which follows 6 seniors that prepare for graduation. Building off the success of the previous two films, it seemed like this was destined to finish the trilogy on a high note which it would as it made just over $90 million despite mixed reviews and it was a fitting end to one of Disney’s more successful live-action trilogies as Disney got a nice one-two punch with this and Chihuahua. The third film from this month that makes it into this category is the newest installment in the Saw franchise which is Saw V, a film which sees several more people try to survive death traps while a detective tries to uncover a secret about the man who claimed to end Jigsaw. By this point, it was pretty clear that franchise fatigue was starting to set in with the Saw series as it would still make a solid profit, but the fact that it would barely finish above the first Saw and was crushed by a family film in its opening weekend seemed like a sign that maybe it was time to wrap the series up. The fourth film from this month that makes it into this category is the drama film the Secret Life of Bees, a film based on the novel of the same name of a girl who becomes a beekeeper in segregated South Carolina while learning secrets about her mother. The film would receive mixed to positive reviews from critics and was seen as a potential awards contender, but it would ultimately falls between the cracks and was unable to break out amongst some the bigger films released around it. The fifth and final film released this month that makes it into this category is the romantic comedy-drama Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, based on the novel of the same name of two teenagers who pretend to be a couple as they try to attend a secret show by their favorite band. The film would receive positive reviews from critics and despite debuting third in its opening weekend, it would go on to make a decent amount of money though again it would fall behind some of the bigger films released this month though it did manage to finish in the top 10 for the month. So at the end of the day, the month ended up producing a solid amount of winners which is fairly rare for the month of October, at least the last two years and it would be interesting to see how future Octobers would fare.
October Losers: Body of Lies, the Express, and City of Ember
Now unlike last year where both the winners and losers category had the same number of films in them, this year we go back to normal as we have more winners than losers and we also have less losers this year than last year. While a lot of the films from this month were so close to each other in terms of the amount of money made, there were still a few films that ended up being considered losers for the month. The first film from this month that makes it into this category is the spy thriller film Body of Lies, based on the novel of the same name of the CIA and Jordanian intelligence trying to find a terrorist. It was pretty clear that this was looked to do the same amount of business that the Departed did two years ago, but unlike that film this one received mixed reviews from critics and pretty much fell off over the weeks under the weight of the bigger films released throughout the month. The second film from this month that makes it into this category is the sports film the Express, a film based on the career of Ernie Davis who became the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. Despite coming out right in the middle of football season and receiving mildly positive reviews from critics, the film would stumble right out of the gate as many pointed to the inaccuracies of the film and it would drop off fairly quickly as well as it didn’t even finish with over $10 million. The third and last film from this month that makes it into this category is the sci-fi film City of Ember, based on the novel of the same name of a city of lights that starts to fail and the daughter of a previous mayor works to save the city. Much like a few other films released this month, the film would receive mixed reviews from critics and it was pretty much forgotten about by audiences as it would debut outside of the top 10 in its opening weekend and it became an afterthought for the month as one of the bigger bombs of the years. With such a wide variety of films released this month, it was a bit of a surprise that three films geared towards adults were the ones that ended up in this category though at the same time it’s not completely surprising since they had low appeal to audiences and as such deserved their spots in this category.
The Surprise/Story of October 2008: Family films dethrone horror king Saw to claim loaded October 2008
So the last two years of doing these recaps, the month of October was usually dominated by horror films and other types of genres that were usually garnered towards adults and not much for kids. In fact, the last film released that was solely marketed towards families was September’s Igor which quickly fell off after it debuted, and even before that was August’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars which also tapered off fairly quickly. So needless the say, the market was pretty wide open for a family film to potentially make money and sure enough it happens here as we have not just one family film do well, but two of them did. When Beverly Hills Chihuahua came out at the beginning of the month, it well exceeded expectations and played out well throughout the rest of the month even going into when High School Musical 3 came out. Both films would end up debuting at number one in their opening weekends with HSM 3 outperforming Saw V by a considerable margin, and the fact that both Chihuahua and HSM 3 made over $90 million with Chihuahua coming close to $100 million is a testament to how well family films could do in the month of October and we’ll see if this trend continues going forward.
Overachiever of October 2008: Beverly Hills Chihuahua
As I just mentioned a moment ago, the month of October was usually dominated by horror films and other films geared towards adults which makes sense since kids are back in school and the horror films tie in to Halloween. So the fact that two family films were going to be released this month was a bit of a surprise and the fact that they were both Disney films showed their confidence in both films. Now while High School Musical 3 had the built-in fan base due to it being the third of the trilogy, Beverly Hills Chihuahua was a brand new entity and being a live action film with talking animals seemed like a risky venture for the company. Coupled with the mixed to negative reviews from critics and it seemed like it would end up being a flop, but for some reason it connected with families and again having few films geared towards families definitely helped its caused. Helping its cause was that it came out at the beginning of the month and was able to rake up a lot of money prior to the release of HSM 3, and as a result it would finish with just under $100 million which would lead to it spawning a direct-to-video franchise as well as helping the film earning its place as the overachiever of the month.
Underachiever of October 2008: Changeling
So as continues to be the norm for me since starting these recaps, picking an overachiever of the month ends up being pretty easy while choosing the underachiever of the month is a bit of a tougher task. On the surface, it appears that the underachiever should be Saw V due to being overwhelmed by the two family films released this month, but the film still made a good amount of money against its small budget so it doesn’t belong in this category. The only other horror film released this month was Quarantine which wasn’t as successful as Saw V, but again with a small budget and low expectations it doesn’t belong here as well. So when it comes to choosing the underachiever of the month, I ended up choosing a film that seemed to have good expectations going in and that was the drama film Changeling, based on true events of a mother whose son disappears and the police find a boy that resembles him which she denies is her son and she is vilified by the corrupt police. The film would receive positive reviews from critics and was a strong awards contender going into the end of the year, but for some reason the mainstream audiences didn’t connect with it as many had hoped and it finished with just over $35 million. The film could’ve been a good counterprogram to the family films and horror films released this month, but instead just went through the motions of the month and as a result it ends up being named the underachiever of the month.
October 2008 Awards Watch: Max Payne, Changeling, the Duchess, and Rachel Getting Married
As we continue to roll along towards the end of the year, we are now reaching the time of the year when the awards contenders start to roll out and try to make their mark in the box office. While October 2006 had a whopping 8 films that made it into this category, that number has gone down slightly as last year only had 5 films in this category and now this year the number continues to go down as only four films make it into this category. The first film from this month that makes it into this category is the action thriller Max Payne, based on the video game series of a detective who infiltrates the criminal underworld to find the ones who murdered his wife and child. Despite actually debuting at number one in its opening weekend, the film would be panned as one of the worst of the year by critics and continued the trend of video game adaptations that end up bombing, and it would be nominated for one Golden Raspberry Award (Worst Actor) though it wouldn’t win. The next film from this month that makes it into this category is Changeling which as mentioned was positively reviewed by critics despite its underwhelming box performance, and it would be nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Actress, Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction) though it wouldn’t win any. It was also nominated for two Golden Globe Awards (Best Actress – Drama and Best Original Score) though it wouldn’t win either one, and you have to wonder if its underwhelming performance at the box office maybe influenced the fact it didn’t win any awards. The third film from this month that makes it into this category is the drama film the Duchess, based on the life of Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire who was reviled for her political and personal lifestyle. It would also receive positive reviews from critics and it would win one Academy Award (Best Costume Design) while also being nominated for one more (Best Art Direction), and it would also receive one Golden Globe nomination (Best Supporting Actor) which it wouldn’t win. It was one of those films that again flew under the radar due to being weighed down by the bigger films from the month and was just one of the those films that fell by the wayside. The fourth and final film from this month that makes it into this category is the drama Rachel Getting Married, a film about a woman who attends her sister’s wedding after spending the last 10 years in and out of rehab. The film would receive universal acclaim from critics and was considered one of the best of 2008 despite not making a lot of money, and it would be nominated for one Academy Award (Best Actress) and one Golden Globe Award (Best Actress – Drama) though it wouldn’t win either one. This has to be considered one of the more disappointing outings for October with only a handful of films that make this category and it will be interesting to see how well the next two months do as we come to the end of 2008.
Overall Thoughts of October 2008:
So overall, the month of October 2008 was a pretty decent month in that there may not have been a film that made over $100 million, but since the films were pretty balanced out in terms of the amount of money made it actually made the month slightly better than September. It seems funny to consider that this month was more successful than the previous month since September had a $100 million film and this one doesn’t, but the success of the two family films helped put the month slightly ahead of September. Considering that this month had a whopping 20 films released this month on a variety of scales, the fact that this many films made as much money as they did has to be considered a success and far better than what February or even August was. 2008 has been a very interesting year thus far in that the year started shaky, got strong throughout the summer, and while not as strong as it was the momentum was still somewhat there and we will see how the last two months of the year turn out. As for the month of October of 2008, it is a pretty solid month that saw family films outdo horror films and prop up the month of October.
Final Grade: C+