Thursday, September 17, 2009on
I'm a box office analyst. I look at a film, and I say, "Is this film going to do well? Is it going to make money?" Oftentimes, I decide that a movie is going to be a financial disaster, and so I should therefore ignore it completely. Take a movie like Stranger Than Fiction, a 2006 release starring Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson. I thought it looked witty. I thought it looked funny. I thought it looked creative. I was so excited! But then it went and underperformed at the box office, earning just $40.6 million over the holiday season. Suddenly, I wasn't so keen on seeing the film. Now, I know that's a terrible philosophy, and artistic value should never be judged based on commercial appeal, but I think it's definitely a factor for most people. For instance, if a TV show pulls in poor ratings in its premiere, many people will jump ship by the next episode, not wanting to commit to something that isn't popular, relevant, or successful. It applies to movies as well, and I think that's why I'm not excited about Where The Wild Things Are: I don't believe it's going to be a big box office success.
Call me crazy if you want, but I don't see great box office numbers for Where The Wild Things Are when it debuts on October 16th. This film falls very much into the category of what I like to call "hipster films," and while those films are usually artistic and interesting, they are not bona fide box office successes. With the rare exception of Juno, most indie-music-playing, snarky-dialogue-touting, dream-sequence-filled, cartoon-title-over-a-drab-background-having, film-blog-buzzed-about, shaky-camera-shot hipster flicks aren't going to top the box office. Yes, the fact that Where The Wild Things Are is based on an immensely popular kids book will provide some built in business, but when you watch the trailer above, does it really look like a widely appealing kids movie?
I'm expecting a similar trajectory from Where The Wild Things Are. The numbers will be better because of the book-factor and the family-factor, but this looks like a movie made more for adults than children, and families = money at the box office. Furthermore, it doesn't look nearly mainstream enough to be a blockbuster. We live in a world where Alvin And The Chipmunks breaks the $200 million barrier and G-Force breaks $100 million. There was nothing subtle or artistic about these films, and yet, this is the type of family entertainment that more average American consumers would rather watch. Really, can you imagine a rural Kentucky audience getting super excited about Where The Wild Things Are? I can't. So for now, I'm not buying into the buzz. I'm guessing that critics will love it, audiences will like it, people will watch it and feel nouve-riche for doing so, but it won't be as huge as many people are thinking. My very early prediction is about $65-70 million.
What do you think about all this? Is Where The Wild Things Are too hipster to break out? Are you excited to see Spike Jonze's film? I'll admit, some of the released shots of the film are just beautiful, but I'm not positive I'll be attending. Let me hear your thoughts in the comments!