Friday Estimates

Friday Box-Office: 'Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 2' On Top While Audiences Despise 'Killing Them Softly'

General audiences... you can no longer surprise me

Killing Them Softly posterAn "F" CinemaScore. That's what opening night audiences thought of Andrew Dominik's fantastic new film Killing Them Softly starring Brad Pitt. That's the reason phrases such as "That's why we can't have nice things" were developed. Meanwhile, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 remains atop the box-office with an estimated $5.6 million on Friday followed by Skyfall at $4.6m and Lincoln at $4 million.

The "F" CinemaScore for Killing Them Softly accompanies an estimated $2.5 million, which means we're looking at something around $6.5-7 million for the opening weekend. With a production budget listed at $15 million and the film already grossing nearly that overseas it's not as if the film itself is a massive flop, but it will be lucky to match that budget domestically, which is a damn shame.

Some are already comparing the general audience reaction to Killing as similar to that of Drive last year, which opened to a "C-" CinemaScore and saw FilmDistrict sued because the film wasn't like Fast and the Furious. It would seem the same audience turned out to see this film and got all confused with the metaphors and what not. Oh well, I'm done being surprised at the overall taste of general audiences. I've been watching several of this year's highest profile documentaries and the things humans are capable of will only continue to keep phrases such as "We can be better" in circulation.

The week's other new wide release is the horror film The Collection, which brought in $1.1 million. The complete Friday top ten is listed below and I'll be back tomorrow with a complete wrap-up. For now I'm going to go make Christmas cookies and hopefully forget that "F" ever happened.

  1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 - $5.6 million
  2. Skyfall - $4.8 million
  3. Lincoln - $4 million
  4. Life of Pi - $3.3 million
  5. Rise of the Guardians - $2.9 million
  6. Killing Them Softly - $2.5 million
  7. Red Dawn - $2 million
  8. Wreck-It Ralph - $1.6 million
  9. Flight - $1.3 million
  10. The Collection - $1.1 million
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  • http://cineenuruguay.blogspot.com/ Driver

    The tagline for Rope of Silicon should be, A movie site for Smart people, because what you just seed speaks the truth.

  • Mark

    Life of Pi had a big drop. Thought word of mouth would be good for it. Guess not.

    • Nick

      All movies have bad drops on the post-Thanksgiving weekend. Life of Pi will be fine.

  • Winchester

    Mainstream audiences should never EVER be confused with cinephiles or more serious movie lovers otherwise moments like this are bound to keep 'surprising' people.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      Yes.

  • Foggy

    Hardly surprised by the distaste for Killing Them Softly, although they did come down very very hard on it. Considering the latest trailer advertised it as a thrilling fast paced Guy Ritchie-esque romp though, no shocks at all.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

    There's nothing surprising about this. For one, the film is political (which is a big no no in America because in America, we just like to shut our brains off and be entertained. Funny how people in other countries have no problem being intellectually stimulated while also being entertained at the same time). But I guess the box office performance of this film really reflects what Killing Them Softly is all about. It's about a trashy culture who needs to be reassured that every thing's okay and that balance is being restored (even though nothing ever changes). Americans NEED Bond to get the bad guy in the end. There's no resolution in Killing Them Softly. No happy ending. This sort of thing just doesn't jive with Americans. Americans love celebrating their "heroes" like Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. Films like Argo, The Avengers and Zero Dark Thirty remind us all that "America is no. 1!" and that "America always gets their man." Meanwhile, Jackie Cogan is sitting in a bar somewhere, laughing....

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Criterion10/ Criterion10

    I haven't seen Killing Them Softly yet (hoping to go tomorrow, but time is not on my side this weekend), but that "F" cinemascore is simply pathetic. It's times like this that I feel bad for people like Megan Ellison who are trying to make a difference in the film industry only to be stomped on by the average, mindless, idiotic moviegoer. What a shame.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kevinblumeyer/ Kevin Blumeyer

    I'd be interested in hearing how these Cinemascore grades are compiled. Which cities/communities are surveyed? Is it a mix of urban/rural audiences?

    I only ask because an "F" Cinemascore seems nearly impossible to pull off. If even just a small fraction of the surveyed public were the type of "smart moviegoers" that knew what to expect and looked forward to the film (like those who visit this site), that should be enough to pull the grade up from an "F" to at least a "D." You wouldn't think it would take that many "A" and "B" grades from cinephiles like us to prevent that "F" grade from happening.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

      I haven't seen Killing Them Softly yet, but have read / seen reviews from other critics, many of which who didn't hate it, but didn't seem to really enjoy it all that much either. I'd say most critics were in the C+ to B range.

      Not sure how to distinguish "smart" moviegoers. IMO, there is no such thing. You either like the movie or not - it seems like most people didn't like the movie, so it deserves a low grade. If some people love it, then that's great for them, but the public has spoken.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kevinblumeyer/ Kevin Blumeyer

        The whole "smart" moviegoer tag was just a reaction to some of the other comments, as I wholeheartedly agree that it's impossible to make such a distinction.

        All I'm trying to say is that an "F" seems nearly impossible to pull off. If using a simple 4-point grading scale, it would only take 20%-30% of the votes to be positive (or even indifferent) grades to pull that grade up to a "D". I'd really like to see a breakdown of how these grades are compiled.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kevinblumeyer/ Kevin Blumeyer

    On another sad note, Silver Linings Playbook already appears to be losing theaters (at least here in Chicago). It already lost its screen at the big 21-screen AMC downtown, and as far as I can tell is now only playing at one cinema in the city.

    I hate to be precious about it, but it kind of breaks my heart that the film wasn't able to break through with general audiences. It's just the type of movie that makes you feel good and I can't imagine anyone going to see the film and going home without a smile on their face. My friend might have said it best when he said "I had a smile on my face for the entire 2 hours." How many other things can you do if you'd like to experience something like that?

    I guess I'll hold out hope that it'll regain some momentum when Oscar nominations come out, but that might be too late.

    • Nick

      It's not losing theaters overall, it just didn't expand this weekend because the post-Thanksgiving weekend is pretty much a deadzone. It's barely two weeks in release, those who see it love it, and it maintains a good per theater average, it'll do well in the long run.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kevinblumeyer/ Kevin Blumeyer

        Boxofficemojo says it added 4 theaters this week. So while it may be expanding into more suburban/small markets, it's already losing some of the theaters it opened at just two weeks ago. Instead of pulling a screen away from the bigger movies (Lincoln, Skyfall, Twilight) that might be taking up 2 or 3 screens at these multiplexes, theaters are choosing to drop Silver Linings entirely. Not ideal, especially on a week without a single major release.

        I would have to assume the ultimate goal would be to keep all the urban theaters, while also expanding into more markets. Otherwise, the film will just fade away and never reach a full "wide" release.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

    Blah, whatever, people are stupid. I loved Killing Them Softly and think it's one of the year's best (Pitt's final monologue is spectacular). Maybe a wide release wasn't the right route for this film, but with responses to it being this bad, I don't know if it could have broken out of the art houses had they gone with platform release.

  • Scott

    I haven't seen Killing Them Softly yet. Any ideas why there was such a negative reaction? Did audiences see it as a bait-and-switch, offering a gangster movie and delivering something else? Downer of an ending?

    I can't imagine people going into this one expecting something light and fluffy. I doubt this F was given by teeny-boppers and Dancing With The Stars housewives, since I doubt those people would buy a ticket to a movie like this in the first place.

    So any thoughts as to why people who would choose this type of movie to see in the first place would end up so turned off by it? An F seems amazingly harsh.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      Remember when The American came out? Same thing.

      • Scott

        Good point. I really enjoyed that movie, too, feeling like I really got to know Clooney's character despite how fearfully withdrawn he was. Beautifully shot movie, too.

        The studio really did try to market it as a Bourne-style spy thriller, though. I can understand audiences being surprised by the methodical pacing.

        • Winchester

          How strange. This will ramble slightly but your comment in the first paragraph just gelled with something I was independently watching while I had been mulling over the sentiments in this thread.

          I'm watching The Hamster Factor documentary just now on the 'Twelve Monkeys' Blu Ray and I just passed the section (around the 70 minute mark) where the first test screenings for it have just been had and Terry Gilliam and the writers David & Janet Peoples are discussing the extremely conflicting feedback and disconnect between how they felt the audience reacted at the screening vs how they reacted on the test screening feedback forms.

          In the process Janet Peoples says something I found interesting in her response to the feedback '.........people are going to try and knock us and try and get us to explain more and I'm saying that that's not what the audience wants. They want to know what kind of movie it is. And once they know what kind of movie it is then they'll go with it.........' whether it be a black comedy or a thriller. Or whatever it is.

          (FYI The Hamster Factory is also a great look at how an artistic style director struggles to get a concept film off the ground with studio funding while having to make it broadly appealing and I would recommend it to anyone who has never seen it before. It also reaffirms that the conflicts involved in film making between art and commerce are utterly nothing new. People seem to believe it's a new phenomenon but it goes back decades in truth)

          But you have to give them a good idea of what it is. Marketing has to do it's job to get wider audience people into the film but be honest with them so they can decide if it's something that interests them. And I think you may have a point over part of the problem with the idea of bait and switch because if you do sell it as something it isn't then they will slap you down in return. Maybe more harshly than if they had a proper idea of what it was but then simply didn't like it anyway. They may be easier on it that way.

          'The American' was arguably mis-advertised as well, although I don't think 'Drive' was (I certainly never understood even from trailers how someone thought it was a Fast and Furious type movie but just because one person did file suit doesn't mean you can extrapolate that out to everyone else) in fairness.

          However you can also apply this to big scale films. While if I recall correctly you are no fan of 'Prometheus' I think that it was an alternative example of a big production which mixed up it's advertising and left people confused about just what level of 'Alien' connectivity it had. A lot of the more damning opinions came from the fact many people were expecting one film and they went in and Scott gave them something else. And they didn't respond well to that once they saw it. Expectations.

          This has nothing to do with the bulk of people or mainstream audiences being especially dumb (while sure there's always going to be a section that thinks Battleship is a 5 star movie overall that's often in my opinion just a lazy crutch excuse used by cinephiles to feel better about their pet favourite not gaining wider traction - there have and always will be good films out there at all levels as well as one's which just fail to find an audience and most regular movie goers ARE looking for escape from reality for a couple hours into fantasy and entertainment and 'good wins out', not an affirmation every time they go to a film of how shit the world and their lives can be or will be. I know for sure that's sometimes why I go to the cinema. I also go to have some fun at a film sometimes as well) because we could list a bunch of critically well recieved films that have done just fine at the Box Office and with things like cinemascore.

          I could ramble much longer but I should stop now. Anyway for me sometimes the reasons for some films not performing as some people want them to I think can be a bit more than simply damning the entire general audience. It's unfair that some films flounder but it happens. Which is partly why I said above that general audiences and cinephiles should never be confused with each other. Their requirements and expectations are very different.

  • Torryz

    The F for KTS is because a lot of the public want fantasy, vampires and shitty stories instead of realism. I'm just happy that people who want to watch a film instead of just popcorn flicks are able to see films like KTS. Maybe that read Ebert's ridiculous review where he doesn't even the characters and plot points correct.

    • Torryz

      I mean they read.

  • SP1234

    I'm shocked about the F score and the disappointing results, but I personally don't think it has anything to do with Twilight. Weinstein Company was much more focused on bigger titles like The Master and Silver Linings Playbook, that this one fell on the back-burner a little bit. I know it played at Cannes, but if Weinstein put it into Toronto with the other two titles, the film wouldn't have flopped as badly as it did, although that is only my best guess. For Dominik, this looks like it will do as much as Jesse James did, and that film, despite Casey Affleck's Oscar nomination, had almost the same polarizing response as this film, so I personally don't think it will be that affecting for him.

    • SP1234

      Django Unchained, as well, even though that hasn't been screened, it still has huge buzz.

  • Luie

    Dominick's previous film was better received and it made less.

  • Jesse3232

    Brad, do you think Weinstein's strategy for Silver Linings Playbook is a good one? It's already dissapearing from the top 10 in just two weekends!

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/DaveS/ DaveS

    What a shame. I've been waiting on Killing Them Softly to release so I will definitely go to see it now and support it!

  • Dale

    I join you, Brad, in being done with being surprised at the overall taste of general audiences. I haven't yet seen "Killing Them Softly," but plan to do so based on your "A" score (you haven't let me down yet), and "Drive" was one of my favorite movies of last year. God forbid that audiences should have to deal with anything not spoon fed to them.

  • adu

    Brad, I just got back from the theater from a Killing them Softly show...there were 25 people in the theater, which was more than I expected. Mid-way through the movie two older couples walked out. I liked the movie but it's not for the general audience, even the general 'adult' audience. The people who stayed on didnt like the abrupt ending, I could tell by most of their "is this it" expressions. I was kinda disappointed with that too, The movie didnt have a sense of closure for me, but I liked it.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/MrPA/ Mr. P.A.

    This breaks my heart, but at the same time... who cares? Killing Them Softly is hands down my favorite film of the year so far.

  • http://thefilmgoersproject.com filmgoermatt

    Cinemascore offers no benefits whatsoever to the film industry. Killing Them Softly is an excellent film. In a just world, the screenplay and James Gandolfini would have Oscar nods coming their way.

  • jaybob

    Roger Ebert didn't think much of Killing Me Softly either.

  • Beautifulm

    To be honest, a lot of cinephiles didn't like it either. I will be seeing it today.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/MrPapageorgio/ MrPapageorgio

    by far one of the worst movies I've ever seen, how can ANY critic including you brad justify an A or recommendation to see this based on a good 30 second ending dialogue by brad pitt and a over used abundance of obama and bush, "these are hard times, we should unite" snippets. How does this movie come even remotely close to an A?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/MrPapageorgio/ MrPapageorgio

    Snatch is an A movie, Braveheart & Gladiator are A Movies, The Shawshank redemption, JAWS, 2001 A.S.O., Godfather are A movies. This was garbage. Here's my recommendation to you guys, if you thought the Assassination of Jesse James was a C+(B- at Best) as i did, Do not watch this, It's 100x Worse.