On Sunday, the New York Times featured a disheartening article about this summer's bigger winners and losers. For example, the Times's Brooks Barnes points out that while many thought that Kick-Ass's failure to break the bank during its first week in theaters meant it was an unmitigated dud, the fact is that the adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s "mature," ultra-cynical super-yarn was a pretty big hit. To recap: Lionsgate Entertainment picked up the film for $15 million and projected it would make $30 million domestically during its opening weekend. The film only made approximately $20 million in that time, sending off all kinds of premature alarms. But the film has made $97 million worldwide and is estimated to sell 2 million copies once it hits dvd, blu-ray and is made available for purchase via online media outlets like Itunes.
Barnes's piece uses Kick-Ass's slow-but-steady success to point out how prognostication of a film's success really doesn't depend so much on its opening weekend anymore. There's no real speculation as to why that is in the piece, probably because it's a tough phenomenon to pin down: it's not just the home video market that's making up for lost revenue, it's an endurance test in theaters as well. On the one hand, How to Train Your Dragon made a lot of money opening weekend and even more money later over the course of the summer, grossing a total $497 million. On the other, Date Night flopped during its opening weekend but made out rather nicely in the long run, earning $152 million.
The part of Barnes's article that makes me very sad indeed is its final paragraphs, in which it's said with no uncertainty that in all likelihood, box office duds like Jonah Hex and Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World "have little chance of ever becoming profitable." This is especially disappointing in the latter case, as it's arguably the best big budget studio film of the season. I also kind of am upset that Hex has no chance either, if for no other reason that it means that a director's cut dvd of the film, one with the footage from Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor's original script, is not coming soon to Best Buy anytime soon. I'd argue that the hype surrounding Kick-Ass just had more momentum than the buzz around Pilgrim or Hex but again, who knows? Maybe Barnes is wrong and there's still hope for Scott Pilgrim. I hope so.