Box Office Top 10 Film News

Box Office: Theater Owners Would Sure Like the Studios to Make More Movies Like Furious 7

More movies are coming out now than ever before (677 in 2013 versus 455 in 2003), but more and more of those are micro-budget independents (100% increase from ’03 to ’13) and fewer and fewer are studio films (28% decrease across the same time span).* That would maybe be a good thing, but studio films have gone from a 69% market share to 76% meaning fewer studio movies are taking up more of the market while twice as many independent films are left fighting for what’s left. As a result, the film industry has become increasingly polarized between big budget tentpoles based on pre-existing intellectual properties (YA novels, comic books, Disney princesses) and micro-budget indies. At the same time that’s happening, ticket prices have been going up while attendance has been going down, 2014 marking the lowest overall attendance since 1995. That’s bad, right?

Eh, maybe it was just a down year for movies. American Sniper, Cinderella and Furious 7 have been colossal hits in 2015, with Furious 7 being true to its franchise title and turning into the fasted film to reach the $1 billion mark worldwide.  Most believe that the film’s diverse cast has had a lot to do with that.  I wrote all about it elsewhere on the site.  Looking ahead, we still have a new Avenger and Star Wars movie on the way, and two Pixar movies!

So, it must be a very interesting time to be John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners. He has to convince everyone that last year was a fluke while also using his bully pulpit to chastise the major Hollywood studios for not delivering enough of the kinds of movies people want to see. In a new interview with The Frame, he touched on a wide variety of topics facing the film industry, revealing that above everything else the theater owners want more diversity, more women, and more family films (because all of that will presumably equate to more money):


Fithian knows last year’s research “showed that only about 12 percent of the movies had women in leading roles, even though women buy about half of our tickets. This year we have women leading in virtually every genre across the map, and that’s really an exciting thing to see.”

sofia-vergara-reese-witherspoon-hot-pursuit-movie-posterspy_movie_poster_1195514It’s not just the ladies, though.  They’d really like to see more of this:


Why?  Well, did you already forget the part about Furious 7 being the fasted movie to $1 billion worldwide?  Of course, there’s a little more to it than that:

“We also need more minorities on screen. We need more African-Americans and more Hispanics. If you look at the demographics of our moviegoers, Hispanics are far and away the best. They go more than six times a year to movies on average […] Hispanics go in groups — multi-generational outings — they buy lots of concessions, they buy lots of movie tickets, they’re very sophisticated consumers of movies. And yet if you look at the percentage of the actors and the directors on camera, behind the camera, it doesn’t reflect the reality of the marketplace. And when you take a movie like Furious 7, or the whole Fast and Furious series as a whole, that cast reflected the diversity of the world, and that’s part of the reason why it’s doing so extraordinarily well.”

Family Films

inside-outWe are getting two new Pixar movies, Inside Out and Good Dinosaur, and that’s the type of product the theater owners love:

“As theater owners, we don’t just exist in Los Angeles and New York, we exist in Omaha and Des Moines and places where that hard adult fare doesn’t sell quite as well — where families want to go to the movies, and they want to take their kids to see content that’s appropriate for them. And so when we see a year like this one, with every major studio releasing family titles, we get really excited […] Families come in groups. They come often when there are good family movies, they buy lots of concessions, they are great customers if we have the movies to show them.”

That’s all fine and good, but what about a really good R-rated movie, the kind so many of us grew up on even though we weren’t old enough to be watching them? (Looking at you, first Terminator):

“Each year, the movies rated PG and PG-13, and G, do much better than the movies rated R, on average. And so we take that data, we show it to our distribution partners, and we say, ‘Please, please, give us more family titles.'”

Mid-Budget Releases

Get Hard
This is a $40 million movie, which makes it a mid-budget release

If Fithian was in charge of his own major studio, he “wouldn’t shoot for a blockbuster tentpole with every single gamble. And what’s happening with a lot of the majors right now is that they’re reducing the number of movies that they release, but they’re increasing the amount they spend producing and marketing those movies. That’s great for the tentpoles — that’s why we’ll have four, five or six or more billion-dollar blockbusters this year, but what’s missing are the movies in the middle.”

Netflix, Or This Means War

Onion NetflixAs I’ve previously discussed, theater owners really don’t like Netflix. So, it’s no surprise to hear Fithian argue, “The Netflix model on movies is not a good model for the cinema business, or, for that matter, the entire movie business in Hollywood. It’s only good for Netflix. Subscription models of giving movies to the consumer for an all-you-can-eat price once a month is the worst return on investment you can possibly have in this industry.”

Please Come Back, Steven Soderbergh and David Fincher

A TV movie here, theatrical release everywhere else.

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln was almost an HBO movie. Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra was an HBO movie in the US even though it came out in theaters overseas. That came after Soderbergh (Sex Lies, and Videotapes, Traffic, Oceans 11, Magic Mike) famously declared in his keynote address at the 2013 San Francisco International Film Festival that cinema was dying, thus signaling his transitional from film director to TV producer/director, currently for Cinemax’s The Knack. David Fincher has similarly moved to TV, Netflix’s House of Cards and an upcoming HBO series. In general, a lot of directors are transitioning into TV because that’s where the good material is. The theater owners can’t do much about that, but they can at least try, “We are having discussions with [Soderbergh and Fincher] about how we can get them to come at least partially back to making movies for the cinema. And I’m encouraged. I think there are lots of things that could help. The digital age makes it much easier to put movies into more cinemas and makes it much easier to distribute them.”

Possibility of Discounted Tickets?

amc-theaters-movie-pass-sliceAs I previously discussed, the theaters are exploring multiple options to spur attendance, with a discount movie night being among the most popular. However, Fithian was quick to shoot down any suggestion of a tiered ticket pricing based on demand and film quality, “We do not know really until Friday night — or, more often now, Thursday night — what movies are going to sell well and what aren’t. And so for someone to decide ahead of time this movie’s a $10 movie, that movie’s a $6 movie, is a really difficult thing to do in something that is so subjective as what movies are good and what movies aren’t.”

Realistic Ability to Bring About Change

How much of a difference can the theater owners make on the types of films being made? Umm, that’s a tough one, “It’s always a tricky conversation, because studio and distributors do a good job with their business, and our cinema operators do a good job at our business. They probably don’t like it when we tell them how to make and distribute movies, and we don’t like it when they tell us how to run cinemas.”

This Weekend’s Actual Box Office Top 10 Totals (4/17-4/19)

1. Furious 7

  • Production Budget=$190m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$29.1m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$167.9m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$294.5m/$858.3m/$1.15billion

2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (Opening Weekend)

  • Production Budget=$30m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$23.7m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$7.1m
  • Worldwide Debut=$30.8m

3. Unfriended (Opening Weekend)

  • Production Budget=$1m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$15.8m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$m
  • Worldwide Debut=$15.8m

4. Home

  • Production Budget=$135m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$10.6m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$10.4m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$142.9m/$129m/$271.9m

5. The Longest Ride

  • Production Budget=$34m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$7m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$2.1m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$23.6m/$6.2m/$29.8

6. Get Hard

  • Production Budget=$40m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$4.9m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=?
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$78.3m/$15.7m/$94m

7. Woman in Gold

  • Production Budget=$2m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$4.5m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$1.4m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$15.9m/$3.8m/$19.7m

8. Monkey Kingdom (Opening Weekend)

  • Production Budget=They’re not telling
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$4.5m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$m
  • Worldwide Debut=$4.5m

9. Insurgent

  • Production Budget=$110m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$4m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$4.1m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$120.5m/$141.6m/$262.1m

10. Cinderella

  • Production Budget=$95m
  • Weekend Gross (Domestic)=$4m
  • Weekend Gross (International)=$7.5m
  • Domestic/International/Worldwide=$186.4m/$271.4m/$457.8m

What Left the Top 10?: It Follows (Current total: $13.2m domestic/$2m budget), Danny Collins (Current total: $3.9m domestic/unknown budget) & Kingsman: The Secret Service (Current total: $396m worldwide/$80m budget)

What’s Up Next?: The long-delayed Harrison Ford/Blake Lively drama The Age of Adalind, the nationwide expansion of buzzy sci-fi mind-fuck Ex Machina, and a Kevin James, Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson movie called Little Boy

Sources:, The Frame

*Why am I using 2013 data for the number of movies? Because it comes from Steven Soderbergh’s keynote address at the 2013 San Francisco International Film Festival.


  1. I went to the cinema for the first time this year and the first time since Guardians of the Galaxy… and it was to a screening of Blade Runner: The Final Cut. Ha ha ha! I’m still not sure if I am going to Avengers 2. (Probably not)

    I would go to the cinema more if I had a date. “Spy” looked really funny from the trailers.

    Overall, I don’t particularly inspired by the range of films at the moment.

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