Box Office: ‘Our Brand is Crisis,’ ‘Burnt,’ ‘Scouts Guide’ All Bomb

Our Brand Is Crisis
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Illustrating the limits of star power, “Our Brand is Crisis” and “Burnt” were both roundly rejected by audiences over Halloween weekend despite the presence of Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper.

“Our Brand is Crisis,” a political satire about a spin-doctor navigating a Latin American presidential election, is the worst wide release opening of Bullock’s career, sliding in below “Two If By Sea,” which opened to $4.7 million in 1996. It debuted to a dreadful $3.4 million across 2,202 locations. Warner Bros. distributed the $28 million production and co-financed the film with Participant Media.

“We’re proud of the movie, we had higher expectations and we’re obviously disappointed,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president.

Not that Cooper fared much better playing a down-and-out chef trying to score a comeback in “Burnt.” The Weinstein Company distributed the critically scorched dramedy, which made a meagre $5 million bowing across 2,900 theaters. It cost roughly $20 million to make and was directed by John Wells (“August: Osage County”).

“It’s a small film and we didn’t spend a ton of money on it, but we were obviously hoping for more,” said Erik Lomis, the Weinstein Company’s distribution chief. “We love Bradley and he worked so hard on it with John Wells. It’s a passion project that hit a tough weekend.”

It wasn’t just star power at play. The calendar worked against both films. Halloween took place on Saturday, traditionally the busiest day for movie-going, so studios were bracing for a weekend that offered up more trick than treat. Their greatest fears were realized. Overall ticket sales fell below $75 million, the worst results of the year.

The problem might have had something to do with quality. Reviewers didn’t exactly get behind either picture.

“This is a classic dump,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “You look at the new films being offered up and none of them had a lot of marketing support behind them. The studios knew what they had.”

The weakness of “Our Brand is Crisis” and “Burnt” enabled a group of holdovers to maintain their grip on the top spots at the box office. “The Martian” captured first place with $11.4 million. The Fox adventure story is on pace to be the biggest domestic grossing release of Ridley Scott’s career, having made $182.8 million since debuting in October.

Second and third positions went to Sony’s “Goosebumps” and DreamWorks’ “Bridge of Spies” with $10.2 million and $8.1 million, respectively. “Goosebumps” has made $57.1 million in three weeks, while “Bridge of Spies” has been one of the only adult dramas to connect in recent weeks, earning $45.2 million since it debuted last month.

The top five was rounded out by Sony’s “Hotel Transylvania 2” with $5.8 million and Lionsgate’s “The Last Witch Hunter” with $4.7 million. The pictures have made $156 million and $18.6 million, respectively.

From there things got worse and worse. “Steve Jobs,” the Universal drama about the Apple founder and iPhone visionary, sank in its second weekend of wide release. The picture earned $2.6 million, a 65% fall, bringing its domestic total to $14.5 million.

It was also a bad weekend for distribution experiments. Paramount’s “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” was brutalized when it kicked off to roughly $1.7 million across 1,509 locations. “Scouts Guide” cost roughly $15 million to produce. Its failure comes on the heels of last weekend’s “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension.” Both pictures are part of an experiment that allows Paramount to debut the films digitally 17 days after they leave most theaters in return for cutting exhibitors like AMC in on a cut of the home entertainment revenue. Usually they have to wait 90 days between a picture’s theatrical debut and its digital launch. The problem is that many chains refused to show the pictures, believing that they set a dangerous precedent and threatened their theatrical exclusivity.

In its second weekend, the “Paranormal Activity” sequel fell 58% to $3.4 million, bringing its total to a paltry $13.6 million.

“Truth,” a drama about “60 Minutes'” controversial report on George W. Bush’s National Guard service, stumbled in its wide release expansion. The Sony Pictures Classics release moved from 18 screens to 1,120 venues, earning a dispiriting $900,914 in the process. Its total stands at $1.1 million.

The failure of “Our Brand is Crisis” contributes to an annus horribilis for Warner Bros. The studio scored hits with “San Andreas” and “American Sniper,” but has lost tens of millions on the likes of “Pan,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” and “Jupiter Ascending.” It’s hoping next year, which offers up “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and the Harry Potter spin-off, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” can help the studio rebound.

Among Oscar contenders in limited release, Focus Features moved “Suffragette” from four theaters to 23, earning $155,000 in the process. The women’s rights drama with Carey Mulligan has made $258,118 in two weeks. Meanwhile A24’s “Room,” a drama about a woman taken hostage, expanded from 23 theater to 49, while picking up $269,500. It has made $766,702 since opening on Oct. 16 and will continue to slowly add theaters in the coming weeks.

The Halloween bloodletting marks two consecutive weekends marred by commercial failures and flops. Last weekend brought duds like “The Last Witch Hunter” and the “Paranormal Activity” sequel, this one offered up turkeys courtesy of Cooper and Bullock. But salvation is in sight, with “The Peanuts Movie” and “Spectre” slated to hit theaters in the next few days.

“All I can say is thank God Charlie Brown and James Bond are coming to save the day,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak.

Hollywood could certainly use some help.

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  1. Person says:

    Hmm, imagine that. A movie about politics and no one cares. Our Brand is Boring, more like.

  2. Helen Hill says:

    Why would I want to see a movie about spin doctoring in politics???? Don’t we get enough of that in real life?

  3. Founders1791 says:

    Hollywood is less than pond scvm and their anti-American, pro-gun for the but not for me hypocrisy has come to head and the American people are simply tired of it. I haven’t gone to a movie theater in more than 15 years because they suck and are way too loud.

    Sandra & Billy Bob are great actors but they can blame Tarantino for his backstabbing pro anarchy bs.

    • teriekwilliams says:

      Tally up the top 10 highest grossing films, you’ll come up with at least $6 billion alone. It’s about appeal, not politics. Save the rant for the Fox News, MSNBC reports. Isn’t there a Presidential election you can go on about?

  4. Silver Halide says:

    One of the biggest myths still floating about is that people go see a movie because a so called movie star is in it. The truth is movie stars have little to do with the box office performance of a movie they are in. The most important thing is, and always has been, the story. People want to experience a good story. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) made over one and a half billion dollars worldwide because it is about The Avengers, not because Robert Downey Jr. was in it. Who were the actors people were paying to see in Avatar (2009) or the original Star Wars (1977) or The Lord of the Rings trilogy? They weren’t paying to see any particular actor. They were paying to see a good story. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in December and all indications are it will be a boffo box office certainty. And it will be so because it is Star Wars, not because of who is in it.

    • Marilynn says:

      As you don’t speak for “people” aka “everyone”, that isn’t a “myth”. I for one, DO in fact go to the movies when an actor whose work I respect & love is in it or the top billed. For instance, Brad Pitt; Tom Hardy; Will Smith. If the trailer is put together well enough to make the movie look good & I see one of those names attached—I’m in. Haven’t been disappointed with 2 of those 3 actors movies yet…… (Some of Will’s I opted out of: MIB’s, Wild, Wild, West & the one w/ his son) But “I Am Legend”, “I Am Robot” & of course “Enemy of the State” I was certainly not disappointed amongst others. Tom Hardy is stellar in Every movie he’s in, as is Brad Pitt.

      • Strix says:

        I would suggest that you go to the movies and pay to see an actor in a good STORY. I would be very surprised if you would pay to watch Brad Pitt, Tom Hardy or Will Smith doing something mundane like driving a car or surfing the internet – for two hours. Actors are nowhere near as interesting when they are not playing a role in a good story. When you’ve been disappointed it is because you were disappointed with the story of the movie the actor is in. An actor can only give a good performance if the story and script allow it. Good actors, good directors, good cinematographers, good editors, etc. know that their job is to serve the story, because Story is King.

    • Hamilton says:

      I people do go to the movies to see Jennifer Lawrence. lol her face is all over the hunger games. really just her face alone for the most part. if they just switched her for someone else I am sure it performance at the box office would suffer. But i agree on everything you said also.

      • MightyMad says:

        @Hamilton: people go see J-Law in the “Hunger Games”… NOW. ‘Cause, essentially, she’s Katniss, and have been so since the beginning of the series. So yeah – chaing actors midway through a trilogy – not really smart. Now, if Lawrence managed to pull off a success out of “Joy”, then, yeah, people who have gone see it mainly because of her, especially since there’s a lot of moviegoers who still resent what Russell and her gave them with “American Hustle” – I personally liked it, but I know TONS of people who didn’t!

  5. Sheyla says:

    Weinstein co. should care more about Macbeth film now to get it to awards season. It looks much better that its all films this year.
    Also this race looking so boring, which films coming? Joy by David O. Russell? it’s not a great movie and is boring. Hateful Eight very Django of 2015 with controversial issue about some words in it.
    Happy we have better films like Room with amazing Brie Larson to win Best Actress, or Saoirse Ronan with Brooklyn in contention also, 45 Years with Charlotte Rampling fighting for the win too, The Revenant with Di Caprio with chance to win finally, and Spotlight, interesting and crowd pleaser.

    • mightymad says:

      Wow… so many opinions on movies that haven’t been released yet. You went crazy on those free screeners the studios keep sending you, didn’t you Sheyla?

  6. Eric says:

    Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a really good movie (for those of us who like gore, foul language, action, comedy and entertainment). But they really missed the mark on the marketing and should have opened it before Halloween weekend, like two weeks before, to build into the Halloween fun. Unfortunately they gave that spot to the horrible Paranormal Activity franchise. I have no faith in people’s taste in movie’s anymore. This guy that thinks The Peanuts Movie is going to be a hit is out of his mind, slightly below a mediocre opening if they’re lucky. James Bond is going put Charlie Brown outta commission.

    • mightymad says:

      An R-rated movie cannot do anything to hurt a PG one at the box-office – they simply do not play in the same sandbox. And you’re also severely underestimating the power Snoopy still have on kids… So, yeah, it may not opened as big as “Spectre”, but “Peanuts” still going to get their fare share of money – believe that.

  7. Jesse says:

    What the hell? Another awful weekend at the box office? I was already expecting Steve Jobs (one of the most overrated films of the year) to drop a lot and become even worse than Kutcher’s but Bullock and Cooper? I know their films had weak reviews but less than 10M? Combined? Please come Spectre, please! Happy for Bridge Of Spies though, I hope Tom Hanks gets his spot on the final five for best actor.

  8. Brad Lee says:

    I don’t know what everyone is speculating about, the answer is so obvious you should have a broken nose from when it slammed you in the face…..

    People are saving up their money and their cinematic experience for “The Hunger Games” finale, “Star Wars” & “Bond.” And if that has yet to dawn on you, then you are a Morlock!!!!

  9. David Duncan says:

    the issue here should be how the progressives have derided this sort of crap –here it is embraced as with the lie of the rather movie—-shows the hypocrisy of the left—–and the agenda of glamorizing what the progresives do while slamming what conservatives do–and not sandra get off the race baiting thru your kid that has yet to have the mental capacity to understand what racism is —stop being a parent like those using the kid as a political prop!

    • Alex says:

      “Truth” is a flop, they can make all the left-wing propaganda they like but they can’t make people go see it. Most people who remember what Rather and Mapes did and are not going to blow hard earned money to see that garbage, while teenagers and college kids have no interest in it. Redford is just trying to relive his “All the President Men” days.

  10. Grace says:

    Room numbers are bad. With all the commercials and articles has the same numbers as Whiplash (that hadn’t the same advertisement.

  11. Daniel says:

    Jeez, this is one of the most embarrassing box office weekends I’ve ever witnessed.

  12. Alex says:

    “Truth” is a flop…good.

  13. Bobby says:

    These movies are carried by older movie stars, Ones who career were once supported by people like me. People who have gone on and started careers and families. My wife and I will go see about 6 movies a year now because it cost so much to get a baby sitter. If Hollywood would embrace the new model of VOD. People would love to sit down and watch these lower budget movies. I love the spectacle of the summer blockbuster as much as the next guy. But do to other commitments I just don’t have the time or resources to go and support a good movie. The Millennials don’t have any problem watching movies on a phone screen. Netflix and Hulu is changing the industry and the Movie Studios are slow to change. How long will they let a market go untapped?

  14. Carl says:

    Everything last weekend bombed too. Nothing but garbage for these past two weeks. Peanuts and Spectre can’t come soon enough.

    • jim says:

      To the guy who believes that these movies “are all carried by older movie stars” is the reason they failed… well, the number one, two, three, and four movies that are doing quite well are all carried by “older movie stars.”

      The reason these releases did poorly is because they are mediocre movies about boring topics.

      Daniel Craig is just about 50 and next week he is going to have the biggest opening of his life.

      So, if you want people to show up to movies, try and make them interesting.

  15. Films are just awful nowadays. Right now television is where its at. Television content surpasses films

  16. Iván el Terrible says:

    Has there ever been a time where all new releases flopped at the box office? LOL

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