Box Office: 'Get Out' Breaks $200M
Photo Credit: BLUMHOUSE
Box Office , Film

Box Office: 'Get Out' Breaks $200M


With the release of “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” this past Friday it’s now officially that dreaded time of the year – the summer film season. It’s that time of the year, from early May to mid-Aug, when studios and distributors come out with their most anticipated big guns. Those blockbuster franchise movies, sequels, high concept comedies and (hopefully) huge audience grabbing films that they hope will attract the largest crowds and the biggest box office numbers of the year. Of course, other big franchise movies are released during other times of the year, especially in the spring and fall, but summer is still the season when studios go full bore with their biggest, most hyped films.

But it wasn’t always like this. Have you even wondered why there’s a summer film season in the first place and how it all happened?. That’s an interesting story since it all comes down to two films over 40 years ago, but also a forgotten, highly unlikely one that started the whole thing.

The summer film season is a relatively new thing. In fact, until a few decades ago, there was no such thing. Since the beginning of cinema, movies were, more or less, broadly distributed evenly during the year. It didn’t really matter. Since a lot more films were released back then than today, most studios were just interested in finding a slot for their films than strategizing on when would be the best time to open their films.

In fact, summer was, for many years, considered the worst time to open a film and some studios would even dump what they thought would be their biggest losers during the summer months. The feeling was that audiences were just too busy doing other things during the summer such as going on vacation, going to picnics, having fun at baseball games, going to the beach or just lying around in the back yard to be bothered going to see a movie.

But that changed with a now barely remembered Charles Bronson film called “Breakout” which was released in May of 1975. Nothing really special about the film at all. Just your typical routine Bronson action film in which he plays a pilot who gets hired to help a bunch of guys escape from a Mexican prison, made during the time when he was arguably the biggest movie star in the world. However, what makes it special was that it was the first film to have wide saturation booking or, in other words, a huge multi-theater release across the country on the same day.

Before then, films were always released first in a few major cities such as NY, LA and Chicago, and then over the following weeks and months they slowly opened up in more theaters across the country. It would sometimes take a film up to six months to travel nationwide. But with “Breakout”, Columbia Pictures (now owned by Sony Pictures) drastically changed that rule.

In what was considered a bold and radical move, they opened “Breakout” in hundreds of theaters across the country on the same day. Accounts vary as to how many theaters, but it was anywhere from 600-1300 screens nationwide. Nowadays even a 1300 screen release for a studio film is considered small, but back then, in 1975, that was unheard of – totally unprecedented for any film to open that wide on that number of screens. In fact Columbia actually spent more money on the promotion and distribution of “Breakout” than it spent on the movie. And it paid off big time, raking in the dough. But it lasted for only a few weeks.

However, the success of the film convinced Universal Pictures to try that strategy at a somewhat smaller scale just a month later, when they released Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” in mid-June 1975. The film first opened on less then 500 screens, which was still considered a pretty huge release, then expanded a few weeks later to 700 screens, and then a few weeks after that to just under 1000 screens.

But, believe it not, that was also considered a risky move. Here was a highly anticipated, highly publicized film based on a book that was a worldwide, best selling phenomenon, and the studio was releasing it in the summer? What were they thinking? Did those Universal studio execs lose their minds? In fact, the film was originally scheduled to be released during the 1974 Christmas holiday season, but that didn’t happen because it faced so many technical difficulties during production, twice going over its original budget, and shooting schedule. As a result, “Jaws” wasn’t ready for a Christmas release and had to be pushed back.

Therefore, logically you would think that the studio would then re-schedule the release of the film the following holiday season in 1975. But it made total sense to release it earlier that summer. The film is set during a July 4th holiday weekend at a summer vacation resort, so why not open it with a massive and very effective marketing campaign, taking advantage of the season, for maximum impact?

The result was box office history. In just less then three months “Jaws” grossed $100 million domestically. No film had ever made that much money, and so fast. And it became the first film ever to hit the $100 million mark domestically (eventually it grossed $123 million total on its first release, which is almost $600 million domestically adjusted for today dollars). It was also at the time the highest grossing film ever domestically, beating out even “The Godfather”, “The Exorcist” and “Gone with the Wind” (though “Wind” still holds the record as the most successful film ever made in history, grossing, to date, $ 3.5 billion in adjusted for today’s dollars).

With the success of “Jaws” studios realized that audiences would actually leave their homes or delay a vacation to see a film during the summer if it was something they really wanted to see and it was marketed effectively. Two years later, the summer film season became a matter of fact, when “Star Wars’ was released by Fox in May 1977. That film made so much money that Fox, in effect, extorted theater owners, forcing them to book some of their more iffy movies, if they wanted to book “Star Wars”. After that, summer was never the same again.

Now let’s get into the first big official film of summer 2017 – the aforementioned “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” which is of course the No. 1 film this weekend, with $145 million, which is a huge increase over the $94 million opening that the first “Guardians” film made in 2015. However, only in Hollywood would $145 million be considered a disappointment since some were predicting the film would gross $175-185 million for the weekend. But that was too optimistic since the film is a tad too quirky and offbeat for the average comic book movie enthusiast. Although who’s complaining?

Worldwide, the film has grossed $427.7 million in less than two weeks, which means it’s definitely headed for an eventual $1 billion worldwide gross, making it the third 2017 movie – after “The Fate of the Furious” and “Beauty and the Beast” – to reach that $1B mark, and the second Disney film to do so.

And speaking of “Fate”, it came in second this week, after being in the No.1 slot three weeks in a row. It dropped a big 57%, but who acres. The films has already grossed over $207 million in the USA, and an astonishing $951 million overseas alone. And of that figure, over $373 million of that was just from China alone. I suppose F. Gary Gray could get the financing for his next three films just from China alone and I would not be surprised if he’s actively pursuing that plan.

Last week’s No. 2 film, the comedy “How to be a Latin Lover” dropped to 4th place with a total to date of just over $20.6 million. And the Bollywood film “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion” which was in third place last week, took a 68% hit this weekend, dropping to 7th place, with $16.2 million, making it still the highest grossing Bollywood film in the U.S. ever. It has grossed $160 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing Bollywood film ever. No doubt these are the kind of numbers that make Hollywood stand up and take notice, so don’t be surprised if you start seeing Bollywood actors getting major roles in Hollywood movies. If there’s a buck to be made, you can be sure that Hollywood will find a way to make money on it.

And speaking of money, “Get Out” will hit the $175 million mark in the U.S. by next weekend (with $173.8 million domestically so far). Worldwide, it’s now grossed $204 million. UK is still far and away the highest grossing country for the film with almost $13 million, but it still has yet to open in some major European markets, such as France, Germany, and Spain.

This week’s top 12 below:

1) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 BV $145,049,000

2) The Fate of the Furious Uni. $8,528,965 Total: $207,136,495

3) The Boss Baby Fox $6,175,000 Total: $156,735,525

4) How to be a Latin Lover PNT $5,250,000 Total: $20,653,320

5) Beauty and the Beast BV $4,943,000 Total: $487,594,615

6) The Circle STX $4,020,000 Total: $15,715,113

7) Baahubali 2: The Conclusion GrtIndia $3,242,532 Total: $16,175,528

8) Gifted FoxS $2,055,000 Total: $19,240,331

9) Going in Style WB (NL) $1,900,000 Total: $40,600,918 $25 5

10) Smurfs: The Lost Village Sony $1,820,000 Total: $40,570,574

11) Born in China BV $1,210,000 Total: $10,933,911

12) The Lost City of Z BST $1,047,249 Total: $6,643,443

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