ROT­TEN POTA­TOES

Tara Brady on the idio­syn­cra­sies of the Ir­ish box of­fice

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - OPINION -

Can you hear it? It’s the sound of big guns fir­ing all over the moviev­erse. Boom! Sky­fall rakes in $796,574,734 world­wide and, with a ¤5,528,884 take from ROI, looks cer­tain to be Ire­land’s favourite film of 2012.

Boom! The Twi­light Saga: Break­ing Dawn – Part 2 hits $598,140,798 in just two week­ends, and the film’s ¤2,025,540 Ir­ish haul seems set for a top six fin­ish.

It’s a tough time for the lit­tle fish. But then, it’s al­ways a tough time for the lit­tle fish. With Twi­light and Bond stand­ing strong and The Hob­bit loom­ing, even the canny We­in­steins have had dif­fi­culty with its Os­car-bait stealth re­lease strat­egy. Sil­ver Lin­ings Playbook, the book­ies’ choice, strug­gled to­ward $6 mil­lion from 367 US sites last week­end. The same film placed fifth here with a solid if un­ex­cit­ing ¤83,665 from 41 prints.

This Christ­mas, won’t you spare a thought for small fry Ir­ish re­leases Death of a Su­per­hero (see re­view, page 13) and Doll­house (open­ing next week)? As su­per­sat­u­ra­tion re­leases peak, how on earth as th­ese ti­tles go­ing to hang on in cinemas?

Get used to it. Dis­ney’s re­cent $4 bil­lion pur­chase of Lu­cas­Film – a fire sale bargain by any es­ti­ma­tion – has in­spired a good deal of chat­ter about con­tentand prop­erty-driven cin­ema. Huh? Isn’t that like say­ing “fran­chise“? Yes, but with bells on. Who, in the coming decades, can com­pete with Dis­ney? The House of Mouse’s holy trin­ity of re­cent ac­qui­si­tions (Lu­cas­Film, Pixar and Marvel En­ter­tain­ment) is a gate­way to the prof­itable re­boot di­men­sion, a place where such fanboy night­mares as In­di­ana Jones Ba­bies and Matthew Vaughn’s Star Wars come to pass.

Let the su­per­hero wars com­mence. Warner Bros, which once looked im­mor­tal with Dark Knight and Harry Pot­ter on the books, are fight­ing back. This week’s chat­ter has Joseph Gor­don Le­vitt play­ing Bat­man in 2015; a cameo at the end of next sum­mer’s Man of Steel will be manda­tory. Can Won­der Woman match the col­lec­tive might of Hulk and Darth Vader? Our truth lasso says “doubt­ful”, but it’ll still make a for­tune on 4,000+ prints in the US.

Back at home, the dire Na­tiv­ity 2 stands as a the grim re­minder that even the most di­a­bol­i­cal fare can find an au­di­ence pro­vided the back­ers pony up for a blitzkrieg TV cam­paign and there’s some­thing Christ­massy in the ti­tle. It cer­tainly didn’t help that none of the stu­dios had the fore­sight to re­lease a fam­ily film since Hal­loween. (Ho­tel Tran­syl­va­nia and Mada­gas­car 3 are still sit­ting pretty in the Ir­ish top 10 with rolling seven-fig­ure takes.)

Hap­pily, with only a frac­tion of the same mar­ket­ing bud­get, End of Watch scored a sen­sa­tional ¤64,320 from 20 ROI prints, with screen av­er­ages com­pa­ra­ble to Bond.

Huz­zah. The sys­tem works. Just about. For the moment.

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