ComicMix flicks hits!
With 300’s $70 million opening weekend, everyone’s eyes lit up. No one expected this number, with the best estimates at least $20 million lower. Now everyone is scrambling to read the tea leaves and try to understand what just happened.
A few thoughts from our corner of the universe. First, this will make 2007 the best year ever for comic book movies. There are six feature films scheduled for release this calendar year and I will guarantee you that combined, they will add up to huge box office receipts.
As a result, this will fuel future comic book-into-movie activity. It also makes Frank Miller a suddenly bankable name. Forget his work on Robocop 2 and look at Sin City and now 300. Once he begins directing The Spirit later this year, expect that to get onto a release schedule ASAP.
Projecting ahead, there are five more comic book movies have firm release dates for 2008 with at least two others penciled in (see schedule, below).
I’ve said all along that the comic book adaptations will continue until there are enough flops to sour Hollywood on the genre. This year opened with Ghost Rider opening to surprisingly huge numbers and then had legs. With 300, the reverse seems to be happening. I suspect production heads will fast track properties in the various studio pipelines and we’ll see one or two more movies added to 2008 and 2009 could possibly get jam-packed even though all that’s for certain that far out is the next Bryan Singer Superman release and Captain America.
Here’s the thing: with comic book movies fighting for space alongside other related genre films, the calendar can get awfully crowded. Studios stake out prime weekends years in advance and then they lay chicken to see who will blink and move away from a potential blockbuster. People are already questioning the wisdom of a mere six weeks separating Iron Man from the Incredible Hulk in 2008 without even considering Indiana Jones 4 opening in between them.
The super-hero movies will remain summer only fare so it’ll fall to the Sin City’s and Stardust’s to find homes in other seasons. In both cases, their pedigrees are less important and usually get downplayed. But at some point, the collective mind of Hollywood will begin to wonder, how many is the right number, and at what point are the screens saturated with so much four-color fare that mass audiences balk? After all, with Ghost Rider’s success, a heretofore-unimaginable sequel is up on the drawing board and that will fight for calendar space alongside the likely Iron Man sequel (given the behind the camera crew and cast, a sequel would seem a given).
So, we’re riding a pretty amazing wave and one that has raised the bar considerably for the quality standards studios and audiences will expect from comic book-derived movies. For fans, that means whenever we get Wonder Woman or Nick Fury, they’re going to look amazing.
For your reference, here are the officially scheduled comic book movies for 2007 through 2009, as of this writing:
Ghost Rider, February 15, $104 million domestic to date
300, March 9, $70 million domestic to date
TMNT, March 23
Spider-Man 3, May 4
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, June 15
Stardust, August 10
Wanted, March 28
Iron Man, May 2
Incredible Hulk, June 13
Dark Knight (Batman vs. Joker), July 18
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, August 1
Sin City 2, no date
Watchmen, no date
Superman Returns 2, June 2009 (may be delayed until 2010)
Captain America, July 2009