Archive for December, 2013

2013 The Year in Movie Box Office

December 29, 2013

2013 The Year in Movie Box Office

While I would be surprised if this year stands out in the history of movies the way that last year did, it was certainly interesting!

In this post, we’re going to do some analysis of the box office.

We have to first point out that the list isn’t final, and that there are some newcomers which will move up considerably (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is still burning up the box office, and for a movie with a snowman main character, Frozen surprisingly has legs). 😉 We think that American Hustle could eventually top $100 million dogro (domestic gross), and Walter Mitty and Anchorman 2 are just getting started.

We’ll continue to update our 2013 box office page

2013 Movie Box Office: 40, 80, 1, 2 , 3

at least until no 2013 release appears on the IMDb top ten box office list for a week. If that happens before the Oscars (which are scheduled for March 2), we’ll probably keep going until then…the Oscar bump can have an impact.

That said, let’s look at where we are as of now. We are only doing this on dogro, although we’ll have something to say about international later. We also cut it off at the bottom at $40 million:

1 Iron Man 3 $409,013,994.00
2 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire $384,324,000.00
3 Despicable Me 2 $367,607,660.00
4 Man of Steel $291,045,518.00
5 Monsters University $268,492,764.00
6 Gravity $254,067,000.00
7 Fast & Furious 6 $238,679,850.00
8 Oz The Great and Powerful $234,911,825.00
9 Frozen (2013) $229,775,000.00
10 Star Trek Into Darkness $228,778,661.00
11 World War Z $202,359,711.00
12 Thor: The Dark World $201,727,537.00
13 The Croods $187,168,425.00
14 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug $170,564,000.00
15 The Heat $159,582,188.00
16 We’re the Millers $150,394,119.00
17 The Great Gatsby (2013) $144,840,419.00
18 The Conjuring $137,400,141.00
19 Identity Thief $134,506,920.00
20 Grown Ups 2 $133,668,525.00
21 The Wolverine $132,556,852.00
22 G.I. Joe: Retaliation $122,523,060.00
23 Now You See Me $117,723,989.00
24 Lee Daniels’ The Butler $116,146,955.00
25 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 $115,740,196.00
26 The Hangover Part III $112,200,072.00
27 Epic $107,518,682.00
28 Captain Phillips $104,287,640.00
29 Pacific Rim $101,802,906.00
30 This is the End $101,470,202.00
31 Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa $100,837,000.00
32 Olympus Has Fallen $98,925,640.00
33 $42.00 $95,020,213.00
34 Elysium $93,050,117.00
35 Planes $90,288,712.00
36 The Lone Ranger $89,302,115.00
37 Oblivion $89,107,235.00
38 Insidious Chapter 2 $83,586,447.00
39 Turbo $83,028,128.00
40 2 Guns $75,612,460.00
41 White House Down $73,103,784.00
42 Mama $71,628,180.00
43 Safe Haven $71,349,120.00
44 Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues $71,198,000.00
45 The Smurfs 2 $71,017,784.00
46 The Best Man Holiday $70,033,270.00
47 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters $68,443,727.00
48 A Good Day to Die Hard $67,349,198.00
49 Warm Bodies $66,380,662.00
50 Jack the Giant Slayer $65,187,603.00
51 The Purge $64,473,115.00
52 Last Vegas $62,439,761.00
53 Prisoners $61,002,302.00
54 Ender’s Game $60,900,026.00
55 After Earth $60,522,097.00
56 Escape From Planet Earth $57,012,977.00
57 Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters $55,703,475.00
58 Evil Dead (2013) $54,239,856.00
59 Free Birds $54,089,000.00
60 Red 2 $53,262,560.00
61 Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor $51,975,354.00
62 The Call $51,872,378.00
63 Pain and Gain $49,875,291.00
64 American Hustle $46,885,000.00
65 Gangster Squad $46,000,903.00
66 Jurassic Park 3D $45,385,935.00
67 The Internship $44,672,764.00
68 Instructions Not Included $44,467,206.00
69 Snitch $42,930,462.00
70 Riddick $42,025,135.00
71 A Haunted House $40,041,683.00

Some movies which may still make $40 million dogro:

  • Tyler Perry’s a Madea Christmas
  • 12 Years a Slave (especially with an Oscar bump, but even without)
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • 47 Ronin
  • There are some that could do it with an Oscar bump, for example, Philomena and Fruitvale Station

Counting Gravity as a geek-friendly movie (even though Gravity is not science fiction), the top 14 all qualify.

That’s just based on gross, though. Geek movies often cost more to produce, which reduces the profit. When we look at

The Measured Circle’s Most Profitable Movies of 2013

the top ten looks considerably different.

  1. Despicable Me 2: profit of $292m to date
  2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: $209m
  3. Iron Man 3: $209m
  4. Gravity: $154m
  5. Monsters University: $153m
  6. The Conjuring: $124m
  7. The Heat: $117m
  8. We’re the Millers: $113m
  9. Identity Thief: $99m
  10. Lee Daniels’ The Butler: $86m

As you can see, three comedies and a mainstream drama make the cut with those numbers (dogro versus reported production budget).

Like last year, the biggest losers were all geek friendly:

  1. Jack the Giant Slayer: -$129.8m to date
  2. The Lone Ranger: -$125.7m
  3. Pacific Rim: -$88.0m

We don’t know yet where 47 Ronin might end up, with an estimated budget of $175m…it is possible it will lose as much as Pacific Rim, but it is too soon to tell.

This year, we started a new feature. We label movies based on their dogro versus their reported production budgets:

A traditional measure of success if the dogro being twice the production budget. Using that as a starting point…

Dogro 2X production budget = “Money”
Dogro 3X production budget = “Golden”

Dogro less than 50% of production budget = “Underperformer”

Here are those groupings:

Golden (16 titles out of 69 tracked by us so far)

  1. Septuple Golden: The Purge: 2147%
  2. Quintuple Golden: Insidious: Chapter 2: 1,672%
  3. Quintuple Golden: A Haunted House: 1,600%
  4. Triple Golden: The Conjuring: 1053%
  5. Double Golden: Instructions Not Include: 890%
  6. Double Golden: Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa: 673%
  7. Despicable Me 2: 484%
  8. Mama: 477%
  9. The Best Man Holiday: 411%
  10. We’re the Millers: 405%
  11. The Call: 392%
  12. Lee Daniels’ The Butler: 387%
  13. Evil Dead: 387%
  14. Identity Thief: 383%
  15. The Heat: 372%
  16. This Is the End: 316%

Money (7 titles out of 69)

  1. Snitch: 286%
  2. Safe Haven: 255%
  3. Gravity: 254%
  4. 42: 238%
  5. Monsters University: 233%
  6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: 226%
  7. Iron Man 3: 205%

Underperfomer (4 titles out of 69)

  1. White House Down: 49%
  2. After Earth: 47%
  3. The Lone Ranger: 42%
  4. Jack the Giant Slayer: 34%

No question, horror (especially when we include the horror spoof A Haunted House) had the best return for the studios’ investment dollars. The Purge knocks it out of the park, and every movie that was more than Double Golden was a horror movie (again, counting A Haunted House).

Mainstream comedies also do very well, though, including Jackass, We’re the Millers, Identity Thief, and The Heat…proving that while it isn’t necessary to have Melissa McCarthy top-billed, it’s a good idea. 😉

Non-horror, non-animated geek movies don’t even make the Golden cut.  On the other hand, three out of four of the underperformers were geek-friendly (and we could debate the fourth).

Does that high risk mean studios should stop making megabudgeted geek tentpoles?

Nope. 🙂

There are a few reasons for that:

  • Even though Iron Man 3 wasn’t golden, it still dogroed hundreds of millions more for the studio than the production cost. That’s a lot of money! Profit matters, but having cash on hand counts, too
  • Lots of money on geek-friendly movies is made outside of the tickets for the initial theatre run. There are the merchandising bucks…how many licensed Halloween costumes from comedies are sold? Not that many, certainly compared to superhero movies
  • We have just been looking at domestic numbers so far…here’s where that international part comes into play. Comedies just don’t do as well internationally…humor is much harder to translate than explosions and special effects. 😉 Iron Man 3 made 66.3% of its box office outside the USA; The Heat made 30.6%. You’ll find similar numbers on other successful geek-friendly movies and mainstream comedies. As international box office becomes increasingly important, geek-friendly movies become more valuable

One other quick list: some geek-friendly movies which did not make the $40m dogro cut (and aren’t likely to do so):

  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: dogro $31m, reported budget $60m. Even though we wouldn’t quite label it an underperformer, this is one of the ones that may scare studios away from young adult literature as source material. Not completely, of course, but it does make them a bit more cautious
  • Kick-*ss 2: dogro $29m, reported budget $28m. It did barely make a profit…did we witness the power of Jim Carrey’s not supporting the movie? If so, is that better or worse for Carrey: would you be more reluctant to cast Carrey knowing that, if the actor later decides the movie has a moral issue, you could lose promotional support?
  • The World’s End: dogro $26m, reported budget $40m. Don’t worry too much about this one: it will be profitable when everything is taken into account, and even if it wasn’t, we still love Pegg and Frost
  • Carrie: dogro $35m, reported budget $30m. It made a profit, but I think most people would have predicted more out of it
  • Machete Kills: dogro $7m, reported budget $12m. It’s not about the money with this one…
  • Beautiful Creatures: dogro $19m, reported budget $60m. A major underperformer…see Mortal Instruments above
  • About Time: dogro $15m, reported budget unknown. Our guess is this one was still a success, but we don’t know for sure
  • R.I.P.D.: dogro $34m, reported budget $130m if this one could have clawed its way to $40m, it would have been one of our underperformers. This was not a good year for Ryan Reynolds, although The Croods did well. This movie and Turbo, though? Not so much…we still love you, Ryan! Although, you know, maybe not like we love Pegg and Frost 😉
  • Jobs: dogro $16m, reported budget $12m. This one did okay
  • The Host: dogro $27m, reported budget $40m. We thought this one would do better: see Beautiful Creatures above
  • Scary Movie 5: dogro $32m, reported budget $20m. That’s good enough: expect a 6 at some point
  • Dark Skies: dogro $17m, reported budget $3.5m. Again, good enough

We’ll keep tracking 2013…and then on to 2014!

See you in the movies!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Peter O’Toole reported dead

December 15, 2013

Peter O’Toole reported dead

Steely blue eyes.

That’s not just a color. There was an  impenetrability  to Peter O’Toole’s eyes. In a close-up in his most famous role, Lawrence of Arabia, you do feel what he feels…but there was always a sense for me that he never let you into his inner being.

That is, arguably, an odd quality for an actor.

I think it may help to explain why, although he was nominated for eight acting Oscars in four different decades, the only Oscar he received was an honorary one.

His characters tended to be very sure of themselves: Sherlock Holmes; Svengali; Eli Cross (in The Stunt Man).

He was not opposed to fun roles…although his was the kind of sense of mischief that you felt might turn deadly. From What’s New Pussycat to the James Bond spoof, Casino Royale to The Ruling Class to his brilliant performance in My Favorite Year, he showed that we needn’t always take him seriously (although in his presence, I think we all would have).

His significant geek-friendly roles tended to come later in his more than half-century film career:

  • The King in Stardust (based on a Neil Gaiman work)
  • Anton Ego, the food critic in Ratatouille 
  • The Manor
  • Phantoms (based on the Dean R. Koontz novel)
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in FairyTale: A True Story (based on the Cottingley Fairy affair), opposite Harvey Keitel as Harry Houdini
  • The Emperor of Lilliput in the TV production of Gulliver’s Travels (with Ted Danson as Gulliver)
  • Pantaloon in The Nutcracker Prince (an animated version, with Kiefer Sutherland as the Prince)
  • High Spirits (written by The Crying Game’s Neil Jordan)
  • The Ray Bradbury Theatre (in an episode about a banshee)
  • Creator (overtly science fiction, with O’Toole’s character a scientist trying to clone his dead wife)
  • Supergirl
  • Four animated movies as Sherlock Holmes
  • Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha

Good-bye, Peter O’Toole…the world is less aristocratic without you.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

James, Danny, Ben, and Waldo: the many lives of Walter Mitty

December 12, 2013

James, Danny, Ben, and Waldo: the many lives of Walter Mitty

SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to discuss a bit about different incarnations of Walter Mitty in this post. If you have not read or seen the works and want to have the joy of pure discovery, I would do that before reading this. I won’t get into a lot of detail

Geeks understand imagination.

We get the joy of picturing ourselves in different circumstances. Some of us go to considerable lengths to recreate the fantasy, notably with cosplay (“costume play”), and LARPing (“Live Action Role Playing”).

However, what we do is quite different from how Walter Mitty was portrayed in the original short story by James Thurber in a 1939 issue of The New Yorker.

One of the key things is that it was “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (emphasis added). Walter Mitty doesn’t share his imagination with others…they don’t know  what he is thinking.

In today’s society, it might be quite different. Walter Mitty might be part of one (or several) online communities (even anonymously), playing out those situations with others.

Is Walter Mitty a geek?

Certainly, he is intelligent, well-informed, socially inept, and with a vision beyond those of the “mundane” folks in his life…I think that would fit a lot of people’s definition. 😉

He has a geek’s knowledge of detail…and he has fun in his mind, even if his real life is…less than thrilling.

The 1947 movie with Danny Kaye considerably changed the message of the character. Now, Mitty becomes involved in a real-life adventure. What he imagined in the past is valuable to him, but it is clearly suggested that being in the real world is a better idea…coming out of your shell.

That’s a very different feel. Walter Mitty in the short story might like to come out of his shell (maybe), but there is no suggestion that will happen, or even endorsement of the idea. In the short story, these ideas are a defense to a humdrum existence…not something that will give him real world power.

To be clear, I’m a big Danny Kaye fan, and like the 1947 movie very much…but it isn’t the same as the story at its heart.

There were radio adaptations (including one with Danny Kaye), and stage productions (it was part of A Thurber Carnival), but geeks may fondly (?) remember the 1975 live action/cartoon combo, The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty.

I enjoyed this odd 1975 Filmation production. There were live action pet cats and dogs, and one of them, Waldo Kitty, would have pop culture parody daydreams, which were done in animation. Waldo might become “Catzan” (Tarzan), or Captain Herc of the starship Second-Prize (a Star Trek parody), or several others. Like the 1947 movie, these fantasies actually helped Waldo deal with real world challenges.

Reportedly, it was challenged by the Thurber estate, and became a one-season wonder.

Now (releasing on December 25 2013 in the USA), Ben Stiller is doing a new version (starring and directing). While I haven’t seen it yet, it appears to be taking more of the approach of the 1947 movie than the story.

Certainly, it’s reasonable that you would have more character development in a movie than in a short story. I’ll be interested to see how this is…I’ve been hearing some good things about it.

One other thing: there was a TV series called My World and Welcome to It, based on Thurber’s writings, and starring geek-friendly William Windom. It wasn’t specifically Walter Mitty, though, although a fantasy life was certainly a part of this show (which many remember fondly).

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :)  You can also support a non-profit you or another geek (if you are gifting something) would appreciate…one of the ones listed here, perhaps: Weird & geeky groups you can support by shopping at AmazonSmile.

Websites for Geeky Gifts

December 2, 2013

Websites for Geeky Gifts

Okay, sure…it’s getting easier to find geeky gifts in regular stores. After all, most of the most popular movies and most talked-about TV shows are geek friendly nowadays.

Still, a lot of geeks pride themselves on being out of the mainstream. You really want to find something for them that you didn’t just walk past on the 40% off table at JC Penney. 😉

This guide is to suggest some places you can look for those out of the ordinary gifts with geek cred.

Surprisingly, one of the first places you might want to try (for convenience’s sake, if nothing else), is

Books, videos, apps, music (nerdcore as a category!), shirts, watches, mugs, comics, giant wall stickers…all curated for geekiness! They even have signed collectibles and rarities. Sure, a

will set you back about $10,000 (not including $200 shipping), but would anybody ever top that gift? They have a lot less expensive things, too.

Amazon also has items from some of the other sites we are going to list: they know that it makes sense to sell them through Amazon.

One other big thing about shopping at Amazon: wish lists. As geeks, we know: our choices can often be inscrutable to non-geeks…sometimes, even to other geeks. 😉 To the average person, it might seem like the same person who likes Dracula should like Twilight: they both have vampires in them, right? 😉 Let’s just say that to some geeks, versions are important. They might love a TV show and hate the movie version…or vice versa.

Users maintain Amazon Wish Lists themselves. They put the right versions on there, the ones they really want. They can send you a link, or you can search for Wish Lists (if they are public) here:

Amazon Wish Lists

Getting beyond Amazon, there are a lot of choices. While the ones we list should be safe to use, they certainly may not have the same shipping and return policies as Amazon or other big e-tailers. Do take a look at those: if the site is on another continent, you may not get it as quickly as you like. Also, there may be Cyber Monday sales (especially free shipping), but they might have limitations.


If there is one site to rule them all for geek gifts, it’s

Not only is their geek cred solidly in place, they have hundreds of exclusives…and a clearance section. The one negative here is that an informed geek is likely to be visiting the site, so it’s a bit tougher to really surprise them (but, you know, it’s always hard to surprise a geek…unless it has to do with human behavior). 😉

Many ThinkGeek items are available at Amazon.

Last Exit to Nowhere

We love a stealth geek t-shirt!

That’s a shirt with a geek tie-in which isn’t obvious to a mainstreamer. LEtN has some of the absolute best. They tend to take brands and organizations from geek movies and create realistic looking t-shirts from them. You can search by movie, so if you know somebody’s favorite movie is Big Trouble in Little China, but have no idea what its about, you can still get an insider joke t-shirt for them.

Sideshow Collectibles

They may have “toy” in their domain name, but make no mistake: these are super high quality works of art. There are some things under $100, but you can pay a lot more than that. They have exclusives, and some sale items. They also have payment plans, and a points system. Unless the geek on your list is that Bill Gates/Tony Stark sort of billionaire geek, it won’t matter if they’ve heard of this place or not…they probably haven’t bought what they really wanted.

Wicked Cool Stuff

From a Han Solo bobblehead to a Captain Jack Sparrow paperweight, Wicked Cool Stuff has lots of very affordable geek gifts.

Forbidden Planet

Not surprisingly, this British site has some of the best Doctor Who merchandise.

Super Hero Stuff

An incredible collection of superhero themed clothing may be the main reason to come here (Captain America socks…with wings!), but there are a lot of other good choices, from a Green Lantern dog collar to a Big Bang Theory ice cube tray.

Entertainment Earth

A really huge collection of items, often at affordable prices. This is the superstore. Check out their “Just 1 Left” section. They also do bestsellers in lots of categories, making it a bit easier for you. If you already understand your geek’s passions, this place will have what you want. You can also call them for help.

Dude!!! I Want That

How do I put this? Um…Skymall…if you were flying in Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. 😉 These are things where you are going to say, “They make that?” Let me just say these three words (okay, one of them is hyphenated): “Gas-powered LED Wings”! Wait, I can’t stop there…”Handmade Guinea Pig Armor”…for $24,300!

Snorg Tees

These are clever and cartoony…people may have to look twice. I mean, if you chuckle at a t-shirt that says, “May the mass times acceleration be with you”, you can find great gifts here.

Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company

Shop like a superhero! Seriously, check this one out…where else can you buy omnipotence by the gallon?

Well, there are 10 (unless you are using binary…then there are 1010) sites for you (plus Amazon)! Go ahead…make a geek’s holiday!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :)  You can also tell your geek that part of the gift went to support a non-profit they’d appreciate…one of the ones listed here, perhaps: Weird & geeky groups you can support by shopping at AmazonSmile 

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