Jo Bros’ B.O. Not So Boffo

Mar 2nd, 2009 // 18 Comments

The Jonas Brothers‘ concert movie opened on Friday, and after strong first-day grosses that had The New York Times penning trend stories about how everyone was going to the movies in this time of woe, the flick faltered, pulling in $12.7 million for the weekend and coming in second to the latest piece of Tyler Perry claptrap. So what happened? Hollywood observer Nikki Finke has a few ideas:

“Concert pics usually look better on paper than they actually are because the fans drive tracking but it doesn’t go beyond fans,” one marketing guru told me. Of course, you have to remember that it’s playing in just 1,271 3-D theaters, and even so it was the 2nd highest grossing concert pic of all time with a big per screen average of $9,992. “Many had unrealistic expectations for this pic. But they forget the coup that Disney pulled off on Hannah Montana 3-D,” a rival studio exec told me. That’s because the latter was a “one week lock” engagement. (They held it over, of course). But Disney really created a sense of urgency among moviegoers to see that 3-D event which shocked Hollywood with a $32.1M opening. This time around, Disney’s marketing gimmick was to send out the Jonas Brothers on surprise personal appearances.

And appear they did, traveling around to some eight theaters and inspiring many screams. But will the film hold up over the coming weeks, as the promise of being able to fling popcorn at Nick, Kevin, and Joe fades into the background? Should Disney have played the “one week only, see it now or forever hold your screams” card in the run-up to its opening? Or is it simply unrealistic to compare the Jonas’ potential to that of the Hannah movie, which at the very least had a non-faltering economy working in its favor?

‘Jonas Brothers 3-D’ Goes From Phenom To Just Concert Pic; ‘Madea’ #1 Again [Deadline Hollywood Daily]
In Downturn, Americans Flock To The Movies [NYT]

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  1. LostTurntable

    The problem with marketing to pre-teens:

    Kid: “Dad, lets go see the Jonas Brothers Movie!”
    Dad: “No.”
    Kid: “but-”
    Dad: “No, go to your room.”

    If you BO relies solely on people who can’t drive, you might have a problem.

  2. dyfl

    “which at the very least had a non-faltering economy working in its favor?”

    Actually, there was a piece in the NYT this weekend about how box-office grosses are skyrocketing this year, so they don’t even have that excuse.

  3. Chris Molanphy

    @LostTurntable: I think you really haven’t been paying attention to indulgent parenting trends over the past decade or two if you think the conversation went like that. See Hannah gross, above.

    In answer to the question of “Why $30m for Hannah and not the Jonases?” the simple answer is, as you imply above, the one-week engagement for the former. Disney can’t pull that stunt twice. As a great president once said, “Fool me…you cain’t git fooled agin!”

  4. Maura Johnston

    @dyfl: right but part of that piece’s thesis was the projected grosses for the jonas brothers movie (i linked it in the opening of the post):

    As she stood in line at the 18-screen Bridge theater complex here on Thursday to buy weekend tickets for “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience,” Angel Hernandez was not thinking much about escaping reality. Instead, Ms. Hernandez, a Los Angeles parking lot attendant and mother of four young girls, was focused on one very specific reality: her wallet.

    Even with the movie carrying a premium price of $15 because of its 3-D effects – children’s tickets typically run $9 at the Bridge – Ms. Hernandez saw the experience as a bargain.

    “Spending hundreds of dollars to take them to Disneyland is ridiculous right now,” she said. “For $60 and some candy money I can still be a good mom and give them a little fun.”

    A lot of parents may have been thinking the same thing Friday, as “Jonas Brothers” sold out more than 800 theaters, according to MovieTickets.com, and was expected to sell a powerful $25 million or more in tickets.

  5. Butch Huskey

    the Jonas Brothers aren’t as ‘likeable’ as Hannah Montana WAS then ; plus girls identified more with her than they “fancy” the Jonas’

    and the opening gross isnt that far off what Disney could have done with any half-way hypeable film, my guess is the Disney hype machine is good for $10 mil opening week, the rest is luck/timing/star-power

    College Road Trip (a Martin Lawrence/Donny Osmond film) did more ($14 mil) and even a no-stars, vague concept like Underdog did 11.1 mil first week … Beverly Hill Chihuahua did more ($17 mil) in it’s 2ND WEEK in comparison

  6. Anonymous

    I am particularly offended by the idea that one movie can charge more than another. That is a slippery slope.

  7. Chris Molanphy

    @whoneedslight: You understand it’s a 3D/IMAX thing, right? It’s not like, on regular screens, the studios are charging more for The Dark Knight than they are for Frost/Nixon. All 3D movies have been at a higher ticket price, of $5 or more above the norm, pretty much forever. Not that I like it, mind you, but…

  8. NeverEnough

    I went on opening night (I know, I know…) and was one of 12 people in the whole theater. That said, I still felt like a total child predator despite tagging along with a friend and her kid. (Sidenote: for those so inclined, it’s worth the $15 for the shirtless Joe Jonas scene. Yowsa)

  9. Anonymous

    @Chris Molanphy:

    I get it, but I don’t remember them charging more for My Bloody Valentine.

  10. Anonymous

    I truly am, against my better judgment, the defender of all things Jonas (see my latest credibility-destroying blog at [www.huffingtonpost.com]). And so I have to add the addendum here that the movie was on just 1,271 screens, and that a per-screen average of $9,992 is pretty freaking good for a concert movie… or any movie. So comparing it to a wider opener like “College Road Trip” is a little silly. But comparing it to the “Hannah” movie IS reasonable. And, sure, the hysteria to see this thing is just not on that level, even if you take away the “one week only!” subterfuge of the Miley marketing campaign. But that was to be expected; there were no bereft parents paying $1500 a ticket to scalpers on the last Jonas tour like they were with Miley, so why think that moment in time was going to repeat? At the same time, it’s ridiculous to think these numbers are anything to be ashamed of. Is there any other music act alive right now that could gross close to $12 million opening weekend with a concert movie? I’d love to hear who it’d be.

  11. ObtuseIntolerant

    That’s a shame…but I do think there is a lesson to be learned for them about striving for the Disney-version of success and all that entails…they aren’t a TV-show product like Hannah Montana was, for sure. And I definitely saw lots of parents who were annoyed that last time around the 3D movie was on DVD and airing on TV within a couple of months.

    The reviews, also, were (I think) unnecessarily brutal, almost universally. They all claimed it wouldn’t make a difference anyway and went at them, but I think it did have an impact. Yeah, the non-concert parts were pretty cynically & lazily slapped together, but the concert footage was great.

    BTW – Chris Willman wrote a very nice thing on them that no one really paid any attention to, what with their media backlash recently in full painful swing:
    [www.huffingtonpost.com]

  12. Halfwit

    @whoneedslight: They did. At least at the theaters equipped for 3D (see also, Coraline).

  13. ObtuseIntolerant

    @ChrisWillman: Ha…beaten by the author himself.

  14. LostTurntable

    @Chris Molanphy: I think more adults like Miley Cyrus than they’d like to admit, but you’d probably be hard pressed to find an adult who likes, or even tolerates, The Jonas Brothers. I remember when I was a kid my parents had no problems taking me to a Disney movie or something else they might at least be able to sit through without going insane, but they never took me to see The Wizard, the He-Man movie or anything else they had absolutely zero interest in seeing.

  15. Anonymous

    @Halfwit:

    Man. I’m out of the loop.

  16. Tauwan

    @LostTurntable:

    Exactly. While reading all of this I thought one thing: Maybe Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana is more popular and/or likable for folks than the Jo Bros. (And yes I know, the television show definitely helps) From the standpoint of your average/regular American consumer of music and all things pop culture I look at it like this: the Jonas had numerous chances to get me onboard (SNL, the Grammy’s, numerous tv show performances, etc) leading up to this movie opening, and you know what, I’m still not swayed. I’m not saying I was gonna see this flick (or the best of both worlds for that matter eventhough I do enjoy me some episodes of Hannah Montana on occasion), but to me, the Jo Bros., unlike Miley are not there yet when it comes to grabbing even a non-listener/fan/follower’s attention. (It also helps that Miley at least seems to have a personality that appears to be convincing and normal and isn’t all just pretty faces and dead eyes. Just saying).

  17. revmatty

    @LostTurntable: I dunno, I’m thinking “Hmm, drop the kids off at the movies for a few hours while I enjoy some peace and quiet? Sign me up!”

  18. Anonymous

    @ObtuseIntolerant: Bless you, masked commenter…

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