“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is being called a flop because it opened with $40 million, while the previous movie made $64 million its first weekend.
The comparison of sequels with their hit predecessors is misleading. The majority of sequels do not surpass the original. This year alone, in the United States, 20 movies failed to match their prequels. “Big Mamma,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “Scream 4,” “Tyler Perry’s Madea,” “Hoodwinked Too,” “Pirates of the Carribean,” “Kung Fu Panda 2,” “Hangover 2,” ” Xmen First Class,” “Cars 2″ “Transformers 3″ “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” “Destination 5″ “Spy Kids 4″ “Footloose,” “The Thing,” “Paranormal Activity 3″ “Harold and Kumar 3D” “Twilight: Breaking Dawn” and “Happy Feet Too,” failed to match their immediate predecessor incarnations. Only “Fast Five,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows 2″ outdid their predecessors. Still, at least 8 of the 20 lower grossing sequels were smash hits and 4 more will turn a solid profit. While the odds of a sequel outdoing an earlier smash hit were only around 10% this year, the odds of making money on a sequel were better than 60% and nearly 50% at having a huge hit. Sherlock Holmes 2 and Mission Impossible 4 will probably be smash hits and “Alvin and the Chipmunks 3″ will probably break even.
The real headline should be that sequels to hit movies continue to be the best and safest investments movie producers can make.
Even the other headline that movie profits are way down because of the sequel mania is misleading.
Last year, December 17-19, “Tron Legacy” opened to $44 million and “Yogi Bear” to $16 million. The top two movies doing $40 million and $23 million is not bad at all and represents a 5% increase over last year. Tron Legacy went on to do $172 million in the United States and $400 million worldwide. Yogi Bear did $100 million in the U.S. and $201 million worldwide. Sherlock Holmes should finish around $175 million in the U.S. and the Chipmunks should finish slightly over $100 million (U.S.). While the movies won’t be smash hits like their predecessors, both should provide solid profits.
Next week, with Adventures of Tintin, Girl with the Dragon Tatoo opening, and Mission Impossible IV going wide, the top five films could hit $120 million, well ahead of the $95 million top 5 in 2010.