Does Counterprogramming Work? 11 David Vs. Goliath Box Office Stories

By Mack Rawden 2014-04-10 13:38:50discussion comments
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There are few things Hollywood movie studios do more than obsess over release dates. Amidst conflict and cooperation with other studios, they are put together years in advance like a giant jigsaw puzzle. In theory, you would think every single movie would scratch and claw to get the easiest competition possible, but sometimes, the best thing a flick can do is find the biggest, most splashy entry on the calendar and position itself as counter-programming.

This past weekend, the counterprogramming to Captain America 2 was the adorable-looking 39-minute IMAX documentary Island Of Lemurs: Madgascar. It made just under two hundred thousand dollars and was unable to crack the Top 10. For thirty-seven theaters, that was a halfway decent performance, but it certainly wasn’t enough to take any real money out of Disney’s wallet. The same cannot be said for every film counterprogrammed against superheroes, however. Some of them, surprisingly, against all odds, crushed at the box office. And some of them, of course, didn’t.

From romantic comedies to family entertainment, let’s take a look back at the films that have squared off against the biggest superhero movies over the past decade or so.

Man of Steel

VS

This Is The End

When It Happened: June 14-June 16, 2013

The Backstory : The summer is always an extremely busy time for movies, and the middle of June is well within that window. Consequently, there are very few weekends where a moderately budgeted comedy can open without any other films competing for its adult male demographic. So, Seth Rogen and company decided the best call was simply to attack the biggest bully on the block and hope all the good buzz would be enough to get those who prefer their comedy raunchy to the theater.

What Happened:

1.
Man of Steel * $113,080,000 Total: $125,080,000 LW: N     WR: 1    
THTRS: 4,207
2.
This is the End * $20,500,000 Total: $32,800,000 LW: N     WR: 1    
THTRS: 3,055
3.
Now You See Me $10,320,000 Total: $80,009,000 LW: 3     WR: 3    
THTRS: 3,082
4.
Fast & Furious 6 $9,433,000 Total: $219,574,000 LW: 2     WR: 4    
THTRS: 3,375
5.
The Purge $8,201,000 Total: $51,845,000 LW: 1     WR: 2    
THTRS: 2,591
6.
The Internship $7,000,000 Total: $30,951,000 LW: 4     WR: 2    
THTRS: 3,399
7.
Epic $6,000,000 Total: $95,429,000 LW: 5     WR: 4    
THTRS: 3,151
8.
Star Trek Into Darkness $5,660,000 Total: $210,491,000 LW: 6     WR: 5    
THTRS: 2,331
9.
After Earth $3,750,000 Total: $54,200,000 LW: 7     WR: 3    
THTRS: 2,432
10.
Iron Man 3 $2,908,000 Total: $399,610,000 LW: 9     WR: 7    
THTRS: 1,649

Why It Happened : Man Of Steel roared into the number one slot with a gigantic take, but This Is The End actually held its own. More importantly, many of the people who went with Superman the first weekend returned to see Rogen and friends that following weekend when it made more than $13 million. Eventually, the flick was able to gross more than $100 million in North America to go along with a further $25 million plus overseas, which is pretty damn good for a movie that occasionally feels like a giant inside joke.


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