Author: Raymond

The Best Opening Weekend Films of the Year

The Best Opening Weekend Films of the Year

What the ‘Ticket to Paradise’ box office opening says about the state of the rom-com genre

Ticket to Paradise (2012), which starred James Franco as a recently divorced man who must decide whether to relocate to the idyllic island of Catalina to restart his life and spend time with his childhood sweetheart, was the biggest opening weekend for a rom-com in three years. While the film opened on far more screens than The Departed and The Blind Side, and went on to earn $24 million, it was not an outlier—the best opening for the genre in years. Why was it so successful?

We talked to three experts to find out.

First we talked with industry insiders.

“Ticket to Paradise is an example of what happened with this type of film in the last couple of years,” says Todd Shapiro, who has written several best-of-the-year lists for the trade, including his 2006 Best Opening Week Films list, and is now the president of New York University’s Graduate School of Film, Theater and Television. “I think we’re all going through a moment where our expectations are higher, we’re not necessarily willing to live down to those expectations, but that’s the nature of cinema as well.”

That’s not to say ticketing is out of style—the box office is actually up by 2.3% this year after a year in which it rose by 11.9%. However, as Shapiro points out, the nature of these movies, which rely on the same demographic that is expected to attend opening weekend screenings of any major studio movie, is that once it opens, it is difficult to sustain those levels for very long.

The best films this year, he says, were not necessarily those with the highest opening weekends—those with the biggest opening weekends have been generally more likely to be the top earners—but they are clearly the ones that had the best performances at the box office, which suggests that those films are building an audience long before they open.

But is that a good thing?

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