The Multiverse, Charted
Plus: A classic Raimi, assigned!
Allow me to briefly present three charts.
All three charts are drawn from The Quorum, a website that makes public tracking data for movies. (I recently interviewed David Herrin, the founder of the site, here.) One of the nice things about The Quorum is that it allows you to create handy little charts comparing how two movies are trending. Given news that Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is, depending on who you ask, looking like it might gross somewhere between $150 and $220 million this weekend, I thought it might be useful to compare it to another MCU movie starring Doctor Strange that opened a few months back: Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The first chart measures awareness, simply whether or not potential audiences have heard of the movie.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, audiences were more aware of a Spider-Man movie than a Doctor Strange movie. Fair enough.
The second chart measure interest, whether or not audiences have a desire to go see a movie.
Again: fair enough! I myself am unsurprised that audiences are more interested in the newest Spider-Man movie than the newest Doctor Strange movie.
The third chart is where it gets interesting. This measures whether people are interested in seeing the movie in a theater.
Despite lower awareness and lower interest—and despite the fact that, I think, people were more concerned about No Way Home spoilers than they are Multiverse of Madness spoilers—audiences say they’re more interested in seeing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in a theater than at home.
One possible takeaway from this disparity is that audience comfort with returning to theaters is starting to edge up again after a long COVID-related depression. No Way Home was released in the middle of the Omicron wave—which got a lot of press and undoubtedly made some fence-sitters nervous—which undoubtedly made people say they were nervous. Of course, revealed preferences compared to stated preferences provide a slightly different picture of audience nerves, given that No Way Home had the second-biggest domestic opening weekend of all time.*
But maybe folks went to see No Way Home, remembered it’s fun (and safe!) to go to the movies, and decided that it’s time to return. Hopefully audience comfort isn’t limited to Marvel movies and we start seeing an uptick with other films, like the delightful Everything Everywhere All at Once, which is currently the fourth-highest-grossing A24 movie ever and has an outside shot at being the highest-grossing ever, depending on how much box office oxygen Multiverse of Madness sucks up.
*Unadjusted for inflation, though I’ve always felt like adjusting for inflation is a bit misleading in the sense that Gone with the Wind came out when people went to the movies for air conditioning and that movie wasn’t competing with instant access to the entire library of human knowledge (or, perhaps more importantly, Fortnite). But I digress.
If you haven’t signed up for Bulwark+, please do. It helps keep this email sustainable. And it earns you access to a plethora of pods, including bonus episodes of Across the Movie Aisle. Sign up now to listen today!
The new Sam Raimi-directed MCU flick looks like it’s going to gross between $180 and $220 million in its opening domestic frame. That’s a lot of money! I more or less liked it, make sure to read my reviewbefore all the Scarlet Witch stans out there cancel me.
We taped Across the Movie Aisle live and in person this week! Sadly we didn’t love The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. But we did enjoy talking about meta-movies on the bonus members-only episode. Listen to both now!
I really enjoyed talking to Dade Hayes, whose new book on the rise of Netflix and Hollywood’s resultant counteroffensive is a must-read if you want to see what the first draft of entertainment-industry history looks like.
Netflix’s movie library is growing for the first time after years of shrinkage, but a lot of that growth is being driven by originals. Interesting look at the evolution of the world’s biggest streamer as its stock price continues to go into the toilet.
Speaking of Netflix, the rise and fall of their in-house hype site, Tudum, continues to fascinate me. The lesson, as always, is this: never start a website when you aren’t sure what the point of that website is.
If you value “lived experience” over writing talent, you shouldn’t be surprised when people make up crazy stuff to get hired as a writer.
RIP Mike Hagerty, an all-time “That Guy.”
Assigned Viewing: The Quick and the Dead (Netflix)
This is one of those movies that I’ve loved for a long time—a bona fide basic cable classic—that is finally getting its due. With the backing of Sharon Stone—who personally cut the check for Leonard DiCaprio’s salary, if legend is to be believed—Sam Raimi was given $35 million or so to make a Sam Raimi Western, with all that entailed. Tons of dutch-angled zooms, very stylized gun fights, well-executed montages, etc.
But it’s not merely an exercise in style. It’s also one of the best-cast movies of the 1990s. In addition to Stone and DiCaprio, you have Gene Hackman and Russell Crowe. On top of them you have a veritable casting agency of character actors in this picture: Lance Henriksen, Keith David, Gary Sinise, Mark Boone Junior, Tobin Bell, and Pat Hingle, all onscreen, all at the same time, more or less.
And then, on top of that, you have one of the most efficiently written movies I can remember seeing, just about ever. The first fifteen minutes introduce all the characters above, plus some more, and do so in a way that gives us virtually everything we need to know about them. The shootouts start not much after that and don’t stop until the credits roll 105 minutes later. It’s a good time, check it out if you haven’t. I’m assigning the film on Netflix, but if you have a 4K Blu-ray player, it’s worth picking up the disc: the image and sound are both amazing.