Posts tagged with "according to exit-polling services. PostTrak"

The dystopian film, ‘Civil War,’ reaches No. 1 at the box office

April 16, 2024

Hollywood executives—not all, but most—have insisted for years that uncomfortable, thought-provoking, original movies can no longer attract big audiences at the box office. However, moviegoers continue to bust that myth, reports The New York Times.

Alex Garland’s dystopian “Civil War”—set in a near-immediate future when the United States is at war with itself—sold an estimated $25.7 million in tickets at North American theaters on its opening weekend starting April 12; enough to make the film a strong number one at the box office, surpassing the monsters sequel “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.”

Ticket sales for “Civil War” exceeded the prerelease expectations of some box office analysts by roughly 30%. IMAX screenings provided nearly 50% of the “Civil War” gross. 

More than 70% of the total audience was male, according to exit-polling services. PostTrak, one of those firms, said that people with “liberal” or “moderate” political views attended most heavily. PostTrak scores for “Civil War” were 76% “positive” and 53% “definite recommend.”

“Civil War,” starring Kirsten Dunst as a journalist on a military embed, became the latest example of ticket buyers breaking with Hollywood’s conventional wisdom about what types of films are likely to pop at the box office. Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” a three-hour period drama about a physicist, took in $968 million, wildly surpassing studio expectations. “Poor Things” collected $117 million, a solid total for a surreal art film.

Garland (“Ex Machina”) wrote and directed “Civil War,” which gave A24 its first No. 1 opening. The movie cost more to make than any A24 movie to date: at least $50 million, not including tens of millions of dollars in marketing.

The R-rated film benefited from a savvy release date—a time when Americans, sharply divided, are paying attention to the coming presidential election but are not yet completely worn out by it — and a marketing campaign that positioned the story as more of an action thriller than a gritty exploration of the frightening but not unthinkable.

“Dystopian thrillers are generally set in futuristic worlds that look very different from contemporary life,” David A. Gross, a film consultant who publishes a  newsletter on box office numbers, said in an email. “They use a lot of special effects and science fiction to tell their stories. ‘Civil War’ is doing the opposite: It looks like right now.”

That storytelling choice, he added, “is bending the genre into something contemporary and relatable. The story is not directly partisan, but it’s provoking partisan feelings. It’s a fine balance to strike. Audiences are emotionally engaged, and that’s impressive.”

Research contact: @nytimes