We're edging closer to February and that means 2013's first bona fide big budget movie is around the corner. A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth installment in its series, hits theaters on Thursday, February 14. Where's the online buzz been at compared to recent action flicks?
Let's start with the good news: For the period representing four weeks out from release (January 17-21), A Good Day to Die Hard tallied 6,670 tweets. Some of the surge in that number on January 20 and 21 (which accounted for a combined 71 percent of the tweet share) was due to the announcement of Die Hard movie marathons in theaters across North America. Still, the Twitter activity represents a higher total at the same point in the release cycle versus Taken 2 (5,971), Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (4,586), The Expendables 2 (4,222) and The Bourne Legacy (1,550).
Bad news: The quality of those tweets leaves something to be desired. A Good Day to Die Hard generated 7.6 positive remarks for every negative one. That's by far the lowest ratio among the same comparison films. Taken 2, The Expendables 2 and Ghost Protocol each posted identical 13.6-to-1 ratios during the same time. The Bourne Legacy was tops with 16-to-1.
Is this an early sign of any possible disappointment over the Valentine's and President's Day weekend next month? While the recently announced R rating for the John McClane sequel is a return to the series' roots and will no doubt please some fans, the possible consequence of that will be fewer tickets that could otherwise be sold to underage audiences (read: teen males). Granted, not all movies need a PG-13 rating to generate strong box office returns, but this is the kind of popcorn action flick that is sure to draw the interest of that crowd during an extended holiday weekend.
By comparison, 2007's Live Free or Die Hard--somewhat controversially rated PG-13--was a mild surprise prior to Independence Day weekend that summer. After banking $15 million during its first two days (Wednesday and Thursday) of release, the film's 3-day opening hit $33.4 million for a $48.4 million haul in its first five days. That was above expectations at the time, and with five-and-a-half years of inflation on the newest movie's side--plus a Thursday release instead of Wednesday--the 4-day bar for success should be relatively close to that 5-day total for A Good Day to Die Hard.
Again, let's look to similar titles: Taken 2 opened to a fantastic $49.5 million over three days last October. The Expendables 2 came in slightly under expectations with a $28.6 million 3-day opening in August. The Bourne Legacy debuted to $38.1 million one week after that.
We're excluding Skyfall not just because of the unprecedented level of buzz that movie had for its franchise, but social media comparisons would also be extremely unbalanced due to Bond's early overseas release. Theoretically, though, is there something to be said for Bond's revived popularity having a spillover effect on another former blockbuster franchise like Die Hard?
If The Bourne Legacy and The Expendables 2 taught us anything, it's that expectations for action sequels should generally be kept in check. Taken 2 followed a huge word-of-mouth hit and capitalized on Liam Neeson's newly honed skills as an actor star. The previous Die Hard movie was a modest surprise in 2007, but it still sold the fewest tickets of all four movies in the franchise. Marketing is definitely getting the word out for A Good Day to Die Hard--does Twitter suggest that interest levels simply aren't where they need to be yet?
Stay tuned to Boxoffice.com in the days and weeks ahead as analysis on A Good Day to Die Hard continues, including our thoughts on the sequel's international box office prospects.
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The A Good Day to Die Hard trailer: