How Justin Bieber‘s fortunes have fallen at the box office.
The performer’s second concert documentary Believe is turning in a dismal performance at the Christmas box office, where it has earned only $3.1 million in its first three days. On Friday, it fell below $1 million to $790,000 for a 14th place finish.
Believe is now only expected to take in $4.5 million over the course of its five-day debut (Wednesday through Sunday), including a meek weekend haul of $2.2 million. Granted, the movie is said to have cost only $5 million to make, but Believe will do only a fraction of the business that Bieber’s Never Say Never enjoyed in February 2011.
Never Say Never, opening to $29.5 million in North America, posted a lifetime domestic gross of $73 million, making it the most successful concert film of all time domestically. Most box office observers say Believe may only hit $10 million.
Believe is badly trailing similar concert documentaries. In August, One Direction: This Is Us debuted to $15.8 million on its way to earning $28.9 million (even that was considered something of a disappointment).
Open Road Films, which is releasing Believe in North America, points out that the movie is playing on only 1,037 screens, compared to 3,100 for Never Say Never, which was distributed and marketed by Paramount.
Nevertheless, other concert docs which have likewise opened on fewer screens than a usual release (2,500-plus screens) have done far more business.
Disney’s Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour opened on 683 screens in early February 2008, grossing $31.1 million. Exactly a year later, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience rolled out on 1,271 screens, grossing $12.5 million in its debut.
Believe, reteaming Bieber with his Never Say Never director Jon M. Chu, has supplanted Katy Perry: Part of Me as the worst opener among the recent slate of concert documentaries featuring young pop artists. Perry’s film debuted to a meek $7.1 million from 2,730 screens in summer 2012.
Box office observers questioned whether some mothers kept their younger tweens away from Part of Me, and they are wondering the same thing in regards to Believe. When Never Say Never was released, Bieber still had a squeaky clean image. His antics since — including tweeting on Christmas Eve that he was retiring — have made headlines around the world (the tweet was promptly removed).
Open Road says Believe will be profitable for all involved, considering its modest $5 million budget. Open Road also spent only $5 million to market the film, far less than is usually spent on a nationwide release, saying it focused exclusively on Bieber’s fan base.
“It’s a new model. We wanted to go straight to Justin’s fans” said Open Road marketing chief Jason Cassidy. “Financially, we are going to be fine.”
Still, there’s no denying that many of Bieber’s fans are staying away. Rivals question why Open Road — owned by giant exhibitors Regal and AMC — decided to open Believe on Christmas, the most crowded time of the year.
by Pamela McClintock