“Lone Survivor” just reeled in two times the box office take than Hollywood experts had been anticipating.
A number of executives in the entertainment industry have been trying to figure out why the muscles of “The Legend of Hercules” and the animated charm of “Frozen” couldn’t top a military drama.
“Lone Survivor” tells the true story of a 2005 Navy SEALs mission. The film grossed $38.5 million domestically, according to studio estimates, which made it this past weekend’s No. 1 movie and put it in the record books as having the second-biggest January debut ever, besting the 1997 hit “Star Wars: Special Edition” ($35 million) and almost beating the 2008 film “Cloverfield” ($40 million).
The movie actually had a limited U.S. release on Christmas Day 2013. However, it debuted across all of North America on Jan. 10, 2014.
As the Hollywood Reporter recently pointed out, the film’s opening weekend box office performance was “far more than expected and the best showing of any post-9/11 war film.”
Mark Wahlberg made a gutsy decision when he took on the lead role of the film. He committed to the project during its early stages of development, being the first to sign on to do “Lone Survivor.”
Wahlberg was clearly a factor in the movie’s extraordinary ticket sales. When its limited release revenues were factored in, its overall take rose to $38.9 million to date.
“Lone Survivor” is dedicated to the heroes of Operation Redwings, the individuals who took part in an ill-fated 2005 mission in the remote mountains of Afghanistan.
In the movie, the four SEAL Team members, who are assigned to take out a high-level Taliban leader, find themselves outnumbered and trapped. One survives and is taken in by a local villager named Gulab, who protects the American despite the continuing vicious threats and attacks that are emanating from the Taliban.
Since “Lone Survivor” cost a relatively modest $40 million to make, it is on course to be a hugely profitable movie. The future box office for the film appears to be promising as audiences have honored it with a CinemaScore grade of A+.
Some critics have been quick to indict the movie, lobbing criticism that is all too frequently ascribed to films that feature military heroism and suggesting that such fare is nothing but jingoistic propaganda. Quite the opposite, though, the movie conveys in a clear and direct manner the depth of emotion and complex thought processes that are inextricably linked to real-world heroism and courage.
The filmmakers have additionally teamed up with veterans groups to create the Lone Survivor Fund, which assists in the financial support of three organizations, Got Your Six, Navy SEAL Foundation, and Lone Survivor Foundation (the group founded by real-life lone survivor Marcus Luttrell).
It was thought by some entertainment analysts that the movie’s “R” rating, coupled with a plot that is based on an unsuccessful military mission, would impede the box office revenues of “Lone Survivor.”
Universal embraced the film’s heroic themes and as Wahlberg explains in Universal’s production notes, “What makes this story so special is the bond and the camaraderie between the guys, but also the state of where we are in the world today. The act of heroism by Gulab and his fellow villagers moved me the most. I found it so inspiring, and it gave me so much hope for the world.”
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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