Singing sensation Justin Bieber has ruled the airwaves and the hearts of millions of young girls for several years now. He's packed with charisma, an arresting smile, and stage presence, a combination which has kept him at the top of the competitive entertainment heap. During the extended holiday weekend, his second film, "Justin Bieber's Believe," (watch trailer) was released to some fairly surprising box office results.
The film opened on Christmas Day, a Wednesday, rather than the traditional Friday release date for most movies. Even with that extra two days in theaters, "Justin Bieber's Believe" earned just $4,277,000 at the box office for the extended holiday weekend. This was good enough for fourteenth place among all the films in release, which means he didn't even crack the top ten. This is a stark contrast to his previous concert documentary, 2011's "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," which took in $29,514,054 during its opening weekend, which was good enough for second place.
A lot of possible reasons exist for the huge difference in earnings between the two films, some of which can be quantified with numbers. Other reasons are a little more complicated, such as Bieber's shocking Twitter announcement he was retiring, which came just one day before the film was released. It is possible his fans, who he calls "beliebers," didn't go to see the movie because they were in shock. The next two tweets, in which he said "I'm never leaving you" and "I'm here forever" seemed to almost contradict his retirement tweet, which probably added to the shock and confusion his fans were feeling. It probably didn't help that on December 18, he went on a radio show and announced his retirement, which most took to be a joke at the time. After the earlier tweet, people began to speculate the teen titan might indeed retire, considering he announced it twice within the span of a week.
The box office results aren't quite as dreary as they seem on the surface though, which is good news for Bieber in case he isn't really retiring. The first film, "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" earned a lot more money. It was released by Paramount, a huge studio with a seasoned cadre of publicists who made sure the film got lots of publicity before its release into theaters. In contrast, "Justin Bieber's Believe" was released by Open Road Films, a much smaller movie house that did very little in the way of traditional publicity. There is the distinct possibility that a lot of his more casual fans weren't aware of the film or when it was going to be released into theaters.
Open Road Films also declined to have special critic screenings in advance of the film's release, which meant most of the nation's top movie critics didn't get to review the film. The official reason is that these screenings cost money, and the studio was trying to keep costs down in order to make the film more profitable. The few critics who did manage to review the film before its release did so by getting tickets to advance publicity screenings that were open to the public. They noted that many of the attendees were diehard fans who seemed to really enjoy the film, many even shedding a few tears.
The first film also had the luxury of opening on 3,105 screens during its opening weekend, the result of Paramount's huge influence. Open Road Films only put "Justin Bieber's Believe" on 1,037 screens, which lowers its earning potential considerably compared to its predecessor. While it may seem that Open Road Films was setting the movie up for failure, the exact opposite is true. The indie movie studio kept production costs on the film way down, making it on the cheap for just $5 million, compared to the $13 million Paramount spent on the first flick. In doing this and spending a miniscule amount on publicity, they've pretty much ensured the film will make a profit before all is said and done.
The film has yet to be released overseas, where Bieber remains monumentally popular in some countries. There is a good chance that "Justin Bieber's Believe" could turn in foreign box-office receipts that are much bigger than the domestic take, which would only add to the profit margin for Open Road Films. In fact studio head Tom Ortenberg expects to make a tidy profit that is "well into the seven figures," which is very possibly once the film opens overseas and is released on various home video platforms.