Tuesday 15 February 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 16th - 18th January 2009

1. Paul Blart: Mall Cop - $33.8M - $33.8M
2. Gran Torino - $22.2M - $73.2M
3. My Bloody Valentine 3D -  $21.9M - $21.9M
4. Notorious - $21.5M - $21.5M
5. Hotel for Dogs - $17.7M - $17.7M
6. Bride Wars - $11.7M - $37.5M
7. The Unborn - $9.8M - $33M
8. Defiance - $9.2M - $9.5M
9. Marley & Me - $6.3M - $132.7M
10. Slumdog Millionaire - $5.9M - $42.7M

In the US it's the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday which means ticket sales should benefit from a slightly higher take than on a normal weekend. Hollywood looked at the holiday and figured they'd try to cover as many bases as possible and release four new films and expand a fifth.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop is a Happy Madison production and stars Kevin James (from TV show King of Queens) as the titular character, a slightly overweight security guard who failed to become a real cop. When his mall is attacked by a group of organised thieves it's up to Blart to save the day and probably fall over/bump in to a lot of things in the process. Trailers weren't inspiring but James is a pretty likeable lead and this was an easy sell to the family market looking for a holiday-weekend trip out to the cinema. James saw some success with Larry & Chuck in 2007 and aided Will Smith in Hitch a few years earlier but Mall Cop marks his first lead role. It'll manage just one week at the top (unless it's very lucky) but turn a fast profit for Sony. How long before we see Paul Blart: Police Trainee? (Cross over with a Police Academy remake potential!)

Taking a knock from the new kids on the block on Friday, Gran Torino ends up down just one place for the weekend, off an amazing 24% from last weekend. The Clint Eastwood movie has now made over $70M and may go on to become the biggest directorial effort of his career (currently held by the Unforgiven with $101M). Word of mouth on this one is very strong, and while it seems to have been largely passed over for awards, it continues to gain more and more fans. Next weekend should be an interesting one for the film as a number of its limited release competitors will begin their expansion

My Bloody Valentine 3D is the remake of the 1981 slasher classic. After the tepid PG-13 horror of late, Valentine comes out with its axe swinging and a bag load of old school blood, gore and gratuitous nudity, with the added bonus of being shot for a 3D presentation. Unusually for a horror film, early word of mouth has been good and the adverts and trailers attempted to build on this - and were it not for a portly security guard and an old time hard ass it might have taken the top spot this holiday weekend. Sadly, it's had to settle for third place, but with a pretty respectable box office take. Mum & Dad drop the teenage son off at this while going to see something more family orientated in the top ten - and that counter programming appears to have worked. The majority of people making up the audience almost certainly weren't alive when the original was released but it makes a good hook and the 3D gimmick adds a little to that. Expect a normal horror film drop off next weekend (anything between 55-70%) but My Bloody Valentine should already be well on the way to profit by then

A long time coming, with various people announcing their take on the situation, Notorious is the 'official' Biggie Smalls/ Notorious B.I.G biopic. Executive produced by P.Diddy, the film follows Small's life growing up, his criminal dabbling and huge musical career, not to mention the situation around his tragic death (and reviews have been keen to point out - what seems like a number of fabricated incidents). As mentioned, more than one person has already tried to bring this story to the big screen (Stallone himself was set to film a version touching on the story and possible police corruption) and even though his death was nearly 12 years ago, the interest surrounding it hasn't waned - this release goes some way to prove that - Notorious is at just 1,638 locations and easily managed to smash into fourth place on the top ten, no easy feat given the current and new releases it had to face off against. The question now is how front loaded the film is - have B.I.G fans turned out on opening weekend, leaving nothing for the next one? Or will the film's good word of mouth manage some crossover potential to non-fans? Trouble at screenings (a shooting and stabbing) has already led the film to be banned from at least one district in the US and put a shadow over the release as the weekend moved on..

Hotel for Dogs, aimed squarely at the young children market, lost out a little thanks to families going with Paul Blart: Mall Cop this weekend. That said, a movie featuring a dog should never be under estimated and while Hotel got off to a slow start Friday, it recovered somewhat over the rest of the weekend, ending up with a pretty respectable total. Hotel for Dogs is the tale of two children who take in nine stray dogs and attempt to keep them in an vacant house. This won't have cost much to produce and should clean up nicely on DVD as well.

Two new releases last weekend didn't hold up as well as Gran Torino thanks to the competition provided by our new releases. Bride Wars suffered a 53% drop from Friday to Friday and probably won't go on to provide similar success seen by 17 Dresses (a film whose performance it is often matched against) despite Anne Hathaway being flavour of the month (the film was off an ok 44% for the weekend as a whole). The Unborn got clobbered by My Bloody Valentine - that PG-13 rating will only get you so far and when you're up against a grisly R-rated film, you're always going to lose out. The Unborn suffered a typical horror movie second weekend drop of 50%.

Sitting between them is Definance, the Daniel Craig resistance fighter movie had been doing ok business in limited release and this week expands into 1789 locations, scoring a place in the top ten in the process. Reviews for Defiance haven't been anywhere near that of similar limited release movies and its unlikely the film will expand any further than it already has (it's currently on about 100 screens more than Notorious...). The film might have had more success in a less crowded market but it appears that Paramount Vantage wanted some awards glory and released/expanded it when they did, meaning the potential film's success suffered in the process.

Marley & Me, no longer the no.1 family choice in the top ten drops a bit further this weekend and may be looking at its last weekend on the chart. The final sleeper hit of 2008, Marley & Me currently sits on a huge box office total of $132M. Finally, after seeing great success at last weekends Golden Globes, Slumdog Millionaire moves back into the top ten. It's made $42M just in limited release, a stunning figure, and will expand further next weekend, hopefully pushing the film further up the top ten, and deservedly so.

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