Friday 11 February 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 16th - 18th November 2007

1. Beowulf - $28.1M - $28.1M
2. Bee Movie - $14.3M - $93.8M
3. American Gangster - $13.2M - $100.9M
4. Fred Claus - $12M - $35.7M
5. Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium - $10M - $10M
6. Dan in Real Life -  $4.5M - $37M
7. No Country for Old Men - $3M - $4.9M
8. Lions for Lambs - $2.9M - $11.5M
9. Saw IV - $2.3M - $61.8M
10. Love in the Time of Cholera - $1.9M - $1.9M

Beowulf was always going to be a tough sell. A revolutionary film making technique combined with a poem that's as old as the hills. Huge number weren't estimated and Beowulf has gone on to open at pretty much where the pre-weekend estimates had it pegged. It needs all the money it can make too and the fantastic word of mouth in regards the Imax 3D version of the film could be what helps prop it up in the coming weekends. As openings go its not that great (even Eragon opened with $23M last year) but this is almost an experiment in film making, utilising the technique pioneered by Zemekis in The Polar Express (and to be seen next in A Christmas Carol) and moved closer to perfection here. As of writing, no specific Imax figures where available but it has the potential to set records in that arena.

As mentioned, the film was a tough sell - no major stars to hang the film off (save for a tastefully shot CGI Angelina Jolie) and so the makers had to hope the story and the impressive visuals would sell it - all the time moving focus from the Pixar/Dreamworks type of CGI the public is used to. How successful that has been will have to wait a while longer - sadly Beowulf might not get much chance to shine on standard screens as there are five thanksgiving releases due in the next week.

After a strong recovery last weekend, Bee Movie takes a bit of a knock and is down 44%. The film should see another boost with Thanksgiving and should see $100M by next weekend. The film does need a few more strong weekends as while $100M is a great milestone, it's still woefully short of the films $150M budget. And we all thought not using real actors in movies was going to be cheap!

Meanwhile, American Gangster crosses $100M this weekend and recoups its production budget. The Ridley Scott movie, like Bee Movie, still has a large number of foreign territories in which to open and may see another $100M from that market. While it lost out on the top spot last weekend, it did so by only a few million dollars. American Gangster has been a resounding success for all involved but perhaps more so for Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, who is having a good year with this and 3:10 to Yuma. Washington will be seen next, in front and behind the camera, for The Debators, while Russell Crowe once again teams up with Ridley Scott for Body of Lies.

After a somewhat disappointing start Fred Claus manages to hold onto a decent drop of around 35% in its second frame. Expected to take the top spot last weekend, Fred Claus had to settle for third place and a pretty hard panning by critics. Thanksgiving could provide a bit of a boost to Claus but it will have to face off against Enchanted and This Christmas, along with the existing competition. Even at this point, it's safe to say that Fred Claus won't be 'Elf' for 2007.

Our second new entry is the fantasy Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium, starring Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman. Hoffman stars as the titular shop owner who just happens to be 243 years old, deciding to retire and leave the shop in the hands of Natalie Portman. Things don't go as planned in the eccentric and wild place as a dark element begins to take over. A visual feast, something that Tim Burton might have made if he'd taken a box of happy pills, Emporium faced off with Bee Movie, and to a lesser degree Fred Claus, for the family market this weekend and struggled. Magorium will now have to face off against the same movies as Fred Claus next weekend and unfortunately, it doesn't have the head start that Claus does. This'll be gone in two weeks time and might actually have fared better by being released sometime in the middle of next week.

Dan In Real Life may also become a casualty next weekend after having done good, if not impressive business. Word of mouth and a lack of new releases have helped the movie to cross the $35M mark, a feat that its done from a location count that has never gone above 1,950 (compare that to the 3900 screens that Bee Movie is on). Dan In Real Life appeared to be the film people went to see as a safe movie. After a poor start the movie managed small percentage drops each week as more and more people got round to seeing it. Expect a final total of around $45M.

No Country for Old Men is the real success story this weekend, taking a huge $3M from just 148 screens. Last weekend the film did equally well in an even more limited release of just 15 screens. The Coen Brothers movie will expand into a still relatively limited release of 800+ screens next weekend. The film easily has the best screen/takings average of any movie in the top ten, including Beowulf. Furthermore, No Country for Old Men is one of the best reviewed movies of the year and a real return to form for the Coen's. Expect this to feature in a lot of best of the year lists come December.

Lions for Lambs didn't make much of a impact last weekend and fares no better this time around, off 56%. The Tom Cruise produced drama will go down in history as possible his lowest grossing film and certainly wasn't the critical darling this first United Artists release was expected to be. Perhaps a message to Hollywood - the public don't seem quite ready for a movie about a war that's still being fought. Rendition and The Kingdom didn't fair any better and there's every chance Brian De Palma's 'Redacted' won't find much of an audience either. (Redacted will actually debut in HD on US TV before reaching theatres)

Saw IV is shedding screen at the rate of 800+ a week and is seeing its last weekend on the charts. A success for Lionsgate, who are still debating whether to shoot Saw V & VI back to back and release them in 2009 or split the movie and go with a 2008 release for Saw V. Interest has certainly waned in the series, though it appears to have avoided the main brunt of the torture porn failure this year.

Our final new release this weekend is Mike Newell's Love In the Time of Cholera, adapted from the acclaimed novel. This certainly wasn't the critical success many expected, with a number of reviews highlighting the amount of story that had to be removed in order to fit the film onto the screen. The studio wasn't too sure either and only released the film into 852 locations. Love in... might have fared stronger, certainly with the awards crowd, if it had seen a slow burn limited release or perhaps a release date closer to Christmas. This one won't even feature in the top ten next weekend.

Edit: A movie I forgot to mention - Southland Tales got a limited release this weekend, on 63 screens, and managed just $117,000. I can't honestly see this getting much bigger a release. Perhaps it'll find some cult success on DVD.

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