Tuesday 15 February 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 18th - 20th January 2008

1. Cloverfield - $41M - $41M
2. 27 Dresses - $22.4M - $22.4M
3. The Bucket List - $15.1M - $42.7M
4. Juno - $10.1M - $85.3M
5. National Treasure: Book of Secrets - $8.1M - $198M
6. First Sunday - $7.8M - $28.4M
7. Mad Money - $7.7M - $7.7
8. Alvin and the Chipmunks - $7M - $196M
9. I Am Legend - $5.1M - $247M
10. Atonement - $4.7M - $31.8M

This weekend the box office report falls over the Martin Luther King Holiday, so takings will be a little higher for the weekend, with a stronger than normal Monday to follow. These numbers are based on the three day estimates, as per usual.

Cloverfield sprung into life last summer, when a mysterious trailer suddenly appeared at the front of Transformers. Internet rumour spread like wild fire and within days, the viral marketing to end all viral marketing campaigns had kicked off. Fake websites, fake rumours and stories circulated but no one was any the wiser. A new Godzilla movie? Was it even a movie? Over the next months we were drip fed information about the JJ Abrams produced project that still didn't have a name (1-18-08, Slusho, Cloverfield, Monster were all possible titles). Eventually we were told that something attacks New York on the night of a party, the film is shot from the ground, on hand held cameras and would be like nothing you'd seen before (forgetting Blair Witch for the moment, that is). Oh, and it'll cost $25-28M. The hype just took off from there - and even up until last week, very little solid information was known about the film - a massive feat itself in this day and age, when every film's secrets are laid bare before filming even starts, in some cases.

But was Cloverfield going to be a victim of internet hype? Save for the odd trailers, had anyone outside of the internet even heard of it? There was talk that it could be just another Snakes on a Plane, which had been hyped for months but failed on every level upon release. It would seem the balance between marketing and hype paid off handsomely. Cloverfield is our number one film this weekend with a record breaking $41M - a strong figure that will benefit from the four day Martin Luther King holiday weekend (where Sunday figures can be almost as high as Saturday figures). It shatters an 11 year January record set by the Star Wars Special Edition release and the four day MLK holiday record set by Black Hawk Down. Obviously it's already recouped it's production budget and given how the internet was used as a major marketing tool until switching to TV recently, it's advertising budget shouldn't be too excessive either. This has been a worthwhile gamble for all involved and while the target demographic came out this first weekend, there's every chance they bought their friends and family with them, given such a high January figure.

The big question now is whether Cloverfield is going to be a one weekend wonder. There's a strong chance that everyone who had been waiting to see the film, will have already done so. Next weekend sees the wide release of three more movie, though possibly only Rambo could take Cloverfield's crown, unless its suffers a huge second weekend drop. A film such as this will obviously be very heavily front loaded and once all the secrets of the movie are out in the open it will lose some of its mystery. But how much remains to be seen. Cloverfield's second weekend could be almost as interesting as its first. For now, all the gamble and hype has paid off handsomely and Cloverfield still has the rest of the world to face, with even more ticket buying hands.

And Cloverfield isn't the only one enjoying a strong opening weekend - while all the under 25 males where watching New York getting trashed, their girlfriends and wives where watching Kathering Heigl in the romantic comedy 27 Dresses, which opened to an impressive $22M. 27 Dresses features Heigl as a woman who has planned and been bridesmaid at 27 weddings and is wondering if she'll ever be the one to wear the wedding dress. Screened as alternative programming to Cloverfield for the holiday weekend, 27 Dresses may end up just a couple of million from that Star Wars total once final figures are issued on Monday night. Heigl was last seen in Knocked Up, where she had plenty of co-stars to help hang the movie off. This time around she's on her own and has performed admirably. With her on going success on TV's Grey's Anatomy and two successful movies in the bag, we could be looking at the next big thing (which is ironic given that she's been acting since 1992). Next weekend shouldn't provide any direct competition so expect an average percentage drop for the film as it closes in on $50M.

Just to prove Hollywood has something for everyone, The Bucket List suffered an impressive percentage drop of 21% in its second weekend of wide release. The film picked up all comers last weekend and this weekend has been able to focus on the older market of cinema-goers who didn't fancy either of our big openers. This has paid off well for Warner Bros and should see The Bucket List recoup its production budget any day now. The film remains largely ignored by award givers so that second weekend box office should offer some consolation. Again we see a demographic (35+) that is often ignored, being targeted to help boister a films box office chances against flashier movies, proving that you don't need a 21 year old star in an effects laden budget buster to make money.

Juno takes a bit of a hit from the new releases but still manages an admirable $10.2M. The comedy drama has yet to see much of an international release so its strong word of mouth should help secure equal success in the non-domestic market. As mentioned last weekend, Juno is now the biggest ever release for Fox Searchlight and it's still got a few good weekends ahead of it yet. Cloverfield hits National Treasure 2's market pretty much head on and as a result the film suffers a bit more of a drop. Let's not forget the film is also an old hand in the top ten, having been on general release for well over a month now. Once final numbers are in the film should have crossed the $200M mark this weekend and have a global total of around $350M.

After a decent start last weekend, First Sunday takes a bit of a tumble and will probably end its run closer to Friday After Next ($33M) than Are We Done Yet ($49M). Still, the movie will have been produced quickly and cheaply and should already have recouped its budget. Ice Cube is currently filming Comeback for Fred Durst and is also set to star in a re-invention of The A Team.

Our final new entry this weekend is the comedy Mad Money, starring Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes and Diane Keaton as three women who decide to rob a federal reserve of its soon to be destroyed money. Obviously targeted at the women who didn't see Cloverfield, Mad Money forgot all about the competition from 27 Dresses - or figured its three stars were better than one. Sadly that didn't prove to be the case and the film only did slightly better than the six week old release that is Alvin & The Chipmunks. Only by sheer luck will Mad Money even feature in the top ten next weekend. Speaking of Alvin, it's now closing in on the $200M mark, a figure it should attain during the week, if not by next weekend. It might have had a stronger weekend being the only family friendly movie in the top ten, but given its age, the majority of families will already have been to see it. But you can be sure, no one at the studio is crying over that box office figure.

Another old timer for the charts, I Am Legend is seeing its last weekend in the top ten. It's been a huge success in the US and the world markets and currently sits on a global total bordering close to half a billion dollars. By the end of the week, only Independence Day will have been a more successful Will Smith movie. Finally, after some award success last weekend, Atonement manages to stand its ground, raising its takings by 12% compared to its last frame. There's a slim chance that relatively low screen count will rise further if the movie continues to pick up plaudits (especially if its receives some Oscar nominations).

Of other note - There Will Be Blood sits just outside the top ten, an impressive feat given that its only at 389 locations. A screen expansion should take place in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, US failure The Golden Compass has so far taken $245M in the global marketplace. Is that sequel still dead in the water?

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