Tuesday 15 February 2011

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

1. The Dark Knight - $155.2M - $155.3M
2. Mamma Mia! - $27.6M - $27.6M
3. Hancock - $14M - $191.5M
4. Journey to the Center of the Earth - $11.9M - $43M
5. Hellboy II: The Golden Army - $10M - $56.4M
6. WALL-E - $9.8M - $182.4M
7. Space Chimps - $7.3M - $7.3M
8. Wanted - $5M - $123.3M
9. Get Smart - $4M - $119.5M
10. Kung Fu Panda - $1.7M - $206.5M

For many, once Iron Man and Indiana Jones were out of the way, The Dark Knight was the one to wait for. All the main players were returning along with Heath Ledger as The Joker and Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. Christopher Nolan would once again return to direct and continue the sterling work he had begun with Batman Begins, which reinvented and relaunched the character after the disaster that was Batman and Robin several years earlier. But the death of Heath Ledger during the film's post production cast a shadow onto everything Dark Knight related. Where would this leave the film and Ledger's Joker? Warner Bros stuck with Nolan's vision both within the film and the viral campaign surrounding it. In the end though, would it pay off for all concerned?

To say The Dark Knight got off to a great start would be a bit of an understatement. The weeks before had been peppered with record busting ticket pre-sales stories, followed quickly by the announcement that many midnight screenings had already sold out and that 3am and 6am screenings would be added to the first day of release (pretty much unheard of). Even before initial Friday numbers were released it had already become the widest opening film in US cinema history, showing at 4,366 locations. By Friday night it had smashed the midnight showing record held by 2005's Revenge of the Sith ($16.9M). And the weekend was just getting started; by Saturday morning The Dark Knight had broken the single day takings record that Spiderman 3 held by more than $7M. Only one weekend record remained....

It was difficult to judge whether that success would carry on over the rest of the weekend and break the three-day record set by Spiderman 3 in the process. We've seen many films start well but collapse quickly as many fans attended the first showings on the first day, leaving empty seats on Saturday and Sunday. X3 had had a spectacular Friday but was done and dusted by Sunday morning. Why So Serious? The Dark Knight shattered the three day record by nearly $4M to score a huge $155M for the three day weekend. Remember, this isn't a special holiday weekend of any kinds, just a normal Friday-Sunday. This is a fantastic start for the film and opens the doors for yet another potential record - Shortest time to reach $200M. Without even factoring in foreign market ticket sales this huge movie is just $25M short of being in a profit on opening weekend. How much did the death of Heath Ledger contribute to that phenomenal start? Certainly it figured, but The Dark Knight reviewed very positively, trailers helped a great deal too, as did the extensive viral marketing campaign.

Where does the film go from here? Obviously it'll see a huge drop next weekend but repeat business from strong word of mouth should keep it to a safe level. Could The Dark Knight trouble Iron Man and Indiana Jones? Almost certainly. The Dark Knight is our record breaking number one film this weekend.

It's hard to believe that there were actually two other new films released this weekend to varying degrees of success. Mamma Mia! the hugely successful musical gets a big name cast screen adaptation but can't reel in the female demographic as well as May's Sex & The City did. Mamma Mia! still managed a not bad $27M and should benefit from higher weekday takes as groups of women attend the film together, as was seen with the aforementioned SatC. Similarly, the film could have a strong second weekend as the majority of cinema goers would have foregone it in this frame for The Dark Knight. Mamma Mia! could now dig itself in for a few weeks and hope for some decent weekend to weekend percentage drops. It faces very little direct competition so only the number of new releases will push it down the chart quicker.

Hancock fares up pretty well considering the slamming it would have gotten from The Dark Knight. The Will Smith anti-hero comedy has now cleared $375M in total global ticket sales and was the strongest of the recent releases, including Hellboy II, which outperformed it last weekend. There's every chance that Hancock picked up business from those people who couldn't get a ticket for The Dark Knight, for whom Hellboy 2 Or Mamma Mia didn't appeal. The film should see $200M within the next week or so and will probably end up with over a half a billion dollars by the end of its worldwide theatrical run, perhaps topping I Am Legend in the process.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth is still suffering somewhat from having only a third of its location count capable of showing the film in the 3D format. It's off less than 45%, which is a lot better than expected and a good chunk of the box office may well have emanated from those 3D screenings. The 3D gimmick might give the film a little more chance at a few weeks of better than expected (deserved?) box office. Its low budget of just $45M is a major plus point at this time as its almost recouped it just from its domestic takings. Hellboy II however, is not nearly as lucky. Its Friday to Friday take was off a nasty 77% and there's little chance it'll be able to recover from that next week. Probably hit harder by The Dark Knight than any other film in the top ten, the film will surpass the low take of the first Hellboy movie but may struggle to reach the $85M it cost to make. There was always a worry that Hellboy 2 would suffer against the bigger, showier movies of the summer and that appears to have been proven correct. On Hellboy's side is the massive DVD market, where the film will easily add another $50M to its overall take. Would an October release have benefited the film more?

Wall-E has now recouped its production budget and still has a vast number of foreign locales awaiting its release. Sadly the film has slowed down much quicker than was expected and it'll still take another few weeks before it sees $200M, a figure it may not reach while in the top ten. Compared to the takes of other recent Pixar movies, it's not coming off too well, but on a word of mouth level, it's one of the best. Compare that to the awfulness that is Space Chimps and you can see why people turn out to Pixar movies year after year. Released with little fanfare and having Jeff Daniels as the biggest name in the cast, Space Chimps is one big advert for the DVD release, where this film will probably clean up.

Wanted is starting to look a bit long in the tooth but has made more than a killing in its short box office life. Again, hit hard by The Dark Knight, Wanted was also heavily front loaded and is one of the older action films in top ten (the film has now been on release for a month), it should still manage at least one more week in the top ten. Made for $75M, the film sits on a global total of over $200M.

Get Smart has now made over $170M in global terms, which may be enough to spawn a quick sequel. The success of Get Smart must be a relief to Steve Carrell after the disaster of Even Almighty and the lacklustre box office from Dan In Real Life. Kung Fu Panda, now sitting on over $200M, is seeing its last weekend on the charts, exiting as a huge success for Dreamworks Animation.

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