Tuesday, 15 February 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 22nd - 24th May 2009

1. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - $53.5M - $53.5M
2. Terminator Salvation -  $43M - $56.3M
3. Star Trek - $21.9M - $183.5M
4. Angels and Demons - $21.4M - $81.5M
5. Dance Flick - $11.1M - $11.1M
6. X-Men Origins: Wolverine - $7.8MM - $163M
7. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past -  $3.7M - $45.8M
8. Obsessed - $2M - $65.9M
9. Monsters vs. Aliens - $1.3M - $192.9M
10. 17 Again - $1.2M - $60.3M

In something of a surprise, Night at the Museum 2 manages to wangle the top spot from the expected-to-be-number-one Terminator Salvation. The sequel sees Ben Stiller's museum security guard Larry Daley return along with many of his co-stars from the first film (Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams etc) and travel to the illustrious Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C where he's joined by Enchanted's Amy Adams and does battle with Hank Azaria's Kahmunrah (amongst many others).

The sequel to December 2006's smash hit ($250M) opened strong as the family market turned out in their droves, having had precious little since March's Monster Vs Aliens to write home about. With the first film being a festive release it was unsure how Part 2 would handle the competition - not only a warming up summer season of films but opening opposite one of the most anticipated films of the year. Out of the gate on Friday it beat the day old Terminator Salvation by half a million dollars and continued to perform just as well as the Memorial Day weekend drew on.

That opening day take of $15.3M was bigger than any single day take of the first film's entire box office run. While Sunday is expected to be slightly lower than normal, an inflated holiday Monday should make up for any shortcomings and perhaps send a few extra million its way. And Night at the Museum 2 needs a head start because unlike that first film, this one will get hit hard as early as next Friday, with the release of Pixar's latest film, Up, by which time it needs to be either close to, or having achieved $100M to keep it out of trouble with the studio. When all is said and done, it got off to a better start than Terminator Salvation but is also perhaps on the lower end of the studios expectations. Something to note: Children's tickets are cheaper in the US so imagine what the film could have done had they all been full price ticket sales.

A Terminator film without James Cameron was one thing, but one pretty much without Arnold Schwarzenegger as well? Give him credit, McG tried hard to win over fans of the series, one or two missteps excluded, and the initial trailers actually looked pretty decent. Christian Bale's on-set rant probably did him more damage than the film itself, and offered some well timed hyped for the upcoming film (not as much hype as a leaked Wolverine work print but still..). The PG-13 rating and lack of a blessing from James Cameron took the edge of things but it was starting to look like McG could have actually pulled it off. But as time wore on WB seemed to be getting cold feet, releasing more and more footage (a la Watchmen) and once the reviews started to roll in, trouble was afoot.

Terminator Salvation was released midnight on Wednesday, giving it a full days headstart over Night at the Museum 2. Thursday clocked in at an ok $13.4M but Friday's take only saw a 14% increase, which would have already gotten the studio concerned (Box Office Prophets cited Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls as a good example - over the same weekend last year it increased Thursday to Friday by nearly 20%). Furthermore, Museum 2's family market ensured it a bigger Friday and Terminator Salvation just couldn't compete. It's hard to compare the film's performance to others in the series, especially given the age of the first two films. Rise of the Machines opened to $44M back in 2003 and given it somehow shared the same budget costs as Salvation ($200M), it might look safe to conclude Salvation is a success in comparison but this, along with Harry Potter was WB's tent pole for the summer and after a disappointing result for Watchmen, $56M was not the start they were looking for.

Where does it go from here? It's hard to say but I'd imagine up isn't an option. Given it's lack of progress over the weekend the rot might already have set in and negative word of mouth will only spread from here out - made worse by it pulling in the headlines this weekend for the wrong reasons. Next weekend it might hold ok against Pixar's new flick (Night at the Museum will get a harder fight in that arena) but while it doesn't face direct competition until the end of June, it'll still face off against at least 12 wide opening releases. Given that many analysts (and the studio no doubt) had this down as the first potential $100M of the season, things aren't looking too rosy for McG and Terminator Salvation.

Star Trek took a higher knock this weekend thanks to Terminator Salvation but still managed a weekend to weekend drop of less than 50%. Given its fantastic word of mouth there's a good chance it will last longer in the top ten than the aforementioned Terminator film. Internationally the film has performed well from a relatively limited number of territories and could clear a global total (including its US take) of over $275M by Monday night. As it stands, only Monsters Vs Aliens has taken more money in 2009 and there's every chance it'll be amongst the $200M club come the end of summer.

On a Friday to Friday basis, Angels & Demons is down a painful 64%, a figure it could well have done without after its lacklustre domestic opening (it beat the week old Star Trek by just $3M). The Tom Hanks thriller might pick up a better holiday weekend drop but it's still not great for the film, but help is at hand thanks its success in the rest of the world's markets, where it has already taken over $100M. It's too early to say whether the film will achieve that figure in North America but with two more wide releases next weekend alongside a suddenly crowded top ten, Angels & Demons is going to continue to struggle.

Our final new entry is the latest comedy from The Wayans Brothers, who've seen varying success with White Women, Little Man & Scary Movie. This time around they've gone for another straight spoof, targeting the ever increasing dance movie genre. Given the time of year Dance Flick was always going to struggle, but perhaps scored some points with those people looking for a no-brainer comedy as opposed to the big summer flicks doing the rounds. The increasingly limited success of the (unrelated) 'movie' series might have further damaged its chances but it should manage at least a couple more weekends in the top ten and recoup its $25M production budget.

Wolverine has slowed right down, also taking a knock from Terminator this weekend. The Hugh Jackman film may have suffered further, having to give up a number of its locations to make way for the two new big releases. The great news for the film is that it crossed the $300M mark in total global ticket sales during the last couple of days - its domestic gross versus its international one is separated by less than $10M. There's not a lot of life left in the much maligned flick but given how things looked six weeks ago, with poor reviews and a leaked work print to contend with, Wolverine has made the best of a bad situation.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past has another pretty good weekend drop but as it didn't start off too well, it's a lot less to shout about. The romantic comedy has little in the way of competition but like Wolverine, has pretty much had its day. Anyone who wanted to see the film will almost certainly have done so, while everyone else is giving it a wide berth. All told it should recoup its $60M production budget before the end of its theatrical run but it's unlikely to see much more.

Our three older releases make up the edge of the top ten. Obsessed has nothing left to prove, having made a truck load of cash for Screen Gems. It may yet see one more weekend in the top ten. Monsters Vs Aliens sails so very close to $200M but with Night at the Museum 2 taking the remnants of its family market and Up barking at the door, the film will need to wait until it's outside the top ten to attain that figure. By the end of the holiday weekend it should have bested Madagascar's $193M and only the Shrek series and 2008's Kung Fu Panda will have been bigger hits for Dreamworks Animation. Zac Efron's 17 Again managed to cross the $60M thresh hold on Saturday and might be luck enough to earn a global total of $100M when all is said and done.

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