Friday, 11 February 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 23th - 25th November 2007

1. Enchanted - $35.3M - $50M
2. This Christmas - $18.6M - $27.1M
3. Beowulf - $16.2M - $56.3M
4. Hitman - $13M - $21M
5. Bee Movie - $12M - $112M
6. Fred Claus - $10.7M - $53M
7. August Rush - $9.4M - $13.3M
8. American Gangster - $9.2M - $115.7M
9. The Mist - $9M - $13M
10. No Country for Old Men - $8.1M - $16.6M

Thanksgiving weekend is always a bit of a mess - lots of new releases, some opening Wednesday, some Friday and always at least one upset. This Thanksgiving that award goes to The Mist, which we'll get to later on. Thanksgiving's winner by a country mile is Enchanted, the latest Disney family movie which is a mix of traditional animation and live actions as fairytale princess who falls through a rift and ends up in modern day New York. The key element here is family - which rules during Thanksgiving as whole families take a traditional visit to the cinema. Enchanted certainly struck a chord to the tune of $50M, which is higher than some big summer movies opened with, and certainly one of the highest opening takes of the last few months.

Of course, we need to factor in the Wednesday opening but then, Enchanted still did some decent numbers during the normal three day weekend period. Expect the film to continue to perform well during the week and into next weekend. While there are other family orientated movies in the top ten, only Enchanted is fresh - Bee Movie and Fred Claus are seeing weekend numbers three and two respectively - most people will either have already seen those movies or simply catch them if Enchanted was sold out. Worthy of note is that Enchanted was also one of the best reviews movies of the year, with a 93% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Our first surprise (apart from Enchanted performing so well) is This Christmas. An urban comedy drama in the vein of Tyler Perry, this fairly limited release (1800 locations) had one of the best screen/takings averages of any movie in the top ten and shows some smart demographic targeting enabling it to push out many bigger, showier movies. Like Tyler Perry, the movie might see a big drop next weekend but given its relatively low budget, it should be well on the way to recouping its production budget, if it hasn't already. This Christmas is the tale of a family who are gathering together for Christmas for the first time in four years.

Beowulf takes a bit of a hit in second weekend simply due to the wealth of new releases, two of which will have affected it directly (Hitman and The Mist). Still, the drop isn't as high as it could have been and that's again thanks to its sterling Imax 3D showings. Making up 40% of its takings last weekend, it appears that many people are foregoing the traditional cinema screens to see the movie in its best possible format. Beowulf should continue to do well from its Imax screens long after its location count of traditional screens has taken a hit. It's difficult to gauge how well Beowulf is doing - its $150M budget seems a long way off but its reception in Imax 3D, is nothing short of revolutionary. If only there were more screens.

Hyped videogame adaptation Hitman falls foul of thanksgiving, being the hardest rating 'R' movie in the top ten. While Resident Evil is an established franchise (with half decent opening weekends) Hitman is the new kid on the block and had to contend with The Mist, American Gangster and Beowulf for some decent box office numbers. That opening of $21M isn't too bad - Doom opened to $15M while Silent Hill did $20M but the studio must have been questioning whether moving the release from October to a busy Thanksgiving was such a smart idea.

In October, that opening could easily have guaranteed the top spot and probably another $5M. Hitman has had a tough few months - the rumours of a PG-13 release, the director apparently being replaced by the guy who edited down Die Hard 4.0. and the delay only a month or so before its original release, could have all contributed in some way. Expect Hitman to drop sharply next weekend, but continue to take in money thanks to a lack of new releases over the next fortnight. Obviously a movie for fans because while it was critically destroyed, fan votes at RottenTomatoes have it pegged at around 72% approval.

Facing off against Enchanted, Bee Movie struggled but still finally managed to cross the $100M mark. The Jerry Seinfeld CGI movie will probably be classed as a limited success - it's taken good money, that's for certain, but still has a hell of a hill to climb to recoup its production budget, especially with Thanksgiving only giving the movie a limited boost. Similarly, Fred Claus didn't see the expected boost and currently sits on $53M. Both movies appear to have performed well compared to totals last weekend but again those inflated Wednesday and Thursday figures come into play.

August Rush, another family orientated movie doesn't perform quite as well as Enchanted, entering the charts at no.7 with a not bad $13.3M since Wednesday. The music based drama features Freddie Highmore as the abandoned son of two musicians who's helped along to musical success by the Fagan-eque Robin Williams. The film opened in 2,300 location - while Thanksgiving can be a boom for some movies, others can fall through the cracks. August Rush might have fared better next weekend up against just one new release but $13M from a budget of $30M isn't a bad place to start.

American Gangster has seen $115M now and might go on to take as much as $130M by the end of its run. The film has begun to shed its location count but given the limited amount of new releases in coming weeks, it should still find a place in the top ten. Proof again, if it were needed, that intelligent R rated movies can be both critically and financially successful.

Our last new entry is The Mist, which really had no place being released at this time of the year when it could easily faced off against Saw IV just a few weeks ago and done deservedly better. A notch above the run of the mill horror we've seen this year, The Mist received some very good reviews (a minor miracle itself seeing how critics tend to knock a movie down just for being part of the horror genre) with great pedigree in writer/director Frank Darabont, himself successful with previous Stephen King adaptations The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. Sadly, unless word of mouth intervenes, The Mist will be one of the few movies in the top ten this weekend that won't be there next.

Rounding out the top ten is the white hot No Country for Old Men. Expanded onto just 860 screens this weekend, the film took a whopping $8M (compare that to the $9M that The Mist took from double that amount of screens). The way this is going, we might see it become the Coen's most successful film. Fargo ended up with $24M in the US while The Big Lebowski finished with $17M. Let's hope this expands further and gets the chance to reap in further rewards.

One other release of note, the Bob Dylan related flick I'm Not There opened on 130 screens and took $1M.

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