Tuesday 15 February 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 29th - 31st May 2009

1. Up -  $68.2M - $68.2M
2. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - $25.5M - $105.3M
3. Drag Me to Hell - $16.6M - $16.6M
4. Terminator Salvation - $16.1M - $90.7M
5. Star Trek - $12.8M - $209.5M
6. Angels and Demons - $11.2M - $104.8M
7. Dance Flick -  $4.9M - $19.2M
8. X-Men Origins: Wolverine - $3.9M - $170.9M
9. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past - $1.9M - $50M
10. Obsessed - $0.6M - $67.5M

Up is Pixar's tenth release, following up the $63M opening of Wall-E and was probably an even riskier proposition than the little robot that could movie. Based on the adventures of Carl Fredricksen, an eighty-something year old man who decides to attach helium-filled balloons to his house and see what the world has to offer, Up could have been a difficult sell for Pixar but as usual they played the pre-release hype perfectly - releasing just enough information at the right time, with some wonderfully pitched trailers followed by some of the best reviews of 2009. Up opened to a huge $68M, only The Incredibles and Finding Nemo opened to more box office but it has to be noted that the film was also shown in RealD in a number of locations and those tickets sell for at least $2 more than a standard screening - even so, no one can dispute that huge opening.

In terms of the market, it only had to fend of the slightly disappointing Night at the Museum 2 and the brand of Pixar alone would have most family movies running a mile (witness Monsters Vs Aliens playing it safe with a March release and Ice Age 3 favouring a July 1st debut). Furthermore, apart from the aforementioned NATM2 and Monsters Vs Aliens, the family market have had precious little to spend their money on. Next weekend it'll face off against Land of the Lost but should hold up better than Wall-E did in its second weekend (a high, for a Pixar movie, 48%) on general release. Coming releases shouldn't directly affect Up's market share and with some strong word of mouth and exceptional reviews it looks like Pixar could be looking at another $220M+ release.

After spending many a year in the big leagues with the Spiderman series, Sam Raimi returns to his horror roots with Drag Me To Hell. Alison Lohman stars as a recently promoted bank clerk who turns down an old ladies request for leniency on her mortgage repayments and finds herself cursed to be dragged to hell in three days. Reviews have been through the roof on this one, with many critics signalling it out as one of the best horror films in years. It currently sits on 94% fresh at RottenTomatoes.com - rare for any film let alone a PG-13 rated horror movie. But hype on this one has been pretty low key (just one single trailer) and that, combined with the usual horror stigma may be why it's opened on the lower end of expectations - even poorly reviewed horror like The Unborn and A Haunting in Connecticut opened to $20M weekends - albeit against limited competition.

That said, there's few people who expected the film to have bested Terminator Salvation, a film in only its second weekend of release. It's tough to compare this to any of Raimi's recent work in box office terms as the Spiderman films have been massive successes (with budgets to match). It's also been a bit too long since Army of Darkness to compare its take to Raimi's previous horror films. Hopefully its fantastic word of mouth will keep it in the top five next weekend.

After a strong, if unspectacular start last weekend, Night at the Museum 2 drops 50% on a Friday to Friday basis, which is probably a better than expected hold for the film against Up but not great for the film overall. The Ben Stiller family comedy saw $100M sometime during its run on Sunday. With only a $25M weekend and two wide releases next weekend (not forgetting repeat Up business), there's little chance of NATM2 seeing much more than $130M, a fair way from the $250M taken by its prequel.

Similar to last weekend, the news for Terminator Salvation is worse. After a hugely disappointing opening ($53M three day total) it's down a painful 65% from last Friday's take (and 62% for the weekend as a whole). Furthermore, it's possible it won't see much more than $100M by even next weekend, a figure many thought it would achieve in its first frame of release. It'll open up to international markets in the coming weeks but it's already more than got its work cut out for it. In one weekend it appeared doubtful that we were witnessing a new Terminator franchise in the making. This one will cost Halcyon, who put up the $200M production budget, dearly, while Warner Bros (domestic distribution) and Sony (International distribution) should just about recoup their costs. Terminator Salvation will need every penny of its coming international grosses to get anywhere near that $200M figure.

Star Trek hit the big $200M on Friday evening and continues to perform well in its third weekend on general release. It's currently the biggest movie of 2009, having surpassed the total of Monsters Vs Aliens during the last week. Elsewhere in the world Star Trek is bordering on $100M, a figure it should have achieved when numbers are available for this weekend - and there's still plenty of locations awaiting the release of JJ Abrams reboot. Expect the studio to fast track a sequel for release in 2011. On the other hand, Angels & Demons has reached $200M when you combine its domestic and international grosses - with the international gross just surpassing the domestic one when broken down. This has to be a disappointment for Sony who were hoping for something approaching the $758M that The Da Vinci Code grossed. Where does this leave the proposed third movie, The Lost Symbol? Instead of greenlighting the film, expect Sony to wait until the final numbers are in before making a decision.

After a better than predicted start last weekend, Dance Flick is down over 50%. The film should just about recoup its production budget but may have to wait until leaving the top ten before seeing that figure. It'll be another minor success for the Wayans family but we may have to wait a while longer for that I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka sequel. Wolverine should manage another weekend or so in the top ten but won't see $200M on the domestic market, ending up somewhere around $185-190M by summer's end. Internationally the film's take should cross $150M by Sunday night.

Ghost Of Girlfriend's Past should just about manage $50M but it'll be out of the top ten next weekend. Of Matthew McConaughey's recent romantic comedies, this one will finish with the lowest gross but once it's out on the international market it should see another $50M and end up a modest hit. Rounding us out this weekend is the Beyonce thriller Obsessed, ending its top ten run with an impressive $67M.

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