Tuesday 15 February 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 6th - 8th March 2009

1. Watchmen - $55.6M - $55.6M
2. Madea Goes to Jail - $8.8M - $76.5M
3. Taken - $7.4M - $118M
4. Slumdog Millionaire - $6.9M - $125.4M
5. Paul Blart: Mall Cop - $4.2M - $133.6M
6. He's Just Not That Into You - $4M - $84.6M
7. Coraline - $3.3M - $65.6M
8. Confessions of a Shopaholic - $3.1M - $38.3M
9. The Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience - $2.7M - $16.7M
10. Fired Up - $2.6M - $13.3M

To cover the history of the production of Watchmen would taken a post three times the size of the average box office report. Suffice to say, it's been ongoing in one form or another since the release of the source material. Terry Gilliam was set to give it a shot, Paul Greengrass was said to have enter pre-production but it was Zack Snyder, coming off the success of 300, that finally took up the reigns and brought the much revered graphic novel to the big screen. Even then, with the film in the can, there was debate as to whether it would see the light of day after Fox launched a lawsuit claiming they still had the rights to produce a Watchmen film and not Warner Bros. Deals were made and Watchmen launched into 3,611 theatres (the widest ever opening for an R-rated movie).

Reviews were fair to good for the 2 hour 43 minute epic (it currently sits at 66% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes) but it was a tough sell for Warner Bros. A highly regarded, complex graphic novel with no easy hero or hook to hang the film off. That said, Warner's appeared to play a blinder in marketing the film, with trailers and other related media at least giving the film a "better than expected" vibe around the internet. But would that interest spill over to the mainstream? A 2h 43 minute R-rated film with no major names attached?

Midnight takes on Thursday more than doubled that of 300, a film with which it shares a similar box office trajectory, but Friday overall was lower than 300's $28M. As the weekend moved on Watchmen endured a 24% drop on Saturday and a further 39% drop on Sunday but finished the weekend with an impressive $55M. WB were never expecting The Dark Knight type of figures and Watchmen had a lot working against it, it's R-rating and running time being just two of those things. While the public were more than aware of the movie, a number may have still had no idea what the film was meant to be about. Where does this leave Watchmen? That depends on what side of the fence you want to sit - It broke out and took $55M and for a pre-summer blockbuster that's pretty huge. But 300 mananged $70M in the same time period, though it was a shorter film and easier sell. Competitors will attempt to paint it as a disappointment but I imagine WB are breathing a sigh of relief that the film managed to break $50M.

Now the film is on general release what becomes more interesting is how it'll fair in its second frame - WB need it to have a strong second-viewing ratio while also picking up some customers from any good word of mouth established from this weekend. It also had this weekend to itself, next frame it'll face three new movies, one of which may attract a similar demographic to Watchmen. Estimates peg the budget at anywhere between $120m and $150M, excluding prints and ad costs. WB produced the film but Paramount kicked in a percentage to handle distribution overseas (receiving a take in the process), and lets not forget that Fox have earned a "free" cut of profits too, so it needs to dig in to the top ten and stay there (take a leaf from Paul Blart & Taken). It's a few interesting weekends ahead but Watchmen is our no.1 movie this weekend.

Madea Goes to Jail is now Tyler Perry's biggest ever theatrical release - and it won't be his last as he's just signed up with Lionsgate to writer, direct and produce two more. Perry is a godsend for Lionsgate as they can consistently rely on him to produce cheap movies that turn a fast profit. With three new releases next weekend it'll probably get kicked into touch a little more but it's had two more decent weekends than Perry feel usually scores.

Taken will have had a bit of a knock from crossover audience seeing Watchmen but $7.4M for the fifth weekend on release is still damn good for a film that was all but dismissed prior to release. It'll only need a few more weekends before it has a stunning global total of over $200M. I think there's every chance we'll see a sequel greenlit any day now.

Buoyed by its Oscar win (and it's now large location count) Slumdog Millionaire crossed the $120M line on Friday. The little film that could has already taken over $215M in total global ticket sales and word of mouth is continuing to get people into theatres. By the end of the domestic theatrical run it should have cleared $145M, from a budget of just $15M.

Defying all expectations, Paul Blart:Mall Cop actually moves back up the chart in its seventh weekend on release. It'll probably be its swansong but should still be guaranteed at least one more weekend in the top ten. Like Taken, Blart has performed way above and beyond Sony's hopes and predictions.

Again, rom-com's He's Just Not That Into You and Confessions of a Shopaholic continue to spar toward the lower end of the top ten. Both films have benefited, in a small way, from Watchmen this weekend, offering alternatives for the female demographic. Not only that but the limited number of new releases over the past month has meant they've had time to breathe and establish themselves without being pushed out of the lucrative (and noticeable) top ten positions. They should end their runs with $95M and $45M respectively.

Henry Selick's Coraline took a tumble last weekend thanks to The Jonas Brothers. Unfortunately, now that that movie has come and pretty much gone, Coraline hasn't managed to recover too well (it actually finished in 10th place for Friday) and may not best the $74M took by Selick's Nightmare Before Christmas before leaving the top ten.

Meanwhile The Jonas Brothers would be more than happy with Coraline's total. After a disappointing start last weekend (coming in with almost two thirds LESS than some analysts had it pegged it would make) the film tumbled a killer 83% on a Friday to Friday basis and failed to recover in any way over the weekend. Proof, if it were needed, that without Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers don't appear to have much of an audience.

Thanks to only one new release this weekend, the comedy Fired Up manages a top ten placing. It's so far taken roughly half of what it cost to produce and this will be its last weekend in the top ten. It should go on to clean up on DVD, where it will surely be released unrated.

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