Tuesday 15 February 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 9th - 11th May 2008

1. Iron Man - $50M - $177.1M
2. Speed Racer - $20.2M - $20.2M
3. What Happens In Vegas - $20M - $20M
4. Made of Honor - $7.6M - $26.2M
5. Baby Mama - $5.7M - $40.3M
6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall - $3.7M - $50.7M
7. Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay - $3.1M - $30.7M
8. Forbidden Kingdom - $1.9M - $48.2M
9. Nim's Island - $1.3M - $44.2M
10. Redbelt - $1.1M - $1.2M
(11. Prom Night - $1M - $42.8M)

Iron Man retains the top spot and is off around 48%, which is a lot better than a lot of the big openers last years. With the hype machine in full swing it was inevitable that the film would be front loaded but strong word of mouth and repeat business helped it see off the two new releases comfortably. The film has already made over $275M in total box office sales and that's after just ten days of general release. Prince Caspian will knock it down a place next weekend but neither of this week's releases offered it any kind of serious competition. A rarity for summer movies, Iron Man received almost universally positive reviews, with Robert Downey Jnr coming in for particular praise. A sequel to Iron Man has already been announced and will be in theatres in 2010.

Speed Racer, the Wachowski Brother's first film as directors since The Matrix Revolutions in 2003, struggled to find its audience. Based on a 1960s cartoon, the multi-coloured CGI/live action extravaganza was a marketing nightmare it seems, with trailers creating confusion as to who the film was for (The Fast N The Furious for five year olds is just one descriptions I've read). Consequently it appears the public assumed that being brightly coloured meant it was a kids film and the key 13-18 year market largely ignored it and went to see Iron Man again. Ok, but then the kids forgot to show up in force as well.

A shame as those who have seen it have enjoyed the film a great deal. Billed as a 'live action cartoon' the all green-screen film cost a huge $180M and will now go on to be the first casualty of summer. Trouble for Speed Racer had been on the cards for a while and a recent survey showed the film tracking well below expectations. Things only got worse from there and Box Office Prophets claim the more the public saw of the film the less they wanted to see it (!). A costly flop on one level perhaps but a step forward in terms of cinematic visuals?

The awfulness that is What Happens in Vegas falls in line with the opening takes of other Ashton Kutchner movies (Just Married $17M, Guess Who $20M, The Guardian $18M). Co-starring Cameron Diaz the story revolves around two people who get drunk then married by accident in Las Vegas, only for one of them to then win $3M. Cue quickie divorce hilarity. Surely they won't fall in love while they're trying to hate each other? Both leads can play the roles in their sleep and from looking at the trailer it appears they have. Still, the public love them both and even with all the other comedies in the top ten 'What Happens' managed to carve out a decent opening weekend. With such a close call, there's every chance that Speed Racer and Vegas will swop places when final numbers are released. Even if Racer does hold its spot, it'd just be like sugar on a cyanide pill.

Made of Honor, faced with the competition from 'What Happens' slips a couple of notches after a not too bad opening last weekend. The romantic comedy already had enough competition to fight off but throwing yet another comedy (a romantic one at that) into the mix has further dented its chances. It's still got some way to go to recoup its, quite costly for the genre, $40M budget. Dempsey won't be seeing another 'Enchanted' with this one. As alternative programming it didn't quite work and may have made more money had it been released in a quieter time period. Box office champ just a few weeks ago, Baby Mama has now recouped its production budget as its begins a steady descent out of the charts. The $30M comedy was something of a surprise no.1 when it bested Harold & Kumar, which hasn't faired quite as well.

Our fourth comedy in the charts is also the oldest one but has gone on to do better than its first weekend take could have revealed. The Judd Apatow produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall has now seen close to $70M in global ticket sales and while it's no 'Knocked Up', it's also no major embarrassment either and has helped launch Jason Segal as a movie star rather than a supporting player. Hovering around the $30M point, Harold & Kumar is the final comedy in the top ten this weekend and may not have lasted this long were it not for the lack of new releases. While $30M doesn't seem too spectacular it's worth noting that its production budget was around $12M and 'Escape' took more in its first weekend than the prequel 'White Castle' did in its entire theatrical run. Besides, a movie such as this is just using its theatrical release to advertise its DVD one, a place where H&K will really clean up.

Forbidden Kingdom edges on closer to $50M while Nim's Island, the oldest movie in the top ten lasted a lot longer than expected, especially after such a poor opening weekend. Will it manage one more week?

Finally, the mix martial arts movie from David Mamet, Red Belt, sees very little in the way of business and might not figure in the top ten. It's looks like this was released at this time of year by a studio hoping to cash in on its action sequences rather than its dramatic ones. Prom Night has doubled its production budget and has still yet to see a release practically anywhere else in the world. The fact that this trash could see $100M is the real horror here. (I mention Prom Night again even though it's in 11th place because again once numbers are issued it could drop back into the top ten)

With early summer especially, you're limited by the number of new release each weekend so older films still get a look in. Next weekend sees just one new release, and while its a big one, it'll still only push one of those older films out of the top ten giving the others a chance for a few more precious dollars.

How do you think Prince Caspian will fair? The book doesn't have the same weight as The Lion, Witch, Wardrobe but the studio is wisely keeping the Chronicles of Narnia title right in the forefront, maximising exposure. 'Lion' had only King Kong to face off against where as Prince Caspian is up against the current releases and also has the bound-to-be-huge Indiana Jones breathing down its neck.

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