1. 2012 - $65M - $65M
2. A Christmas Carol - $22.3M - $63.3M
3. The Men Who Stare At Goats - $6.2M - $23.4M
4. Precious - $6.1M - $8.9M
5. This Is It - $5.1M - $67.2M
6. The Fourth Kind - $4.7M - $20.5M
7. Couples Retreat - $4.2M - $102.1M
8. Paranormal Activity - $4.2M - $103.8M
9. Law Abiding Citizen - $3.9M - $67.3M
10. The Box - $3.1M - $13.2M
If anyone knows how to destroy famous landmarks and the world surrounding them it's Roland Emmerich, director of such previous disaster flicks The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day and Godzilla. He returns to end the world again with 2012, a two and half hour CGI extravaganza starring John Cusack and Amanda Peet. The film had originally been scheduled for release mid-summer this year but for reasons that have not been disclosed (rumour is the massive amount of effects work required to bring it to life caused the delay), the film was pushed back by Sony to this weekend. Up against next to no competition, 2012 was ready to clean up. And clean up it has with an impressive take of $65M, and an opening Friday of $23.7M. Early estimates pegged the film anywhere from $55M-85M but the film's extended running time could have harmed its chances for a bigger weekend as the amount of times the a cinema could show the film would have been somewhat limited (that said the film is in over 3,400 locations).
This is Emmerich's second biggest opening, surpassed only by the $68M take of The Day After Tomorrow in 2004 and easily eclipsing the $35M scored by 10,000BC. Looking at those figures it's worth pointing out that Day After Tomorrow opened at the tail end of May when the majority of schools were out for summer, increasing the number of potential cinemagoers. Reviews for 2012 weren't kind but a film like this is largely sold on the spectacle and not the dramatic sequences or plot, so they had little impact on people's decision on whether to see the film. Made for $200M, 2012 has no major competition in the conventional blockbuster guise next weekend but will have to face off against Twilight: New Moon, not to mention a certain amount of front-loading from this frame to deal with too. Internationally the film performed even better, taking over $160M. Are we looking at one of the few movies left in 2009 that's capable of $200M+ box office? Next weekend will tell us that more than this one could on that front, but for now 2012 has gotten off to a start that's anything but disastrous.
A Christmas Carol disappointed last weekend, more so when the actual numbers revealed that the film has done even worse than its already low estimate had it pegged. When you look closer, with 3D movie tickets costing an estimated 15% more than conventional ones, we see that A Christmas Carol wasn't too far from very dangerous ground come Monday night. The second Friday on release its take was down a much less worrying 37%, and a very impressive 25% for the weekend as a whole. As was mentioned in last weekend's report A Christmas Carol is in this one for the long haul, not just this year but for the next five at least (Until Zemekis releases The Nutcracker, which was announced this week) but the production budget of $200M is doing the film no favours. The international tally have yet to appear but they'll need to be pretty solid to keep the film from disappointing this year. Disney aren't out of the woods on this one yet, even with a decent second weekend.
The Men Who Stare at Goats stumbles somewhat after a better than expected opening three days and ends the weekend down 51%. That might not sound too good until we factor in the films production budget - just $25M according to BoxOfficeMojo. Even with the limited release overseas and the lower than expected numbers this weekend, Goats will end up being a profitable little hit for Overture Films (who will see similar success with Law Abiding Citizen too). Marketing was decent for the film, as were the trailers, but the title and subject matter seemed to have put off a wary public, with the middling reviews not helping matters. It'll be interesting to see what figure Goats ends up with come the end of its theatrical run.
After performing exceptionally well in a very, very limited capacity last weekend, Precious expands into a still minuscule amount of locations (just 174) and sees a Paranormal Activity style return for its effort. While this one cost a little more than Activity to produce, at $10M it'd still be classed as low budget. But let's not forget, the film has almost seen that figure without any kind of major expansion. After smashing into the top ten this weekend you can expect Lionsgate to expand it as fast and wide as possible and for it to hover around the top five for a few weeks to come. Precious is the story of a young African-American girl and the trials & tribulations life throws at her. When she is accepted at an alternative school she discovers a way to break out of the difficult life she has led so far.
This Is It might be floundering somewhat on the domestic market but the international one is more than making up for it. The Michael Jackson concert movie will have crossed the $200M mark in total global ticket sales come Sunday night - over $140M of that figure comes from the aforementioned international market. The best thing for Sony is that the merchandising and future sales market is just warming up for This Is It, which may end up being a half a billion dollar earner in six months time.
The Fourth Kind may have been hampered by Paranormal Activity comparisons last weekend but it still managed to open much higher than expected. This weekend however the public got wise and left the film down a nasty 65% from the same time last Friday. By next weekend the film will be on its last legs and be history a week later. The silver lining must surely it be its low production budget - I'd be surprised if this cost even $10M to produce so its unlikely Universal will be too phased by its quick vanishing act.
Paranormal Activity saw $100M on Friday night, further cementing the film as one of the most profitable titles to ever been released. The rest of the world now awaits the ultra low budget horror/thriller, along with another potential $100M in ticket sales. Paranormal Activity isn't alone in seeing $100M this weekend either as Couples Retreat, now in its sixth weekend on general release also crossed the $100M line on Friday. The Vince Vaughn comedy got off to a good start against no competition but a couple of worrying subsequent weekends had the potential to stop the film in its tracks. Luckily Halloween didn't bring a wealth of comedy competition leaving the film as pretty much the only choice for an audience looking for romance and laughs. Expect similar numbers overseas.
Law Abiding Citizen is done & dusted now and ended up being a far more successful picture than almost anyone could of expected it to be. The film should finish up with around $80M come the end of its theatrical run. Finally, rounding us out is Richard Kelly's The Box, which ended up with a little more money than expected last weekend but couldn't do much to entice audiences back again this weekend. It won't get another chance.
At under 900 locations, Richard Curtis' retitled Pirate Radio (a.k.a The Boat That Rocked) failed to secure a top ten position, ending the weekend with just $2.8M. Elsewhere, in a limited capacity Fantastic Mr Fox made $260k and The Boondock Saints II: All Saint's Day made $1M.