Monday 6 June 2011

US Box Office - 21st - 23rd August 2009

1. Inglourious Basterds - $37.6M - $37.6M
2. District 9 - $18.9M - $73.4M
3. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra -  $12.5M - $120.5M
4. The Time Traveler's Wife - $10M - $37.4M
5. Julie and Julia - $9M - $59.2M
6. Shorts - $6.6M - $6.6M
7. G-Force - $4.2M - $107.3M
8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - $3.5M - $290M
9. The Ugly Truth - $2.85M - $82.8M
10. Post Grad - $2.8M - $2.8

For an idea he's had for over ten years Inglourious Basterds came together, for a Tarantino movie, very quickly. Shooting took place around this time last year and the first screening was at the Cannes film festival in May. Tarantino has tinkered with the film since but that was strictly in terms of the edit as opposed to unfinished effects work or holes in the soundtrack. The financial failure of Grindhouse made a dent in his otherwise impressive record and while he's not a blockbuster film director, he's still got a reputation to maintain (again, a reputation some would say was tarnished by Death Proof, his entry for the Grindhouse film).

Inglourious Basterds is his ode to the 'men on a mission' genre, along with about thirty other ideas, themes and cinematic influences. Brad Pitt takes on the role of the leader of the Basterds, Aldo Raine, with the rest of the cast largely made up of lesser known actors (and at least one director), in a story about a group of Jewish soldiers during World War II who are sent into the war to spread as much death, destruction and fear as possible. Throw in a revenge plot and some spy shenanigans and you've got the making of a 2h 30m plus war epic.

The film reviewed very well, and with a lot riding on it for the Weinstein Company, trailers & clips have been widespread in the run up to release. Basterd's Friday take marks the biggest ever single day take for a Tarantino film with the weekend following suit (his previous weekend record was $25M for Kill Bill Vol.2 back in 2004) It needs to build on that from here on out to ensure it recoups its $70M production budget. Even its extended running time and R-rating don't appear to have phased many cinemagoers this weekend with the film managing to give the well reviewed and well liked District 9 a kicking in the process. This certainly represents one of Tarantino's more high profile films and it'll be interesting to see how it performs in the rest of the world. Out the door on the first weekend the film has performed better than many expected, especially with the aforementioned potential stumbling blocks. Direct competition, at least for the same audience, comes two-fold next weekend in the guise of the fourth Final Destination film and Rob Zombie's Halloween sequel. The Basterds might have had little trouble with the Nazis but heavy front-loading and two R-rated releases is another story altogether.

After a stunning opening weekend, District 9 stumbles somewhat in its second frame. Friday it was down a horror-film-like 61% but managed to recover somewhat, ending the weekend down 49% overall. The main reasons behind this drop are competition and front loading. Inglourious Basterds almost certainly shares a huge percentage of the demographic with District 9, and having seen the film last weekend that group chose Basterds this week. The front loading issue is something we've seen a hundred times - in the case of District 9 its viral campaign and limited trailers worked so well that anyone who was interested in the film wanted to see it the first chance they got. Which is great, but leaves the film decimated by the second frame, very similar to last year's Cloverfield, a film with which District 9 shares a number of traits. The word of mouth has been spectacular and it would be foolish to write the film off at this relatively early stage, and even if we did, it's already more than doubled its production budget and still has the rest of the world waiting for it. Expect Basterds to have a similar second frame after its stunning opening.

GI Joe, like G-Force, saw its $100M last Monday and while its managed a much better drop this weekend (46%), it's certainly slowing down and will begin to see a more rapid descent down the charts soon. Last weekend's drop, while also high, was far better than most analysts had expected leaving studio Paramount buoyed by the news - something they needed to be with $175M production budget riding on the film (Joe needs something in region of $350M in total box office to cover all costs). Internationally the film is around $10M behind its domestic counterpart but with a number of major territories having already seen release of the film, GI Joe is still a good way from safe waters.

The Time Traveller's Wife, which opened a little better than expected last weekend is down an alright 46%. This is quite acceptable for a romantic drama, they tend to hold better due the older female demographic not rushing out on opening day to see the film. With a cost around $39M, the film will have little trouble recouping its production cost from its domestic tally and its prints and advertising costs from the international market. This won't be a repeat of The Notebook style success for Rachel McAdams but it shouldn't harm her career either. The disappointment for this one is being laid at the studio's marketing department, with the director not far behind one imagines.

In direct competition, Julie & Julia has a far better third frame drop than its higher than expected second frame one. The word of mouth on this one is much stronger and the film reviewed far better than The Time Traveller's Wife. This one should top out around $80M, doubling its production budget in the process.

Shorts marks Robert Rodriguez's first return to the family action adventure genre since the Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl back in 2005. Shorts is the tale of a young boy who discovers a colourful rock with the power to grant wishes. Chaos ensues when the rest of the town gets wind of its power. This has arrived, like Shark Boy, with little of the fanfare of the Rodriguez' Spy Kids series of films and consequently the film has struggled even with the limited competition on offer for the family market (Harry Potter is a bit long in the tooth and not aimed at the younger market while G-Force is now in its fourth weekend - chances are families have either already seen that film or simply don't plan on doing so). With the exception of Four Rooms and El Mariachi, this marks Rodriguez's lowest ever opening. The situation is unlikely to improve and while it reviewed alright with most critics (45% fresh at the moment), that's unlikely to sway families. Perhaps another case of marketing letting a film down?

G-Force saw $100M last Monday, and even if the arrival of the family themed Shorts failed to have a great deal of impact on the four week old film. Elsewhere for G-Force, it's international take should hit $50M by Sunday night and there's little reason to think it won't equal or surpass its domestic tally over the coming weeks.

It'll be touch and go this weekend as to whether Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince can surpass the totals earned by Order of the Phoenix ($292M) and Goblet of Fire ($290M) when actuals are released on Monday. Only one Harry Potter film has made more money than those two and that's the original one with a domestic tally of $317M. Either way, Warner Bros is going to miss the boy wizard once Deathly Hallows is done with - in this day and age Harry Potter has been as close to a sure fire hit as you can get.

The Ugly Truth should be out of the top ten by next weekend and while nowhere near as successful as The Proposal (It didn't have the safety of the PG-13 rating going for it) it'll still leave the top ten having doubled its production budget.

Our third new release this weekend is rom-com Post-Grad, starring Gilmore Girl's Alexis Bledal, and aimed at the teenage/early twenties market, neither of which appeared to have made much of an appearance this weekend. With three other romantic themed films in the top ten Post-Grad needed to offer more than its plot could offer - a new college graduate ends up living with her eccentric family while looking for the right job and the right guy. It won't see another weekend in the top ten.

Outside the top ten, X Games 3D The Movie failed to have any impact whatsoever, taking just $800k from over 1350 locations. The Jeremy Piven vehicle The Goods managed just one weekend in the top ten while the limited released [500] Days of Summer currently sits on $22M from a budget of $7.5M

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