Monday 6 June 2011

US Box Office - 28th - 30th August 2009

1. The Final Destination - $28.3M - $28.3M
2. Inglourious Basterds - $20M - $73.8M
3. Halloween II - $17.4M - $17.4M
4. District 9 - $10.7M - $90.8M
5. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra - $8M - $132..4M
6. Julie and Julia - $7.4M - $70.9M
7. The Time Traveller's Wife - $6.7M - $48.1M
8. Shorts - $4.8M - $13.5M
9. Taking Woodstock -$3.7M - $3.7M
10. G-Force - $2.8M - $111.8M

It's risky enough releasing two R-rated flicks on the same weekend but when both flicks also target the exact same audience? You're going to end up with neither film performing as well as it could but more than that, you're going to have someone finishing in second place (or third in this case). While The Final Destination and Halloween 2 both found an audience, each took a knock from the other but ultimately it was the former film that won out. The fourth film in what was perhaps considered to be a dead series, The Final Destination ramps up everything to eleven and throws it into your face via 3D (which also means ramping up the ticket price too). Unlike a number of film series that have struggled to top the previous entry, the third Destination film was actually the most successful of the series so far, narrowly trailed by the original film ($54M versus $53M - ironically the best film of the series, part 2, floundered with $46M). This new entry follows the familiar plot, a group of people who narrowly avoided death during a major smash at a NASCAR style race track find themselves being stalked and killed by forces unknown.

Hype for this one was has been kept pretty low key until quite recently and with no stars to hang the film off, the producers had hoped that the set pieces along with the aforementioned 3D would be enough to steer the public away from Michael Myer's return. The good news is that The Final Destination opened to the biggest weekend haul of the series so far, besting the original film's opening weekend total by the end of Friday night. Even with the 3D it's unlikely the film cost more than $45M to produce so New Line should see a tidy return on their investment. But even for an established horror series, the usual rules will apply, from such a front loaded opening expect a dip next weekend of up to 65%. Reviews and word of mouth were unlikely to affect the film but next weekend's Gamer will be in direct competition for the film's audience. Expect Final Destination to be the best of the series in terms of box office, but be out of the charts just as quickly as My Bloody Valentine 3D was back in February.

Getting off to a fantastic start last weekend, Inglourious Basterds took a hit on Friday thanks to the combined strength of the new comers but still finishes the weekend down an impressive 47%, giving it a slightly stronger drop than District 9's second weekend fall. After just one week on release the film has already earned a global total of over $100M and while it's too early to know whether it can best Pulp Fiction's $107M to become Tarantino's biggest domestic film, it'll certainly give the 1994 film a run for its money. In fact, thanks to solid reviews and decent word of mouth, Basterds could see itself hanging around the top half of the chart a little longer than this weekend's new entries. Once the dust has settled expect this to be Tarantino's biggest global film of his career so far. (Again, a record currently sitting with Pulp Fiction at $213M).

From one R-rated flick to the next. After directing a remake of John Carpenter's seminal classic Halloween, Rob Zombie vowed he was done with remakes and perhaps even horror. Having already begun developing his bare knuckle boxer film Tyrannosaurus Rex, not to mention overseeing the animated The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, many were surprised when Zombie suddenly announced the delay of the former film in order to begin work almost instantly on a Halloween sequel. Instantly being the word too - filming took place just five short months ago - a miracle in itself considering Zombie didn't take up the helm until mid-December 2008. If nothing else, you've got to give the guy credit for writing, shooting and releasing the movie so quickly. The first Halloween movie opened to a decent $26M and would end its run just under $60M.

Of course, that was up against Balls of Fury. This time around the competition was a lot stronger, not only with the aforementioned Final Destination but also the returning (and very well reviewed) R-rated flicks in the guises of District 9 and Inglourious Basterds (As an aside, have we ever had the top four movies all be R-rated, in box office history?). Halloween 2 got off to an ok start on Friday, some way behind Destination but still acceptable given the circumstances. As the weekend moved on the film saw steady, if unremarkable box office and while it finished a somewhat distance third it's still far from the failure it could have been (the fantastically reviewed Drag Me To Hell had a sub $15M opening weekend). Chances are this will fall just as hard as The Final Destination next weekend but it's also unlikely to have cost as much either. Both New Line and The Weinstein Company should see a tidy return on their investment. And you can never have too much horror.

District 9 has now more than tripled its production budget as it begins its international debut. Word of mouth and some amazing reviews should serve it well, giving the film every chance to equal or surpass its domestic tally in the coming weeks. Like The Hangover, District 9 will go down as a stunning sleeper of a movie when the summer wrap ups begin. We wait with baited breath for Blomkamp's next move. G.I Joe sees $130M this weekend and surpassed the box office take of Terminator Salvation during the last few days. Its PG-13 rating probably helped rope in some of the younger viewers this weekend who weren't able to see any of the top four films too easily. The Stephen Sommers action romp isn't going to manage a great deal more but given the state the film's reputation was in six weeks ago, who even expected $100M? Globally, combining its domestic take, the film saw a quarter of a billion dollars on Friday night.

Julie & Julia has an incredibly strong hold this weekend, just a 16% drop. That could be in part to massive push for the male demographic's attention - leaving the female one with little to choose from. While The Time Traveller's Wife enticed fans of the book on opening weekend, it was the well reviewed Meryl Streep flick that kept them coming back for more, all while telling their friends to see it too. Expect Julie & Julia to have more decent weekend to weekend drops as it heads towards $80M+. We can't rule out the Time Traveller's Wife just yet either, as it borders $50M this weekend, its third on general release. The Eric Bana romantic drama cost $39M to produce and probably in that region to print and market, so with international grosses should turn a decent, if unremarkable profit.

Even with the limited competition from the long in the tooth G-Force, Shorts failed to make much of an impact last weekend. This trend continues into this weekend and only the limited number of wide-opening films will see it last another weekend in the top ten.

Taking Woodstock is our final new entry into the top ten this week. Ang Lee follows up Lust, Caution, with a gentle comedy about an insignificant guy who set the wheels in motion for one of the most memorable concerts ever staged. Even opening Wednesday couldn't do this relatively limited release (1300+ locations) too many favours. Reviews weren't anything to write home about either and perhaps that's why the film was thrown out there with little fanfare or hype. G-Force rounds us out this weekend and should end its theatrical run with around $135M domestically.

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