Monday 6 June 2011

US Box Office - 2nd - 4th October 2009

1. Zombieland - $25M - $25M
2. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - $16.7M - $82.4M
3. Toy Story/Toy Story 2 - $12.5M - 12.5M
4. The Invention of Lying - $7.4M - $7.4M
5. Surrogates - $7.3M - $26.4M
6. Whip It - $4.8M - $4.8M
7. Capitalism: A Love Story - $4.7M - $5.2M
8. Fame - $4.7M - $16.6M
9. The Informant! - $3.8M - $26.5M
10. Love Happens - $2.7M - $18.9M

This weekend Hollywood has something for everyone. Almost any person, of any age or walk of life will find a movie aimed at them. Topping out is the horror comedy Zombieland, starring Woody Harrelson and Michael Cera-alike Jesse Eisenberg. Unusually for a zombie film, Zombieland starts many weeks or even months after the initial outbreak has wiped out most of the world. All that's left is the lucky or hardcore survivor. Early trailers received a mostly positive response and strong showings at horror festivals helped keep the ball rolling. $25M is a very strong opening for such a crossover movie with only one main star and an R-rating. Given that lack of stars, there's every chance this didn't cost the earth to produce so should see a quick turnaround for the studio. Next weekend it'll lose the top spot to Couples Retreat but should see a decent hold, experiencing a drop similar to a comedy (mid 40%) than horror (60%). [Just found out that the film cost $23.6M to produce]

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs held brilliantly last weekend and while its drop this time around is slightly higher (thanks, no doubt, to the Toy Story re-release stealing its 3D screens), it's still a very strong show. Even though its budget is relatively low for a CGI movie, Meatballs still has some way to go before seeing its $100M, but it is an easily achievable figure, especially now Toy Story is out in the open. There's arguably no new competition until Where The Wild Things Are in two weeks time, by which point anyone who had planned on seeing Meatballs would have done so already. This is easily Sony Animations biggest release but as Dreamworks discovered, you can't take on Pixar without a hell of a run up.

The 3D re-release of Toy Story 1 & 2 is more a test of the 3D technology to be incorporated into Toy Story 3 (Whose full trailer debuted with the double bill exclusively), than an attempt to make money. It's an odd re-release too, the main target audience one assumes is still the under ten demographic, which makes Pixar's decision to release both films on a double bill with an intermission rather puzzling. An adult would struggle to sit through a 3 hour film, let alone a group of young children. That factor, plus its relatively limited release (in part due to the number of 3D enabled theatres) is what has reduced its potential take this weekend. Pixar (or Disney) have also chosen to limit the film's release, just fourteen days, perhaps to maximise ticket sales and also due to the re-release of Nightmare Before Christmas 3D hitting in a fortnight.

As previously stated, this is more an experiment for Pixar's 3D so it'll be interesting to see how the company feels about that box office figure. (According to Box Office Prophets, to see how much a marketing tool this is for the Toy Story 3 release, if the theatre in which you saw the double bill didn't show the Toy Story 3 trailer, you could send a message via Twitter to TS3 director Lee Unkrich, who will look into the reasons why it was not shown).

Ricky Gervais is still something of an unknown quantity in Hollywood. While he's somewhat revered by US comics and critics thanks to The Office and Extras, his debut starring role in Ghost Town fell flat (though was very well reviewed). This time around Gervais takes on directing reigns too on The Invention of Lying, a tale revolving around a guy who lives in a world in which everyone tells the truth. Gervais' character stumbles across lying and finds he can get just what he wants...This one opens stronger than Ghost Town did but with so many new releases, one of which is also a comedy, it struggled somewhat. Reviews too, weren't as positive as Ghost Town and a good way behind Zombieland's 89% fresh at RottenTomatoes. Unfortunately next weekend's Couples Retreat will be in direct competition with Invention, so Gervais needs to hope word of mouth keeps the film's weekend to weekend drop to a minimum.

Surrogates barely made it out of flop category last weekend and there's little good news this weekend. The film witnessed a Friday to Friday drop of 56% (50% overall). Even with the initial expansion overseas, Surrogates has barely crossed the $30M mark and working on our simple theory that a film's total budget including prints and marketing is double that of its production budget, Surrogates is a long way short of $160M.

Our fourth new release is another directing debut, this one belonging to Drew Barrymore, who also co-stars. Coming along for the ride is Juno's Ellen Page (who it is rumoured, turned down Drag Me To Hell to star in this) and Marcia Gay Harden. Reviews were exceptionally positive, it's currently 82% fresh at RottenTomatoes, but the film stumbled somewhat from its relatively limited location count. Barrymore, who already runs a successful production company, may well have added another string to her bow, but that didn't translate into box office dollars. The film has received limited hype and the roller derby/coming of age theme might have confused the public a little bit. Let's not forget the other four new releases too. One has to wonder why Fox Searchlight chose this weekend to release the film when next weekend presents the competition of just one new release.

Our final new entry this weekend is Michael Moore's latest documentary Capitalism: A Love Story. The film actually opened in a very limited capacity last weekend and expanded with much less hype than Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine. Capitalism might have been a victim in a similar way as Iraq war themed movies - people don't want to see what they're already getting on the news every night for free and still living through. That said, the film is at only 972 locations, it is a documentary and has opened up against four other films, all in far more locations. But unless word of mouth catches this one like it did for Fahrenheit 9/11, Capitalism will see just one more weekend in the top ten.

Like Surrogates, Fame failed to make half the impact it was expect to make during its opening weekend. On Fame's side are its almost low-budget production costs, just $18M. It won't turn much of a profit but it will make one. Something that Buena Vista might not be able to say about Surrogates.

The Informant has now recouped its production budget, which is quite a feat given its subject matter and marketing. The Matt Damon starer should end up with around $30M by the end of its theatrical run, and expect to see similar numbers from overseas theatres. Love Happens too, should see a profit by the end of Sunday night and while it won't be remembered in a month, it won't be an embarrassment to either Jenifer Aniston or Aaron Eckhart.

A few notes on some older films - Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince crossed the $300M point in the last seven days and is now the second most successful Harry Potter film after the original movie. Megan Fox flop Jennifer's Body only cost $16M to produce and has so far recouped $14M. When the film expands into the international market it'll almost certainly end up making a profit. While the film will still be seen as a flop for Megan Fox, it'll actually be quite successful for the studio. Summer hits The Hangover and The Proposal are still taking $400K a weekend even though their locations counts are sub-500. Halloween 2 ended up doubling its production budget, but this past week Halloween 3-D was put on indefinite hold.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen saw $400M during mid-September. It sits at ninth place on the all-time domestic totals charts, just behind the original Spiderman film. Speaking of big movies, on the worldwide chart of 2009, Ice Age 3 is the second biggest movie of the year after Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

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