Monday 6 June 2011

US Box Office - 4th - 6th December 2009

1. The Blind Side - $20.4 - $129.3M
2. The Twilight Saga: New Moon - $15.7M - $255.6M
3. Brothers - $9.7M - $9.7M
4. A Christmas Carol - $7.5M - $115M
5. Old Dogs - $6.9M - $33.9M
6. 2012 - $6.6M - $148.7M
7. Armored - $6.6M - $6M
8. Ninja Assassin - $5M - $29.7M
9. Planet 51 - $4.3M - $33.9M
10. Everybody's Fine - $4M - $4M

Maybe cinema going apathy has finally kicked in or it could be that people have begun their Christmas shopping. Either way practically every release, both new and old, took a decent whack this weekend. Friday numbers for everything but the new releases and The Blind Side were down 70% or more, and the Sandra Bullock movie didn't escape unscathed really, taking a pretty rough 58% drop and making its rise to the number one spot this weekend a little less impressive. But it's not really all doom and gloom, The Blind Side managed to move up past Twilight: New Moon and see off three wide opening new releases, with pretty big names attached to each of them. Word of mouth is white hot on the film and it crossed the $100M mark in just three weekends, which for a no-hype true life drama is quite impressive. Being out at so many locations means that we've likely passed saturation point but The Blind Side is anything but finished yet. The Proposal topped out at $163M and that's a figure The Blind Side is capable of surpassing.
Having stabilised a little last weekend, New Moon once again enters free-fall. Not a single person at Summit will shed a tear over the film losing the top spot so quickly - by the end of the weekend the three week old film will have made over half a billion dollars. New Moon hit $250M some time on Sunday and is now the fifth biggest release of 2009, after Star Trek, Up, Harry Potter 6 and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The discussion now turns to whether the record breaking flick can reach $300M. After its numbers this weekend things are unlikely to improve until schools finish for Christmas and even at that point there'll be a multitude of other things (and new releases) to occupy the fan base rather than revisiting a flick they may already have seen numerous times. Expect Summit to use the DVD launch of the film to play up the fact that Twilight: Eclipse is just four or so month away. New Moon, along with such fare as Paranormal Activity and The Hangover, will end up being amongst the most profitable films ever.

Brothers, our first new release this weekend isn't actually a new film as such, being a remake of a Danish film made in 2000. Both films are partially set in Afghanistan but given the current climate that makes the remake into something else altogether (though the makers have been keen to play down the war aspect, what with it being seen in some quarters as box office poison). Tobey Maguire plays a soldier presumed dead in the conflict whose wife (Natalie Portman) takes up with his slacker brother. Worlds collide when Maguire is found alive and well and attempts to return to his normal life.... No matter how they've tried, this is still a war based movie in the eyes of the viewers, but it does appear to have had a little break out appeal (and awards talk hasn't done the film any damage either). It was also one of the best reviewed films this weekend and is lucky in the fact that only three majors releases will emerge in the next two weekends to offer it competition. Expansion from its 2000 location is unlikely but this could be a minor dramatic hit.

A Christmas Carol has just two short weeks left before it'll lose the vast majority of its Imax and 3D enabled screens to Avatar – killing its major selling point in one move. The film has struggled since release and there's little to write home about save for the fact that the film will see an annual re-release. This has been a costly affair for Disney - $200M to produce and at least half again to print and market. A Christmas Carol's $115M is not quite the present Disney wanted under their tree. After a lacklustre start over Thanksgiving, Old Dogs fell just as hard as most other films this weekend. The Robin Williams/John Travolta comedy failed to attract the same crowd that made Wild Hogs such a success a few years ago and finds itself floundering just a week later. It's relatively low budget will help matters but Old Dogs has already had its somewhat short time in the sun.

2012 looks unlikely to best the total achieved by The Day After Tomorrow ($183M) but should still play well up until Avatar's release in a couple weeks. Worldwide the film continues to pull in the crowds and has nearly amassed half a billion dollars from just that market and there's a strong chance that the film will finish up amongst the top five biggest films worldwide of 2009.

Thriller Armoured is our next new release though how confident the studio is in the film is questionable seeing as its in less locations than Brothers. Starring Laurence Fishburne and Matt Dillion amongst others, Armoured is the story of a group of security guards who decide to hit the very truck they're meant to be protecting. Things get cat and mouse when a rookie guard decides to hold up in the van, preventing the gang from accessing the cash. Director Nimrod Antal drew acclaim with Kontroll a few years ago but his Hollywood debut, Vacancy, left a lot to be desired. With no major star to hang the film off, it's not been an easy sell for the studio, and that location count doesn't fill the prospective viewer with confidence. Being the only release aimed squarely at the action thriller demographic, it's telling that the film couldn't best two older releases and a straight drama. Again, like Brothers, Armoured gets a little breathing room but its hard to see how that can help, even at this stage. Expect Antal's next film, Predators, to garner far more attention.

While its opening few days weren't quite as painful as those of Old Dogs, Ninja Assassin still had little to shout about come Monday morning. This weekend we've lost any front loading the film had and as a consequence it's got nowhere to go. Word of mouth amongst fans of the action genre isn't selling it and a film like Ninja Assassin relies on that kind of marketing to get those weary of the genre into the cinema. Amassing little more than the $40M budget is still looking like a tough task. Even though its the only kid's film in the top ten Planet 51 still can't make the grade. This will be a costly misfire for Sony who are still thanking their lucky stars that Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs hung around as long as it did. While Planet 51 didn't cost as much, it's still over $35M short of its production budget.

With virtually no marketing and misleading trailers at best, Everybody's Fine is anything but. With four big names attached in the guise of Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell, Everybody's Fine is story of a father who is tired of being cast aside during the holidays and so decides to visit each of his four children in turn only to find what they've been telling him about their lives and what's actually happening in their lives are two completely different things. Miramax had no idea what to do with the film except ignore it and hope it went away with the minimal of cost to them, which given that any single one of the main cast can sell a film, makes little sense. It won't even manage another weekend in the top ten but really, this was done before it even left the gate.

The Road, which the Weinstein Company chose not to expand this weekend, drops out of the top ten with a three day total of $760K. The very well reviewed Jason Reitman/George Clooney film Up In The Air opened in a limited capacity (15 locations) and saw a return of $1.1M. One final new release, Transylmania (a.k.a Dorm Daze 3) made just $274K from its 1,007 locations. (And to think Black Dynamite got just fourteen days at 70 locations)

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