Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 10th - 12th June 2011

1. Super 8 - $37M - $38M
2. X-Men: First Class - $25M - $98.9M
3. The Hangover Part II - $18.5M - $216.6M
4. Kung Fu Panda 2 - $16.6M - $126.9M
5. Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides - $10.8M - $208.8M
6. Bridesmaids -  $10.1M - $123.9M
7. Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer - $6.2M - $6.2M
8. Midnight in Paris - $6.1M - $14.2M
9. Thor - $2.3M - $173.6M
10. Fast Five - $1.7M - $205.1M

This weekend brings us that rare beast, the original film. Super 8 isn't based on a comic book or novel, isn't a sequel or even a CGI animal based comedy. Instead, Super 8 is a science fiction adventure devised by Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams, who act as producer and director respectively. The film, based in 1979, follows a group of young friends who witness a train crash while attempting to shoot a zombie film. Soon, strange things begin to occur in their town leading them to believe that whatever was on the train, has not only escaped but may not even be human. The film plays up the nostalgia angle pretty strongly, echoing Spielberg's E.T and The Goonies amongst others (Abrams cited John Carpenter's The Thing as a pretty big influence).

The idea for the film emerged from a storytelling committee in which Abrams and Spielberg collaborated and was at first rumoured to either be a prequel or sequel to Cloverfield. Abrams denied this though Super 8's viral style marketing did lead a number of people to think that the director wasn't being entirely truthful. The first teaser trailer appeared over a year ago, in April 2010, when rumours of a secret Abrams project began to emerge. Speculation ran riot that it was indeed a Cloverfield prequel, especially when the first shots emerged showing military vehicles in a middle-America town. The first full length trailer continued to play its cards close to its chest and was filled with all kinds of hidden details for which the director is notorious. Further details, save for the plot summary, continued to be a closely guarded secret almost up until the film's release. Hype amongst the internet community was at fever pitch but as we've seen before, this does not necessarily translate to big box office.

Super 8 cost around $50M to produce and with no stars to hang the film off, it was left to the mystery of the project to sell the film. The initial trailer piqued some interest and subsequent trailers were an exercise in the less is more category. That might be great for the film but it can make it a somewhat difficult sell to the general public. Reviews for the project were very strong, with the film currently sitting on an 83% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Tracking had the film all over the place, with some predicting a sub-$30M weekend while others had it pushing $45M or even higher. For such an original project, not to mention the way it was presented to the public, Super 8 opened very well. Friday it battled with X-Men: First Class but emerged victorious with an $12.2M take (excluding $1M from Thursday's Super 8 secret screenings). Word of mouth kept the X-Men from the door over the remainder of the frame, leaving the film with a three day total of $37M. Given its low budget (at least in summer blockbuster terms), one assumes Paramount will be pleased with that figure. By Friday next weekend the film should have covered costs and be on the way to recouping its prints and advertising budget too. Super 8's second frame will be telling as to whether the film has broken into the mainstream.

The well reviewed X-Men: First Class struggled during its opening frame. While $56M is a great figure, when compared to the rest of the series, including the 11 year old original flick, it underperformed. No one is quite sure why the film didn't open bigger but some are blaming the lack of big name stars and recognisable returning characters. Either way, nearly a week later the film was sitting on a $73M total, still $12M less than what Wolverine took during its opening three days. Going into the weekend X-Men: First Class made $7.6M on Friday, down 63% (a similar second Friday dip to X-Men, better than Wolverine's 75% drop) but managed something of a recovery over Saturday and Sunday, finishing the frame with $25M. That figure still leaves it down 55% on its opening total and with Green Lantern debuting next Friday, X-Men: First Class is going to find things even harder going forward. Internationally the film isn't too far off the domestic total and may well pull ahead in the coming weeks.

After the inevitable tumble in its second frame, The Hangover Part 2 recovers somewhat this weekend, with a $18.5M finish (down 41%). The R-rated comedy hit $200M on Friday, its 16th day on general release and is now just $10M behind the final gross of the first film. With a further $151M from overseas box offices, even with an $80M budget, this will be one hell of a money maker for Warner Bros, who are already talking up a third film.

In fourth place is the film whose performance is as baffling as that of X-Men: First Class. Kung Fu Panda 2 made just $4.6M on Friday and while things did improve over the remainder of the frame, it's still running some way behind the original film's total at this point ($155M). Internationally the film is doing better, crossing $150M this frame but even that is lower than expected. With Cars 2 fast approaching, Kung Fu Panda 2's competition free days are almost at an end, though how much the Pixar release can damage the film will be negligible.

Clearing $200M might still not be enough to save Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which sheds over 530 locations this weekend. Down another 39% this frame, the Johnny Depp/Penelope Cruz pirate flick is heading for a $230-235M finish, which is still a very strong showing but well short of even the $301M made by the original film. Overseas, the film hit $678M this weekend, putting it at sixth place on the all-time international chart (Above it are Avatar, Titanic, Return of the King, Ice Age 3 and Alice in Wonderland).

Bridesmaids seems almost impervious to any kind of competition, be it new or old. The film dropped just 16% in this, its fourth frame on general release. A finish of around $150M is on the cards, meaning Bridesmaids will be over $115M clear of its $32M production budget. Internationally the film begins a major roll out in late June and July.

Our only other new release is the oddly titled Judy Moody and The Not Bummer Summer. The film, based on a series of books by Megan McDonald, stars Heather Graham, with Jordana Beatty as Judy. Reviews were very poor and it appears that only fans of the book turned out to see the big screen version, giving it a $6.2M weekend total. It may see another weekend in the top ten but will quickly find its way on to DVD, where it will make its real money.

The latest Woody Allen comedy, Midnight in Paris, expands into 944 locations and adds a further $6.1M to its total. Since 1995 Allen has directed some sixteen films (Midnight being his seventeenth) and more than half of those have made less than $10M at the US box office. Midnight seems a real return to form for the actor/writer/director whose has seen the film score some of his best reviews in years. Further expansion is still possible providing the public demand stays strong but the studio need to avoid the tipping point - the stage at which people decide to simply wait for the DVD release rather than wait for the film to receive a local release.

Rounding us out are the films which kicked summer off. Thor will leave the top ten with $175M in domestic takings (currently $263M overseas) while Fast Five should see $205M (currently $372M overseas).

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