Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 14th - 16th January 2011

1. The Green Hornet -  $34M - $34M
2. The Dilemma - $17.4M - $17.4M
3. True Grit - $11.2M - $126.4M
4. The King's Speech -  $9.1M - $44.6M
5. Black Swan -  $8.1M - $73M
6. Little Fockers - $7.1M - $134.2M
7. Tron: Legacy - $5.6M - $156.9M
8. Yogi Bear -  $5.3M - $82M
9. The Fighter -  $5.1M - $65.7M
10. Season of the Witch - $4.5M - $17.9M

It's the Martin Luther King holiday in this US on Monday which means Sunday should see similar takings to Saturday. This weekend Sony and Universal are going head to head with their blockbuster-like new releases. One is a long-in-the-making comic book adaptation while the other is a fairly safe comedy, which was expected to comfortably win the weekend....

The Green Hornet's trip from the comic book is even longer and more convoluted than that of Johnny Depp's The Tourist. Development began in 1992 and by 1995 a script was in place and George Clooney and Jason Scott Lee were set to star. Clooney dropped out to work on Batman & Robin and by 1997 the script was being re-tooled as the directorial debut of Michel Gondry. Mark Wahlberg was offered the lead but the film ended up in development hell. Next to enter the fray was Jet Li in 2000, with Christopher McQuarrie scripting but that too amounted to nothing. Kevin Smith was the next director to take a shot at The Green Hornet and he hoped to secure Jake Gyllenhaal to star, but after Jersey Girl flopped, Smith withdrew (or was pushed) from the film, leaving it in exactly the same place as it was in 1992, only now it had already racked up over $10M in development costs.

Then, in 2007 it was announced that Seth Rogen would not only star but also co-script the film. Stephen Chow was brought on to direct and star as Kato but he quit as director in December 2008. Rogen stayed aboard the project, as did Chow as Kato and things almost came full circle when it was announced that Michel Gondry would direct the film for a July 2010 release. Chow then dropped out, to be replaced Jay Chou, while Nic Cage, who had been considered as the main villain was replaced by Christoph Waltz. The film was ultimately pushed to December 2010 then January 2011 while the 3D conversion work was done.

Reviews were below average but early word was surprisingly good. The trailers hadn't impressed with a number of people pointing out Rogen's potential miscasting and the general comedic tone. Ticket sales for Friday pointed to a solid $11M start and as the weekend wore on the film managed to build on that figure, ending up Sunday evening with an impressive $34M ($40M+ estimated for the four-day weekend). The Green Hornet is nowhere near as established as a Batman or Superman but it got off to a solid start, thanks in part to the fans of the original material, but also those looking for an action-comedy at this quieter time of year. Next weekend will be telling for Rogen and Green Hornet.

Our second new release of the weekend was bang on to finish in the top spot just a few days ago. Since then, things haven't quite worked out for the Ron Howard directed 'The Dilemma'. The film stars Vince Vaughn and Kevin James as long time friends, with Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder as their respective partners. When Vaughn spots Ryder being unfaithful, he's left with dilemma of whether he should tell his friend about what he's saw or cover things up and hope for the best. Reviews weren't kind to the film but Vaughn has a knack of turning things around (Couples Retreat being a recent example). Not only that, but James popularity is on the up too, after success with Paul Blart: Mall Cop and summer 2010's Grown-Ups.

The Dilemma opened to $6M on Friday, signifying a sub-$20M weekend - and that's exactly where the film ended up. $17M is almost certainly on the lower end of Universal's expectations, especially after the aforementioned Couples Retreat opened to $34M. There's a chance though that the film will dig in for the haul and continue to see better than expected weekend to weekend drops.You can bet Universal will be banking on that as this one cost at least $70M to bring to the screen.

Getting knocked down two spots is True Grit, the Coen Bros. biggest ever release. The film crossed the $100M barrier last weekend and is still going strong. This weekend it finds itself down 23% on its last frame as it adds a further 335 locations to its 3,000+ count. At this point True Grit looks to heading toward $145-150M finish.

The expansion witnessed by The King's Speech this weekend has helped it rise a number of chart positions. Like Black Swan, The King's Speech could see a further boost thanks to the upcoming award ceremonies (BAFTAs, Golden Globes & Academy Awards), not to mention the white hot word of mouth. Expanding into over 2,300 locations (it added 744 this weekend) is Black Swan, Darren Aronosky's ballet based drama. That expansion has pushed the film further up the chart again (the highest position of its release so far), allowing it to more than quadruple its production budget.

Little Fockers took a knock from The Dilemma this weekend and finds itself down 47% on the last frame. The $100M comedy has a running global total of over $235M. The film had a bit of a rough ride getting onto screens thanks to some late in the day re-shoots (which added a reluctant Dustin Hoffman to the film) so it's hard to gauge whether Universal would be able to assemble a full cast for a fourth film. With word of a sequel green light any day now, Tron Legacy begins to shed its location count ( almost certainly 3D screens for The Green Hornet). The film will probably fall short of recouping its $170M production budget with its domestic take but the $143M global take should cover any shortfalls.

The Fighter's staying power isn't as strong as Black Swan but it is still a major success, not only in critical terms but in financial ones too. Made for just $25M, the film has a running total of over $65M and is yet to see release in any other territory. Expect a $75-80M finish in the US and the potential to equal that figure overseas. Yogi Bear recoups its production budget this weekend - no easy task given its weak start. It may manage one more weekend in the top ten. The film is yet to expand overseas.

With a better than expected start last weekend, Season of the Witch collapses in its second frame and may be facing its last weekend on the chart (similar to Bangkok Dangerous in terms of chart performance). There's chance yet that the international market will save the film from disaster but this is another poor show for a Nicholas Cage film.

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