Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 15th - 17th April 2011

1. Rio -  $40M - $40M
2. Scream 4 - $19.3M - $19.3M
3. Hop - $11.1M - $82.6M
4. Soul Surfer - $7.4M - $19.9M
5. Hanna - $7.3M - $23M
6. Arthur - $6.9M - $22.3M
7. Insidious -  $6.8M - $36M
8. Source Code -  $6.3M - $36.9M
9. The Conspirator - $3.6M - $3.6M
10. Your Highness - $3.8M - $10M

Either end of the spectrum is served this weekend with the family friendly Rio and the return of the Ghostface in Scream 4. The box office is really suffering this year with only two films having crossed the $100M barrier (Rango and Just Go With It) so all eyes are on the next film to make the jump from modest hit to blockbuster.

Rio is from Fox, the studio that saw animated success with Horton Hears A Who and the Ice Age Trilogy. It's the story of a domesticated macaw called Blu (voice by Jesse Eisenberg) who discovers he is the last male of his kind. Taken to Rio De Janeiro by scientists in hope of preserving the species, he meets the fiercely independent Jewel (voice by Anne Hathaway); the pair end up chained together by smugglers, who break in to the sanctuary hoping to make a quick buck. As per usual with this kind of release, Fox have been pushing the film hard, including an special edition of casual gaming hit Angry Birds (in fact, such was the link between the game and film that it ended up being referred to by some as The Angry Birds Movie).

With Hop taking the top spot for the past two weekends, the family market were ready for something new and pushed Rio to $10M on Friday - slightly lower than Hop's opening day take. With a Saturday increase Rio continued to perform similarly to the Russell Brand Easter bunny film and ended the frame with a slightly better $40M. The film will face no direct competition next weekend (again, apart from Hop) and the better reviews might give the film stronger word of mouth/better second frame. Worthy of note is that Rio opened in a number of overseas territories last weekend and has already made an impressive $64.4M.

It's taken eleven years for Ghostface, the Scream franchise's killer, to return to our screens but he does so this week, with all the surviving members of the Scream series (though Neve Campbell was a notable holdout), including director Wes Craven. Creator/Writer Kevin Williamson also returned for scripting duties, but left mid-production to be replaced by Ehren Kruger. The story sees Campbell's Sidney Prescott returning to Woodsboro to promote her self help book, but finding herself a suspect in a recent Ghostface murder. The film reviewed just above average and currently sits on a 58% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes.

Comparisons with the other films in the series are a little academic since the landscape has changed somewhat in the eleven years since Scream 3's release but they do highlight how averagely this new film has performed. Scream 4's opening day take of $8M is disappointing compared to the $13M taken by the previous film and was certainly a sure sign that we would not be seeing a double $30M weekend. The rest of the frame saw the film manage a further $11M, leaving its three total at $19.2M, again well down on the $34M made by Scream 3. The good news is that the brand is well known all over the world and even with a 50%+ drop next frame, this fourth film should recoup its production of $40M domestically, before cleaning up overseas.

Taking a bit of a kicking from Rio, Hop drops 47% in its third frame on release (which is only slightly worse than its second frame dip of 43%). The film actually recouped its production budget ($63M) some time last Sunday so from here on out, it's all good for the Easter bunny comedy. At this point $100M is all but guaranteed and this will be a solid hit for Universal, though not as impressive as the $250M made by last year's Despicable Me. Most international markets are awaiting the film, hence its low running total of $19M.

Soul Surfer surprised many last frame by debuting not only in the top ten but well up the charts too. Having been written off by all and sundry as a TV movie of the week, it managed to score $10M from just over two thousand locations. A week later and the film has very impressive drop of just 30%, covering its production costs in the process. This is the second FilmDistrict release in the top ten (in fact, it's their second only release) along with Insidious, and make it a company to keep an eye on.

Having initially lost out to Arthur last frame, Hanna ended up winning second place once actuals were issued. The child-assassin thriller is scoring some impressive word of mouth and that helped the film keep its drop at 40% in its second weekend on release. Hanna might get lost in the coming weeks as summer season gets into full swing but by that time it'll already have recouped its $30M production budget and eclipsed director Joe Wright's last release, The Soloist, which closed with $31M in takings.

After looking like a sure fire hit (according to pre-release estimates anyway), things haven't quite worked out for Arthur. A week after almost being second place, the film tumbles a slightly higher than hoped for 44%, and that's on the back of its already disappointing opening frame of $12.2M. The Russell Brand remake suffered from poor reviews and word of mouth and now looks likely to leave the top ten without covering its production budget of $40M.

Even with competition from Scream 4, Insidious manages another impressive frame (and the best drop of any film in the top ten, 27%). The minuscule-budgeted horror thriller also held amazingly well last weekend and it's far stronger than many would have imagined it could have been just a few short weeks ago. Word of mouth is helping the film no end, as are the old fashioned jump-scares. Insidious should manage at least another fortnight in the top ten.

Source Code seems to be like the great film with nowhere to go. After some very strong reviews it opened to an ok $12M but tumbled down the chart last weekend in the face of the four new releases. This weekend finds the film down 27% on last weekend and while it will make money, it's a shame the film couldn't attract a wide audience. A quieter release date may have benefited the film.

At just over 700 locations is The Conspirator, a historical drama directed by Robert Redford and starring Robin Wright Penn. It follows the arrest and trial of Mary Surratt, the only female co-conspirator involved in the assassination of President Lincoln. A top ten placing from so few locations should get the film noticed and further expansion is on the cards.

With a disappointing opening frame, Your Highness drops 58% and is looking upon its last weekend in the top ten. The much-hyped comedy failed to appeal to public who chose Hanna and Arthur (and Soul Surfer) over it. Cultdom on DVD beckons.

[I don't think any box office report I've ever done has been re-written as much as this weekend's]

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