Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 16th - 18th July 2010

1. Inception - $60.4M - $60.4M
2. Despicable Me - $32.7M - $118.4M
3. The Sorcerer's Apprentice-  $17.4M - $24.5M
4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse - $13.5M - $264.9M
5. Toy Story 3 - $11.7M - $362.7M
6. Grown Ups - $10M - $129.2M
7. The Last Airbender - $7.4M - $114.8M
8. Predators - $6.8M - $40M
9. Knight and Day - $3.7M - $69.2M
10. The Karate Kid - $2.2M - $169.2

With summer moving on, potential blockbusters will soon start to look thin on the ground. Thankfully we're still a month away from mid-August movie hell and this week we get that rare breed in the guise of Inception, a wholly original film.

Inception is Christopher Nolan's follow up to the billion dollar grossing Dark Knight and is his first original film since Memento. Even with a stellar cast in place, which included Leonardo Di Caprio, Joseph-Gordon Levitt and Ellen Page (amongst many others), very little was known about the actual film itself. Billed as the thinking person's blockbuster, the first trailer revealed it to be something about the ability to enter dreams. Further trailers contained some stunning imagery but still revealed very little in terms of plot specifics. Hype stepped up a gear about six weeks ago and the first of many positive reviews began arriving over the last ten days. The only problem on the horizon was how the public would react to a smart, heavily-plotted blockbuster opening in popcorn season.

With the Sorcerer's Apprentice already a failure by Friday (more later), Inception had next to no direct competition. A very strong Friday take of $21M set the film up for a solid three day figure of $60M. This is Nolan's second biggest opening after The Dark Knight but comparisons with that film wouldn't work well due a very specific set of details pertaining to its release. As an original, non-sequel film, Inception has performed very positively and with a good hold and strong word of mouth, it could be looking at $140M by this time next weekend - putting the film well on the way to recouping its rumoured $160M budget. The film also marks the biggest ever opening weekend for a Di Caprio film. Only Salt will offer any kind of direct competition next weekend, and the jury is still out on how well the Angelina Jolie action flick will perform.

After shocking all and sundry last weekend, including the releasing studio itself, Despicable Me finds itself off a not bad 42% in its second frame. The much needed hit for Universal has already recouped its low (for this kind of film) production budget of $69M and Monday saw a sequel put into development. The only family-friendly fare due in the coming weeks is Cats & Dogs 2, while current competition Toy Story 3 seems happy to share the market.

When it was announced that Jerry Bruckheimer was developing a film based on The Sorcerer's Apprentice section of Fantasia, there were more than a few raised eyebrows. The finished film bears only a passing resemblance to the source material and features Nicholas Cage as the Sorcerer and Jay Baruchel as his apprentice. Trailers were impressive and things were shaping up so well that Buena Vista decided to move the film forward two days (though that could have been more to avoid Inception than anything else). Jerry Bruckheimer had taken a kicking with Prince of Persia, which stumbled out the block in May and crawled to a painful $89M - a hit would be just what the doctor ordered.

Then it all went wrong. While reviews were below average Buena Vista had wasted no time in letting the public know the film was coming. By Wednesday night they realised things weren't going to plan when the film scored just $3.8M. Friday should have comfortably seen a double figure take but came in at a very worrying $5.4M. The $150M production ended the weekend with a five day total of $24M, a figure the film should have made from just Friday. Even Prince of Persia managed a $30M+ opening. It's a bit too late for damage control and unless the Sorcerer's Apprentice does exceptional business in the international market, it'll go down as one of the biggest failures in recent memory (and the second failure in a row for Bruckheimer).

Eclipse crossed the $250M mark on Thursday, taking roughly the same amount of time it took New Moon to amass the same amount. At this point the film is working mainly on repeat business from the fans and it's still not a cert that it will surpass New Moon's $291M final gross. As has been mentioned too many times before, this will be no worry to Summit Entertainment who funded the $65M flick.

Even with Despicable Me taking a huge chunk of its business last weekend, Toy Story 3 stood firm. While estimates originally had the film surpassing Finding Nemo's $339M total last Sunday, the record actually fell on Tuesday. This weekend the film is down 44% on its last frame as it crosses the $360M barrier. Pixar will now be looking to the international market, where a number of locations are still awaiting the film's release. Adam Sandler's Grown Ups should end up as one of his biggest releases, an honour that currently belongs to Big Daddy with $163M. The ensemble comedy was produced for around $80M and should finish up with around $150M.

After a better than expected start, The Last Airbender crashed down to reality last weekend and that trend has continued into its third frame. Thankfully its opening week got the film out of flop territory but we're pretty much done at this point. The film's eventual global finish is going to be a tough call - a strong showing on the international market might save the film from the bad rap it's getting but as for launching a franchise - that remains to be seen.

While Predators had to settle for third place last weekend, it certainly wasn't a failure. A week later and things aren't so pretty with the $40M action horror dropping a very nasty 72% - high even for the genre. While it won't lose Fox any money and internationally the film should see a similar figure, it may not be enough to relaunch the franchise.

Knight & Day dropped over 500+ locations this weekend and will begin its international roll out from here on. The film needs a very strong showing as it's barely recouped more than half its production budget. Seeing its last weekend in the top ten, The Karate Kid has been an exceptional success and looks to top out at around $180M.

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