Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 17th - 19th December 2010

1. Tron: Legacy - $43.5M - $43.5M
2. Yogi Bear - $16.7M - $16.7M
3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - $12.4M - $42.8M
4. The Fighter - $12.2M - $12.6M
5. The Tourist - $8.7M
6. Tangled - $8.6M - $127.8M
7. Black Swan - $8.3M -
8. How Do You Know - $7.6M - $7.6M
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 - $4.8M - $265.5M
10. Unstoppable - $1.8M - $77.3M

We're now on the busiest shopping weekend of the year and we've got three wide opening movies along with expansion for two limited releases. How's it going to end?

28 Years is a long time to wait for a sequel but Tron fan's patience finally paid off in 2008/9 when Disney announced a big budget sequel to its 1982 cult hit. After a number of false starts, including a potential Pixar remake, Tron Legacy debuted at the 2008 Comic-Con with a very simple teaser. At that point the film hadn't actually been greenlit and some speculated Disney was testing the water, so to speak. The film went into full production in April 2009. At Comic-Con a year later the title was confirmed, as was the basic story. With the virtual world still being worked on, concept art was displayed in its place. The first theatrical trailer debut in March of 2010 and since then Disney has worked its marketing department hard to make as many people as possible aware that Tron: Legacy was coming.

The story follows the son of the original films main character Flynn, and his quest to find out what happened to his father. After visiting his father's work place he ends up inside the virtual world, facing a fight for survival. Jeff Bridges reprises his Flynn character while his son, Sam, is played by Garrett Hedlund. Support is in the guise of Olivia Wilde and Michael Sheen, along with an all CGI character based around the 1982 Flynn. Newcomer Joseph Kosinski took on the task of bringing the $150-200M flick to the big screen and completing the production, Daft Punk were signed to create an original soundtrack.

While a 28 minute preview sold out within minutes, Disney was still unsure how the public would react to the film. Its main demographic weren't even born in 1982 and while the original is well revered in some circles, it still remained more of a cult hit than a mainstream movie. Disney gambled and as mentioned earlier, decided to market the film hard (Unofficial figures peg ad costs at $120M). Reviews were distinctly average, with the film currently sitting on a 50% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, but for a film like Tron: Legacy, it was never going to be about the story but the visuals of that virtual world.

Midnight screenings on Thursday night/Friday morning set a record for Imax showings of $3.5M. Friday saw the film score a further $17.5M on its way to a decent $43.6M for the weekend. Those Imax/3D tickets really made a difference it seems. It's a good start for the film and with that budget plus the marketing, Tron: Legacy needed it. The day to day takings may yet reveal a high degree of front loading, leaving us to look towards next weekend to see whether the film will have some decent legs going into the new year.

For the family market we've got Yogi Bear, the CGI/Live action update of the classic cartoon. Dan Akyroyd voices Yogi with Justin Timberlake taking on Boo-Boo. The live action side of things is covered by Anna Faris and Tom Cavanagh. The story takes place in the familiar surroundings of Jellystone park and sees Yogi and Boo-Boo teaming up with their sworn enemy Ranger Smith when the mayor decides to sell the park to an industrialist. Reviews were scathing to say the least. With Tangled looking a little long in the tooth and Dawn Treader a little too frightening for the younger family market, Yogi should have had the market to itself, except....

A $4.6M Friday was almost certainly well below what WB were hoping for. That kind of figure isn't that much better than the little hyped Alpha & Omega's opening day a few months ago. Things improved a little on Saturday but a three day take of $16.7M is not a great start for the $80M production. Thankfully for the film, there are two holiday weekends ahead meaning that Yogi Bear should pick up a lot of family visit business but the related production teams can't help but be disappointed (and concerned) at this point.

After a disappointing debut in the last frame, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is off 48% a week later. The costly Fox/Walden Media production is hoping for decent holiday holds but can be thankful at least, that the film is going down a storm in the overseas market where it's rapidly approaching $100M. Back on the domestic front, the film actually risks ending its run with less money than The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe made in its opening three days.

Expanding into 2,500 locations after a week in limited release, David O'Russell's The Fighter scores a top four debut. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, The Fighter tracks the true life story of boxer Mickey Ward (Wahlberg) and his half-brother trainer, Dickey (Bale). Oscar talk was already prevalent prior to the film's release and reviews reflect that faith, with Bale being singled out for high praise. The Fighter managed an ok $3.7M on Friday, which translated into an $12.2M opening frame. Pretty impressive given the competition, subject matter and location count. Word of mouth should see it continue to perform well, especially if awards are forthcoming. Thanks to that opening the film has already recouped its production budget.

Similarly, The Tourist had little to talk about after its opening frame except how much money it hadn't made. This weekend, even with inexplicable Golden Globe nods, it finishes down 48% on its opening. While that isn't actually too bad a figure, it's only because its first week take was so low that it looks half decent. A good few weekends probably won't save The Tourist now but its potential international tally could help ease its $100M budget headaches.

Facing of against newcomer Yogi Bear saw Tangled off 40% in its fourth frame on release. The Disney Rapunzel re-imagining has so far made $127M from a budget of $260M. A strong showing over Christmas should push the film towards $150M. Expect its international tally to surpass $100M this weekend too.

Black Swan expands this weekend, after two stellar frames in limited release. Unfortunately, with four releases breaking into the top ten it's had a bit of a tough frame, but only in terms of chart position. With its expansion came a weekend total of $8.3M, pushing it past its $13M production budget. Black Swan, like The Fighter, is a film that will continue to build on its word of mouth in the coming weeks, and that word will no doubt be boosted with further nominations and awards that will surely be forthcoming.

James L. Brooks's last film was the disappointing Spanglish, back in December 2004. Made for $80M, the film crawled to a $55M finish. This weekend he returns with the star-studded How Do You Know, featuring Paul Rudd, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson. The story concerns a love triangle featuring Witherspoon's ex-softball player, Wilson's major league baseball star and Rudd, who plays an executive being investigated for corporate fraud. Nicholson offers support as Rudd's father. Reviews weren't great for the film but like last year's It's Complicated, it had the potential to become a hit with the date night/more mature audience.

A recent story revealed huge production costs, with director and star salaries taking up almost $50M of the $120M budget. From its opening frame take of just $7.6M, the film needs an exceptional boost over the Christmas period just to cover what it cost to get the actors in the same room and even at this early stage, Spanglish's finish of $55M looks a long way off for How Do You Know.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt.1 has to make way for Tron: Legacy and Yogi Bear as it crossed the $265M mark. This weekend saw it become the fifth biggest film of the franchise, surpassing Prisoner of Askaban ($249M) and Chamber of Secrets ($261M). The next rung on the ladder is a big one - Goblet of Fire at $290M. Internationally the film has now crossed the half a billion dollars mark.

Denzel Washington started the year with a hit in the guise of The Book of Eli and will finish it with Unstoppable, another certified hit. When the film ends its run in North America and the rest of the world it should be sitting on around $150M in total takings.

I'll sign off by wishing all the readers of the Box Office Report a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. Look for a smaller report on Boxing Day and the year end wrap up a week later.

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