Thursday, 16 June 2011

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

1. The Town - $23.8M - $23.8M
2. Easy A - $18.2M - $18.2M
3. Devil - $12.6M - $12.6M
4. Resident Evil: Afterlife - $10.1M - $44M
5. Alpha and Omega - $9.2M - $9.2M
6. Takers - $3M - $52.3M
7. The American - $2.7M - $32.8M
8. Inception - $2M - $285.1M
9. The Other Guys - $2M - $115.4M
10. Machete - $1.7M - $24.3M

After an impressive directorial debut with 2007's Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck returns this weekend with The Town, a film he not only directs but helped adapt and takes a starring role in. While Gone Baby Gone's release was a little subdued, The Town comes out with all guns blazing and debuted at over 2,860 locations, the widest release of the weekend. Affleck stars as one of a team of bank robbers, troubled by feelings for a bank manager involved in an earlier heist while planning one last job and being tracked by the FBI.

Reviews were exceptional, with the film currently sitting on a 93% fresh rating, with a number of critics pointing out the film's biggest star is not Affleck, Jeremy Renner or Jon Hamm, but the city of Boston itself. With three other films opening wide, The Town took an early lead Friday, making $8.3M. Throughout the rest of the weekend the film maintained a solid lead as word of mouth began to spread. Having cost $37M, The Town's $23M opening weekend take is a strong start as it looks toward a face off with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps next weekend.

Opening in second place is a film that reviewed almost as well as The Town. Easy A stars Zombieland/Superbad's Emma Stone, as a high school student who works the rumour mill to her own advantage, both financially and academically, when she agrees to pretend to sleep with a gay friend. The film owes a debt to The Scarlet Letter, not to mention earlier high school comedies, but manages to side step the gross-out factor of some of them. Expected to be pushed into second place by Devil, Easy A opened well on Friday, pretty much securing a second place win for the weekend there and then. Made for just $8M, the film had already recouped its production budget sometime during Saturday. Even with a large second weekend dip (which isn't inevitable), Easy A will be a profitable release for Screen Gems, who scored big last weekend with Resident Evil: Afterlife.

Devil began as The Night Chronicles: Devil, with the 'Night' referring to M. Night Shyalaman, whose story the film is based on. After the kicking Shyamalan's last directorial effort (The Last Airbender) took, Universal quietly retitled the film. In the run up to release they distanced themselves further by dropping the M. Night Shyamalan moniker from the title. Essentially a one location production, Devil's plot centres on a group of people trapped in an elevator who discover that one of them could be the devil.

Reviews were strictly average, and with strong competition from Easy A and The Town, Devil managed a $5M debut on Friday. While its weekend finish was nothing to write home about, on its side is a $10M production budget, which should see the film turn a quick profit regardless of word of mouth or subsequent weekend takings. A second 'Night Chronicle' is already under way, entitled Reincarnate, while a third Chronicle is said to be based on a plot strand for the unproduced Unbreakable sequel.

After a $68M worldwide debut last weekend, Resident Evil: Afterlife takes the inevitable 72% Friday to Friday tumble. Afterlife's fall had actually begun last Sunday as fans of the franchise had shown up on release day, leaving the film struggling over the remainder of the weekend. While its overall second frame drop is 63%, the film could easily end up being the biggest of the series thanks again to its international take. With a $60M production price tag and a potential $150M return, it's no surprise that a fifth Resident Evil film has already been confirmed by star Milla Jovovich.

Alpha and Omega is an animated family comedy about two wolves from opposite ends of the pack, forced to work together when they find themselves a long way from home. Lionsgate kept the hype on this one very low key, with most people having not even heard of the film until it showed up at their local theatre. Consequently, what could have been a top three (or even top two) family film has to settle for a fifth place showing. While the lack of hype didn't help matters, a release set after the summer holidays leaves one feeling a little baffled on the thinking behind the decision. Terrible reviews may well have been the final nail in the coffin - especially when you consider the cost of 3D tickets. With Legend of the Guardian's due next weekend, Alpha & Omega will inevitably vanish as quickly as it appeared.

With The Town covering some of the same ground as Takers, it was inevitable the film would take a tumble, especially when combined with being four weekends old. This is still another solid hit for Screen Gems, who must be having one of the greatest months in recent company history. Similarly, The American takes a tumble as the older adult market also went with The Town. The George Clooney film has now taken $32M from a budget of $20M. A $42-45M finish looks to be on the cards, with a similar or better figure internationally.

Inception keeps on packing in those repeat viewings. It's now been in the top ten for ten weeks, a feat only achieved by one other film this year, How To Train Your Dragon. (Thanks for the Box Office Guru for that info). As of this weekend, Inception has made over $750M worldwide. After last summer's disastrous Land of the Lost you can bet Will Ferrell is glad the public showed up for The Other Guys. The $100M production has made $115M and is looking upon its last weekend in the top ten.

Machete may have covered its production costs but it's pretty much done now. Like Going the Distance (which fell out of the top ten this weekend), the film has begun to rapidly shed its location count. The foreign market should add another $30-40M to its total but the jury is still out on whether this kind of cult film is worth the risk for the return.

[Early estimates are undecided over the final positioning of Inception, The Other Guys, Machete and Eat Pray Love, all are within $300K of each other]

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