Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 25th - 27th February 2011

 Another great report by Lord Cookie, due to Isabelle being born and life getting even more hectic. My thanks to him!

1. ^ Gnomeo and Juliet - $14.2m ($75.1m)
2. NE Hall Pass $13.4m - ($13.4m)
3. V Unknown $12.4m - ($42.8m)
4. V Just Go With It - $11.1m ($79.3m)
5. V I Am Number Four - $11m ($37.7m)
6. -- Justin Bieber: Never Say Never - $9.2m ($62.7m)
7. V The King's Speech $7.6m - ($114.5m)
8. V Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son - $7.5m ($28.5m)
9. NE Drive Angry 3D $5.1m - ($5.1m)
10. -- The Roommate $2m - ($35.9m)

Despite being out for three weeks already Gnomeo & Juliet finally reaches the number one slot with $14.2m this weekend, down an impressive 26% from last week. 3D still seems to be a draw for the family market and despite no official production figures there is a good chance it will return a tidy profit with a very respectable $75m in the US already. Rather than a groundswell of positive word-of-mouth the film has profited from a lack of competition as it has the child and family market all to itself. It is far from a runaway smash, currently sitting at 76 in the highest US grossing animated films of all time list, but wisely choosing its release spot has worked well for a film that must have had exceeded its modest ambitions. With Tangled now out of the picture it needed to make a serious dent in the box office as next week the Johnny Depp voiced, Rango, is set for release. With a larger marketing budget and a big star name it is hard to see G&J holding its own against such stiff competition.

For a brief period the Farrelly brothers were the go-to guys for profitable comedy in Hollywood (that honour now seems to belong to Todd Phillips who has Hangover Part II coming out in a more competitive, but potentially lucrative, summer slot), but it has been ten years since their last hit, the modestly successful Shallow Hal, and thirteen years since their big smash, There's Something About Mary. Whilst their films rarely lose money their last three releases have had mediocre reviews at best and disappeared with little fanfare. Hall Pass, about a man who is granted the opportunity to have an affair by his wife, seems to be continuing this trend taking only $13.4m for its opening three day weekend. Reviews have been poor (currently at 34% on Rotten Tomatoes, the second lowest score of any Farrelly film) but it still managed to scrap to the top spot on the Friday with $4.6m from 2,950 locations. Due to the number of screens and the relative lack of competition the figures were less than stellar but at least it did manage to reach the summit. Unfortunately for the Farrelly's and Warner Bros. Friday is traditionally the strongest day for R rated films and by the weekend families begin to dominate the theatres. Without a sizeable lead on the Friday it was always looking likely that Hall Pass would drop from the top spot. With a relatively modest budget of $35m it will probably just about scrape its production costs back from the US box office but it is hard to not see this as anything other than another disappointed for the Farrelly brothers.

Unknown, the latest film to demonstrate how many different ways Liam Neeson can hurt bad men, continues to do solid but unspectacular business with another $12.4m this weekend ($42.8m total). Neeson's stock in the action genre has risen recently with the surprise success of Taken, and the more obvious success of The A-Team, and despite Unknown probably falling short of both films totals it is unlikely to harm his credentials as an action star. Despite having similar opening weekends (Taken: $25m, Unknown: $22m) this Jaume Collet-Serra feature, about a doctor who has his identity taken from him, is unlikely to have the legs that Taken possessed. Still, by the time the film bows out from the box office it should end up being Collet-Serra's biggest grossing film to date and even though he missed out on the G.I. Joe 2 directing job (more on that later) bigger projects are sure to follow.

The Adam Sandler comedy (I feel dirty just typing those words), Just Go With It, is still the widest film on release playing on 3,544 screens (down by four from last week). The plot, on a weekend trip to Hawaii, a plastic surgeon convinces his loyal assistant to pose as his soon-to-be-divorced wife in order to cover up a careless lie he told to his much-younger girlfriend, is based on the '60s movie Cactus Flower. As with all Sandler movies the film appears to be review-proof with a sizeable number of people still turning out to see his tired man-child act despite a 19% RT rating. With a pretty hefty production budget of $80m (no doubt going on the cast that includes Sandler, Aniston and Nicole Kidman) and a similarly pricey marketing campaign it may take a while for this film to turn a profit but with a $11.1m weekend it is heading in the right direction. This is hardly surprising though as Sandler and director Dennis Dugan are a formidable box office pairing with their last three films together each breaking $100m in the US and with $79.4m already in the bank, Just Go With It seems to be following this trend.

With the exception of the Justin Bieber movie, I Am Number Four also benefited from a week where competition for the teen dollar was low and managed to make another $11m. Released last week to fair-to-poor reviews (30% on RT), the great hope for a new teen franchise starter only managed to splutter to $19m. Directed by DJ Caruso, one of the blandest directors working today, it was hoped it would be the springboard for more films in the series (it is based on a proposed six book series). With another week where it flat-lined, even given the lack of direct competition and an okay percentage drop, the likelihood of this seeing a sequel is becoming increasingly slim. Ever since Harry Potter dominated box offices across the world, studios have tried to look for the next book series that could replicate that success. Many books were adapted but not one has succeeded, not until Twilight. Despite attracting different audiences (with some natural crossover) the only other noteworthy book franchise to get past that first film stumbling block has been the bafflingly popular, 'I'm a vampire, lets hold hands', yawn fest. The box office popularity of the Twilight saga will undoubtedly lead to more teenage franchises being adapted for the screen and, as always, most will fail. With another Alex Pettyfer teen focused movie (Beastly) appearing next weekend this could take a pretty big hit and struggle to cling on to a top ten finish next week.

Celebrating his fourth week in the charts, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, saw a boost to its box office with a new director's cut release. Despite losing 380 screens this weekend the new 40 minute longer DC (taking over all the 3D screens with the shorter theatrical release being relegated to 2D screens) has certainly helped the film stick around for one more week and amass another $9.2m in the process. These types of films (concert movies aimed at a tween audience) traditionally hit big and tail off quickly. Never Say Never has followed the same trajectory with weekly drops of around 50%. However, with a budget of $13m and current figures of $62.7m the studio won't be complaining. Director Jon Chen was rewarded by bagging the director's job on G.I. Joe 2. Whilst there is nothing on Chen's CV to suggest he is an ideal candidate (Step Up 2 and 3D) he is supposed to be a big fan of Joe so maybe that is all it takes. Expect a Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes dance off somewhere in the film.

The only Oscars bothering film still on the list is The King's Speech (expanding to an extra 300 screens). Now in its thirteenth week of release (the first seven weeks were limited screenings) this has had a boost to business with the Academy Awards just around the corner (i.e. this Sunday) seeing a 17% rise in takings, all the more impressive seeing how long it has been out for. Traditionally awards friendly films will normally take a hit on the Sunday of the ceremony with the target audience favouring to watch the awards show instead. Not that this matters too much when the film has already made $114.5m in the US with another $7.6m this weekend. From a production budget of $15m this has been one of the undeniable hits of the year so far and is the third highest grossing Best Picture nominee of the year (inevitably behind Toy Story 3 and Inception). If it does manage to bag the major award at the Oscars we may see another spike of interest next weekend, not least because the MPAA have passed a PG-13 cut of the film. The Weinstein's have been after a lower rating for some time but one (crucial) scene with swearing in has been the stumbling block, but now they have the go ahead to release a version where swearing will be muted. I find this decision baffling. The film, even in its muted form, is not aimed at kids and teenagers so it is hard to see how a lower classification will help its box office chances. If the screening I went to was anything to go by the average age for the audience was north of 60. Secondly, I find it a terribly tacky thing to do, cheapening an Oscar contender and destroying a key scene in the process. Having made a small fortune from its worldwide takings you'd think they wouldn't have to stoop to such levels to milk it any further. But I guess the Weinstein's have a history of butchering films to make a few more dollars so why should The King's Speech be exempt?

The third instalment in the Big Momma's House franchise (seriously, how did it get to this?) took a big hit this week falling 60% from last weeks opening. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son is currently sitting at number 22 in the all time Comedy-Fat Suit box office list, yes I too was pleased to see there was such a list, but whilst it may rise a couple of places by the time its theatrical run is over the likelihood of it coming close to the figures for the first two films ($117m and $70m respectively) is slim. Still, with a production budget of $32m it was a reasonably low risk film but hopefully this means there won't be a fourth film on the horizon.

If Hall Pass looked like disappointing business then the box office takings for Drive Angry 3D are nothing short of disastrous. It was clear on Friday that this film had bombed but I don't think anybody had expected such terrible figures. On Friday it took $1.6m which, to put it into context, was less than the cost of its 30 second Super Bowl advert. Nicolas Cage plays Milton, a vengeful father who escapes from hell and chases after the men who killed his daughter and kidnapped his granddaughter. Despite having a very solid 2010 it looks like business as usual for Nicolas Cage who follows up the rubbish reviews/business for Season of the Witch ($24m) with an even more woeful $5.1m for Drive Angry from a screen average of $2,241 (which, if my maths is correct, works out to around 165 punters per screen over three days). With a budget of between $45-50m and a marketing budget that probably more than doubles that total the film marks a big loss for Summit Entertainment.

So where did it all go wrong? It certainly wasn't in the lack of marketing as the film has had a strong online presence since the project went into production and billboards and TV spots have been everywhere. These types of films – dumb but fun action films – don't normally take a hit from reviews either so even the fair-to-middling critical responses are unlikely to cause this film too much collateral damage. So perhaps the issue is down to 3D. There is no sign of a 3D backlash given the success of other films on the chart (although R rated 3D movies this year haven't set the box office alight, as seen with the mediocre $22m haul for Sanctum) but the film has been heavily geared to 3D screens, not surprising given the name of the film, with only 49 of its 2,061 screens showing traditional 2D screenings. Aiming it squarely at a young adult male audience, not necessarily all that keen on paying a premium for the new technology, may well have harmed the films chances. Director Patrick Lussier had a hit with My Bloody Valentine 3D, but whilst both films may be R rated the horror event film traditionally hits both genders and is seen as a popular date movie. Cutting off females from the equation has seemingly hampered the box office potential. Arriving a couple of months after the Dwayne Johnson vehicle (arf), Faster, a film with a thematically similar plot, probably didn't do its chances much good either. Poor figures don't tend to affect Cage's appeal with audiences or his chances to get employment and with two flops in a row these will most likely be seen as just minor disappointments (he has three films in post-production, is currently shooting the new Ghost Rider film and is attached to a couple of other projects). However, if you want to put this film into some perspective it is the worst opening Cage has had since 1994s Trapped in Paradise. Seeing the number of bad films he has made between then and now and the box office for Drive Angry looks even bleaker (if that was possible). Where this leaves Lussier is another thing, the only widely released 3D film that has performed more poorly than this was the mega-flop Battle for Terra (which was shown on half the number of screens), and given the amount of marketing for the film that is not a record he will want to carry with him onto his next project.

Single White Female The Roommate rounds out the top ten with a $2m weekend. It saw another 55% drop this week which is par for the course for the film and it will certainly see another sizeable reduction in screens next weekend. The film is the first starring feature for both TV stars, Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly and it seems that their TV fan base came out to support them in okay numbers. From a production budget of $16m the US gross of $36m is looking like a good bit of business for Screen Gems, especially as the marketing was reasonably low too.

This weeks figures are down 12% on this time last year with the likes of Shutter Island helping bolster the top ten in 2010 (the top ten films made around $104m last year whereas they could only achieve $92m this weekend).

No comments: