Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 19th - 21st February 2010

1. Shutter Island - $40.2M - $40.2M
2. Valentine's Day - $17.2M - $87.4M
3. Avatar - $16.1M - $687.8M
4. Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief - $15.3M - $58.8M
5. The Wolfman - $9.8M - $50.3M
6. Dear John - $7.3M - $65.9M
7. Tooth Fairy - $4.5M - $49.8M
8. Crazy Heart - $3M - $21.5M
9. From Paris With Love - $2.5M - $21.2M
10. Edge of Darkness - $2.2M - $40.3M

Just one major new release weekend, something of a rarity in this day and age. Martin Scorcese returns with Shutter Island, an adaptation of a Dennis Lehane book and starring Leonardo Di Caprio, making his fourth outing with the director. The film is the tale of two US marshals investigating the disappearance of mental patient from the titular island, where nothing is quite what it seems. The film had actually been set for an October 2009 release but was pushed back until this week due to Paramount requiring an early spring tent pole.

Reviews have drawn comparisons with The Shining and the film currently sits on a 67% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes, which for many would be a high rating, but for Scorcese is slightly on the disappointing side. All that aside, Shutter Island is his biggest ever debut, beating out the previous record of $26M set by The Departed. It's a strong start for the $75M flick and with solid weekend drops could easily become his biggest ever release (again, a record that currently sits with The Departed's $132M haul). Next weekend somewhat indirect competition will emerge in the guise of The Crazies. As an aside, Shutter Island is also the biggest opening weekend for Leonardo Di Caprio, smashing the $30M record held by Catch Me If You Can (Titanic opened to $28M)

After setting the record for being the biggest ever President's Day weekend release, Valentine's Day finds itself off a very sharp 69% (which is probably even higher than many expected). The ensemble piece is almost certainly a shoe-in for $100M by next weekend but is already showing signs of burning out quickly (which would be no big deal given it recouped its production budget in the opening three days of release). With Valentine's Day falling on a Sunday last weekend, combined with the President's Day Sunday boost, the film really broke out from the normal $20M romantic comedy openers (the cast of a thousand must have held some appeal too). As was mentioned in last weekend's report, a sequel set over New Year's Eve is already being fast tracked.

A few weeks ago when Avatar saw off Titanic's $600M record most analysts had the film settling for a final total in the region of $675-700M. A couple of weeks later and it looks like Avatar will see $700M with time to spare. Last weekend, its tenth on general release, and up against three new major releases, the film was down an astonishing 3% on the previous frame's takings. Had it been seeing weekends of $4M that would have been of little news but the fact that the film is still taking double number box office makes it simply mind blowing. $725M is looking almost a cert at this point.

Percy Jackson was a difficult one to read last weekend. It barely scraped past The Wolfman in terms of box office, and that film was pegged as being an outright disaster in some quarters. But come Tuesday, Jackson was being hailed as the next big franchise (seemingly not because it had performed well, but rather it had performed better than the 'sure to be the next big franchise' films like Eragon and The Seeker) . A week later and things don't look so sure with the film being down a worrying 59% on a Friday to Friday basis (51% overall). The fact that it couldn't beat Valentine's Day's second Friday is also telling. While it is perhaps too early to say for sure, it's looking increasingly unlikely that the film will reach $100M before it leaves the top ten (or even during its entire domestic run). For a film with estimated production costs of $95M, it feels some way short of franchise launching. The international tally may tell a different story.

After a somewhat surprising (and reassuring to Universal) start last weekend, The Wolfman is off a horror film-style 69% in its second frame. Given that this film could have easily been abandoned by the studio thanks to the myriad problems it saw during its production, it looks as though the Wolfman, while not being a hit, will end up a good way from flop territory and may even make money once DVD and TV rights come into play. Whether we'll learn what the film's true budget ended up being is another question altogether. Estimates have it pegged at $85M but this apparently doesn't include the extensive re-shoots and effects work. Having received a kicking from Valentine's Day last weekend, romantic weepie Dear John doesn't really recover much in its third weekend on general release. It's unlikely Sony will have been too fazed by its sharp decline thanks to it having already recouped its production twice over. Expect Dear John to end up being an $80M earner domestically and to potentially see strong numbers overseas too.

With Percy Jackson not quite securing the family market all to itself, The Tooth Fairy has managed to hang around for far longer than anyone would have expected it to. This, its fifth weekend on release, sees the film recouping its $48M budget and is down on last weekend just 25%. In fact the highest weekend drop of the film's run so far is just 33%. Crazy Heart, operating very well on word of mouth, sees no location increase this weekend but little in the way of a drop in takings. The film's $7M budget has been comfortably recouped and all that's left to achieve is Oscar glory in a few weeks time. Overseas expansion is just starting to begin and it'll be interesting to see how well the subject matter plays outside of the US.

Managing to hit $20M and stay in the top ten for three weekends is about all From Paris With Love will achieve. Pierre Morel's follow up to Taken will need good number internationally and on DVD so as to avoid being a major disappointment for the studio. Morel is set to direct a new adaptation of Dune next. Similar could be said of Edge of Darkness, which after a half decent start a few weekends ago finds itself looking at what is sure to be its last fling in the top ten. Martin Campbell's big screen version of the TV drama he directed in the 1980s has recouped roughly half its production budget at this point.

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