Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 1st - 3rd April 2011

1. Hop -  $38.1M - $38.1M
2. Source Code -  $15M - $15M
3. Insidious - $13.4M - 13.4M
4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules -  $10.2M - $38.4M
5. Limitless - $9.4M - $55.6M
6. The Lincoln Lawyer -  $7M - $39.6M
7. Sucker Punch - $6M - $29.8M
8. Rango -  $4.5M - $113.7M
9. Paul - $4.3M - $31.9M
10. Battle: Los Angeles - $3.5M - $78.4M

We're roughly a month away from the official start of summer blockbuster season and Hollywood can't wait. Film after film has disappointed, some critically, many financially. Our latest victim, Sucker Punch, made little dent during its opening frame and has all but vanished a week later. This weekend we've again got something for everyone...hopefully.

Hop is the latest CGI animated comedy from Universal pictures. The film features the voice talent of Russell Brand and Hugh Laurie, backed up with real life actors in the guise of James Marsden and Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco. Brand plays the son of the Easter bunny who's headed to Hollywood rather than follow in his father's footsteps. After a run in with Marsden's slacker, they both need to work together and mature if they're going to stop a chicken taking over the Easter bunny role.

Reviews for the film were pretty horrific, just 23% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes but with Rango looking a bit long in the tooth (not to mention not being quite for everyone), the market was clear for Hop to clean up. And clean up it did - Friday it pulled well ahead of the other new releases for an opening take of $11.4M. Saturday saw things improve further, as is the norm with family films, giving Hop a three day take of $38M come Sunday night. That's a strong start for a non-franchise/non-Pixar animated release and if the budget is below $100M, this should see a profit domestically. The only issues ahead are four wide opening release next frame (Including another Russell Brand film) and Rio, another animated family comedy due in a fortnight's time.

Duncan Jones follows up the acclaimed Moon this weekend with Source Code, a science fiction/time travelling film starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The actor plays Colter Stevens, a soldier who wakes up on a train, seemingly as someone else. When a terrorist bomb kills everyone aboard, Stevens is transported back to something called the Source Code, and finds himself alive and well. Before he can get his bearing he is once again transported to the train, 8 minutes before it explodes and soon discovers his task - find the bomber before he has chance to destroy the train & set off a chain of events culminating in the death of many more. Like Moon, Source Code reviewed exceptionally well (90% Vs 88%) but even with great reviews and strong trailers, would the complex plot turn people away?

With Limitless and The Lincoln Lawyer still providing the more mature market with entertainment, Source Code had its work cut out for it. Opening just ahead of Insidious on Friday with $5M, the film stayed on that course over the remainder of the weekend to give it a final total of $15M. Word of mouth should help the film capitalize on that decent opening but all four films opening next Friday will offer the film competition of varying levels. The ace in the hole for Source Code is its production budget, just $32M, and that's a figure the film should be well on the way to recouping this time next weekend.

Giving Source Code a run for its money is Insidious, the latest horror film from Saw series stalwart James Wan and Leigh Whannell. It stars Rose Bryne and Patrick Wilson as a couple who move into a new house and fall victim to strange and disturbing incidents. Soon their son falls into an unexplained coma. Things at the house get worse when the comatose boy is allowed home; even moving to a new house does little to abate whatever it is that is haunting the family....For a horror film, Insidious reviewed above average and currently sits at 59% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.

The public were intrigued enough by those reviews and quite creepy trailers to push the film to $4.8M on Friday, heading to 13.5M for the weekend. A major score for new distributor Filmdistrict - Insidious cost just $1.5M to produce (thanks perhaps to Paranormal Activity producer Oren Peli being involved) so was already in profit by Friday afternoon. At this point the studio could close the film and start counting their money. The next watching point for Insidious will be its second frame drop - will it buck the horror trend and drop below 50%?

Shock number one film last weekend Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules tumbles 56% in its second frame. The first film dropped over 50% in its second frame so Rodrick's drop isn't unexpected. The film carried a slightly higher budget than the prequel but its initial take was also higher. At this point the film has already recouped its production budget and is some way to covering print and advertising costs too. While a third film is yet to be greenlit, it is surely only a matter of time.

Limitless has another strong frame, and while not quite as impressive as that second frame drop, it further adds to the film's already growing profits. It will have taken a slight hit from Source Code and Insidious but Limitless managed to hold its own. At this point it looks like heading for a $75M finish but as mentioned earlier, it might get nixed early by the glut of up and coming releases, though that won't concern studio Relativity too much. Like Limitless, The Lincoln Lawyer seems to be finding an audience. This weekend the Matthew McConaughey legal thriller has all but recouped its $40M production budget and will top out at around $55-60M.

After all the hype and flashy trailers, Sucker Punch limped to second place and $19M during its opening frame. A week later (a week which saw WB release the first six minutes in an attempt to entice cinema-goers) and things haven't improved. Sucker Punch was down a dismal 68% on last weekend. Furthermore the international market don't seem interested either - the film has made just $6.5M at the time of writing. With the way things are, this could inexplicably be the film's last weekend in the top ten and a $40M finish looks likely.

With Hop securing the family market, Rango had little space to manoeuvre. The $140M film, Industrial Light & Magic's first foray into the market, crossed the $200M mark in total global ticket sales on Friday. Paul crosses $30M this weekend as it begins to look towards its home release. Made for $40M, the film has already made over $30M overseas so should give Universal a decent return. Next for Nick Frost is the well received Attack The Block while Simon Pegg has just finished work on Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Shedding serious locations now (down 855 this weekend) is Battle: Los Angeles. After a good opening frame the film was all but destroyed by poor word of mouth, seeing an intial weekend to weekend drop of nearly 60%. It'll fall some way short of $100M but won't lose Sony/Columbia any money.

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