Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 24th - 26th September 2010

1. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - $19M - $19M
2. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole - $16.3M - $16.3M
3. The Town - $16M - $49.1M
4. Easy A - $10.7M - $32.8M
5. You Again - $8.3M - $8.3M
6. Devil - $6.4M - $21.7M
7. Resident Evil: Afterlife - $4.9M - $52M
8. Alpha and Omega - $4.7M - $15.1M
9. Takers - $1.6M - $54.9M
10. Inception - $1.2M - $287M

A follow up to a 1987 hit might reek of desperation but given how the economy has been front and centre of the news for the last 18 months, could there ever be a more apt time for the return of Gordon Gecko? Oliver Stone returns to the directing chair and is joined once again by Michael Douglas, who is supported on screen by Shia LeBeowulf, Carey Mulligan and Josh Brolin. The story picks up as Gecko is released from a long stretch in prison and finds a world that has embraced his 'Greed is good' mantra from the original film. LeBeowulf plays an up and coming speculator who just so happens to be dating Gecko's estranged daughter.

Reviews were just above average, with the film currently sitting on a 54% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Wall Street would also be facing tough competition from Ben Affleck's The Town, which had a stunning debut last weekend. Friday the film opened to a solid $7M and as the weekend wore on, the film continued to dominate. The original film is 23 years old, meaning comparison with that opening weekend won't work but given the competition, a three day total of $19M shouldn't disappoint Fox. This one cost around $70M to produce and unfortunately it'll only get this week to breathe as next Friday brings two very strong dramas in the guise of The Social Network and Let Me In.

Zack Snyder's film career began with the remake of cult favourite Dawn of the Dead. Having made his mark he quickly followed that up with the successful 300 and epic Watchmen. After that interesting (and ultra violent trilogy), he chose to change pace completely with the animated Legend of the Guardians. The film is based on a series of books (Guardians of Ga'Hoole) and tells the tale of an owl and his brother who are kidnapped and brainwashed into becoming soldiers against the legendary 'Guardians'. Discovering that the 'Guardians' actually exist, Soren and his brother plan their escape and hope to fight for the right side.

Unlike last weekend's Alpha & Omega, Guardians had a decent marketing budget to back it up. While it would be classed as mid-budget for an animated feature, $100M is still nothing to be sniffed at. With no built-in appeal and disappointing trailers, Legend of the Guardians opened to a very subdued $4.5M on Friday. Business picked up over Saturday as it became the choice for cinema-going families but it still left the film with something of an uphill struggle. The film reviewed lower than the Wall Street sequel so word of mouth may not propel the film much past this weekend. The only thing on its side is the lack of direct competition over the next month but even that may not be enough.

After a blistering start last weekend, The Town was down just 35% on a Friday to Friday basis (and just 32% for the weekend overall). Word of mouth is incredibly strong on the robbery thriller and helped the film recoup its production budget some time on Saturday. Again, The Social Network and Let Me In will affect the film next weekend but this is already a critical and theatrical success and really marks Ben Affleck as a director to watch.

Similar, Easy A has a solid second weekend as it has a demographic pretty much all to itself. The film, which is in the tradition of Clueless and Ten Things I Hate About You, ended the weekend down just 40% on its first frame. Better still is the fact that it had recouped its production budget after just two days on general release. After turns in Superbad and Zombieland, Easy A could be the film to launch Emma Stone into the big time.

Our third new release of the week is You Again, a comedy featuring Jamie Lee Curtis and Kristen Bell. Bell finds out her brother is to marry the girl who made her high school life a living hell. The situation is made worse by the mother of the bride to be (played by Sigourney Weaver) being the girl who made Curtis' high school life a hell on earth. Betty White also features but even she couldn't get the film above a $10M opening frame. Blame that figure on a lack of hype and just a bit too much going on competition-wise (mainly Easy A one assumes). A second weekend hold probably isn't on the cards, leaving one to question again the release strategies of the major studios. Resident Evil: Afterlife opened with no competition and lacklustre holdovers - You Again could have cut a nice niche for itself, instead it may vanish quickly. Luckily for Touchstone, this one only cost $20M to put together.

Devil built on its quiet opening and has now more than doubled its low production budget of $10M. It should manage another weekend in the top ten and guarantee further 'Night' chronicles enter pre-production. The past few days have seen Resident Evil: Afterlife become the biggest film of the entire series, being the first of the franchise to take more than $150M in total global ticket sales. Domestically the film will also end up being the best of the series by the time final figures are released on Monday night. Paul WS Anderson is currently filming his version of The Three Musketeers (in 3D) but is widely expected to follow that up with a fifth Resident Evil film.

Having made little dent last weekend, the animated Alpha & Omega had to face off against The Legend of the Guardians, and didn't fair much better. Thankfully for Lionsgate this one cost just $20M to produce. Once you factor in potential DVD/Blu-Ray sales, everything should work out fine and probably turn the film into a minor success. At the very least, it won't lose anyone any money.

Takers is looking upon its last weekend in the top ten. The $32M production should finish up roughly doubling that figure and could see something similar internationally. Meanwhile, Inception still has a shot at $800M in terms of global box office and even with a slashed location count, is still a force to be reckoned with.

The final release this weekend doesn't trouble the top ten (or even the top twenty). The Virginity Hit is a faux documentary (produced by Will Ferrell & Adam McKay) following one guy's attempt to lose his virginity, and the friends who want to film it. Out to 700 locations, the film managed just a $300K return. Further expansion is unlikely.

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