Thursday 16 June 2011

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

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules - $24.4M - $24.4M
2. Sucker Punch - $19M - $19M
3. Limitless - $15M - $41.3M
4. The Lincoln Lawyer - $11M - $29M
5. Rango - $9.8M - $106.4M
6. Battle: Los Angeles - $7.6M - $72.5M
7. Paul - $7.5M - $24.6M
8. Red Riding Hood - $4.3M - $32.4M
9. The Adjustment Bureau - $4.2M - $54.8M
10. Mars Needs Moms - $2.1M - $19.1M

Looks like blockbuster season is still on hold.....

The first Diary of a Wimpy Kid turned into a decent little hit for studio Fox around this time last year - enough to clear the sequel for a theatrical release rather than going straight to DVD. Rodrick Rules is the subtitle of this first sequel, which is an adaptation of the second book of the five book series, and sees all the main cast reprising their roles. The film focuses on the rivalry between brothers Greg and Rodrick. The first film cost around $15M to bring to the screen and ended up taking an impressive $64M, which included a $22M opening frame. This sequel, while costing a little more ($21M) managed to perform at least 10% better and has caused something of a major upset by keeping Sucker Punch well and truly off the top spot. It'll face competition next weekend from CGI comedy Hop, but Rodrick Rules has already gotten off to a great start and may even out-gross its prequel. Look for a third film in March 2012.

Sucker Punch is director Zack Snyder's first foray into original material territory after the horror remake Dawn of the Dead and comic book adaptations Watchmen and 300. The film sees a young girl institutionalised by her wicked step-father and forming a kinship with the other inmates - who escape together into an epic fantasy land with a hope of using it to break free of their shackles in the real world. Snyder really threw the kitchen sink into this one with giant samurai, wooden nazis and futuristic robots all pitched against the group. Trailers were pretty spectacular but worryingly displayed the director's slow motion fetish yet again. Originally set for an R-rating, 18 minutes (including at least one musical number) were exorcised in order to gain a PG-13. Curiously, given the trailers and subject matter in general, it was something of a surprise to find the film was not shot in 3D or converted during post-production. With Battle: LA not quite launching blockbuster season, it was left to Sucker Punch and the hope of a $40-50M opening frame.

Alas, things didn't quite work out that way for the film. Reviews for Sucker Punch didn't arrive until very late in the week and when they did finally turn up, they weren't good. In fact, the film gave the aforementioned Battle: LA a good run for its money in that department - and more worrying for the film, even its target demographic were quick to dismiss it. Friday saw the film take just $8M as it entered a sparring match with the Wimpy Kid sequel. Things did little to improve over the rest of the weekend leaving the $82M film with just $19M in takings. This is a major blow to Warner Bros and to Snyder himself (who also wrote and produced the flick) - even the disappointing Watchmen opened to $55M and that was R-Rated. Word of mouth will probably condemn the film to a disappointing second frame and unless it performs differently overseas, this could well become a costly failure for all concerned. Snyder might be thanking his lucky stars that he signed on to direct Superman prior to Sucker Punch's debut.

Limitless, our number one film last weekend, recouped its production budget very early Friday. The film sees Bradley Cooper taking a pill that allows him to use 100% of his brain power - catching the eye of Robert De Niro's shady businessman in the process. Up against the new releases the film dropped just 30% on a Friday to Friday basis (a fantastic 19% for the weekend overall), ending the frame with a solid $15M. Even at this stage, two weeks into its release, Limitless is looking to become a decent hit for Relativity Media. A $70M finish isn't out of the question.

Legal thriller The Lincoln Lawyer was the big winner review-wise last weekend but that didn't quite translate into great box office (though it was facing two other major releases). This weekend saw an $11M take, leaving it down just 16% on its opening total - meaning word of mouth is working its magic. At this stage it should have little trouble recouping its $40M production budget but there are seven wide opening releases over the next two weekends, so it needs to make the next few day count before getting lost in the flood.

This weekend, its fourth on general release, saw Rango cross $100M. The $140M production gained some competition from Rodrick Rules this weekend but its main issue may well be that those who wanted to see the film may have already done so. Internationally the film has kicked off and is fast catching the domestic gross, currently sitting on a total approaching $80M.

With the bad word of mouth and the two new releases, one of which directly cuts into its main demographic, Battle:LA drops hard again in its third frame. The alien invasion film has just about recouped its production budget at this point but is unlikely to see a great deal more. This week saw Battle: LA director Jonathan Liebesman begin work on his follow up project, Wrath of the Titans.

Paul drops a slightly high 42% in its second frame. At this point the film will surpass its international gross (which seems to have topped out at $25M) but do little more business until its home release, where it should clean up. While it won't be a large grossing film, its relatively low production budget should ensure a profit for Universal.

Red Riding Hood sheds 300 locations this weekend as it surpasses $30M. The fairy tale reinvention has just began to expand overseas where it has so far taken $5M. Given the three major releases next weekend, this could be Red Riding Hood's last weekend in the top ten. Meanwhile, The Adjustment Bureau - the Matt Damon/Emily Blunt thriller has made almost $55M from a budget of $62M. Worldwide the film has made a further $32M.

Huge flop Mars Needs Moms drop nearly a 1000 locations as Disney prepare to get the film onto the home market as quickly as possible - a place that will no doubt see the film perform better than its theatrical showing. Factoring in its international tally, the $150M film has made just $26M.

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