Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 26th - 28th March 2010

1. How to Train Your Dragon - $43.3M - $43.3M
2. Alice in Wonderland - $17.3M - $293.1M
3. Hot Tub Time Machine - $13.7M - $13.7M
4. The Bounty Hunter - $12.4M - $38.8M
5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid - $10M - $35.8M
6. She's Out of My League - $3.5M - $25.6M
7. Green Zone - $3.3M - $30.4M
8. Shutter Island - $3.1M - $120.6M
9. Repo Men - $3M - $11.3M
10. Our Family Wedding - $2.2M - $16.7M

It's March so it must be time for Dreamworks pre-summer release. Last year's Monsters Vs Aliens disappointed domestically but would go on to amass over $380M in total tickets sales (which was still not enough to green light a sequel). This year's March release is How To Train Your Dragon, a tale of a Viking who has no enthusiasm for the annual dragon hunts, instead wanting to train them, much to the anger and disappointment of his clan and father respectively. Early artwork did not impress, nor to the lacklustre trailers, but reviews knocked the film out of the park, with it currently sitting on an astonishing, Pixar-like, 97% at Rotten Tomatoes. If nothing else, it's the best reviewed Dreamworks film in existence. With Alice in Wonderland entering its fourth weekend and Diary of a Wimpy Kid attracting a slightly older audience, the weekend was set for Dragon to clean up.

Opening Friday to $12M, lower than Monsters Vs Aliens $16M, Dragons picked up over the rest of the weekend but ended up being amongst the lower performing of Dreamworks animated releases. Kung Fu Panda finished the weekend with $60M while the aforementioned Monsters Vs Aliens opened to $59M. This lower than expected take may prove that the potential audience were put off a little by the look or theme of the film - obviously the competition also factored in a lot more than was anticipated too. Worse too is that How To Train Your Dragon is in 3D, which pushes tickets prices up by 10-15%, meaning the film may have ended up with even less money were those inflated prices removed - not to mention the 4,000 location count giving the film going public plenty of chance to catch the flick. Clash of the Titans won't affect the film's demographic next weekend but it may cut into its 3D locations count. Word of mouth is now key for the film and next weekend will be telling. If the film's budget is like the last release ($175M), Dragon will have its work cut out for it.

Alice lost 355 of its 3D screens to Dragon this weekend but it doesn't appear to have seriously affected the film, leaving it down 50% on last weekend's take. Alice will take another hit next weekend thanks to Clash of the Titans but at this point has little to prove, having amassed a global total in excess of $550M.

Hot Tub Time Machine almost writes itself. Four guys try to recreate their heydays by returning to a ski lodge they visited in the 1980s. When the drink flows and the hot tub invites, they some how find themselves transported back to the 80s - perhaps with the potential to change some of the decisions they regretted (or make their futures even worse). A cross between The Hangover and The Wedding Singer, Hot Tub stars John Cusack, sending up the genre that put him on the map, ably supported by Craig Robinson and Rob Corddry. Reviews were above average but the time travel angle may have stopped the film seeing the breakout success witnessed by The Hangover. It's also worth noting that the film is in 1,300 less locations than the no.1 film and is R-rated. As alternate programming it worked quite well but already this seems to feel like a film that'll find its audience on DVD. Budget details aren't currently available but Hot Tub should turn a profit for MGM and a decent second weekend will do the film no harm either.

Wimpy Kid's opening partner, The Bounty Hunter, actually has a better hold, which is surprising given the awful reviews and some pretty poor word of mouth (not to mention competition from Hot Tub Time Machine's release). The Jennifer Aniston/Gerard Butler comedy was produced for $40M, a figure the film should see over the next few days. Front loading was expected to be an issue for Diary of a Wimpy Kid thanks to its large fan-base appearing to turn out over the opening weekend. A week later and the film hasn't held too well, obviously hit to a degree by Dreamwork's release. Given that the film had recouped its budget by last Sunday, Diary can bide its time and be comfortable with the 54% drop this weekend.

Next up is the second Jay Burchel film in the top ten, She's Out of My League. The raunchy comedy recouped its relatively low budget last weekend and probably took the biggest hit from Hot Tub Time Machine of any film in the top ten. Expect an unrated DVD release sometime over the summer. After two disappointing weekends, Green Zone has already begun to shed its location count. The $100M budget action thriller has begun to expand overseas but is seeing similar box office. A costly misfire for all concerned. Martin Scorcese's Shutter Island looks likely to end up being his second biggest film of his career so far. Internationally the film has so far made over $85M and a global finish of $225M isn't out of the question.

After tanking last weekend, Repo Men doesn't get a reprieve in its second frame on general release. Even with a production budget of $32M the film is unlikely to see a return anywhere near that, and may even struggle when its international tally is factored in. Rounding us out this weekend is Our Family Wedding. While budget details are still not available for the comedy drama, it's a good bet to assume this has now covered its production costs.

Avatar sits on $740M, has broken countless box records, some of which have stood for over ten years, if not longer and now, in its fifteenth weekend on general release, has finally left the top ten. Who would have believed the film would take so much money so quickly? Before its release in December 2009 many were shouting about its budget and the fact that it would never make back its huge production costs. What a difference three months makes...

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