Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 29th April - 1st May 2011

1. Fast Five -  $83.6M - $83.6M
2. Rio - $14.4M - $103.6M
3. Madea's Big Happy Family - $10.1M - $41.1M
4. Water for Elephants - $9.1M - $32.3M
5. Prom - $5M - $5M
6. Hoodwinked Too!: Hood vs. Evil - $4.1M - $4.1M
7. Soul Surfer - $3.3M - $33.7M
8. Insidious - $2.6M - $48.3M
9. Hop - $2.5M - $105.2M
10. Source Code - $2.5M - $48.9M

This weekend Hollywood breathes a collective sigh of relief as summer blockbuster season finally kicks off. There's been precious little to celebrate in 2011, at least in box office terms, but this weekend marks the first of a number of potential blockbusters making their debut. First out the gate is Fast Five, followed quickly by Thor, Priest and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. But just because Hollywood saw this weekend as the start of blockbuster season, did the general public make it so?

Ten years ago Universal took a chance on a low budget street race movie, never expecting it to make $144M from a budget of just $38M. Starring the relative (at least then) newcomers Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Two years later came the Diesel-less sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, which introduced us to Tyrese Gibson. Costing double the money to produce, the film disappointed somewhat with a $127M finish. Trying for a quick reboot, Universal chose to ditch the cast and move the action to Japan with Tokyo Drift. Sadly with no Walker, Diesel or even Gibson, the film crashed out with just $62M. Universal would wait three years before attempting to get the old gang back together for Fast and Furious, which starred Diesel and Walker, alongside the original female stars of the first film, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez. Pushing up the action with that cast paid off and saw Fast and Furious become the biggest grossing of the series to date ($155M finish).

Which brings us to 2011 and Fast Five (aka Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist), reuniting once again many of the original cast while bringing back Tyrese Gibson and adding Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson to the mix. With the story transplanted to South America, the street racing takes a back-seat to the old 'one last big job' style heist plot. The Rock plays a hardened Diplomatic security service agent hot on their trail after a train heist goes awry. Trailers ramped the action element right up to eleven and anticipation only grew further when the positive reviews started to role in (something that has generally eluded the series). As it stands, Fast Five sits on a 78% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Fast and Furious opened to $70M back in 2009 but after a $33M Friday, Fast Five was on track to smash the series' opening weekend record.

By Sunday the film had made $83.6M. That three day figure not only marks a series best opening but also the best three day figure Universal have ever seen, smashing the $72.1M record set by The Lost World in 1997. Furthermore, the film debuted in fourteen overseas markets last weekend and made $35M, with another $45M added to that total this frame - and that's with a further 45 markets still awaiting the film. Budget details aren't available at the time of writing but it's unlikely to have cost more than $85M. By next frame, even with the threat from Thor, Fast Five should be well clear of $110M domestically, especially with the strong word of mouth helping. While only three days into release, there's little reason why it won't go on to be the most successful of the series so far.

With such a huge film in the top spot, the rest of the chart, including any other new releases, was pretty much decimated. Performing the best of the bunch was the family comedy Rio (South America is doing alright this week for hits!) which added a further $14M to its total - it's highly unlikely that Hoodwinked 2 gave it any cause for concern either. Made for $90M, the film has now recouped its production budget with its domestic tally but as we've seen time and time again, it's the foreign figures that really surprise - $227M and counting. With the aforementioned Hoodwinked offering almost zero competition, Rio's biggest direct challenge (aside from the big non-family releases) is due in a month in the guise of Kung Fu Panda 2.

As expected, Madea's Big Happy Family drops 60% in its second frame on general release (including a pretty nasty 71% from Friday to Friday). This is bang in line with the vast majority of Tyler Perry's films and won't worry him or Lionsgate, who saw the film recoup its production budget by Sunday evening of the opening weekend. But there are signs the bubble is bursting as this was the lowest opening of the 'Madea' top-lined films. With a lower start and the same quick finish, there's also a strong chance this will be the lowest grossing of the series too. That said, Perry is yet to lose money on a single film, something not many directors/producers can say.

After a slightly better than expected opening last weekend, Water For Elephants drops 59% on a Friday to Friday basis (45% overall). Fans of the book and star Robert Pattinson gave the film a boost last weekend, and while its second frame overall drop isn't half as bad as it could have been, it's not quite the break out non-Twilight hit that Pattinson was hoping for. For co-star Witherspoon, it's probably something of a relief after the disaster that was How Do You Know? All things being equal, this will recoup its $38M production budget before leaving the top ten.

Our second new release this weekend is Prom, a new film from Disney which could have easily debuted on its home movie channel. The film follows a group of teenagers, covering all the usual social groups - the bad boy working to avoid prison, the jock, head cheerleader, nerd etc. as they prepare for their prom. Reviews weren't anything special and while the film has been pushed hard for certain demographics, it barely made a dent on Friday - just $1.9M. For the weekend as a whole Prom could manage just $5M. As we've seen numerous times before, a theatrical release for a film like Prom is a glorified advert for its home/Pay Per View release. Given the film cost $9M to produce, it'll use its theatrical release to cover costs and make a tidy profit on the home market.

Our final new release, at least inside the top ten, is Hoodwinked Too: Hood Vs Evil, a sequel to the minor 2006 hit. This time around Red Riding Hood has to team up with the wolf to rescue Hansel & Gretel from an evil witch. Even the Weinstein company didn't seem that fussed about the film and have barely supported an advertising campaign for it. Furthermore, reviews were dire across the board - with just 11% of reviewers having something positive to say. Taking just $1.1M on Friday, Hoodwinked Too stumbled to a $4.1M three day total. The only saving grace is that it cost $30M to produce.

Adding another $3.3M to its running total, Soul Surfer continues to impress. Like Insidious, the film was expected to have one half decent weekend in it and quickly vanish (many didn't even give it one decent weekend) but something caught the public's eye, resulting in it dropping just 31% in its second frame and 25% in its third. This weekend's drop is slightly higher but the film has almost doubled its production budget at this point. The little horror thriller keeps on giving - even if Insidious did see the biggest drop of its theatrical run this weekend. Considered to be a quick flash in the pan, the Rose Bryne/Patrick Wilson haunted child flick has shown incredibly strong legs and seen off Scream 4 in the process. Made for just $1.5M, Insidious has a running total of $48M.

Hop has begun to shed locations this weekend, down 446. The Easter themed flick saw a 12% increase in takings over the holiday frame but finds its business as usual a week later. Opening before Rio probably enabled the Russell Brand flick to ultimately clear $100M but its days are numbered now - this will almost certainly be its last weekend in the top ten. (Last Thursday the film actually dropped out of the top ten altogether). Source Code will leave the top ten just shy of $50M. While enduring a few competition filled weekends, the Duncan Jones film kept its head down and scored some strong word of mouth, along with some solid box office.

Opening at just 875 locations, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, failed to enter the top ten. Based on an Italian comic book, Dylan Dog starred Brandon Routh as the titular hero, a paranormal detective who has to deal with zombies and werewolves on a regular basis, aided and abetted by his undead assistant. The $35M budgeted Freestyle Release made just $884K for the weekend.

Worthy of a note - Thor, which debuted over the last ten days in fifty six overseas markets, scored an impressive $83M this weekend, bringing its international total to $93M.

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