Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 2nd - 4th July 2010

1. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse - $69M - $161M
2. The Last Airbender - $40.7M - $58M
3. Toy Story 3 - $30.2M - $289M
4. Grown Ups - $18.5M - $77.1M
5. Knight & Day - $10.2M - $45.5M
6. The Karate Kid - $8M - $151.5M
7. The A-Team - $3M - $69.1M
8. Get Him To Greek - $1.1M - $57.4M
9. Shrek Forever After - $799K - $232.1M
10. Cyrus - $770K - $1.4M

Independence Day weekend is upon us. One of our two new films was taking no chances when it came to weekend attendances being affected by the holiday - it got released at Midnight on Tuesday night. The other film faced scathing reviews and a budget north of $130M to recoup. Add in a still dangerously strong Toy Story 3 and the weekend was set for one hell of a showdown.

After just two films, The Twilight Saga had a total worldwide gross of over $1 billion dollars. That doesn't included DVD, TV Rights or any other forms of merchandising. The cost to Summit Entertainment was just $87M. To say Twilight is their golden egg laying hen is an understatement, especially given how poor their other recent releases have fared (five major releases under $35M). Eclipse is the third film in the successful series; due to New Moon's post-production running so close to pre-production on Eclipse, Summit had to hire a new director instead of being able to get Chris Weitz to helm the film.

As if the hype wasn't already running high for the film, it reached fever pitch in the last few weeks. Summit took a chance with Eclipse and opted to release the film in the middle of summer blockbuster season - competition the like of which the series hadn't had to face previously thanks to their November release dates. Before release the film had already broken a record - the widest ever release for a film in North America - 4,468 locations. Avoiding a potential low Sunday due to July 4th, Summit opted to open the film at Midnight on Tuesday and saw Eclipse take the midnight screening record by over $3.5M. A few hours later and Twilight broke a third record with the biggest Wednesday taking of any film - $68M. It narrowly trailed New Moon for biggest ever single day take by around $4M.

Thursday saw a sharp decline in takings, largely due to the epic front loading that the film would have witnessed but by Friday things were once again picking up leaving the film with a very impressive $69M for the 'weekend' period. Sunday inevitably saw a drop in takings but given that the film had recouped its $67M production costs within 24 hours of its release, no one is likely to care. It's hard to say what people will make of that weekend total - it is strong for certain (as is its overall take so far) but it's also worryingly similar to what the film did on opening day. Is the film waning already? Next weekend we'll see the expected huge drop in takings but the films generally do ok from repeat business. New Moon finished with $296M, a figure Eclipse looks likely to have no problem surpassing.

Hard as it is to believe there was another major release this weekend. The Last Airbender is based on the successful Nickelodeon's series Avatar: The Last Airbender (one assumes the main name was dropped to avoid confusion with James Cameron's movie) and is the fantasy tale of Aang & his friends and their battle with the current Fire Lord. A film version has been bandied around for a few years now, even before the finale of the cartoon series, but it took M.Night Shyamalan, coming off the failure of The Happening, to get things into production. A trilogy was proposed, with the first film covering Book One.

This would be Shyamalan's biggest ever budget, and one of the first times he'd be working on a project he hadn't created himself. Production went off without a hitch and trailers looked impressive - with solid marketing keeping the film in the public's consciousness. Then it all started to go wrong. Word got out that the film had cost at least $130M to produce and a further $150M to market. Costly, but nowhere near the most expensive of films. Reviews were horrific, and at the time of writing the film sits with just a 5% positive rating over at RottenTomatoes.

Facing off against Eclipse should still have given the film some breathing room as there'd be little audience crossover between the two films - and Airbender had the 3D ace card still to play - but word of people leaving midnight screenings before the film finished didn't help matters. With all that in mind the film actually got off to a great start on Friday, taking in $16M. Going over the rest of the weekend the film continued to play well and while it struggled on Sunday (as did everything else), it managed an impressive first weekend total of $58M. Unfortunately it'll face competition from Despicable Me next weekend and if word of mouth is as bad as the reviews, this really could be a one-weekend wonder. Whether the film will see $100M will all but be decided by this time next weekend, perhaps even sooner if its second Friday on release is a bad one.

With two major releases this weekend, Toy Story 3 suffered a slightly higher than expected 50% drop from last weekend's total. It should still cross the $300M mark sometime in the next week so any concerns are small. At this point only some kind of unheard of cinematic disaster would stop it from being Pixar's biggest ever release, an award that currently stands with Finding Nemo's $339M gross. Even with a number of major territories still awaiting the film's release (thanks a bunch, Pixar!) it has still made $114M from the global market. Expect that to double, if not triple, in the coming weeks.

After topping Knight & Day last weekend, Grown Ups found itself down 54% on a Friday to Friday basis. The Adam Sandler comedy looks sets to recoup its production budget by this time Tuesday and is a shoe in for $100M. Add in a potential $100M from its global release and people will quickly forget the Funny People misfire. Knight & Day actually held slightly better than Grown Ups but given its disappointing start, that's not too much to write home about. The Cruise/Diaz action comedy ended up third last weekend, leading to more than a few people writing off Tom Cruise's career. Things haven't gotten much worse but its production budget looks a good way off. Cruise will need to rely on his foreign fans more than ever to turn things around for Knight & Day. But as we've seen with films such as Robin Hood, a disappointment in America can easily be a $200M hit in the rest of the world.

While showing signs of slowing in its fourth weekend, The Karate Kid crossed the $150M milestone on Sunday afternoon. Star Jaden Smith already has one $150M+ hit in the guise of The Pursuit of Happyness, in which he starred opposite his father, Will. Expect the film to top out around $175M. Still a good way short of its $110M production budget, The A-Team will secure one, perhaps two more weekends in the top ten before looking toward its DVD release. Expect the film's international take to surpass that of its domestic one.

As the only R-rated film in the top ten, Get Him To Greek had a small demographic all to itself. The film was actually outside of the top ten on Friday but managed to increase its takings (possibly a strong Saturday night) to score one last weekend in the top ten. Shrek Forever After will take yet another kicking next weekend, this time from Despicable Me. While it recovered after a shaky start, it'll still finish as the lowest grossing of the Shrek series - not exactly the send off Dreamworks were expecting for their biggest money maker. It shows how strong a pull the top three movies had, when a major release makes the top ten with less than a $1M weekend haul. Blame that mainly on the Last Airbender, which would have secured Shrek's remaining 3D screens.

At just 77 locations, the comedy drama, Cyrus, manages to break in to the top ten thanks to strong reviews and word of mouth. The film stars John C Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Get Him To The Greek's Jonah Hill. Reilly and Tomei play a new couple who have to deal with the latter's son when he finds out about the relationship. Expect expansion to follow for the Fox Searchlight release.

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