Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 4th - 6th June 2010

1. Shrek Forever After - $25.3M - $183M
2. Get Him to the Greek - $17.4M - $17.4M
3. Killers - $16.1M - $16.1M
4. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - $13.9M - $59.5M
5. Sex and the City 2 - $12.7M - $73.4M
6. Marmaduke - $11.3M - $11.3M
7. Iron Man 2 - $7.7M - $291.2M
8. Splice - $7.4M - $7.4M
9. Robin Hood -  $5.1M - $94.2M
10. Letters to Juliet - $3M - $43.3M

One thing is for sure going into the first weekend of June - this summer isn't going to plan. Takings from May 2010 are down a worrying 30% on the same time last year and this first weekend in June is down. While Shrek appears to be recovering it has still underperformed. Robin Hood faltered, especially in North America and even Iron Man 2, which got off to a very solid start, is looking unlikely to surpass the figure made by the first film. It's not looking to improve any time soon either.

This week sees Hollywood trying to throw as much at the wall as possible and praying something sticks - and while some of it has, Shrek Forever After manages a third weekend in the top spot, yet continues to underwhelm. While the film has now recouped its production budget it may still struggle to reach even $235M and will be looking to its international tally to recover its huge advertising and prints budget. At this point the third movie had taken $255M. Had the series not been such a huge money maker in the past, its three week tally would have been something to talk about. It's got a few more weeks before Toy Story 3 arrives on the scene, at which point it'll all be over for the green ogre and his talking donkey.

2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall was something of a hit for Universal and they were quick to note the press received for Russell Brand's Aldous Snow character, who was actually little more than a cameo, albeit a scene stealing one. Jump forward two years and Aldous Snow receives his own movie - Get Him To The Greek. The film sees Jonah Hill's record executive (not the same character he played in Sarah Marshall by the way) tasked with getting the shamed rock star to an anniversary gig. Snow, however, has other plans.

Reviews for the film have been very positive, with it currently sitting on 72% at RottenTomatoes and going into the weekend there were rumours that this could be this year's Hangover. Sadly, those reviews didn't translate into Hangover-style box office, even if the film did narrowly miss winning Friday with $6.2M. Shrek pulled ahead as we hit the family friendly Saturday while Greek had to fight off the romantic comedy Killers - acting as near direct competition (did anyone at the respective studios check the release schedules?). Come the end of the weekend the film had narrowly missed out on bettering Forgetting Sarah Marshall's $17.7M opening. Brand isn't yet a name in Hollywood and while Jonah Hill gains ground with each release, he too isn't yet a big enough draw on his own. What this means is that Get Him To The Greek shouldn't have cost the earth to produce and with good word of mouth should see a decent second weekend drop.

Because it wasn't even screened for critics, reviews mattered little to Killers, the Ashton Kutchner/Katherine Heigl comedy in which the leads have a whirlwind romance and marriage, only for her to discover he's a secret agent whose neighbours may well have been contracted to kill them. For this one the likeability of the stars must have got people into theatres as the trailers were anything but inspiring. Let's not forget that Kutchner scored a $20M opening with What Happens in Vegas while Heigl is coming off the back of two/three straight hits in a row (Knocked Up, 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth). While Killers opened in third place it's well out of flop territory and may have easily seen $20M+ had it not been for Get Him To The Greek. Out of the two films, this may well fall the hardest next weekend but by that point it'll be well on the way to recouping its $40M production budget.

Prince of Persia, suffered a similar Friday drop to SatC2 (more in a moment) but because it opened lower last weekend, has a better looking overall weekend fall. The only other piece of good news for the film is that internationally it's scaring up a storm, bordering on $100M in just over a week on general release. Domestically however the film seems almost ready to throw the towel in. Even at this point, ten days after opening, it's safe to say the film will not see $100M and may even struggle to $85M. Jerry Bruckheimer's next potential summer hit will be Nic Cage's The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

After a $45M four day opening last weekend things looked pretty good for Sex & The City 2. A week later, a 66% drop off from Friday to Friday and things don't look quite so rosy. Front loading was assured and proven when the film took more on its opening Thursday than on Friday and with competition from the two new comedies there was bound to be a bigger than normal fall. The good news for the $100M film is that it's already covered its production costs when you factor in its international take and may well have another $75-100M left to see. Don't rule out that third film yet.

With Shrek seeming to falter slightly, Marmaduke's producers were hoping to muscle in on some of that spare family cash. Based on the single pane comic strip of the same name, Marmaduke features a Great Dane and his owners as they move from Kansas to California. The voice cast is covered by Owen Wilson, Keifer Sutherland and Fergie to name but three, while William H Macy is the only notable 'human' star. While its opening is probably lower than the studio had hoped for, double figures on a busy weekend is still an achievement. The majority of its business was probably from those families who'd already seen Shrek (or who simply couldn't afford the price of the 3D tickets) and while it won't hang around for too long, it'll almost certainly end up making money, if not theatrically then on DVD/Blu-Ray.

Iron Man 2 edges closer to $300M but it's starting to look likely that the film won't end its run on more than the $318M made by the first film. Of course, it's worth noting that the film will still end up being a $650M grossing film but given its increased budget one assumes the studio was hoping for an increased return too. Again, another case of a huge movie, earning big, yet still being viewed with slight disappointment by the studio.

Our final new release on this busy weekend is the horror movie Splice, starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley. Unlike your general run-of-the-mill horror, Splice actually scored some very strong reviews (the best of the week, excluding documentary Whizkids) but just couldn't find an audience. The film focuses on the work of two scientists who are attempting to create a creature that will become a source of proteins. When one of the two decides to experiment with human DNA, things quickly get out of hand. Chances are the R-rated crowd went with Get Him To The Greek, and with hype being kept at a minimum until very recently, the rest of the cinema-going public had probably not even heard of the film.

What's odd about that is Splice was one of the most expensive Sundance acquisitions in history, costing $35M to purchase, and almost ended up as a Sci-Fi channel premiere. Why there wasn't more of a push remains a mystery. A strange time of year to release an intelligent horror movie, and more so on such a busy weekend. Splice might get one more weekend in the top ten but will certainly be history in a fortnight.

As mentioned in previous reports, the international take for Robin Hood is helping pull up the domestic one. Having already shed over 1,000 locations, expect Universal to get the film onto the home market as quickly as possible. That said, after it's rough start, Robin Hood is now sitting on a quarter of a billion in total box office earnings. But even with that figure, it's unlikely the proposed sequel will move along any further than the outline phase.

Rounding us out is the romantic drama Letters To Juliet. The $30M film lost most of its potential audience to Killers and Get Him To The Greek this weekend but will still turn a tidy a profit for Summit Entertainment, who are no doubt still reeling from the failure of Furry Vengeance while hoping Twilight: Eclipse will see them right.

One final note - the flop MacGruber shed a possibly record breaking amount of locations this weekend, down from 2,546 to just 177.

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