Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 5th - 7th March 2010

1. Alice in Wonderland $116.3M - $116.3M
2. Brooklyn's Finest $13.5M - $13.5M
3. Shutter Island $13M - $95.8M
4. Cop Out $9.1M - $32.3M
5. Avatar $7.7M - $720.1M
6. The Crazies $7M - $27.4M
7. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief $5.1M - $78M
8. Valentine's Day $4.2M - $106.4M
9. Crazy Heart $3.3M - $29.5M
10. Dear John $2.8M - $76.6M

Will the Academy Awards impact on Sunday's box office? Undoubtedly, yet it still managed to turn into a record breaking weekend for one film.

Two new releases this weekend and they slot into either end of the spectrum. Alice In Wonderland (in 3D) is Tim Burton's return to fantasy after the musical nastiness that was Sweeney Todd. Set many years after the original story, it see a grown-up Alice (played by newcomer Mia Wasikowska) returning to Wonderland and tasked with being the champion for good against the evil red queen (Helena Bonham Carter). This being a Tim Burton film, Johnny Depp pops up as the Mad Hatter and while he's been front and centre during the advertising campaign, he's only actually in the film for 19 minutes. Reviews were only just above average but the look and theme of the film appears to have caught the public's eye. 3D ticket prices did the film no harm either it would seem.

The first weekend in March is a record-breaker as Alice in Wonderland racks up $116M, easily surpassing the March record of $70M set by 300 in 2007. Straight off the bat the film was looking like something special at the box office. Going into the weekend estimates had the film finishing with around $60M for the three days (plus Thursday midnight screenings) but Friday's numbers revealed a much stronger start, with a $41M take - easily making this Burton's biggest ever opening day (and weekend overall). While the 3D tickets prices would have accounted for a higher number, the huge success can't all be down to those inflated prices alone. The weekend continued on the same streak and by Sunday evening only one other film had had a bigger non-summer opening weekend and that was last year's Twilight: New Moon. Alice also took the record for the biggest debut for a 3D movie and a non-sequel. International figures paint a similar picture with estimates of around $94M

A huge sigh of relief must have greeted those opening numbers because while Avatar was berated for its immense budget, word has been quiet on Alice's, which is unusual considering it cost an estimated $250M to produce. The question now - can the film hold as well as Avatar did? For Cameron's film, the 3D & Imax were a major influence on ticket sales, but early word on Alice's 3D paint it as perhaps an unnecessary gimmick. Next weekend will be the one to watch, giving us a better picture as to where the film is heading.

Managing a second place sitting is ensemble cop thriller Brooklyn's Finest, starring Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle and Wesley Snipes. 'Finest' follows three cops in various stages of their career, all heading on a collision course due to the choices they've made. Antoine Fuqua takes the reigns on this and its $13.5M opening is on track with his previous releases Shooter ($14M) and King Arthur ($15M). Reviews weren't too kind to the film but it's obviously worked well as alternate programming to Alice in Wonderland. A lack of hype probably did the film more damage, not to mention the competition from Shutter Island, Cop Out and The Crazies, all vying for the R-rated market. Chances are though, Brooklyn's Finest has opened higher than estimates would have had it pegged leaving Overture Films with two decent openings within two weeks (They also handled The Crazies). Budget details put the film at around $25M

Shutter Island recoups its budget in its third weekend on general release. Factoring in its international tally the film has already crossed $130M. Brooklyn's Finest obviously hit the film in some way but it still managed a decent drop of 42%. Did the move from October to February help or hinder the film? It's hard to say as both months had quite a limited number of releases - Shutter Island opened alone, as did October's Couples Retreat. There were few breakout films, with Zombieland and the aforementioned Couples Retreat being amongst the best of that bunch - similarly to February's Dear John, Valentine's Day and Percy Jackson. If the studio is happy, the February move will be deemed the reason for part of the success, with the opposite happening should the film end up short of the studio's estimates. Shutter Island recouping its production budget certainly can't give them reason to be disappointed.

Easily the worst reviewed film of recent weeks, Cop Out actually opened much stronger than expected thanks, one assumes, to Kevin Smith's fan base and those people looking for a solid R-rated comedy (something of a rarity these days). Second frame saw the film drop 52% on a Friday to Friday basis (50% for the weekend overall) which is probably on the high side for a comedy and proves that Smith's fan-base helped front-load the film to a certain degree on that first weekend. That said, Cop Out is now Smith's biggest release to date, surpassing the $31M made by Zack & Miri. Given that the budget stood at $30M this should see a decent return for Warner Bros. who are expected to fund Smith's hockey comedy, Hit Somebody.

This is the weekend we've been waiting for with interest - Avatar giving up a number of 3D-enabled and Imax screens to Alice in Wonderland. The last two weekends have witnessed Avatar endure drops of 31% and just 15%. In the end, Avatar only shed around 300 locations and saw a weekend to weekend drop of 44%, the highest of its entire run. Obviously this would be a big deal had Avatar not already made over $720M domestically ($2.5B total box office) but as it stands, the effect of losing those (probable) 3D screens has been minimal.

Unfortunately the good reviews and encouraging word of mouth haven't quite saved The Crazies from the usual 60%+ second weekend drop related to the horror genre. Made for $20M (not the $12M originally reported), The Crazies recouped its production budget on Friday but even at this point, it's unlikely to see much more than $40M, putting it well below some of the recent horror remakes, Friday The 13th ($65M), The Amityville Horror ($65M) and Halloween ($59M). A shame for the film given the positive reviews and in some ways reflects Drag Me To Hell's performance - good reviews, low box office.

The rest of the top ten is made up of one Oscar hopeful and three hangers-on. Valentine's Day and Dear John are still winning some date night business and both have been successes, nearly doubling and tripling their production budgets respectively. Percy Jackson is looking at possibly its last weekend in the top ten and will leave without having recouped its $95M production budget. (mentioning the damn franchise chances gets a 20% warn). An Academy award tonight may yet see Crazy Heart expand into more locations but at this point it'll probably push up DVD rental/sales for the film as most who wanted to see the film will already have done so, and those who can't find a local showing will wait for the home release.

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