Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 6th - 8th May 2011

1. Thor - $66M - $66M
2. Fast Five - $32.5M - $139.8M
3. Jumping the Broom - $13.7M - $13.7M
4. Something Borrowed - $13.2M - $13.2M
5. Rio - $8.2M - $114.9M
6. Water For Elephants - $5.6M - $41.6M
7. Madea's Big Happy Family - $3.9M - $46.8M
8. Prom - $2.4M - $7.8M
9. Soul Surfer -  $2.1M - $36.6M
10. Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs Evil - $1.8M - $6.7M

If you listen to some people, the first weekend in May is the start of summer blockbuster season but with a take of over $86M during last weekend, Fast Five put paid to that idea. In the process it's managed to somewhat overshadow this weekend's summer smash hopeful, Thor. In a change to the usual order of things, Thor got released onto the global market before the domestic one, with some places seeing the film as long ago as 21st April.

The Norse God comic book adaptation was seen as something of a difficult sell (though perhaps easier than the upcoming Green Lantern). While the comic book is popular, buoyed further by Thor's appearance in the Avengers series, it's a relatively unknown property with the general public. Furthermore, some of the elements that made up the comic were thought to be difficult to realise on the big screen. With this in mind, Kenneth Branagh seemed an odd choice for director, especially given his lack of experience with big budget action flicks - Frankenstein being perhaps the closest thing on his resume. He and Marvel cast the somewhat unknown Chris Hemsworth as the titular hero, adding in Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba and Oscar winner Natalie Portman (making this her fifth theatrical appearance in six months, if you count the upcoming Hesher as well) in an effort to make the sell to the public a little bit easier. The initial trailer was a little hit and miss, with the tone of the film being hard to gauge and the general concept of the two worlds, Earth and Asgard, proving to be a tough sell in two minutes.

Things improved with a strong second trailer and as its release date grew closer and positive reviews began to roll in, it looked like Marvel and Branagh had pulled it off. Rotten Tomatoes report the film as fresh, with a 79% approval rating (one higher than Fast Five). As mentioned earlier, the film debuted internationally a couple of weeks ago and has already amassed an impressive $176M. Competition from Fast Five's second weekend couldn't be discounted but Thor opened very well Friday with $26M, setting it up a three day total of $66M. That's a solid start for such an unknown property and it's safe to say, Thor broke out into the mainstream. It'll face direct but less major competition in the next frame from the somewhat delayed Priest, but by that point it could have practically cleared $300M in total ticket sales. Next up for Marvel will be X-Men: First Class, followed by Captain America.

The previous films in the Fast & the Furious series have generally had high percentage second frame drops. The first film dipped 50%, while the second and third dropped 63% and 59% respectively. Even Fast & Furious saw a 62% fall. With a record breaking opening weekend (Biggest ever Universal opener and biggest April weekend) and competition from Thor, Fast Five dropped 68% on a Friday to Friday basis. For the weekend overall the Diesel/Walker flick fell an expected 62%. For some movies, that drop might be a concern but for a film that surpassed $100M on its sixth day of release, it's nothing but a minor speed bump. Box Office Mojo report a production budget of around $125M, a figure that Fast Five has already seen come and go. Factor in the impressive international tally and the film is looking at a worldwide total of $325M. Again, Priest might offer competition next frame but by that point the film should be the most successful film of the franchise so far. The sixth part of the franchise is already being written and will concentrate again more on the heist aspect than the street racing one.

With all that testosterone in first and second place, studios Sony/Tristar and Warner Bros. decided to chance a bit of alternative programming this weekend (Universal will give it a go next frame with Bridesmaids, a film already gaining some great word of mouth). Both Something Borrowed and Jumping The Broom are aimed squarely at the twenty plus female demographic - a somewhat ignored, but potentially huge, cinema-going group.

Jumping the Broom takes the age old tale of well-to-do rich girl meets working class boy and puts an African-American spin on things. When Sabrina (Paula Patton) meets Jason (Laz Alonso) romance quickly moves on to engagement. With a wedding date announced, sparks are set to fly when Jason's 'downtown' family descend upon Sabrina's 'uptown' Martha's Vineyard family home and wedding venue. Reviewing just above average, Jumping The Broom scored a $4.1M opening day - not a bad figure given the lack of hype surrounding the film. Sparring with Something Borrowed the film managed to pull ahead as the weekend continued. Broom cost just $7M to produce - a figure the film had surpassed by Saturday evening. Another few million next frame and this should turn into a profitable little hit for Sony/Tristar.

Based on a successful Emily Griffin novel is Something Borrowed, starring Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson. Goodwin plays the shy Rachel, who's over-shadowed by Hudson's flamboyant & bitchy Darcy. When a drunken Rachel wakes up in bed with her long time crush Dex, who just happens to be Darcy's fiance, friendships are set to be tested and secrets revealed. Films like this tend to be review proof with an audience (something the rom-com shares with the horror genre) but Something Borrowed scored particularly poorly with critics. A $4.8M Friday debut wasn't too bad given the close competition, putting it on track to a $13.2M opening frame. The film cost $35M to bring to the big screen and its second frame performance will be telling as to whether it'll get close to that figure while in the top ten. It's worth noting that because studio estimates are so close for both rom-coms, there's a slim chance they'll change places when actuals are issued on Monday evening.

Rio had to make way for the new releases this weekend. The animated flick is pretty much the only choice for the family market given the limited appeal of Hoodwinked Too (not to mention the fact that Rio is out at a thousand locations more). It was down 44% this frame as it heads toward a $135M domestic finish. Globally the film is still strong, $265M and counting.

Drama Water For Elephants had a better than expected start two weeks ago and its second frame drop wasn't too bad either. This weekend sees the Reese Witherspoon/Robert Pattinson film covering its $38M production budget. Thanks to the lack of new releases, it should see at least one, perhaps even two more weekends in the top ten.

The competition from Jumping the Broom has pretty much finished off Madea's Big Family - hastened no doubt by the shedding of 400+ locations. The film should just about surpass the theatrical total of Diary of a Mad Black Woman ($50.6M), the first Tyler Perry movie to feature his Madea character back in 2005. Disney's Prom made little impact last weekend but somehow manages to hold on to a top ten spot a week later. Made for $7M, Prom's $7.8M running total should give it a decent start on the home market but has almost certainly disappointed the studio.

Soul Surfer looks upon its last frame in the top ten. Once described as a TV Movie of the week that made it into theatres, the film managed to see off Your Highness, Hanna, Scream 4 and Arthur, to name but a few. Made for $18M, Soul Surfer has just about doubled that figure. The sequel that no-one wanted, not even its studio it seems, Hoodwinked Too failed to offer Rio (or anything else) much in the way of competition. Even its low production budget of $30M still seems a very long way off and the Weinstein Company will be hoping for a better show on the home market.

Opening at 22 locations is the Mel Gibson flick, The Beaver. Directed (and co-starring) Jodie Foster, the film managed just $104K. Expansion is due over the coming weeks but it's highly unlikely to go wide.

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