Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 8th - 10th April 2011

1. Hop $21.5M - $68M
2. Arthur $12.6M - $12.6M
3. Hanna $12.3M - $12.3M
4. Soul Surfer $11.1M - $11.1M
5. Insidious $9.7M - $27M
6. Your Highness $9.5M - $9.5M
7. Source Code $9M - $28.6M
8. Limitless $5.6M - $64.3M
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules $4.8M - $45.4M
10. The Lincoln Lawyer $4.5M - $46.3M

[Apologies for any spelling/financial/general errors this weekend (well more than usual), I've got to dash out very soon]

The critics might not have liked it but the public once again plumped for Hop as their no.1 film choice. The film was off 52% on a Friday to Friday basis, a high drop for a family film, but did recover to finish down 42% for the weekend overall. The good news continues when we discover that Hop cost just $63M to produce so even with Rio opening next weekend, this will turn into a lucrative hit for Universal.

Arthur is a remake of the Dudley Moore/Liza Minnelli comedy from 1981. Russell Brand takes on the titular role of the millionaire playboy, with Helen Mirren as his butler, the role taken by Sir John Gielgud in the original film. Trailers appeared to reveal that the remake would be sticking fairly close to the source material. Reviews were barely better than those of Hop and Arthur was facing big name competition in the guise of Your Highness (more in a moment).

Friday saw Arthur push ahead with a $4.5M million opening, giving it a clear $700K lead over the nearest competition. The film would continue to spar with Hanna and Your Highness over the remainder of the frame but that start helped ensure the film a second spot finish - just. Budget details aren't available at the time of writing but it's unlikely to have cost more than $40M to produce - and if initial estimates had held ($18M) then Arthur would be well on the way - unfortunately that $12.3M opening is on the lower end of expectations leaving the film with plenty of work to do.

Our next new release is Hanna, the tale of a young female assassin, raised and trained in Finland by her Ex-CIA father. Eric Bana takes on the father role with The Lovely Bones Saoirse Ronan playing the assassin. Cate Blanchett plays a shadowy agency figure responsible for dispatching agents to wipe Hanna out. Focus Features wisely chose to play up the action angle in the trailers and the subsequent clips they released, raising awareness of the film with those who might have otherwise given it a wide berth.

Reviews were strong (the best of the week, though that isn't saying much given the competition) and that helped push the film to a bigger Friday than Your Highness could muster. Hanna held well throughout the rest of the weekend and only lost second place to Arthur at the last minute. Had it been on as many screens as the Russell Brand comedy (it's at 700 less) it would have comfortably taken the no.2 spot. The $30M budget should be covered with a couple of good weekends and the strong word of mouth should help out there.

Soul Surfer is based on the true-life story of Bethany Hamilton, a surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack. The film follows the attack and her subsequent rehabilitation, including her return to surfing. While the film features Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt, it was barely hyped and reviews were average (not to mention the film being at a lot less locations than most of the top ten), so it's surprising to see it challenging the bigger releases this weekend - it obviously struck a chord with the lucrative family market. With an $18M production budget, Soul Surfer should turn a nice profit for studio Sony.

Scare flick Insidious got off to a decent start last frame and even though it slipped a few places this week, it avoided the 50%+ drop that generally afflicts the horror genre. Friday saw the film down just 32% on its opening day total - and the overall weekend drop was even better - 27%. This is already a very profitable release for FilmDistrict, who paid just $1.5M to bring the film to the screen. Next weekend it'll face off against Scream 4.

Your Highness takes an R-rated comedic look at the medieval quest movie. James Franco plays Prince Fabious, whose finance is kidnapped by an evil wizard. Fabious sets off to rescue his bride to be and is accompanied by his lazy brother (played by Danny McBride) and his brother's weakling aide, Courtney. Joining them on the way is the mysterious warrior Isabel, played by recent Oscar winner Natalie Portman. Reviews were about as good as Arthur's and an extended trailer may well have given away many of the film's best lines a good four months prior to its release.

How much that ultimately harmed the film is hard to say but up against Hop, Hanna and Arthur, Your Highness could only manage a $3.8M Friday, on its way to a $9.5M three day total. This is a disappointment for the film, which had a large marketing push, especially when you consider Soul Surfer was barely advertised yet finished ahead. With a $50M price tag, Highness is going to struggle to see even half that figure.

With a solid, if uneventful, opening frame, Source Code holds well a week later, even if the competition has pushed it well down the chart. Down just 38%, the good word of mouth helped the film recoup its production budget easily. Director Duncan Jones first film, Moon, finished up with $9M at the end its theatrical run (which was limited), which was a figure Source Code eclipsed during its first few days of release. At this point a mid-$40M finish is on the cards. All eyes are on what Jones chooses to do next.

Given it's age and the four new openers, it was inevitable that Limitless would tumble in its fourth weekend on release. The $27M production has so far made almost $90M in total global ticket sales, including North America.

Rodrick Rules drops 51% and looks unlikely to surpass its prequel's final total of $63M. The film has now doubled its production budget but as yet, no third film has been greenlit. Even if the series doesn't continue theatrically (which is unlikely), a straight to DVD sequel should be a no-brainer for Fox.

Looking at its final weekend in the top ten is The Lincoln Lawyer, the Matthew McConaughey legal drama. The film recouped its production budget during the last seven days and may have gone on to perform even better at a quieter time of year.

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