Thursday 16 June 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 9th - 11th July 2010

1. Despicable Me - $60.1M - $60.1M
2. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse - $33.4M - $237M
3. Predators - $25.3M - $25.3M
4. Toy Story 3 - $22M - $340.2M
5. The Last Airbender - $17.2M - $100.1M
6. Grown Ups - $16.4M - $111.3M
7. Knight and Day - $7.8M - $61.9M
8. The Karate Kid - $5.7M - $164.6M
9. The A-Team - $1.8M - $73.9M
10. Cyrus - $1.37M - $3.5M

A huge July 4th holiday led us on to what should have been a relatively event free follow up weekend. Two new releases greeted cinema-goers on Friday, covering either end of the demographic spectrum - the family market and the young males in the 16-25 range. Going into the weekend Predators was expected to see a win, if not a comfortable second behind Twilight: Eclipse. By Friday night, it was quickly evident that while Predators wouldn't finish in the top spot, neither would Eclipse.

Despicable Me is a CGI family film utilising the voice talent of, among many others, Steve Carell, playing an evil megalomaniac who hatches a plan to steal the moon. What he doesn't count on is becoming the guardian of three orphaned girls. Universal played this one fairly low key and even if they hadn't, Toy Story 3 was the only family film in the public's eye in the past month. This worked to the film's advantage in that the public weren't saturated by hype. Goodness knows Universal needed a hit after a recent string of misfires and disappointments.

Reviews were very strong (for a non-Pixar release) with the film currently sitting on an 80% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes. All that said, most analysts had it finishing in third place with a fairly non-descript taking. Friday saw Despicable Me blow away all comers, both old and new and secure the top spot with $21.7M. With Toy Story 3 having been the no.1 family choice for the past three weeks, there was plenty of room for Despicable Me to swoop in and take a chunk of its audience. With a decent hold over the rest of the weekend the film managed a $60M finish and became Universal's biggest opener since Fast and Furious. Even with competition from The Sorcerer's Apprentice coming up, Despicable Me should easily see $120-130M by this time next weekend.

Thanks to it opening on a Wednesday, Twilight: Eclipse avoided a probable record breaking weekend to weekend drop of over 80%. The 61% it did see is still pretty high but is well in line with the other films in the successful series - Twilight dropped 62% while New Moon fell by 70%. Eclipse has already sailed past the $200M mark and began to expand further across the world this weekend (the last seven days saw it take over $100M in the global market). As we've seen with the other movies, the film will be done and dusted in another three or so weeks but it really makes little difference as the film covered its production budget on its opening day and prints and marketing costs by the end of the first weekend. The huge front-loading simply cannot be avoided on a film like this - the fact that the film broke the midnight takings records only highlights that fact. Whether the film will topple the domestic total of New Moon ($292M) remains to be seen but the performance of Eclipse so far is one big sigh of relief for Summit Entertainment.

A third Predator film has been talked about since the release of the 1990 sequel. A few years later, high on the success of El Mariachi and Desperado, Robert Rodriguez was said to have turned in a script treatment which would have cost a small fortune to produce. Jump forward almost twenty years and Rodriguez managed to have a hand in the production, taking on (uncredited) scripting and producing duties. Control director Nimrod Antal beat out a whos-whos of action/horror directors to take the reigns and production kicked off at a rapid pace last August with Adrien Brody securing the lead role (which raised more than a few eyebrows).

A few production stills did little to ease fan nerves, especially after talk of Pred-dogs and super Predators, but initial trailers looked pretty good and as the release date drew near it looked like Antal had pulled it off. For a popcorn action flick, Predators reviewed remarkably well (60% at RottenTomatoes) but opened on the low side of expectations - disappointing given that it was expected to win the weekend at one point. That said, this is an R-rated action/horror film whose nostalgic audience probably have families they can't take along with them, while a new audience wonder what all the fuss is about. Next weekend it'll have to face off against Inception along with the potential drop that horror movies tend to witness in their second frame. That second weekend drop could be the difference between the film finishing above or below $60M. A cautious, but ok start.

Toy Story 3 may have slipped a few places but it's now the biggest film of 2010, narrowly surpassing Alice In Wonderland this weekend. The Pixar juggernaut, even faced with the strong showing by Despicable Me, ended the weekend down 48% from its last frame. The film is now Pixar's biggest ever release breaking the record set in 2003 by Finding Nemo. Expect the film to top out at a around $375M. [As a side note, thanks to inflation and the price of 3D tickets, Toy Story 3 reached $340M by selling 40% less tickets than Finding Nemo did to achieve the same amount]

After a stronger than expected start last weekend, The Last Airbender dropped a crushing 68% on a Friday to Friday basis (57% overall). It's not quite out of the danger zone yet thanks to its huge production and marketing budget but given the reviews that greeted the film before opening, it's done a great to get this far so quickly. Any proposed sequel will have to wait a while longer for that green-light.

Grown Ups and Knight & Day continue to stick together like glue. Both films saw a milestone these past few days - Grown Ups crossed the $100M barrier while Knight & Day surpassed the $60M one. In fact, Grown Ups was off just 15% from last weekend. While the Adam Sandler flick is doing just fine, the Tom Cruise vehicle is still a long way from its rumoured $120M budget. Interestingly, Cruise may be the bigger draw outside of the US which could see Knight & Day perform much better on the global market than Grown Ups.

The Karate Kid lost some of its family market to Despicable Me this weekend, while Toy Story 3 continues to be a thorn in its side. It'll manage one more weekend in the top ten but will take a further kicking from Wednesday onwards with the release of The Sorcerer's Apprentice. The Jackie Chan film has now more than quadrupled its production budget. Thanks to summer seeing bigger but fewer releases, a film like The A-Team can manage to hang around the top ten much longer than it would during most any other time of the year. Joe Carnahan's 2010 update of the 80s TV show is still some way short of its production budget but should have little trouble breaking even thanks to the global market, where the film has already made over $50M.

Last week's surprise top ten entry Cyrus adds another 120+ locations and manages to keep hold of that top ten placement. Further expansion is almost assured now and could see the film rise further up the charts even in the face of much wider released competition.

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