Thursday 2 June 2011

US Box Office Report - June 5th - 7th 2009

Ultimately, The Hangover won the weekend by a just a few million, and thus the sleeper of 2009 began its reign.

1. Up - $44.24M - $137.3M
2. The Hangover - $43.2M - $43.2M
3. Land of the Lost - $19.5M - $19.5M
4. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - $14.6M - $127.3M
5. Star Trek - $8.4M - $222.8M
6. Terminator Salvation - $8.1M - $105.5M
7. Drag Me to Hell - $7.3M - $28.5M
8. Angels and Demons - $6.5M - $116.1M
9. My Life In Ruins - $3.2M - $3.2M
10. Dance Flick - $2M - $22.7M

Up had the third best opening of a Pixar movie last weekend and found itself down a respectable 38% on a Friday to Friday basis, down 35% for the weekend as a whole. That's a much stronger hold than Wall-E's second frame drop of 48%. Furthermore Up broke the $100M barrier on Friday and still remains at a 98% fresh rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. Next weekend will see the release of the Eddie Murphy family comedy Imagine That which while having some crossover audience with Up, shouldn't give it too much trouble. Direct competition in the guise of Ice Age 3 won't arrive for nearly a month by which time Up will have already had its strongest few weekends anyway meaning Ice Age's impact on it will be greatly reduced.

Of the new releases this weekend, it was Land of the Lost that was expected to be in this position by Sunday night (if not higher). Instead The Hangover shakes the box office to its core as the public hanker after the R-rated comedy about a group of guys on a stag weekend in Las Vegas who some how misplace the groom but gain a baby and a tiger. Word on The Hangover had been building since March after a positive showing at the Showest Exhibition. A couple of red band trailers helped move things along and Mike Tyson singing In The Air Tonight sealed the deal.

The film's potential success was further cemented when it was announced a writer had already been hired to write a sequel, at least two whole months before the film's general release. On Friday the film opened just ahead of last weekend's winner Up, and continued to perform well over the rest of the weekend. A relatively unknown cast also means this one didn't cost the earth and has almost certainly already recouped its production budget. With only Dance Flick as direct competition, The Hangover had the market pretty much to itself and could have a strong second frame up against two more wide opening flicks, before facing off against the Apatow produced Year One in a fortnight.

Opening third, not first, as a number of analysts had predicted is the disappointing Land of the Lost. The Will Ferrell action comedy is based on the 70s TV series of the same name but takes a more slapstick approach. This is a major disappoint not only for Ferrell but also the studio that pumped in at least $100M to produce the film. Something went very wrong somewhere and that was instantly noticeable with a $7.1M take for Friday. Land of the Lost failed to recover as the weekend wore on and similar in success (or lack of) to 2007's Semi-Pro, the studio must at this moment be wondering where it all went wrong. Confusion perhaps? Unlike last summer's Get Smart (also a TV adaptation), Land of the Lost veered too far from the source material so didn't stand up as either a beloved tribute to the show or an out and out Will Ferrell comedy, probably managing to turn off both sets of cinema-goers in the process. Expect this one to finish well below expectations and stand as one of the bigger disappointments of the summer (Hi, Terminator Salvation!)

The good news for Night at the Museum 2 is its international take is tracking just behind its domestic one, giving it around a $250M global total. The bad news is that the film didn't open all that great and will be pretty much all done and dusted within the next two weekends. As we saw, to a much harsher consequence with Lion, Witch & Wardrobe/Prince Caspian, a prequel opening during the quieter (for film releases) Christmas period is going to perform much better than a sequel opening during a busy summer and that may be what has happened here. When NATM opened a couple of years back it had next to no competition for over a month - this time around the sequel has been hit from all sides, including on its opening weekend. For the studio it's probably not that big a deal, it'll recoup its production budget from its US tally and pay for everything else from its international one, but you can't help wonder if we'd be looking at a much bigger film were it release at the start of December 2009.

Star Trek remains relatively strong after a month on general release. The successful reboot has now taken over $310M in total global ticket sales and is still the most successful domestic release of 2009 so far. Chances are that come summer's end, Star Trek will only have been bettered in box office terms by the Transformers sequel and Harry Potter 6. Meanwhile, in its third weekend on release Terminator Salvation had to wait until the Saturday before crossing the $100M mark - a major disappointment for a film which was expected to open with that amount. Internationally the film has just begun to expand into the major territories but the bad word of mouth coming out of the US probably isn't going to help matters. While not a failure of Speed Racer proportions (in box office terms anyway), it is still a major blow for all concerned and liable to signal the death knell for the franchise, at least for now. (and at least Speed Racer was fun).

After the stunning reviews it was a disappointment to see Drag Me To Hell perform so poorly last weekend, worse than most of the recent horror releases, many of which had straight to DVD written all over them. The finger of blame appears to have been pointed at the lack of marketing push from the studio and this weekend it seems the word of mouth hasn't really helped spread the word. Its only saving grace is its weekend to weekend drop isn't quite as harsh as 60-70% usually seen for horror movies. While domestically Angels & Demons continues to disappoint, internationally the film is the biggest release of the year so far, having amassed an astonishing $252M. While nowhere near as big as The Da Vinci Code, that huge take ($363M in total global sales) will help ease the studio's mind somewhat.

Our final new release is My Life in Ruins, starring My Big Fat Greek Wedding's Nia Vardalos, who is yet to see lightning strike twice. The film sees Vardalos as a travel guide showing a rag-tag bunch of tourists around her native Greece and hopefully finding love in the process. The film reviewed worse than Land of the Lost, so don't expect word of mouth to save this one or even keep it in the top ten longer than this weekend. Rounding us out is Dance Flick, which has pretty much recouped its production budget.

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