Sunday 17 July 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 15th - 17th July 2011

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 - $168.5M - $168.5M
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon - $21.2M - $302.8M
3. Horrible Bosses - $17.6M - $60M
4. The Zookeeper - $12.3M - $42.4M
5. Cars 2 - $8.3M - $165.3M
6. Winnie the Pooh - $8M - $8M
7. Bad Teacher - $5.2M - $88.5M
8. Larry Crowne - $2.5M - $31.6M
9. Super 8 - $1.9M - $122.2M
10. Midnight in Paris - $1.8M - $41.7M

NOTE: This box office report is an expanded version from the norm. Should you wish to skip the history of the Harry Potter franchise at the box office, scroll down to the '=======' for the start of the normal report.

So after seven films in ten years, the Harry Potter series comes to a close with the eighth film, The Deathly Hallows Pt 2. It was 1997 when the first book, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone in the U.S) was published. Written by J K Rowling, the series would go on to sell in excess of 450 million books and spawn a whole host of accompanying merchandising, including a theme park.

Shortly after the first book was published, a copy ended up on the desk of producer David Heyman. Heyman dismissed the book on the basis of its title but was urged to reconsider by his secretary, who had read and enjoyed the Philosopher's Stone. Taking her advice the producer found himself impressed by the story and its characters and, with backing from Warner Bros. was able to secure the rights to produce films based on the first four books, for a reported $2M. After Steven Spielberg passed on directing (he had hoped to create an animated version with Sixth Sense star Haley Joel Osment providing the voice of Harry) a short-list of suitable candidates was put together, with the job ultimately going to Chris Columbus (others in the running included Rowling's first choice Terry Gilliam, Jonathan Demme, Alan Parker and Mike Newell, who would eventually direct the fourth film in the series). One of Rowling's conditions was that the cast was to be made up of British actors wherever possible. Casting and production of the film came together quickly, with relative newcomers playing the three main leads while established British actors filled out the remainder of the roles. These included Richard Harris, Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman.

By 2001, when the first film was ready for release, the series had become a global phenomenon, with Rowling publishing the fourth book of the series the previous year. Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone opened at 3,672 locations during November, breaking records with its $90M opening weekend take. The film saw a second weekend fall of just 37% and by the end of its theatrical run the first film in the series had made $317M domestically. Worldwide the story was even better, $657M, giving it a final global total of $974M. No Harry Potter film since has performed as well as that first one, but the series has gone on to see success after success - starting with the next film in the series, The Chamber of Secrets. All the principle cast returned, joined by Kenneth Brannagh, with Chris Columbus once again at the helm. Released just a year later, Chamber of Secrets opened slightly wider and scored $88M during its opening weekend. At the end of its second weekend on release the film had made nearly $150M. By the time it closed in May of 2003 it had a domestic tally of $261M, with a further $616M coming from the overseas market.

It was something of a change on the third film in the series, Prisoner of Azkaban. While the regulars all returned, adding David Thewlis and Gary Oldman to the ever expanding cast, Chris Columbus would work on the film only in a producing capacity (it was rumoured at the time that Columbus had spent almost three years working in the UK and wanted to return with his family to his native US). Sadly, Richard Harris would not return for the third time, having passed away in October 2002, instead Michael Gambon would take on the role of Hogwarts' headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. In an interesting move, Warner Bros hired Alfonso Cuaron to direct Azkaban. The Mexican director had worked on an adaptation of Great Expectations but was coming off the back of the distinctly adult Y Tu Mama Tambien. Cuaron bought a maturity to the series and a fresh look to the world of Harry Potter. While the films have generally reviewed well above average, only Azkaban (and now Deathly Hallows pt 2) has scored a higher approval rating than 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Yet curiously, while many feel it is one of the stronger, if not strongest adaptation, the film remains the lowest grossing of the entire series. That's not to say it flopped - most flicks would kill for its $249M domestic haul (with a further $546M from overseas locations), but there was a definite fall in takings, especially when compared to the first film. Had viewers become tired of the series? Unlikely - but it's worth noting that Prisoner of Azkaban was the first film of the series to open during the busy summer period, giving it a lot more competition than the boy wizard had faced during November. The third film was still the sixth biggest release of 2004.

With the sixth book having been released in July of 2005, the studio prepared a November slot for the release of the fourth film, The Goblet of Fire. Having been linked to directing the first film, Mike Newell was chosen to direct this time around. Once again, all the principal cast would return, to be joined by Brendan Gleason, David Tennant and the soon to be incredibly famous Robert Pattinson. Given the length of the book, Goblet of Fire would require some heavy editing to bring the story to the big screen. The judicious cutting and sub-plot removals were some of the very few criticisms aimed at the film. Goblet of Fire opened big - $102M during its first weekend, up from the $93M opening frame of Azkaban - and actually the biggest opening frame of the series until the release of Deathly Hallows. The fourth film would stay in cinemas until March of the following year and ended up with a final take of $290M, the series' best take since the Philosopher's Stone. Worldwide the film ended up with $605M, bringing Goblet of Fire's global finish to $895M. Harry Potter was back on track.

The Order of the Phoenix began pre-production in 2006 and would once again see a new face in the director's chair. David Yates' directing history was grounded in television, having worked on acclaimed shows such as State of Play and Sex Traffic and was seen as an unusual choice to helm such a large, fantasy based film. Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Matthew Vaughn had been linked to the directing gig but Yates would ultimately take on the role and go on to stay in the director's chair through to the series' end. Steven Kloves, who had written the screenplay for the first four films bowed out with other commitments, leading to Michael Goldenberg taking on scripting duties. The main addition to the cast was Imelda Staunton, playing Dolores Umbridge. Being the longest book of the series made Order of the Phoenix one of the hardest to adapt, with a number of key scenes and sub-plots again removed, perhaps to the detriment of the film. Consequently the film is the poorest reviewed of the series, though at a 78% approval, it still scored well above the average film.

Order of the Phoenix opened on Wednesday 11th July 2007 with a solid $44M. By the end of the first weekend the film was sitting on $139M. $200M came and went on day twelve and nearly five months later the fifth entry had $292M in the coffers - making it, at the time, the second most successful film of the series on the domestic market. Internationally the film roared to $646M, again the second best take of the series at that point. With the final book released shortly after the release of the film, it was time for the screen version of Harry Potter to go it alone from here on out.

Warner Bros had planned to follow up Phoenix quickly and set a release date of November 2008 for the sixth film. However, due to a number of reasons the film was eventually pushed back to July of the following year, causing a huge negative response from the fan base. Originally it was thought there were post-production issues with the film but much later it was revealed that the delay was for two main reasons. First, the writers' strike would mean many studios (including WB)would struggle to get summer blockbusters written in time (a fate said to have befallen Transformers' underwritten sequel). Second, with The Dark Knight being such a major hit for the studio in July of 2008, they were concerned that a second major hit later in the year would have a devastating effect on 2009's profits.

The fans forgave eventually and Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince was released on Wednesday July 15th 2009. With such a delay, the desire to see the new film was at fever pitch and that helped Half Blood Prince to take the midnight screening's record ($22M). Its first full day on release gave it a further $36M and by the end of the first weekend the sixth entry into the series had a grand total of $158M. The good news continued and for the first time since the Philosopher's Stone, a Harry Potter film crossed the $300M mark. By the end of its theatrical run, the flick had earnt $301.9M domestically, with a further $655M from the overseas markets. As far as 2009 releases went, only Avatar amassed more money than Half-Blood Prince. Sadly for Warner Bros, only one more book remained to adapt and then their 'sure thing' would come to an end. Or would it?

The decision to cut the Deathly Hallows into two separate movies was taken as pre-production was getting underway. While Deathly Hallows wasn't the longest book in the series, it was deemed too difficult to adapt into one film, not without removing a large amount of detail. Wanting to create the best and most complete film to date, the studio opted to split it into two, with release dates around 8 months apart. Again, the fans were outraged, with the more cynical seeing it as just an excuse for Warner Bros. to wring even more money out of the franchise - this being their last chance to do so. Logistically it made sense to shoot the film as one large project, with those sections featuring in the first movie being filmed/finished first.

By the time post-production work began on The Deathly Hallows Pt.1, 3D had become all the rage - especially with those higher ticket prices. Having shot the film in traditional 2D, the race was on to complete a post-production 3D conversion to meet the film's November 2010 release date. Unfortunately many other studios had the same idea with their own films, leading to an industry shortage of 3D conversion companies. A short while prior to release, Warner Bros. announced that the film would be released in Imax and conventional 2D only, with them hoping to convert the film to 3D for its home release. This decision would ultimately stop Deathly Hallows pt.1 from becoming the biggest film of the series.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt.1 signified the beginning of the end, and the fans turned out in their droves to witness it. Opening on Friday 19th November the film once again broke the midnight screenings record by taking $24M. By the end of the weekend it had amassed $125M, surpassing Goblet of Fire's opening weekend haul to become the best of the series so far. By its third Friday on general release the seventh entry into the series was sitting on an impressive $232M. By the time the film closed in April 2011, it was the third most successful movie in the series, with $295M. Had the film been released in 3D, it could have grossed close to $340M. Again, internationally Deathly Hallows Pt.1 closed with $660M and was only out-grossed in total ticket sales that year by Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3.

Deathly Hallows Pt.2, in 3D, was set for a July 2011 release, two weeks after Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Just before we get on to that, and the rest of the report, it's worth considering how profitable the series has been for Warner Bros. In total, The Harry Potter series of films have cost the studio just over $1.1 billion dollars (including the cost of making Deathly Hallows Pt.2) to produce - and that excludes any marketing or printing of the film Going to extremes and saying the studio spent an equal amount on the promoting and printing the film, they have still made over $4 billion dollars - and that's just from the theatrical release, it doesn't include any home releases or related merchandise. It's easy to see why they (and every other studio) are looking for next Harry Potter.


Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Pt.2 opened at 4,375 - a high for series and also the widest opening film after Iron Man 2 and Twilight: Eclipse. Online tickets sites reported huge advance sales and even before its domestic opening the film was causing a storm overseas. Reviews were incredibly strong, with Hallows Pt.2 becoming the best reviewed film of the entire series with a 97% approval rating. Opening in 26 countries, Deathly Hallows Pt.2 made a huge $43M, up by an insane 82% on pt.1's international opening day. And Harry & Co were just getting started. By Friday night the film had smashed its first domestic record, the biggest midnight take. The previous record of $30M was held by Twilight: New Moon, but HP8 obliterated it by over $13M, setting the film up for a potentially record breaking weekend. After just two days on the international market (and that still excluded a number of locations such as the UK) the film was up to $105M.

By early Saturday afternoon the Friday sales figures were issued and revealed that Deathly Hallows Pt.2 had shattered the single day record as well, and not just by a few million but almost $20M! And not all that money was down to 3D ticket prices either as just 43% of tickets sold on Friday were for 3D presentations (which makes the figures even more impressive) With the weekend still to come, unless the film completely and utterly collapsed, it would also break The Dark Knight's weekend record. The only question remaining was by how much? Saturday's numbers appeared to show a high drop off - obvious given such a huge Friday, but when the midnight numbers are removed the film's dip was much more in line with expectations. Come Sunday evening the Dark Knight's $158M 3-day take was lying in tatters - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt.2 had an opening weekend haul of $168.5M, a stunning figure. Internationally the film was stronger still, giving it $157M since opening last Wednesday. After a maximum of five days on global release the film sits on a colossal $326M. Next weekend will almost certainly throw up some nasty percentage drops - it has to given such immense front-loading - but the studio will now look towards the $317M series record held by Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon hit $300M this weekend but had to sacrifice some of its 3D locations to Deathly Hallows. Off 55% from last weekend, the film is unlikely to top the $402M earnt by Revenge of the Fallen but should still finish as one of the top five domestic earners of 2011 - It took the flick just twelve days to become the biggest release of the year so far. Business overseas is still brisk, $425M and counting, giving the film a current global total of over $730M. Another few weeks and Dark of the Moon will surpass the $836M that Revenge of the Fallen finished up with.

After getting off to a surprisingly good start last frame, the R-rated comedy Horrible Bosses finds itself down 44% on a Friday to Friday section, (38% for the weekend). Having recouped its $35M production budget on Tuesday, the film played well this weekend as alternate programming to the PG-13 brigade. It'll face competition in the next two frames from Friends With Benefit and The Change-Up (also starring Horrible Bosses Jason Bateman) but at that point the film should have cleared $75M and be ready to expand overseas.

On the other side of the coin, Zookeeper disappointed somewhat last frame but recovered a fraction this weekend, finding itself down 38%. Having cost $80M, the film needed a stronger second frame and obviously took a hit from Harry Potter and the new Winnie the Pooh film. At this point Zookeeper looks to be heading for a sub $70M finish at best. Perhaps a release outside of the busy summer period would have given the film more breathing room?

Losing a lot more 3D screens than the Transformers sequel this weekend is Cars 2. The Pixar release got off to a solid start five weeks ago but has struggled ever since, with a particularly painful second frame. At this point the original film had crossed the $200M barrier. Cars 2 passed A Bug's Life final total this weekend but looks unlikely to see $190M domestically. Internationally the film crossed $130M this weekend.

The only other new release this weekend could also be seen as some kind of alternate programming, aimed as it is at the family market with young children. Winnie The Pooh returns to the big screen after a six year hiatus in a very down to earth, traditional adventure. Disney have opted to keep things simple and not attempt a big screen update based around the TV show 'My Friends Tigger & Pooh'. The film is actually made up of three stories taken from two different A.A Milne books. Curiously it opened in the UK back in April 2011 and is set to debut on DVD here in a few weeks time. Reviews were very positive and the film sits on a 90% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday saw a take of just $2.9M and even with a slight bump thanks to Saturday matinees, Winnie The Pooh could only manage a three day take of $8M. Something that isn't normally considered, that might have played a factor in its disappointing performance is running time - under 60 minutes. With ticket prices so high, a 60 minute film may not represent good value for money in some eyes, especially for those with two or more children. This seems a very odd release from Disney, at least in the way they've marketed it and its busy release date - an April opening would have seen the film perform much stronger one assumes. The budget for the release is around $30M which will end up being covered by the film's DVD/Blu-Ray release.

Bad Teacher hit $80M on Tuesday, its 19th day on general release. With a further $5.2M this frame, the Cameron Diaz comedy is a cert to hit $100M eventually. Outside of North America the film has taken $45M, with $10M of that figure from the German and Russia markets. At this point in its release Super 8 is simply treading water and the studio will now look to expand onto some of the larger overseas markets. Domestically the film will top out at around $135M, with a further $50M from the aforementioned overseas markets.

Larry Crowne loses 696 locations this frame and just about recoups its $30M production budget in the process. The film opened poorly just three weekends ago and has now almost certainly seen its final top ten placing. For Hanks, this is his lowest grossing film since 2004's The Ladykillers ($39M finish), and Roberts lowest grossing since 2009's Duplicity ($40M) and 2004's Closer ($33M).

Like Larry Crowne, Monte Carlo recouped its production budget this weekend. A good thing too as studio Fox slashed its location count by 1,304. Like many films of this ilk, Monte Carlo's theatrical run is really just a large advert for its sure to be lucrative home release. Having dropped in and out the top ten a couple of times, Midnight in Paris returns with a weekend take of $1.8M. The film is now the biggest of Woody Allen's entire career (obviously, without inflation factored in), bypassing his long standing best, Hannah & Her Sisters.

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