Sunday 3 July 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 1st - 3rd July 2011

1.     Transformers: Dark of the Moon -    $97.4M - $162.1M
2.     Cars 2 -    $25.1M- $116M
3.     Bad Teacher -    $14.1M - $59.5M
4.     Larry Crowne -    $13M - $13M
5.     Monte Carlo -    $7.6M - $7.6M
6.     Super 8 -    $7.5M - $108M
7.     Green Lantern -    $6.2M - $101.9M
8.     Mr. Popper's Penguins -    $5.1M - $50.1M
9.     Bridesmaids -    $3.5M - $152.8M
10.    Midnight in Paris -    $3.4M - $33.6M

Outside of Thanksgiving and Christmas, the July 4th weekend is North America's biggest holiday. With a number of people taking Thursday, Friday and Monday off (The actual holiday falls on a Monday this year), there's plenty of opportunity for a cinema visit. The holiday is generally witness to some of the biggest films of the summer, and in some cases, the year. Previous July 4th releases include Dead Man's Chest, Twilight Saga: Eclipse, both Men in Black films, not to mention the two previous Transformer flicks. This weekend is again witness to the return of the Transformers, along with some alternate programming in the guise of Larry Crowne, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.
Michael Bay and producer Steven Spielberg unleashed the first Transformers film back in 2007, scoring a $709M global finish from a budget of $150M. Bay's The Island had flopped in 2005 but Transformers seemed a match made in heaven. While fans weren't too happy with the liberties the director had taken with the story and its characters, the general public couldn't get enough of the robot battles and female star Megan Fox. It was a no-brainer that Paramount would fast track a sequel, making it bigger and brasher. Revenge of The Fallen was released almost two years to the day, but faced a mauling, even from those who had enjoyed the first film. While the sequel would go on to  make more money than the first film ($836M worldwide), it all but destroyed any good will the original had built up. Later, Bay would blame the writers strike and an unmovable release date as being reasons why the second film disappointed - with star Shia LeBeouf echoing his sentiments in recent times.

But Paramount couldn't argue with that final gross and with the strike a distant memory, Bay and writer Ehren Kruger set to work on what would become Transformers: Dark of the Moon - but not without some reluctance. After Revenge of the Fallen, Bay had opted to take a year out from directing before moving onto the third film, however things came to a head when the studio announced a July 2011 release date (Bay had insisted on July 2012), meaning pre-production would need to begin almost straight away. While Bay was unhappy about this decision, he would ultimately take on the director's chair for one last Transformers film and furthermore, he'd be shooting in 3D for the first time (again, after some reluctance to the idea due to the cumbersome nature of the equipment). All the principle cast would return with one very notable exception - Megan Fox would be released from a her contract and replaced by model turned actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Pre-production begin April 2010 and wrapped mid-November, with shooting taking place in Florida, Washington D.C and Chicago.

Early word on Dark of the Moon seemed positive and while reviews started well, they quickly descended into disappointment again, though many were keen to point out the effectiveness of the 3D and the overall improvements on the previous film. The original film opened to $70M during its first frame, with a $155M 'holiday' total. The second film opened stronger, with $108M from the weekend and a stunning $200M five day total. Going towards release Dark of The Moon was facing not only franchise apathy but also the public's growing avoidance of 3D presentations (and their related inflated costs). Opening late Tuesday the film scored $5.5M from midnight screenings and a further $37M from Wednesday, its first full day on general release - well down on Fallen's $62M opening day take. Thursday saw an expected dip ($21M for the day) but things improved as we went into the weekend, with Friday's haul of $33M being comparable with the $36M taken by the second film. Saturday and Sunday added a further $64M to the film's total to bring a five day finish of $162M - with a holiday Monday still to come. While some way down on Fallen's first five days, Bay and the studio will no doubt be pleased that the general public haven't abandoned the series and will now look towards the film's second frame hold. The reported budget for this third instalment is $195M and with that great start, not to mention the huge $210M coming from the overseas markets, the franchise hasn't looked healthier.

Given the poor critical reception, Cars 2 surprised analysts by opening to $66.1M over its opening weekend. Strong week day totals added further to that start, giving the film a $90M total going into the holiday weekend. The sequel crossed $100M heading into the weekend, but witnessed a painful Friday to Friday drop of 70% - Toy Story 3 dropped 56% on its second Friday while Up's drop was 39%. The Pixar sequel pulled back some on its second Saturday and Sunday to finish the frame down 62% but that's still a little too high (it's actually the highest second weekend fall of the studio's career) and makes hitting $200M that much harder. At this point, the original film had a running total of $117M on its way to a $244M finish so all is far from lost but the sequel needs a much stronger hold next frame. Internationally the film has pulled in $42M to date from only a handful of markets. Cars 2 still has plenty of breathing room, it won't face Winnie The Pooh for another two weeks, at which point it needs to have surpassed A Bug's Life's $162M finish.

After a great start last weekend, which included recouping its production budget by Saturday night, Bad Teacher fell 63% on a Friday to Friday basis (55% for the weekend overall). The heavier than expected fall was almost a forgone conclusion given how well the film had performed during its opening three days. $100M is probably a stretch too far now but this will still be a very profitable film for Sony. Next weekend Bad Teacher will face off against the R-rated Horrible Bosses.

Our second release is aimed squarely at the market who are more than happy to drop the kids off at Transformers and go see something else. Larry Crowne is a romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Hanks (who directed the film) stars as Larry Crowne, a Navy veteran who loses his department store job because he doesn't have a degree. Enrolling at community college he meets a group of outcasts and finds himself starting a relationship with the class teacher, played by Roberts. Hanks co-wrote the script along with Nia Vardolos (who saw great success with the Tom Hanks produced My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and Larry Crowne marks his first feature directing job since 1996's That Thing You Do.

Trailers for the film weren't great, showing it to be aimed at the slightly older rom-com fan. Reviews weren't kind to the film either and it sits on a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 34%, lower even than Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Going into the weekend a lot was riding on the appeal of Hanks and Roberts (who had worked together previously on the $66M finisher, Charlie Wilson's War), especially with the other comedies on general release. Friday saw the film stumble to just $4M and while business stayed steady throughout the remainder of the frame, it didn't improve much either, leaving the film with a very disappointing three day total of $13M. Even with a $30M price tag, one assumes Universal were hoping for a stronger start. The second frame drop should reveal whether word of mouth is helping or hindering the film but with that opening, the best the film could hope for is a sub $50M finish, which looks doubtful even at this very early stage.

Our final release is the Selena Gomez comedy Monte Carlo. The film sees a group of friends having a dreary trip to Paris, when Grace (Gomez) is mistaken for a British heiress and finds herself (and friends) whisked off to the playground of the rich and famous. The teen comedy was actually the best reviewed of the major releases this week. Friday saw Monte Carlo score a slight $3.1M (which does more to highlight just how poorly Larry Crowne performed initially) on its way to a somewhat disappointing $7.6M 3-day finish. This is the kind of film that was always going to be much bigger on the home market, so one assumes Fox will be quite pleased with that opening, more so when you consider initial tracking had the film opening outside the top ten.

If Green Lantern wasn't already dead in the water, the Transformers threequel finished it off this frame. Shedding 536 locations this weekend, the Ryan Reynolds comic flick struggled to just $6.2M, down 65% on an already poor second frame (where it witnessed another 65% drop). While the film did hit $100M this weekend, it'll be of little consolation to studio WB. Internationally the film is doing poorly, having taken just $30M at the time of writing. Expect more extreme location shedding to follow as the studio sacrifice Hal Jordan to make way for Harry Potter in a fortnight.

Super 8 hit $100M on Thursday, its 21st day on general release. Like Green Lantern and X-men: First Class, Super 8 will have been affected by the no.1 film this weekend but has its low budget credentials on its side. The JJ Abrams sci-fi mystery cost just $50M to produce and has a running global total of over $150M. After facing off against Cars 2 last weekend, Mr Popper's Penguins dropped an ok 45%. A week later and the hold is slightly poorer (50%), meaning the Jim Carrey comedy has to wait a while longer before recouping its $55M production. The film should manage another weekend in the top ten and top out at around $70M, but this is still a long way from Carrey's heyday.

Seemingly unaware of any other releases is the smash hit sleeper Bridesmaids. Now in its eighth weekend, the comedy hit $150M Friday and has only just begun its global rollout, where a further $100M is all but assured. While some of summer's bigger films slip quietly out of the top ten, Midnight in Paris continues to hang around the lower end of the chart. This weekend saw the Woody Allen comedy (which is still in a limited release of 858 locations) recoup its $30M production budget. Internationally the film is proving just as successful with a running total of $27M

Elsewhere this weekend, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, became only the eighth film in box office history to cross the $1 Billion mark in total global ticket sales.

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