Sunday 24 July 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 22nd - 24th July 2011

1. Captain America: The First Avenger - $65.8M - $65.8M
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 - $48.1M - $274.2M
3. Friends With Benefits - $18.5M - $18.5M
4. Horrible Bosses - $11.7M - $82.4M
5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon - $12M - $325.8M
6. The Zookeeper - $8.7M - $59.2M
7. Cars 2 - $5.7M - $176.4M
8. Winnie the Pooh - $5.1M - $17.5M
9. Bad Teacher - $2.6M - $94.3M
10. Midnight in Paris - $1.8M - $44.8M

Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and debuted in his own comic in 1941. It centred on Steve Rogers, a weak young man who finds himself turned into a near perfect human specimen thanks to a serum developed by the US to aid their war efforts. Published by Timely Comics (who would one day become Marvel), the character proved popular during wartime, battling the axis of evil. However, the character's popularity waned post war and apart from the occasional appearance, he remained largely forgotten. It would be 1963 before Captain America returned, in a story alongside The Human Torch - though it would ultimately be revealed that this Captain was a fake and the strip was an experiment to see if fans wanted the character to return. He did return in issue #4 of The Avengers, with his absence explained by having him being frozen in ice since the end of World War 2. Captain America would go on to lead the Avengers and remains popular, as part of that team or in his own side stories, to this day.

Marvel attempted to bring Captain America to the big screen at the tale end of the 80s (filming begin in 1989, the release year of Marvel's Punisher adaptation) with a 1990's release date planned. As time went by the date was shifted more than once and the film ended up sitting on the shelf until well into 1992, when it debuted direct to video and cable TV. Marvel attempted to produce another film version in 1997 but this was side tracked and then abandoned by a protracted legal fight, which was finally settled in 2003. By 2005 Marvel had secured financing for ten feature films and began basic pre-production on a number of them. Jon Favreau originally put himself forward to direct Capt. America but would instead go with Iron Man. The idea for Captain America was to make a self contained story but once work restarted post-writer's strike, the film was announced as The First Avenger: Captain America - somewhat confirming Marvel's plans to make an Avenger's flick in the near future (further cemented by Avenger's characters appearing in the Iron Man films and the announcement of a Thor film).

Director Joe Johnston was selected to helm the project based on his work on The Rocketeer and October Sky, along with his special effects work in the 80s. Pre-production began in December 2009, with Chris Evans being named as the actor to portray Steve Rogers/Captain America in March 2010 (subject apparently, to him signing up for nine character or related character films). Further casting quickly fell in to place, with Hugo Weaving signing up as villain Red Skull and Tommy Lee Jones as Chester Phillips. The first footage debuted at Comic-Con 2010 but it would not be until the Superbowl of 2011 that a short teaser was made public. The full trailer debuted in March and the film was set for a July 22nd release. By this time the film's titled had been rearranged, making The First Avenger the subtitle. Reviews were above average, with the film currently garnering a 73% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes. That put the film below fellow 2011 Marvel flicks Thor (78%) and X-Men: First Class (86%) but well above DC's Green Lantern (26%).

Midnight takes revealed Captain America to be the best performing of the summer superheroes with a $4M take. (GL made $3.3M, Thor made $3.2M and X-Men made $3.4M). For it's first full day on release the film managed a strong $25.7M, pretty much bang in line with Thor's $25.4M. Saturday saw only a slight dip as word of mouth began to spread and by the frame's end on Sunday, Captain America had made $65.8M, making it the best opening Super hero flick of 2011 (Thor debuted to $65.7M). While the character is well known, there was always a chance the audience wouldn't take to him, especially given its World War 2 setting, but with that figure it seems Captain America broke out into the mainstream. Next weekend's battle against Cowboys & Aliens should be an interesting one.

After a record breaking opening frame, both domestically and internationally, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Pt.2 was due a big second frame dip, perhaps a record breaking one. The film's week day takes started very strong but declined as the week went on, which was to be expected, though the figures were still high. The film hit $200M by Tuesday, only its fifth day of release and going into the weekend, was riding high on a $226M total. After a $92M opening day, a huge second Friday dip was a given and it ended up being a pretty nasty 84%, possibly the highest second frame drop for a major release. That figure just proves how front-loaded the film was and might call into question its longevity in the top ten. The previous biggest weekend winner, The Dark Knight, dipped 65% on its second Friday but recovered somewhat over the weekend to end the frame down 52%.

With competition from Captain America plus possibly the biggest front loading in the history of cinema, the film did well to end the weekend with a $48M (an overall dip of 72%). While that may raise eyebrows, one has to remember it was coming off the back of the most successful weekend in cinematic history. Furthermore, Hallows Pt.1 managed $49M in its second frame and it didn't have the benefit of that stellar opening, and neither did The Half-Blood Prince, which dipped 62% in its second frame, scoring $29M in the process.

Given how the films were shot, Deathly Hallows Pt.2 was in profit before its release thanks to the huge success of part 1. As it stands now, the film is already the sixth most successful of the series and that's after just 10 days on general release. With a better hold next frame, the film should overtake Goblet of Fire ($290M finish), Order of the Phoenix ($292M finish) and Deathly Hallows Pt.1 ($295M finish). Internationally the news is better with the film having already amassed over $450M. The biggest film of the series, the first one, sits on $317M domestically, a figure Deathly Hallows Pt.2 looked set to shatter but with this weekend's drop, WB must remain cautiously optimistic.

It seems like the R-rated comedy is well and truly back. This summer has already seen Bridesmaids, The Hangover sequel, Bad Teacher and Horrible Bosses. Joining that company this weekend is Friends With Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Milas Kunis. The story follows similar lines to January's No Strings Attached - two friends, tired of the love game decide they'll have a relationship based solely on sex, no long talks or plans for the future, just sex. The now de rigueur red band trailer was promising and reviews were almost as strong as the ones for Captain America, with a number highlighting Timberlake and Kunis' on-screen chemistry.

Friday saw a decent enough start with $6.8M, just below the aforementioned Portman/Kutchner flick. As the weekend progressed the film continued to play well (let's not forget it faced competition from Horrible Bosses and to a lesser degree, Bad Teacher and Bridesmaids) and finished up with a $18.5M total (NSA did $19.6M in a much quieter market). A decent second frame will put it well on the way to recouping its $35M production budget and give an idea as to whether the film could approach No String's $70M finish.

With the new R-rated competition, not to mention Captain America, Horrible Bosses could have been expected to tumble a little harder but actually maintained a better drop (33%) than last weekend's already impressive drop of 37%. The film should shortly join the $100M club. Horrible Bosses has now more than doubled its production budget and is just getting started overseas.

While Harry Potter might be biting at its ankles, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is still the biggest film of 2011. This weekend saw the Michael Bay flick cross the $325M mark domestically, and hit half a billion throughout the rest of the world. At this point a $360M finish could be on the cards.

Zookeeper hit $50M on Thursday, but it's going to struggle to see its $80M production budget. The Kevin James comedy opened some way below expectations and while it hasn't faced too much competition, the general public don't seem to have taken to it in the same way as they did Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Speaking of the family market, the Pixar release Cars 2 shed a further 581 locations this frame, with many of them almost certainly being 3D ones to make way for Captain America. At this point it's looking like the film won't surpass the $192M made by Toy Story during its original release frame. Elsewhere the film has grossed $146M from overseas locations and still has at least two third of territories awaiting its release. As we've said from the start, the Cars brand really makes its money in merchandising and while the film itself isn't a flop, it will still be seen as a disappointment in many quarters.

Having debuted to just $7.8M last frame, Winnie the Pooh found itself down 44% on a Friday to Friday basis (a better 34% overall). With three new release next frame, including one that'll be in direct competition (Smurfs 3D), Winnie The Pooh's day are already numbered, though it's debatable as to whether the film really got going anyway.

With R-rated competition from Horrible Bosses and Friends with Benefits, Bad Teacher dropped almost 50% in this, its fifth weekend on general release. $100M will come at some point in the film's release but this is already an incredibly profitable film for Sony. Rounding us out is the Woody Allen flick Midnight in Paris. The film continues to defy belief and actually increased business by 1.2% on last weekend. This may well become Allen's first ever $50M earner.

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