Sunday 10 July 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 8th - 10th July 2011

1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon - $47.0M - $261M
2. Horrible Bosses - $28.1M - $28.1M
3. Zookeeper - $21M - $21M
4. Cars 2 - $15.2M - $148.8M
5. Bad Teacher - $9M - $78.8M
6. Larry Crowne - $6.2M - $26.5M
7. Super 8 - $4.8M - $118M
8. Monte Carlo - $3.8M - $16.1M
9. Green Lantern -$3.1M - $109.7M
10. Mr. Popper's Penguins - $2.8M - $57.7M

If there's an eye of the storm in relation to summer box office, we're in it. We had Dark of the Moon's record breaking opening last frame and next weekend brings the final part of the entire Harry Potter series. With all and sundry due to be crushed by the boy wizard, the studios opted for somewhat low key releases this frame.

After a record breaking Independence day weekend, Transformers: Dark of the Moon found itself off 55% from last Friday's haul. With no direct competition from the new films, the Transformers sequel was always going to have the second frame pretty much too itself. With an immense $97M opening weekend, a fall of around 51% a week later was probably better than expected. (Fallen's second frame drop was 61% with a gross of $42M). Dark of the Moon hit $200M on Wednesday, only its seventh full day on release - recouping its production budget in the process. While the film isn't performing quite as well as Revenge of the Fallen (which hit $200M on its fifth day and entered its second weekend with $251M), the word of mouth appears to be much stronger. Furthermore, the international take for the film is even better, crossing the $300M mark early on Saturday. In fact, by Dark of the Moon's second Friday it was already a $500M global phenomenon. The film will take a hit from Deathly Hallows next weekend and that may ultimately stop it becoming the biggest of the series so far - it would need to make $403M to overtake Revenge of the Fallen's domestic finish. Nevertheless, the film has put up a very strong start and its only twelve days in to its theatrical run.

Our first new release is the R-rated comedy Horrible Bosses, whose co-stars are arguably the bigger names. The film sees Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis as three friends unhappy with their respective bosses played by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell. Having finally had enough of their lots, the three conspire to kill their bosses and employ Jamie Foxx's hitman/murder consultant, who explains that it might be easier if they were to kill each other's bosses...

The now typical red band trailer showed Kevin Spacey channelling his Swimming With Sharks character Buddy Ackerman, while Farrell appeared near unrecognisable and Aniston played it down and dirty. Main star Jason Bateman saw great acclaim in TV show Arrested Development but has struggled a little on the big screen, succeeding better as a co-star (Juno, Hancock, Couples Retreat) than lead (Extract, The Switch). This is actually his first comedy of the summer - in August he'll appear opposite Ryan Reynolds in The Change-Up. Reviews for Horrible Bosses were very strong, with the film scoring a 76% approval rating (Bridesmaids sits at 89% while rival top ten comedy Bad Teacher is on 44%). Friday saw the film get off to a good start with a $9.9M take. Word of mouth looks to have spread over the remainder of the frame giving the film a solid $28.1M three day take. While not quite as strong a start as Bad Teacher ($31M), it compares well with Bridesmaids ($26M). With a rumoured budget of $35M, studio WB will be pleased with that opening figure.

After success with Paul Blart: Mall Cop and opposite Adam Sandler in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry and Grown Ups, Kevin James returns alongside a troop of animals in Zookeeper. James plays Griffin Keyes, the zookeeper of the title who suddenly discovers that not only can the zoo's animals talk but they're more than happy to give him relationship advice too. Filling out the animal voice cast are Sylvester Stallone, Nick Nolte and Adam Sandler (whose Happy Madison company produced the film.) Trailers weren't too inspiring and the reviews matched - Zookeeper was just 13% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. That said, James does seem popular, apart from the misstep earlier this year with The Dilemma.

One advantage the family comedy had going into the weekend was its lack of 3D - meaning tickets to see the film would be 10-15% cheaper, though how much impact that had is negligible. Opening at just under 3,500 locations, Zookeeper took in $7.4M on Friday, only good enough for third place. Over the rest of the frame the $80M budgeted flick added a further $13.6M for a three day total of $21M. That's almost certainly a disappointment for the studio who would have been looking for a figure closer to, or even above, $30M.

After a worryingly high second frame drop, Cars 2 rallies a little on its third weekend. Its weekend to weekend fall is 42%, still much higher than the 31% the original Cars dropped by in its third frame (which at this point had amassed $156M). Zookeeper will have affected the film to a degree this frame but it is still under-perfoming and looks set to be only the second/third Pixar film not to cross the $200M mark (A Bug's Life scored $162M, Toy Story $191M, but when you factor in the Toy Story 1 & 2 - 2009 3D re-release , the original film has crossed $200M). Internationally the film has amassed $82M at the time of writing, from around a quarter of the world's locations. Cars 2 won't lose Pixar any money and may even become their most profitable film with merchandising factored in, but the critical reaction may well sting until the release of Brave next summer.

Having had a great opening frame but slightly tougher second one, the Cameron Diaz comedy Bad Teacher drops 38% this weekend. Competition from Horrible Bosses would have been its biggest problem but there does seem to have been room for both flicks to exist comfortably. Bad Teacher has now quadrupled its $19M production budget. A $100M finish is still a very slim possibility but Bad Teacher will have exited the top ten by that point.

The Tom Hanks - Julia Roberts flick Larry Crowne disappointed last weekend by opening to just $13M. Time was either of the stars could have cleared a $20M opening haul on their own but a disappointing trailer combined with a critical drubbing put paid to a better start. The good news is the film cost only $30M to produce, a good portion of which was put forward by Hanks' production company, with Universal picking up any shortcomings. Given that second frame performance it's unlikely to have much in the way of legs. Larry Crowne will top out at around $40-45M and may find a longer life on the home market.

Super 8 begins to shed its location count in higher numbers this weekend, its sixth on general release. Made for $50M the JJ Abrams film has a running global total over $160M - and still has at least half of the world's major markets in which to open. Next up for the director is the sequel to his 2009 hit Star Trek (due late 2012/summer 2013).

The Selena Gomez feature Monte Carlo opened on the lower end of expectations last weekend (though again, it did appear to have performed better than where initial estimates had it finishing). This weekend the film sees a 49% drop as it struggles to recoup its $20M production costs. With two films opening next weekend, there's still a slim chance that Monte Carlo will get one more top ten placing. Perhaps damage control, perhaps cutting their losses, but WB slashed Green Lantern's location count this weekend by over 1,260. The comic book adaptation is still a long way from its $200M production budget and seems to be doing even worse overseas, just $33M from around half of the world's locations. A costly disappointment for all concerned.

Mr Popper's Penguins may have been more affected by the release of Zookeeper than Cars 2 will have been this weekend, something not helped by the Penguins losing over 860 locations. While the Jim Carrey family comedy has now covered its production costs, it's unlikely to see much more. Fox will be hoping that Carrey's international appeal can shore up the figures somewhat.

Next weekend WB unleash the final Harry Potter film, Deathly Hallows Pt 2. After Dark of the Moon's success it was thought that the studio would bring the release date of Hallows forward to the Wednesday but this has not been the case, leading many to speculate whether WB are hoping to smash some Friday and/or weekend records. The boy wizard will need an opening weekend (Fri/Sat/Sunday) haul of over $158.4M to surpass The Dark Knight's record figure. And if he wants the opening day record he'll need a figure bigger than Twilight: Eclipse's $72.7M. Next weekend will be another lesson in how 3D can help or hinder even if the biggest of releases.

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