Sunday 14 August 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 12th - 14th August 2011

1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - $27.5M - $104M
2. The Help - $25.5M - $35.4M
3. Final Destination 5 - $18.4M - $18.4M
4. The Smurfs - $13.5M - $101.5M
5. 30 Minutes or Less - $13M - $13M
6. Cowboys & Aliens - $7.6M - $81.4M
7. Captain America: The First Avenger - $7.1M - $156.8M
8. Crazy, Stupid, Love - $6.9M - $55.4M
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 - $6.8M - $356.9M
10. The Change-Up - $6.2M - $25.7M
(11). Glee The 3D Concert Movie - $5.7M - $5.7M

We're now unofficially out of blockbuster season and into the dumping ground, with studios throwing anything and everything onto screens and hoping that something will stick. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is coming off a great opening frame but finds itself challenged by four new openers this week, who in turn will be joined by four more next frame.

With an impressive $54M start, Rise of the Planet of the Apes retains the top spot for a second weekend with a $27.5M haul, that's down 50% on its opening frame. The word of mouth has been incredibly strong on this prequel hybrid and that's been reflected not only in this weekend's take but also the weekday takes, as high as $6.7M for Monday. The film also recouped its $93M production budget during Saturday, crossing $100M a day later, and has already added over $50M from overseas markets. It might lose the top spot next weekend but Rise of the Planet of the Apes has already been a resounding success. A $150M finish isn't out of the question at this point, with Fox and director Rupert Wyatt already talking up a planned trilogy.

The Help is based on a 2009 novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett and details the lives of a number of characters in 1960s Mississippi. Three stories are interwoven and feature two African-American maids (played by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer), one who has recently lost her only son, and another whose outspokenness has led her to be labelled as a difficult character to employ. A further character, played by Emma Stone, returning from college to find her childhood maid has vanished, makes up the third of the three plot strands. The film also features Bryce Dallas Howard, Mary Steenburgen and Sissy Spacek. Reviews for the film were strong and the best of the week's wide opening releases.

For unknown reasons, perhaps not wanting to be lost amongst the three showier releases this frame, Dreamworks chose to open the film on Wednesday and were rewarded for their efforts with a $5M opening day take, which allowed The Help to knock Rise of the Planet of the Apes out of the top spot - at least temporarily. That start could be down to the fans of the book turning out on opening day, but the good news continued as The Help headed into the weekend. Thursday it would again beat 'Rise' and even managed to give the film a run for its money on Friday, earning $7.1M -giving the film $17.5M before the weekend started proper. Fans and solid word of mouth added a further $17M, meaning that by late Sunday the film had already recouped its $25M production budget and put the other new releases in the dark - especially Final Destination 5, which was expected to challenge the Apes for the top spot. In fact, had The Help opened on Friday instead of Wednesday, it may well have won the weekend. Furthermore, If word of mouth continues to hold the film should be able ride out the coming storm of films and become a late summer sleeper.

The Final Destination series begin back in 2000 and saw a group of teenagers escape a plane crash thanks to a premonition experienced by one them. But surviving was only the start of their problems as 'death' began to pick them off one by one, in more and more bizarre and graphic ways. Since then the series has moved on to bigger opening set pieces and grislier deaths (though it arguably peaked with part two). The first film opened to $10M and would close with $53M in its coffers. The second film, interestingly enough, actually finished lower, with $46M. New Line would wait three years before unleashing part three on to a willing and ready public, seeing a $19M opening and a $54M finish. Like clockwork, the studio would again wait three years before releasing The Final Destination, a film billed at one point as the final part of the Destination series. And it may well have been had it not been such a success, especially internationally where it scared up $116M. Domestically too, the fourth film would go on to be the most successful to date. In terms of success, the total budget for the first four films came to $114M, and showed a total global return of over half a billion dollars, and that excludes any kind of home release.

Breaking their 'three years between sequels' rule, New Line put Final Destination 5 into pre-production around March 2010, announcing it at that year's Showest exhibition and aiming for an August 2011 release window (Thankfully the film's original title, 5nal Destination, was scrapped as production got underway). The flick would be shot in 3D, like the fourth entry, and this time around the opening set piece would feature a bridge collapse. Also like the fourth film, hype was kept pretty low key and it wasn't until May of this year that the first trailer appeared online. As reported, the bridge collapse would be the opening set piece and death would return to stalk those who had escaped his grasp, but this time around it was hinted that death could be eluded, if you could offer someone else's life instead... Reviews were above average, putting the film on a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 57%, marking a high point for the series. Going into the weekend Final Destination would not only be fighting against three other new releases but a potentially very strong second frame for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Opening day saw the film score $7.2M, not quite as strong as the $10.8M total made by the last film but it's worth remembering that back in 2009, 3D was still a must-see feature. Things stayed fairly steady over Saturday, followed by the inevitable Sunday dip, leaving the film with a three day take of $18.4M - lower than Final Destination 3 & 4. This one cost between $40-45M to produce so it needs a decent hold next frame to avoid further disappointment, though international figures should shore up any shortcomings.

While there are four new releases, none of them had much impact on The Smurfs, which is steadily heading towards its $110M production budget. This weekend the 3D film had a pretty good hold, dropping around 35% on its last frame and crossing $100M sometime on Sunday afternoon. Internationally The Smurfs have so far amassed $50M, leaving studio Sony/Columbia pleased enough to have already announced the release date for a sequel (August 2013).

Yet another week and yet another R-rated comedy. 30 Minutes or Less is directed by Ruben Fleischer, who scored big with Zombieland, and stars Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari and Danny McBride. The story centres on two not so bright brothers (McBride and Nick Swardson), who attempt to use Nick, a pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg) to rob a bank for them by strapping a bomb to his chest. With few options, Nick turns to his ex-best friend for help, advice and to perhaps partner him in committing the crime. While the film at no point claims to be based on a true story, it is eerily reminiscent of a real life 2003 incident.

Fleischer opted to make 30 Minutes or Less over a potential Zombieland sequel (said to still be a possibility some time in the future). Jesse Eisenberg meanwhile, is coming off an Oscar nominated performance in The Social Network, while Danny McBride is perhaps still stinging over the failure of April's Your Highness, which closed to less than $27M. Reviewing just below average, 30 Minutes or Less got off to a low start on Friday, finishing fourth with $4.8M. By Sunday the film managed to muster $13M, a little on the disappointing side, more so when compared to Zombieland's opening frame ($24.7M). Obviously its main competition came from Final Destination 5 but it's worth noting the glut of R-rated comedies we've seen over the past few months may also have affected the film's performance.

Cowboys & Aliens drops 400+ locations this weekend as the studio perhaps look to cut their losses on the potentially costly flop. The film is awaiting international release, a place in which Universal will be hoping for some much bigger numbers. As we've seen more and more over the last few years, a domestic disappointment doesn't necessarily doom a film - Robin Hood, Prince of Persia, The Golden Compass and The Sorcerer's Apprentice all underperformed in North America but would see between $150-$300M from the international crowd. On Cowboys & Alien's side is that fact it stars both Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford - actors who have major appeal overseas.

Competition from The Help might have given Crazy, Stupid, Love some trouble this weekend but the film still managed $6.7M, covering its production budget in the process. There's a slim chance it'll manage a further weekend in the top ten but with another four films due next frame, it's going to need a bit more of that word of mouth magic to keep it there. Captain America hit $150M on Friday, its 22nd day on general release. It's still only a couple of million behind what Thor had made at this point and that flick finished with $180M. Internationally the film is up to $115M and counting.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt.2 became the biggest film of 2011 earlier in the week, finally surpassing Dark of the Moon (and crossing the $350M mark). The boy wizard has now made $356M domestically and a further $829M internationally. The Change-Up tumbles 54% in its second frame and will be long gone by next weekend. The film saw competition from 30 Minutes or Less but wasn't helped by the poor word of mouth either. Expect this one to top out at $35-$40M, just about covering costs.

Opening outside the top ten, a crushing disappointment for Fox, is Glee - The 3D Concert Movie. After success through out the world, it made sense that Glee would in some way transfer to the stage. In May 2010 the Glee cast embarked on a short US tour, followed by dates in Europe and a return to US soil in May and June of this year. The idea for a film (which would become Glee the 3D Concert Movie) version of the concert came about due to demand from the fans who were unable to see the live show due to the limited number of dates on the tour (which in turn was caused by cast commitments to the TV show). In early May it was announced that Fox and show creator Ryan Murphy would team up with director Kevin Tancharoen to film one of the upcoming gigs with an eye to releasing it as a 3D film. The majority of the cast would feature, along with some time guest star Gwyneth Paltrow and an August 2011 release date was set.

Reviews were good for the concert film, with it sitting just below The Help, but it struggled to break out, taking $2.7M on Friday - well down on recent entries in the concert movie genre. By Sunday the film had made just $5.7M which is quite a disappointment given the show's appeal/success but the finger of blame can be partly aimed at the decision to not release the film into any 2D locations, forcing people to fork out for the higher 3D tickets - which as this result proves, they aren't really willing to do. With just a two week run this release was never really about theatrical figures, rather to act as an advert for the very quick home release. Anything the film could add would be a bonus but it's on DVD/Blu-Ray where Glee The 3D Concert Movie will clean up.

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