Tuesday, 30 August 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 26th - 28th August 2011

1. The Help - $14.3M - $96.6M
2. Colombiana - $10.3M - $10.3M
3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - $8.6M - $148.4M
4. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark- $8.6M - $8.6M
5. Our Idiot Brother - $6.5M - $6.5M
6. Spy Kids: All the Time In the World - $5.7M - $21.7M
7. The Smurfs - $4.8M - $126M
8. Conan the Barbarian - $3.1M - $16.5M
9. Fright Night - $3M - $14.2M
10. Crazy, Stupid, Love - $2.9M - $69.5M

After the lacklustre performance of last weekend openers, Hollywood once again grace us with three more new releases, in the hope that at least one would catch the public's attention. And there's no let up on the horizon, with at least three new releases due over the next month and well into October. Our late summer sleeper, The Help, continues to surprise with its impressive performance, and even managed that rare thing of moving up into the no.1 spot during its second frame.

Once again The Help sees off the new releases and manages a second weekend in the top spot, doing so with just a 28% drop in takings. Solid word of mouth continues to spread on the film, even if its subject matter is dividing opinion. This coming week should see it hit $100M and it's rather the quantity than the quality of the upcoming releases that will displace it. Made for around $25M, The Help, like Bridesmaids back in May, will be exceptionally profitable for its respective studio (Dreamworks in this case) and it isn't finished yet by a long shot.

Colombiana, written and produced by Luc Besson, is an action thriller starring Zoe Saldana, who came to fame with roles in Star Trek and Avatar. She plays Cataleya Restrepo, a young woman who witnessed the brutal murder of her parents when she was a child. Growing up to become a ruthlessly efficient assassin, she takes on hits for her uncle while continuing to track down those responsible for her parent's deaths. The PG-13 rated film was directed by Olivier Megaton, who began work in TV and short films before moving on to direct second unit on Hitman. He would go on to direct the third Transporter film and has since been linked to a Leon sequel, Mathilda (though it should be noted the director himself has stated he doubts the film will ever move forward) and the follow up to the Liam Neeson flick, Taken. Colombiana received generally negative reviews and sits on an approval rating of 36%. The film has also courted controversy thanks to its stereotypical portrayal of Columbian life - something that a number of groups have been quick to dispute.

With a number of European studios involved in financing the $40M film, it comes as no surprise to learn that the movie opened in mainland Europe back in July. The film faced some competition from last weekend's openers (particularly Conan and Fright Night) and could only manage a $3.7M Friday take. Things didn't improve a great deal over the Saturday and into Sunday, leaving Colombiana with a $10.3M opening frame. Perhaps a little disappointing but given the reviews, limited hype and Saldana not yet being a draw on name alone, $10M+ isn't that bad a start, though it's likely to disappear fast.

The ubiquitous Guillermo del Toro returns to producing (and writing) this weekend with Don't Be Afraid of The Dark. The film isn't an original project but a remake of a 1973 TV Movie of the same name. The original saw a couple moving into a house and discovering a bricked-up fireplace, which they are advised to leave as it is. Ignoring the comments, Sally manages to open a door used to remove ashes from the fire, causing something to be released. Strange occurrences follow - voices, broken crockery and eerie whispers, culminating in her seeing goblin like creatures. The remake, which stars Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes, follows a slightly different track - this time around Sally is a young, distant girl, who moves into the house with her father and his girlfriend (Kim). When she hears voices from behind the fireplace promising her friendship, she decides to investigate further but is stopped, seemingly before anything can be released. Similar to the original, strange, unexplainable things begin to occur and its up to Sally and Kim to figure out what's going on.

The film began life as a Miramax release but when the company was closed and slate sold, it was picked up for release by FilmDistrict, causing an eight month day in the flick's release. Interestingly, the film was shot with PG-13 in mind but upon submission to the MPAA gained an R rating. According to comments made by Del Toro at Comic-con, when they asked the MPAA what they could do to gain a lower rating they replied "Why ruin a perfectly good scary movie?" Reviews were above average, leaving the film with a 59% approval rating. The flick clashed with Colombiana on Friday, settling for a $3.5M first day take. The action flick would pull well ahead of Don't Be Afraid of The Dark by Sunday, leaving it to settle for a fourth place finish. Like a number of films released at this time, it won't be around for long, and in the case of Don't Be Afraid of The Dark, may have benefited from a Halloween release date. With a budget of $25M it shouldn't lose any money but had the potential to do much better.

Our final release is the comedy drama, Our Idiot Brother, starring Paul Rudd. The actor stars as Ned, a simple bio-farmer who ends up in jail when he sells cannabis to a uniformed cop. Upon release he sets out trying to raise enough money to be reunited with his dog, Willie Nelson. On his quest he ends up staying with/being passed between his three sisters, played by Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer and Zooey Deschanel, who all have problems of their own. Could Ned's outlook on life offer them a solution? Our Idiot Brother came together incredibly quickly, producer Peter Saraf claims that from the time he read the script to seeing a rough cut of the flick was under four months. The film premièred at Sundance in January 2011 and was set for an August release. Reviews for the film were above average with Rudd's performance coming in for particular praise. Opening at 2,555 locations, the film took in $2.3M Friday, on its way to a $6.5M weekend. While on the surface that may seem poor, it's worth noting the film cost just $5M to produce and consequently didn't have the marketing budget to match some of the bigger releases. Whatever it makes from here on out will be a plus for the film and studio, The Weinstein Bros. Given how well comedy/drama Crazy, Stupid, Love has weathered the glut of releases bears well for Our Idiot Brother in the coming weeks.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes drops 48% in its fourth weekend on release. The film is already over $300M in total global ticket sales, with $148M of that coming domestically. At this point a $180M North American finish can't be ruled out, meaning the film will have more than doubled its production budget. If The Help and Bridesmaids are the sleepers of 2011, Rise must surely rate as the surprise of the year.

The rest of the chart is made up of hangers-on and the fast-faders. Spy Kids: All The Time In The World drops 51% this frame, after a disappointing start last weekend. It'll have recouped its production by Wednesday/Thursday of the coming week but will easily be the weakest of the entire series (Spy Kids 3 for example, made more during its open weekend than Spy Kids 4 has done in ten days). The Smurfs meanwhile drops 38% this week as it approaches $130M. By the time the film comes to the end of its theatrical run it should have amassed around $145-150M.

Conan The Barbarian was off a painful 69% from last weekend, which itself was a major let down. After two weekends on general release the $90M flick has made just $16M and will go down as not only one of the biggest flops of 2011, but of the last five years. Things weren't much better for Fright Night either, but at least that one only cost $30M to produce (though some places put its costs as low as $17M). Opening to just $7.7M last weekend, the film could only muster a further $3.3M a week later. Like Conan, it's unlikely to trouble the top ten after this frame.

Rounding us out is Crazy, Stupid, Love. The Steve Carell comedy actually moved up one position once actuals were issued (pushing Fright Night to tenth place) and added another $3M this frame.

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