Sunday 16 October 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 14th - 16th October 2011

1. Real Steel - $16.3M - $51.7M
2. Footloose - $16.1M - $16.1M
3. The Thing - $8.7M - $8.7M
4. The Ides of March - $7.2M - $22.1M
5. Dolphin Tale - $6.3M - $58.6M
6. Moneyball - $5.5M - $57.7M
7. 50/50 - $4.3M - $24.3M
8. Courageous - $3.4M - $21.3M
9. The Big Year - $3.3M - $3.3M
10. The Lion King 3D - $2.7M - $90.4M

[Some figures may be subject to minor alteration]

After just the two new releases last frame, things ramp up again this weekend with three new releases. There'll be a further eight releases in the following fortnight too, as we head into and beyond Halloween, and towards the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday frame. Real Steel opened on the lower end of expectations last weekend and would be looking to this frame for a decent hold, while hoping the new releases don't impact its potential market too much. Of the new releases we once again have a remake, alongside a prequel and a novel adaptation.

With a win last frame, Real Steel found itself down 47% on a Friday to Friday basis, which translated to a respectable 40% drop for the weekend as a whole. The film lost Friday to Footloose but recovered during Saturday matinees. In fact, if Footloose hadn't opened so well there's every chance the Hugh Jackman flick could have added a couple of million more to this weekend's $16.3M total. The jury is still out on how high the movie can go but this is a good second frame haul, though it means it will still struggle to see $100M domestically. As mentioned last weekend, the star hasn't had much luck outside of the X-Men universe, save for 2004's $120M earning Van Helsing - but does have a strong following overseas. With the release just ramping up abroad, studio Dreamworks will be hoping for better news there. With a production budget of $110M, and almost certainly a similar figure for marketing and prints, Real Steel still has a hell of a battle on its hands.

The original Footloose was a major hit upon release in 1984, grossing over $80M from a budget of just $8M, along side strong soundtrack sales. Jump forward to 2007 and Paramount announce they are to remake the film, with Kenny Ortega set to direct. Unfortunately he would leave the project after a year due to clashes with the studio and be replaced by Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow), who worked on the script with original Footloose writer Dean Pitchford. Craig Zadan, who had worked as a producer on the original film, would also take on the producing duties on the remake. The role of Ren McCormack, played by Kevin Bacon in the original film, went through a number of actors before settling on Kenny Wormald. When the production was first announced, High School Musical star Zac Efron was set to take the lead role but he left the project, to be replaced by Chace Crawford, who would also leave the project due to scheduling conflicts. A number of further names were put forward but Wormald, who had made a name on a number of MTV shows, won the lead role. Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell were added to the cast, along with Julianne Hough, a former 'Dancing With The Stars' professional.

The remake follows the path of the original closely, and sees Ren travelling from Boston to the uptight town of Bonton, a place which has outlawed dancing and loud rock music after a recent post-party car accident kills a number of teenagers. Falling in with a still distraught Ariel, Ren clashes with her father, the Rev. Shaw Moore (Quaid here, John Lithgow in the original) about the ban and the town's desire to dance and have fun. Reviews were surprisingly strong for the remake (better than the original apparently, though review aggregates differ nowadays), giving it a 73% approval rating. The film was set to clash with Real Steel but comfortably won Friday with $5.5M - a decent start. Word of mouth seems to have propelled the film throughout the rest of the frame, but it narrowly lost to Real Steel at the eleventh hour (Figures are so close that Footloose may end up winning the frame once actuals are issued on Monday night). That $16M take gives the film a good start on its $24M production budget but it needs to build on that now as it'll face four releases next weekend, which while not being in direct competition, will no doubt impact the film in some way.

The path of The Thing's return to the big screen began sometime late in 2004, after the remake of Dawn of the Dead hit screens. Producers Marc Abraham and Eric Newman were looking for a new project and chose The Thing from Universal's back catalogue. While initial rumours suggested they planned to remake (or sequelise) John Carpenter's 1982 classic (Itself a remake of The Thing From Another World), the producers claimed that a remake was never on the cards as they felt that that would be like "Painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa". Instead, they decided on a prequel, which would be set three days before the events of Carpenter's film, at the doomed Norwegian camp. In the 1982 film, events at the camp are left largely to the imagination of the viewer, but assured them that terrible things had occurred there. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was set to play Dr Kate Lloyd, a palaeontologist, joining a largely Norwegian team at their Antarctic base, where she discovers they have unearthed something from under the ice. When the creature, thought dead, escapes, they quickly discover it has the skill to emulate any person perfectly, leaving them to fight for their lives not only against the creature itself but each other - all the time being aware that they cannot allow it to escape to civilisation.

The studio hired Battlestar Galactica re-booter Ronald D. Moore to work on the script and set Dutch commercial director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr at the helm (Heijningen became available when the zombie epic, Army of the Dead was halted three months prior to shooting). Moore's script was said to feature the brother of Kurt Russell's character in the '82 film but this idea, if it did indeed exist, was dropped when the script was completely rewritten by Eric Heisserer. Heisserer was tasked with taking what little information he had about events at the Norwegian camp and reverse engineering the story to suit. Indeed, Heijningen shot the film accompanied by hundreds of photos taken from the original film, in an effort to keep things as consistent as possible.

Shooting began in March 2010 and the production wrapped around June as the film entered a lengthy post-production schedule. The special effects and make up work of Stan Winston and Rob Bottin on Carpenter's version are the thing of legend and Heijningen was keen to keep the same organic feel to proceedings, though while a number of practical effects were used on set, the director would also utilise computer generated imagery to bring his version of The Thing to life. A release date of April 2011 was set but this was ultimately taken by Fast Five, leaving The Thing floating on Universal's release schedule. More of a concern were the then announced re-shoots, but the director and studio were quick to state that these were only to enhance, and not replace, what had already been shot. Universal set the film for an October release, one week before Paranormal Activity 3. Carpenter's original was vilified on release (thanks in part to E.T - The Extra Terrestrial) but has since become a very well regarded classic.

Sadly, reviews appear to have reflected the original reviews for the 1982 version. Around two thirds of critics disliked the film, with a number pointing out that not only was this new version kneecapped by restrictions of being a prequel, but that it paled in comparison to the Carpenter film, more so when it attempted to emulate certain sequences. The Thing also found itself in a tough middle ground - fans were only mildly curious while newcomers wondered what all the fuss was about. That apathy was reflected by the film's disappointing opening frame. Friday the film could muster just $3.2M and come the frame's end, had not reached the expected $10M figure. With Paranormal Activity 3 due next week, this was pretty much a one weekend shot for the film and it will now need to rely on fans overseas to help recoup its $35M production costs. But poor as its performance was, it wasn't the worst of the openers this weekend.

Given its subject matter, that of the dirty side of U.S political campaigning, The Ides of March did well with its $10.4M opening frame. The George Clooney/Ryan Gosling drama has already recouped its low production budget and will be hoping to make enough noise for people to remember it come awards season. This weekend the drama dipped just 28%, adding a further $7.5M to its running total. As a director, Clooney has won acclaim for his work but not major box office, with his best result coming from the slow burn release of Good Night, and Good Luck back in 2005, which earned $31.5M domestically. (His 2008 sport comedy Leatherheads topped out at $31.3M while Confessions of a Dangerous Mind made $16M). A few more weeks should reveal whether The Ides of March will become the biggest film of his career thus far.

Losing ground to Real Steel last frame saw Dolphin Tale drop to a third place finish, adding another $9.1M to its haul. While the film saw Footloose added to its competition roster, the the true life drama only dropped a further 31%. The $37M budgeted film hit $50M last Monday but may struggle to stay in the top ten for much longer simply because of the glut of new releases due in the next week or so. All that said, Dolphin Tale wasn't even expected to hit $30M prior to its release but the well reviewed film obviously struck a chord with the public. The film now has a running total of $58M. Moneyball, like Dolphin Tale, hit $50M last Monday, recouping its production budget in the process. The baseball stat flick still stands as one of the best reviewed films in the last month or so and that, with strong word of mouth, is managing to rope in a number of non-baseball fans. A $75M theatrical finish looks to be on the cards.

The comedy drama 50/50 refuses to go quietly into the night. After a slightly underwhelming start, it's seen two weeks of decent holds (35% last weekend, 24% this one) and that must be thanks in a big way to the very strong word of mouth. The film, which stars Joseph Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogen was produced for $8M and has so far made $24M, while picking up some sterling reviews for its director Jonathan Levine and aforementioned stars.

Courageous, which cost Sherwood Pictures just $2M to produce, adds another $3.4M this frame from just 1100 locations, bringing its total to $21.3M. The film, which follows a group of police officers and their struggles with work and home life marks the fourth film and fourth success for the small faith based studio.

The Big Year is a movie based on the book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession, written by Mark Obmascik. It stars Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black, with support from Dianne Wiest, Brian Dennehy and Anjelica Houston, amongst others. The three leads play avid bird watchers who decide to take part in the 'Big Year', an annual quest/competition to find the rarest species of birds in North America. As their journey continues they began to understand the problems and challenges in their everyday lives and perhaps, discover solutions to them. The film was directed by David Frankel, coming off the hits The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me and shot over the summer of 2010. As far as recent works go, Steve Martin saw It's Complicated (Co-starring Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep) rise to $220M in global ticket sales at the tale end of 2009, while Owen Wilson saw critical success this summer with Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris but disappointment with Hall Pass back in February. Black's career has probably been the most hit and miss of the three, at least recently. He followed up the disastrous Year One with Kung Fu Panda 2 and Gulliver's Travels, two films which underperformed in the US (Gulliver was a domestic flop) but would score $496M and $194M respectively, on the international market.

Reviews for The Big Year weren't great but neither were they a disaster - 39% of critics found something they enjoyed in the flick. But the writing was on the wall as early as Friday evening, when The Big Year finished eighth with just $1.1M. Even with a lower location count than the other two new releases, The Big Year should have at least finished top five based purely on the names involved. A lack of hype might be one reason for this poor start, tied with just a single unfunny trailer. By Sunday the film had managed just $3.3M, putting it well inside flop territory, especially with a $41M price tag attached. It's unlikely the flick will see even one more weekend in the top ten and will be quickly be forgotten by the public and all concerned.

With its Blu-Ray 3D release having taken place on October 4th, The Lion King found itself kneecapped last frame. Having originally been scheduled for a two week release, Disney opted to extend the film's run to take advantage of the success the re-release had witnessed - an opening frame of $30M followed by one of $20M. This success helped the film cross $400M when combined with its original 1994 release. Next up the 3D re-release is Beauty & The Beast in January 2012.

No comments: