Sunday, 23 October 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 21st - 23rd October 2011

1. Paranormal Activity 3 - $54M - $54M
2. Real Steel - $11.3M - $67.2M
3. Footloose - $10.8M - $30.8M
4. The Three Musketeers - $8.8M- $8.8M
5. The Ides of March - $4.9M - $29.1M
6. Dolphin Tale - $ 4.2M - $64.3M
7. Moneyball - $4M - $63.7M
8. Johnny English Reborn - $3.8M - $3.8M
9. The Thing - $3.1M - $14M
10. 50/50 - $2.8M - 28.8M
(15. The Mighty Macs - $1M - $1M)

This weekend four new releases join the fray, joined by a further four next frame as things start to hot up as we approach Thanksgiving. Last weekend Footloose narrowly missed out on the top spot as Real Steel made it two in a row. The other releases, The Thing and The Big Year failed to light up the box office, with the latter being an outright disaster and the former disappointed greatly. This frame we've got two wider openers alongside two smaller releases. With Halloween just around the corner we see the return of the Paranormal Activity franchise while Paul W.S Anderson leaves the Resident Evil series to bring his 3D interpretation of The Three Musketeers to the big screen. And, having been something of a smash abroad, Johnny English Reborn joins the sports drama The Might Macs at between 1000 and 1500 locations.

The Paranormal Activity story began back in 2007 when director Oren Peli created an ultra low budgeted scare flick. Shown at a number of festivals from October 2007, the film began to steadily build up a reputation for itself. Acquired by Paramount Pictures, the film began what was to be a very limited theatrical release starting September 2009 and stunned everyone with its performance by week four, grabbing a top four spot from just 160 locations (taking $7M in the process). Thanks to a clever marketing campaign which urged people to demand the film be shown at their local theatre, Paranormal Activity's success snowballed. A week later it made $19M from just 760 locations, followed by $21M when it expanded out of its limited theatre count into 1,945 locations. At the end of its theatrical run the $15K 'found footage' film had amassed an astounding global total of $193M, making it one of the most profitable films ever made. A sequel was quickly greenlit, with Peli settling for producing duties this time around. With the Saw franchise on the decline, Paramount set the sequel to open a week before the final part of Jigsaw's story would unfold. The sequel (which actually began slightly before the first film and then ran parallel with some events in the first film's time period) used the same 'found footage' technique. Eschewing the limited release pattern of the first movie, Paranormal Activity 2 opened at over 3,200 locations on October 22nd. With an increased budget of $3M, the film made over $40M during its first weekend and would go on to amass $177M in total global ticket sales. With Saw now out the way, Paramount quickly set up Paranormal Activity 3 for an October 2011 release.

The second sequel again uses found video footage to make up its running time, and is a full prequel, taking place largely in 1988. This time around the story follows Kristi and Kate, the adult stars of the first two films, as children, and chronicles their first encounters with a demon. The flick actually starts off with Katie dropping off a box of old videotapes at her sister's house, with the content of those tapes making up the majority of the film's run time. At first the demon appears to be friendly but soon things turn nasty and it begins to torment the young girls and their family. Directing duties on the third film went to Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who had won acclaim and notoriety with their documentary Catfish (whose authenticity has been questioned by many). Shooting didn't actually begin until June/July of this year, followed by a fast post-production period in order to meets it release date. The marketing campaign for the film began shortly after filming completed with the producers again utilising social networking sites to promote the film (Tweet Your Scream being one such example). The first film reviewed very well and ended up with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 82%. While the sequel didn't manage to do quite as well (59%), the third film performed much better with critics and entered the weekend with a still strong 72% approval rating.

The budget was once again upped but not by much - production costs ran to $4M. Thanks to strong Thursday night screenings, Paranormal Activity 3 had already recouped those production costs (taking $8M, higher than the $6.3M made by the second film in the same time period) before the weekend even kicked off. To give that figure some context, The Thing's entire weekend take was only just over $8M. Friday was incredibly strong, with the film adding a further $17M to the midnight figure - setting it on track for a very big weekend. By Sunday night PA3 had grossed more than $54M, a stunning figure, and easily a series' best opening, not to mention the biggest October weekend in box office history. The first film finished with $107M domestically, while the second managed $84M - even with a big drop off next frame, the third part will be well on the way to being the biggest entry yet. Expect part 4 around this time next year - the series being simply too profitable to call a halt to.

Real Steel won a second weekend at the top spot up against tough competition from Footloose. A week on it's found itself displaced by Paranormal Activity 3 . Made for $110M, the Hugh Jackman robot boxing film has so far made $67M domestically, with a further $56M coming from overseas tickets. At the moment the film is still in a precarious position as Dreamworks spent a lot of money promoting the film and would need to be looking at well over $250M in global takings to be approaching a profit. A drop of 31% is more like what the studio were hoping for but a $100M+ finish is still more than questionable.

Dance remake Footloose managed a $15M opening frame and a week on dropped only 36% on a Friday to Friday basis (30% for the weekend overall). The MTV co-production cost $24M to produce and that's a figure the film saw sometime early on Saturday. It only took a minor hit from the two major releases this frame and managed a $10.8M haul in the process, thanks in part to its strong word of mouth. There's every chance Footloose will see $50M domestically, with the film set to perform equally well abroad.

After the $296M success of Resident Evil: Afterlife, Paul W.S Anderson chose The Three Musketeers (in 3D) as his follow up film. Instead of making another version of the original story (which has been filmed at least twenty times, excluding sequels, TV series and animation) he chose to re-imagine it with a steam punk twist. That said, the film still follows the story of a young sword fighter named D'Artagnan (played by Logan Lerman), son of a musketeer, who travels to Paris in a hope of following in his father's footsteps. There he falls in with musketeers Athos (Matthew Macfayden), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and their clashes with Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) and his cohorts Milady and Captain Rochefort played by Milla Jovovich and Mads Mikkelsen respectively. Anderson would once again be shooting in 3D and the first trailer revealed a slew of 'at the screen' action sequences. Along with Uwe Boll, Anderson must be one of the most vilified directors of modern times but his films, while apparently disliked by many, consistently make money. Indeed, one would have to go back to 1998's Soldier to find an Anderson directed movie which didn't turn a profit. But was his luck about to run out?

The movie cost around $75-100M to produce, with a good percentage of that figure being raised by German companies, along with tax rebates granted to the production for shooting in Bavaria. So it was no coincidence that the film opened first in Germany back at the start of September. Other European and Asian locations followed and by last weekend the film had already grossed $49M - helping it on the way to being another profitable release for Anderson. Reviews were well below average for the action flick and it would be attempting to gain some of the same market as Paranormal Activity 3 aimed for. As we've already seen, the horror-thriller raced ahead and was choice of the week leaving the 3 Musketeers with a disappointing $3M/fourth place start on Friday, lower even than Anderson's Death Race, which managed a $4.6M first day haul (and prompting co-star Milla Jovivich to criticize Summit's Three Musketeers marketing campaign via Twitter). The news didn't really improve over the remainder of the frame, with the flick adding just $4.2M over Saturday and Sunday. After three days, The Three Musketeers had managed $8.8M, only marginally better than 1997's Event Horizon and well down Anderson's recent entry into the Resident Evil series. Strong figures abroad may keep it out of trouble but as it stands now, the film has failed domestically.

The George Clooney directed Ides of March continues to impress - this week the political drama dropped a further 31%, while taking $4.9M. From a budget of $12.5M, the film has so far made $29.1M.

Having now crossed $60M in takings, Dolphin Tale is now treading water in the top ten. The film opened well and managed to move into the top spot during its second frame. Made for $37M (not the $25M as had previously been reported), Dolphin Tale will end up being a $100M global concern in the coming months. Moneyball, the baseball drama starring Brad Pitt may be facing its last weekend in the top ten. The film has been a critical success and has a current running total of $63M from a budget of $50M. Next up for Pitt is voice work on Happy Feet 2 in November and World War Z (Christmas 2012), with thriller Cogan's Bluff somewhere in between.

Rowan Atkinson has had a curious relationship with cinema. He made his debut in Never Say Never Again back in 1983 as a bungling secret service liaison officer. He wouldn't really dabble again until 1989's The Tall Guy and this was followed by roles in The Witches, Hot Shots 2, The Lion King and Four Wedding & a Funeral. After this he decided to bring his Mr Bean character to the big screen with great international success. This paved the way for more US film roles, which really didn't play to Atkinson's strengths (Rat Race, Scooby Doo). Jump back to the late 80s/early 90s and the comedy star took on the role of Richard Latham, a disaster prone secret agent in a series of commercials for Barclaycard. He chose to use this character as the basis for Johnny English, which would see Atkinson extend the character's adventures into a feature film, penned by future Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, along side William Davis. While the film was a critical mess (to the extent that it sent the star into depression) it would make over $160M in worldwide ticket sales, from a budget of around $40M. Given its reception the star passed on a sequel and instead went back to Mr Bean, with Mr Bean's Holiday proving to be another global smash ($229M) in 2007.

It would take until 2010 before Atkinson would return to Johnny English with the announcement of a sequel by studio Universal in April of that year. With the exception of the lead, the cast would all be new to the series, with roles filled by Gillian Anderson, Dominic West and Rosamund Pike, amongst others. Production kicked off in September 2010, with filming taking place in and around London (Which for many, was the first time they knew the sequel even existed). The first teaser trailer appeared in April 2011 with a full standard trailer appearing in July. Reviews were only slightly better than those for the first film and it sits on an approval rating of 38%. Opening in Australia on 15th September, the film expanded elsewhere before debuting in London on October 2nd and in the U.S on 21st of the same month (making it one of the final global locations to see the action comedy). By the time of its U.S release, the film had already made $85M on the international market. Universal opted to keep the location count for the film fairly limited (around 1,500) as the first had only made $28M domestically (from an initial 2,300 location count). The sequel doesn't look like it will see anywhere near that figure. Johnny English Reborn's opening day take was only $1.1M, barely good enough for eighth place. By Sunday the film had a weekend total of just $3.8M, and even with a somewhat limited location count, that's still down on what the studio would have been hoping for. Further expansion won't happen, if it was indeed planned, and the studio will be happy to ignore North American figures while the film continues to clean up abroad.

A week after it opened to just $8.4M, The Thing (prequel) dropped a nasty 69% from last Friday, 63% for the weekend overall - which is about the standard figure for a horror film. This will be its last weekend in the top ten and The Thing will leave theatres with less than $20M in takings. There's a chance the film will perform better internationally but will no doubt run into the same problems it faced domestically - confined and overshadowed by Carpenter's original.

50/50, the cancer comedy drama starring Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon Levitt, scores a further $2.8M this weekend, it's last in the top ten. The film got off to an ok start and thanks to the positive word of mouth, hung around a little longer than first thought. Made for $8M, the film has so far made $28.8M

Our final new release this weekend is the sports drama The Might Macs. The film was made in 2009 and made a number of festival appearances before Freestyle Releasing set it for an October 2011 release. The film follows the true life story of Cathy Rush, played by Carla Gugino, who joins the Immaculata College as coach of its women's basketball team. Faced with strong competition from other teams and raised eyebrows from other teachers and staff members, Rush embarks on the quest to take her team to the top. Reviews for the inspirational tale were just below average, and Freestyle opted to put the film out to around a thousand locations, hoping to pick up some of the same audience who made Dolphin Tale and Courageous a success in the previous weeks. Sadly the film barely registered with cinema-goers and the studio were very late issuing Friday figures. The weekend total of $1M came as little surprise, ensuring The Might Macs will have a swift journey to DVD.

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