Sunday 13 November 2011

U.S Box Office - 11th - 13th November 2011

1. Immortals - $32M - $32M
2. Jack & Jill - $26M - $26M
3. Puss in Boots - $25.5M - $108.8M
4. Tower Heist - $13.2M - $43.8M
5. J. Edgar - $11.4M - $11.4M
6. A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas - $5.9M - $23.2M
7. In Time - $4.1M - $30.6M
8. Paranormal Activity 3 - $3.6M - $100.8M
9. Footloose - $2.7M - $48.7M
10. Real Steel - $2M - $81.7M

We have two new releases this weekend before the latest Twilight film is unleashed (and records potentially smashed). Adam Sandler returns to screens with Jack & Jill and that's joined by Tarsem's sword and sandals epic, Immortals. Also joining the fray in a more limited capacity is J.Edgar, Clint Eastwood's biopic based of the infamous FBI director. Last weekend saw Puss In Boots see off Tower Heist, retaining the top spot for a second frame and witnessing one of the lowest frame to frame drops in recent memory. Could the Shrek spin off make it three in a row?

Tarsem Singh started out as a commercial and music video director, eventually making his big screen debut in 2000 with the surreal Jennifer Lopez thriller, The Cell. While critics weren't impressed with the story, the visuals came in for a good deal of praise. Apparently unhappy with The Cell, Tarsem followed it up with another visual spectacle in the guise of The Fall in 2006, a film the director partly funded himself and shot over the space of four years. Presented by directors Spike Jonze and David Fincher, The Fall won much praise for its style (And made a number of Critics lists) but remained largely unseen, receiving a small release in 2008 (having made its festival debut some two years previous). By 2009, Tarsem was ready to start work on his next project, a sword, sandals and grand mythology epic entitled War of the Gods. That title held for a short while before becoming Dawn of War once production began. At one point, Warner Bros. were said to have been interested in purchasing the script and using it for their Clash of the Titans remake but this fell by the wayside when Relativity Media stepped in to fund 'Dawn'. The film would receive one further title change in April 2010, becoming Immortals, and casting got underway. Mickey Rourke signed up for the project as King Hyperion, the film's main villain, to be quickly joined by future Superman Henry Cavill (Theseus) and Freida Pinto (Phaedra).

The story would be loosely based on classic Greek mythology, including Theseus and the Minotaur along with references to the Titanomachye (also knowns as the War of the Titans) and would see King Hyperion on a quest to find the legendary Epirus Bow in order to unleash his fellow titans and take revenge on the Olympians who brought about their defeat. The director described the visual style as being 'Carvaggio meets Fight Club'. It was therefore somewhat disappointing when the initial trailer revealed a look very similar to 300 and indeed, the film could easily be mistaken for a sequel to Zack Snyder's 2006 film (not helped by the trailer's admission that Immortals is 'from the producers of 300'). The film's extended post-production period (thanks in part to being shot in 3D) continued well in 2011, with Relativity Media and distributor Universal setting on November 11th for its release. Never a great sign, reviews were under embargo until quite late in the week. When they did finally appear they weren't nearly as bad as they could have been (but neither were they glowing recommendations), with 38% of critics recommending the film. Immortals swiftly moved into the top spot on Friday with a first day haul of $15M - a solid start for an R-rated non-sequel/franchise movie. While Puss in Boots would gain some ground back on Saturday, it would not be enough to see off the gods and titans. By the time the dust had settled Sunday, Immortals was up to $32M, against a $75M production budget. A good enough start but the film is already showing signs of front loading, having seen a drop in takings from Friday-Saturday and again from Saturday-Sunday (some original estimates based just on Friday numbers had the film finishing with around $38M). Like pretty much every release, it will get stung by Breaking Dawn next frame but if it can manage a half decent hold, it should find itself north of $50M by this time next week.

For his new comedy Adam Sandler teams up with himself to play dual lead roles - that of Jack, a successful ad-exec, and his sister, Jill, a obnoxious, needy, passive aggressive. Sandler is joined by Katie Holmes, along with a host of his SNL cohorts and real life stars such as Al Pacino, playing themselves. The plot sees Jack's tranquil life shattered when his sister arrives for her yearly visit - and decides to stay. The film marks Adam Sandler's second release in 2011 - back in February he starred opposite Jennifer Aniston in the rom-com Just Go With It, which would go on to make over $210M in global ticket sales. Previous to that he saw Grown Ups score $271M and even the 2009 misstep Funny People made back its production budget. But even with that in mind, Jack and Jill looked set to struggle, trailers met with near universal derision. Critics too, weren't impressed with what they saw, leaving the film with just a 3% approval rating - a career low for a film in which Sandler has starred (In terms of films he been involved in, Bucky Larson, which he produced, holds a zero percent rating) and worse even than Little Nicky (22%), Grown Ups (10%) and the aforementioned Just Go With It (20%).

But as the previous box office figures prove, even a poorly reviewed Adam Sandler film can be a force to be reckoned with. With Immortals having sewn up the top spot on Friday, Jack and Jill had to contend itself with a second place finish (up $850K on the very strong third placer Puss in Boots). But as Friday was Veteran's Day (a holiday for many in the US), the cat's stronger than expected take was enough to push things right to the wire - Jack and Jill only narrowly hanging on to second place by the close of the weekend. The flick's $26M three day haul must surely be a victory for the star and the studio given the reviews and the previously mentioned scathing trailer reaction. In comparison to Sandler's more recent works, the flick sits somewhere between Funny People ($22M) and Bedtime Stories ($27M) but is a long way from some of his bigger openers (The Longest Yard, a career best $47M and Anger Management's $42M). The film needs a good hold next frame or runs the risk of being amongst the lower performing of the star's wide releases.

Puss In Boots raised more than a few eyebrows last weekend. Having lost out to Tower Heist on the Friday, Puss pushed well ahead over the remainder of the frame and finished down just 3% on its first weekend. Thanks to that figure, the film went from disappointment to potential $150M+ finisher in one swoop. A week on and while the film's hold isn't as strong in this third frame, it's still a more than decent figure (a 23% drop, $25.5M three day total) and was helped enormously by Friday being Veterans Day - giving the film a 15% boost on last Friday's take. Like its second frame, Puss In Boots again had no direct family competition but that'll change next frame with the release of Happy Feet 2. With the lucrative Thanksgiving period ahead there's every chance the Shrek spin off will be looking at $140M before November is out. Overseas the film is just getting started but has already made nearly $40M.

After settling for a disappointing second place finish and $25M opening haul, Tower Heist managed a 40% Friday to Friday drop (45% for the weekend overall). Faced with competition from Immortals and Jack and Jill, the $75M Eddie Murphy/Ben Stiller flick had to settle for the number four spot and a not too bad $13.2M. Reviews for the film were above average but the public just weren't as interested as the studio had hoped (or predicted) they would be. Given the budget and potential overseas figures, Tower Heist won't lose any money but it's unlikely to see more than $70M domestically. Would a late summer release have done the film more favours?

Clint Eastwood returns this week with J. Edgar, a biopic based on the life of the infamous J Edgar Hoover, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The film, written by Oscar winner Dustin 'Milk' Black, begins in the early 1920s (after the Palmer raids - a series of arrests and attempted deportation of radical leftists) and covers the formation of the F.B.I and the subsequent work which entailed. The story also attempts to shed light on his private affairs, including speculation of his alleged homosexuality. Eastwood chose to direct the film as a follow up to 2010's Hereafter (making J. Edgar his eleventh film since 2000's Space Cowboys) and the cast were quickly assembled. Leonardo Di Caprio was set to play Hoover, while Judi Dench would take on the role of his mother. Further casting included Arnie Hammer as Clyde Tolson (said to be Hoover's protege and possible lover) and Naomi Watts as Hoover's secretary, Helen Gandy (a role originally expected to be taken by Charlize Theron).

Like many of his previous films, Eastwood shot J. Edgar quickly, readying it to open the 2011 AFI Festival on November 3rd. Perhaps to avoid the bigger films opening Friday, Warner Bros. set the film's theatrical release for Wednesday at 7 locations, with a view to expanding into 1,900 on Friday. Given the talent involved, both in front and behind the camera, it came as something of a surprise to see the film receive distinctly average reviews, something that didn't improve as more critics weighed in, leaving it with a 41% RottenTomatoes rating. Wednesday the film managed $52K from those seven locations, with a further $45K on Thursday. Once expanded Friday, J. Edgar broke into the top ten with $4.3M, a figure that eclipses some recent 'first' day takes of much wider opening flicks (The Thing, The Three Musketeers and Killer Elite all opened to less than $4M from more 2,990 locations). It's three day take of $11.4M compares well to Hereafter, which opened to $12M from a location count of 2,181. The question now is where J. Edgar can go from here. Initial interest may have got the film its fifth place finish but unless word of mouth overcomes the negativity surrounding the film, it won't hang around long enough to best the $32M that Hereafter finished with.

Having made $13M over its opening weekend, the stoner sequel A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas recouped its $19M production budget sometime on Friday. Its second frame drop of 54% is slightly better than that of the previous film, which tumbled almost 60% on its way to a $38M finish. At this point it's difficult to say whether this third film will become the most successful so far - Escape from Guantanomo Bay was at $25.3M at this point - but it will certainly reward New Line with a decent return.

In Time managed a better than expected second frame drop but a week on things aren't quite as rosy for Andrew Niccol's $40M science fiction flick. Hit by the new releases it found itself down 45%. managing a take of $4.1M. Overseas the news is a little brighter, with the film having a running total just north of $40M.

Horror sequel Paranormal Activity 3 managed to hit $100M this weekend and needs only $7M more to become the most successful part of the series so far. Similar news comes from the overseas market where the film is fast approaching $80M. Domestically the first film finished with $107M, with a further $85M abroad, while the sequel was weaker in the US ($85M) but stronger overseas ($92M).

With $45M domestically, and a further $10M abroad, Footloose will return a decent profit for Paramount, who contributed towards the $24M it cost to bring the remake to the big screen. It should see one more weekend in the top ten but will be all but crushed by Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt.1 next frame.

Real Steel rounds us out this frame. The futuristic boxing movie crossed $200M in global ticket sales last weekend and should clear a quarter of a billion dollars before the end of its worldwide theatrical run.

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