Sunday, 4 December 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 1st - 3rd December 2011

1. Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 - $16.9M - $247.2M
2. The Muppets - $11.2M - $56.4M
3. Hugo - $7.6M - $25.1M
4. Arthur Christmas - $7.3M - $25.2M
5. Happy Feet Two - $6M - $51.7M
6. Jack and Jill $5.5M - $64.3M
7. The Descendants - $5.2M - $18.1M
8. Puss in Boots $3M - $139.5M
9. Immortals - $4.3M - $75.5M
10. Tower Heist - $4.1M - $70.7M

A rare weekend in the box office calendar - no new major releases. After a busy Thanksgiving everyone gets a breather before the onslaught begins again next weekend with the release of The Sitter and New Years Eve. They'll be followed up by M:I: Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, War Horse and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, amongst others. This frame sees Hugo and The Descendants expand further, while The Muppets will be hoping to take the top spot from Breaking Dawn.

Sadly it seems The Muppets couldn't overcome the vampire menace as Twilight: Breaking Dawn pt.1 is once again our no.1 film - making it three in a row for the Summit money spinner (and the first time a film has made it three weeks at no.1 since August's The Help). Breaking Dawn's third Friday saw the film take $5.5M, a drop of 67%, which was only slightly better than the 70% fall witnessed on its second Friday. As mentioned last weekend, the film is tracking very similar to New Moon and at this point the second Twilight film was on $255M (Breaking Dawn is up to $247M domestically). This is great news for Summit, who probably aren't that concerned about the fan base bottoming out - they'll be more than happy for the same amount of people to turn up to see the final film next year too. Breaking Dawn hit $500M in total global ticket sales on only its tenth day of release but by next frame it'll be in single figure weekend takes, domestically at least. The third film, Eclipse, was up to $264M at this point but would take a further thirteen weeks to hit $300M. Chances are, given the upcoming competition, Breaking Dawn won't make it that high, but will still be incredibly profitable (especially given that the success of this fourth film has all but paid for prints and advertising for the fifth one).

The Muppets got off to a solid start last frame but faltered a little as the week wore on, seeing just $800K on Wednesday. By Friday things were looking a bit better for the exceptionally well reviewed film, but its $2.7M take meant it was down a very high 78% on the same time frame last week (though it must be noted that the 'Thanksgiving' Friday often inflates a film's takings). Saturday matinees helped somewhat but The Muppets was still down 61% on last weekend as a whole. It's hard to say where to point the blame (if there is any to place) - word of mouth is very good, reviews equally so - and only the expanded Hugo can have offered it competition (with Happy Feet 2 and Arthur Christmas backing it up). The Muppets hit $50M on Saturday and had cleared its $45M production budget earlier in the week. The good news is that it's the kind of film that will run and run, and should continue to play well over the Christmas period. Disney are staggering the global release of the film but there's no reason why it won't be just as popular abroad.

Martin Scorcese's first foray into the family market got off to an interesting start over Thanksgiving. Opening to a subdued $1.6M (from 1200 locations), Hugo picked up steam through Thursday and into Friday, before taking on Arthur Christmas, a film at over 2,000 locations more. Like The Muppets, Hugo reviewed incredibly well and that translated into the great word of mouth surrounding the flick. A week on and Paramount expanded the film into a further 600 locations and found itself rewarded with a third place finish on Friday (and a $2.2M haul). Come Sunday night Hugo was sitting on a weekend total of $7.6M, down 33% on last frame but still a decent enough figure for a film in a relatively limited location count. The question now is whether the studio will risk further expansion - any chance of bringing in more money will be a bonus as Hugo cost around $170M to bring to the screen.

Even with its festive theme, Arthur Christmas could only manage a somewhat lacklustre start last frame. With competition on all sides, the Aardman/Sony co-production finished the Thanksgiving period with $16.3M, a figure on the lower side of expectations. A week on and the news is no better - Arthur Christmas fell 63% on a Friday to Friday basis (a much better 39% overall) and adds $7.3M for this frame. At this rate its unlikely to make even $50M in North America. Abroad the film has so far amassed $22M but like Happy Feet 2, has a large number of territories still awaiting its release.

After seeing a small reprieve last weekend, Happy Feet 2 drops 55% and actually finished in sixth place on Friday. The George Miller directed sequel didn't get off to a very good start a fortnight ago, and things only marginally improved last frame, even then not to a large enough degree to save the film from disappointment. By its third weekend, the original film had taken over $120M, a figure this sequel won't even see three quarters of in its entire theatrical run (the original finished up with $198M). Eyes must now turn to the international market, where some good luck could save the film (it's currently on $14M, having opened in only a handful of territories so far).

Jack And Jill adds a further $5.5M this weekend to bring its running total to $64M. It should manage at least one more frame in the top ten but will face competition from The Sitter next frame. The comedy won't be one of Adam Sandler's bigger hits but it won't lose the studio any money either - something of an achievement given the scathing reaction the film received a few weeks ago.

The Descendants is fast becoming the little film that could. Having secured a top ten spot from just 29 locations, Fox Searchlight put the film out to a further 361 venues and scored an astounding $7.3M. Striking while the iron was hot, the studio added another 184 locations to bring its count up to 574. That increase helped the film add $5.2M for the weekend and bring its total to an impressive $18.1M. With talk of awards already surrounding director Alexander Payne and star George Clooney, The Descendants should expand further to capitalize. Budget details aren't as yet available but it's unlikely to have cost more than $25M to produce.

Given how it got started last month, you'd have been forgiven for thinking Puss In Boots would vanish quickly into the night. However, a great second and third frame put paid to that idea. This weekend the Dreamworks spin off came within a stone's throw of $140M and is up to $62M and counting overseas.

Tarsem's Immortals will leave the top ten having just about recouped its production budget of $75M. The film opened well four weekends ago but dropped sharply in its second frame. Thanksgiving supplied a minor respite but the writing was already on the wall. Expect an $85-90M domestic finish.

With help overseas, Tower Heist has managed to crack $100M, but is unlikely to see much more. Released with some fanfare, the Eddie Murphy/Ben Stiller comedy failed to make a connection with audiences and underwhelmed from its first weekend. Like Jack and Jill, it won't lose money but neither will it be the hit the studio were expecting it to be.

One further release of some note is Steve McQueen's Shame, the NC-17 sex addiction drama starring Michael Fassbender. Even though it's at only at ten locations (Many cinema chains won't even show an NC-17) it managed a strong debut on Friday with $110K. It would go on to play well over the remainder of the weekend and finished with a weekend haul of $361K. The last NC-17 to even make a dent in North America was Ang Lee's 2007 release, Lust, Caution, which opened to $63K before going on to make $5M after a further 16 weeks on general release.

Elsewhere, My Week With Marilyn, which stars Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe and Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier, and depicts their time working together on the film The Prince and The Showgirl, made a further $1.8M from 244 locations to bring its total to $3.8M. Also in limited release, The Artist, about a silent screen star's decline with the advent of the 'talkies', added $205K this weekend, from a location count of just six. The well reviewed film has so far made $495K.

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