Sunday, 18 December 2011

U.S Box Office Report - 9th - 11th December 2011

1. New Year's Eve - $13.7M - $13.7M
2. The Sitter - $10M - $10M
3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 - $7.9M - $259.4M
4. The Muppets - $7M - $65.8M
5. Arthur Christmas - $6.6M - $33.4M
6 . Hugo - $6.1M - $33.4M
7. The Descendants - $4.3M - $23.6M
8. Happy Feet Two - $3.7M - $56.8M
9. Jack and Jill - $3.2M - $68.6M
10. Immortals - $2.4M - $79.8M

A shorter box office report this weekend due to family commitments. After the quiet frame last weekend, we've got two new releases in the guise of R-rated comedy The Sitter and ensemble comedy drama New Year's Eve. We'll also see if films like The Muppets can recover from their disappointing second frames.

New Year's Eve is the pseudo sequel to 2010's Valentine's Day, and is once again directed by Gary Marshall. The film ollows a similar sort of pattern - a number of intertwining stories set on and around the titular night. The star studded cast this time around includes Zac Ephron, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Robert De Niro and Ashton Kutcher. Critics were in agreement in their dislike of the film and it entered the frame with just a 5% approval rating. But with some of the top ten looking a bit long in tooth now, New Year's Eve only really had The Sitter to contend with - and that was aiming for a younger demographic despite its R-rating. Out the gate on Friday the film scored $5M, which was good enough to secure the top spot but a poor start overall, and by Sunday it had added only a further $8M. On its own, that figure will obviously be on the lower end of expectations, but when compared to Valentine's Day, the performance pales much further as that film opened (admittedly into a quieter market) to an astounding $56M. In fact, Valentine's Day's opening day take was more than New Year's Eve made for the entire weekend. With major releases between now and the end of the year, New Year's Eve is going to continue to struggle and is unlikely to recoup its $56M production budget domestically.

Our only other major release this frame is the R-rated comedy, The Sitter, starring Jonah Hill. The film follows Hill as a somewhat reluctant babysitter to three kids. When his girlfriend calls with the promise of sex, he decides to drag the kids across Manhattan, getting involved in all kinds of trouble, including a run in with two drug dealers. Billed as something of an R-rated Adventures in Babysitting, the film reviewed marginally better than New Year's Eve, scoring a 23% rating at RottenTomatoes. Like NYE, The Sitter didn't set the box office alight on Friday, managing just $3.7M (its short run time of 81 minutes might also have been a factor given the price of tickets vs entertainment value). By Sunday it was sitting on a very average three day haul of $10M. The only saving grace for this one is its relatively low production budget of $25M, which the film should just about recoup.

Still tracking eerily similar to New Moon, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt.1 adds a further $7.9M this frame, bringing its total to $259M ($600M+ worldwide). At this point the film is treading water, the fan base having come and gone during the first week to ten days. With this weekend's haul, it throws doubt on Breaking Dawn's chances of reaching $300M but for Summit, it'd be the loss of one headline and little more else as come the end of the film's global run, they should be looking at $400M+ profit - with one more, already produced film still to come.

While this third weekend drop wasn't as bad as last weekend's (62% vs 36%), The Muppets still isn't having the greatest of times. Having been expected to take the top spot last weekend from Breaking Dawn, the film stumbled somewhat even with the post-Thanksgiving dip factored into the situation. This weekend the $45M production added a further $7M, bringing its running total to $65M. While it should play well over Christmas and into the new year, this might not turn out to be the rebirth that Disney were hoping for - despite the exceptional reviews and word of mouth. Abroad the film has barely scratched the surface, with expansion planned well in to the new year (The UK for example, won't see the film until February).

Things haven't gotten better for Arthur Christmas, which has the very real chance of leaving the top ten with less than $50M in takings. A huge location count and strong reviews just haven't been enough to save the Aardman/Sony co-production (even with a decent hold this frame). Overseas the figures are better, $45M and counting, but even that leaves the film some way short of its reported $110M production budget (and that doesn't include prints & advertising).

Hugo is now out to over 2,600 locations and dips 19% in this, its third weekend on general release. Made for $150-170M, the Martin Scorcese flick was a darling with critics and figures show that word of mouth is very strong. Unfortunately, the film's breathing space came to an end this weekend and it'll need every help to stand amongst the huge releases due within the next fortnight.

The Descendants is still going strong, barely $100K separated it from Arthur Christmas on Friday despite there being a 2,300+ location difference. Awards are almost a cert for the Alexander Payne/George Clooney flick, and that'll help keep it in the public's conciousness long after its pushed out of the top ten.

The disappointment that is Happy Feet 2 may not even be in the top ten next frame. Its lacklustre performance means it'll leave the chart with less than $60M in takings, a very long way indeed, from the $138M that the original film had made by day 24. The Adam Sandler comedy Jack and Jill adds a further $3.2M this frame, giving it a running total of $68M. With a production budget of $79M attached to the production, the film will end up making money for Sony but will fall amongst the more disappointing of the comedy star's films. Immortals rounds us out this frame - having been produced for $75M, Tarsem's sword and sandals epic has a global total of around $180M.

In limited release, the latest Diablo Cody/Jason Reitman team up, Young Adult, made an impressive $320K from just 8 screens. Expansion is due in the coming weeks. The Michael Fassbender flick Shame, added another $13K from 21 screens.

Overall, Hollywood needs a jolt at the box office and that should come in the next few frames because this weekend has been the lowest grossing of the entire year.

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