Sunday 15 January 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 13th - 15th January 2012

1. Contraband - $24.1M - $24.1M
2. Beauty and the Beast 3D - $18.4M - $18.4M
3. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - $11.5M - $186.7M
4. Joyful Noise - $11.3M - $11.3M
5. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - $8.4M - $170M
6. The Devil Inside - $7.9M - $46.2M
7. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - $6.8M - $87.9M
8. Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked - $5.8M - $118.7M
9. War Horse - $5.6M - $65.7M
10. The Iron Lady - $5.3M - $5.9M

It's the Martin Luther King holiday weekend in the US, which generally means a stronger Sunday and Monday haul than on a normal weekend. Three new releases enter the fray this frame, along with the expanding Iron Lady. We've got an action flick, a family re-release and a feel good drama. There's also the second frame of The Devil Inside, which impressed last weekend with its $32M+ haul.

Contraband is the latest film to star Mark Wahlberg and sees the actor as a long retired smuggler forced to rejoin the game when a deal in which his brother in law was involved goes wrong. Getting his old team back together, Wahlberg's Chris Farraday not only has to save his relative from the vicious Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), but ultimately his wife (played by Kate Beckinsale) and children. Baltasar Kormákur takes on directing duties, and curiously, the director starred in Reykjavík-Rotterdam, of which Contraband is a US-remake. Reviews for the action drama were about average, with 45% of critics finding something to enjoy. But it faced strong competition from both Sherlock Holmes and Ghost Protocol (which has continued to dominate during the week).

By Saturday morning, it was evident that Contraband would win the frame. Out the gate on Friday the film managed a decent $8.7M, a clear $3M more than its nearest rival. As the weekend began proper, it kept ahead, finishing up Sunday with a strong $24M. For films in which Wahlberg is the main lead, Contraband is his best opening since The Happening back in 2008. The budget for the film is rumoured to be around $25M, so with that start it should turn a solid profit for the studio (Universal) - which is good news as it's only really got this weekend to prove itself, next frame it'll go head to head with Steven Soderbergh's Haywire and Underworld: Awakening.

After seeing some amazing (and surprising) box office with its 3D re-release of The Lion King back in September (which was to be a short, two week run intended as a huge advert for the film's 3D Blu-Ray debut), Disney set to work on theatrically re-releasing other 3D converted films from their back catalogue. The Lion King wasn't actually the first film they'd tested the water with, that honour goes to Beauty & the Beast, which the studio played at one location for two weeks early September 2011. With Simba and Co. making the studio an extra $100M, the decision was made to bring Beauty & the Beast 3D back to theatres - on a much bigger scale than witnessed by its quick outing last September. During its original release in 1991, Beast made $171M and was in fact the first Disney film to make more than $100M theatrically. Could lightning strike twice for the Mouse-house? No one predicted the success of The Lion King 3D but analysts weren't going to make the same mistake twice.

Alas, while Beauty & The Beast opened well, it wasn't quite as strong as Disney's first major 3D re-release. Even with little competition from Alvin & The Chipmunks, Beauty had to settle for a second place finish on Friday with $5.6M. Saturday had the advantage of family matinees, which helped toward the flick achieving a weekend total of $18M. Obviously the original release of the film was over twenty years ago, so comparisons don't quite work but it's worth noting that on its first proper weekend, Beauty made $9.6M. Furthermore, the film's re-release had a lot less fanfare than the Lion King's 3D outing. Ultimately, anything the film makes is a bonus for Disney as they're expecting to make the big money on the home market. This past week has seen the trailer issued for their next 3D re-release - Finding Nemo, due September 2012.

While it was knocked off the top spot last weekend, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol did its hardest to get back there during the week, something it managed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. With a $11.5M haul this frame, the film becomes the second most successful of the series and now looks towards hitting $200M and surpassing the $215M made by the second film. In fact, there's a slim chance this could become Cruise's biggest ever domestic release (a record that currently sits with War of the World's $234M haul). Internationally the picture is even stronger, having hit $300M sometime Thursday.

Our final new release is musical drama Joyful Noise, starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. After the death of her choir director husband, G.G Sparrow (Parton) is dismayed to find Vi Rose Hill taking over the duties of choir master. The two women clash head on but find themselves forced to cooperate when budget cuts threaten to close down the choir just at the time when the town needs it the most. Like Contraband, reviews were generally average but the film did have some manoeuvring room as alternate programming. The public however, were only mildly interested. While the film finished third on Friday, it had to spar with Ghost Protocol to keep the spot for the rest of the frame, finally losing out by Sunday. It's $11.3M weekend total isn't bad, and is much higher than a number of recent, high profile releases (and is in fact better than most estimates had the film performing). Whether it'll hold on long enough to recoup its $25M production budget will be more down to its second frame haul than what it made this weekend.

A Game of Shadows crossed $170M sometime on Sunday and has also begun ramping up overseas - $180M and counting. While domestically it'll finish a little way short of the original film's $209M, the Guy Ritchie flick will still be a solid money maker for Warner Bros. Star Robert Downey Jnr will next appear in the 2012 tent pole, The Avengers.

As expected, The Devil Inside crashes hard a week after its superb debut of $33.7M, dropping a huge 83% on a Friday to Friday basis (77% overall). In fact, as early as last Sunday, the found-footage horror was already showing signs of audience drop off - possibly fuelled by the terrible word of mouth that surrounds the flick (worsened by film's climax). This weekend The Devil Inside managed to add just $7.9M, to give it a running total of $46.5M. Given that the film cost around $1M to produce and was in production profit after midnight sneak peaks, Paramount will be largely unconcerned at the flicks performance a week on. Another large drop next frame could see the film heading toward a $60M finish. The team behind the film have already found finance for their next production, rumoured to be another religious themed horror.

With a subdued start prior to Christmas, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has had some solid weekends, enabling it to come within striking distance of its $90M production budget. A $110-120M finish is on the cards but while Sony begin to push ahead with adapting the second book in the series, The Girl Who Played With Fire, there is no word yet as to whether director David Fincher will return to helm (indeed, Fincher said over the holiday period that if he did return, he would prefer to direct parts two and three back to back).

Looking to exit the top ten next weekend, War Horse has managed to all but recoup its $66M production budget. The film, directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the book of the name, has just begun its international roll-out and may actually play better overseas than it has domestically.

With Beauty & The Beast 3D, Alvin & the Chipmunks got some serious competition for the family market. The first and second film closed with $219M and $217M respectively, and while this third flick won't perform anywhere near as well, it will still make enough money for Fox to move forward with a fourth flick.

Having expanded into 800+ locations this frame, the Meryl Streep/Margaret Thatcher biopic, The Iron Lady, managed to crash into the top ten with a $5.3M three day take. Having opened during the holiday season, The Weinstein Co. kept the film at a limited location count for its first three weekends. With word of mouth continuing to build, not to mention award talk for Streep, they opted to expand the film and were rewarded with a top ten placing. With the glut of new releases due in the next few weeks, this may be the only time the film troubles the chart - but the hype surrounding the film should keep it in the public's eye for a number of weeks to come.

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