Sunday, 29 January 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 27th - 29th January 2012

1. The Grey - $20M - $20M
2. Underworld: Awakening - $12.5M - $45.1M
3. One For the Money - $11.7M - $11.7M
4. Red Tails - $10.4M - $33.7M
5. Man on a Ledge - $8.2M - $8.2M
6. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - $ 7.1M - $21.1M
7. The Descendants - $6.5M - $58.8M
8. Contraband - $6.5M - $56.4M
9. Beauty and the Beast 3D - $5.3M - $41.4M
10. Haywire - $4M - $15.2M

This week brings us three new films, one based on a successful series of books, and two action dramas - both of which will be fighting for similar audiences. We've also got the second frames for Underworld: Awakenings and Red Tails, while Oscar hopeful The Descendants expands into 1,900 locations.


The Grey is the first of our action flicks this frame and sees Liam Neeson as an oil driller working in Alaska. When the plane he and his crew are travelling in crashes, they only have their wits to help them survive not only the harsh weather conditions, but also a pack of hungry wolves. The film marks Neeson's second collaboration with director Joe Carnahan, having previously worked together on The A-Team, and was produced by the Scott brothers (Ridley and Tony). The film shot from January until March of 2010, with British Columbia doubling for Alaska. Early word on the film was very strong, and that played out with the positive reviews the film received, giving it a 77% Rotten Tomatoes rating at the time of writing. Even with strong competition from old and new films, The Grey was expected to win the weekend. Like Contraband, the picture only needed a couple of decent weekends to recoup its $25M production budget. But would it get one?

Out the gate on Friday, The Grey opened to $6.5M - good enough to set it on the path to win the weekend, and on track with the opening day of Neeson's early 2011 release, Unknown. The solid word of mouth surrounding the film allowed it to remain steady during the remainder of the frame and wound up with $20M by Sunday night. While that figure is a little lower than the $21.8M made by Unknown, we have to take into account the wealth of competition that The Grey had to face - both in and out of the top ten. Thanks to its relatively low budget ($25M), the film should be in production profit by Wednesday. Next weekend it'll only face off against Chronicle, and that second frame will give us a better idea as to where The Grey is heading. [As an aside, I've altered The Grey's budget cost three times since starting the report on Friday - one place reported $34M, another $20M, and Box Office Prophets reported the $25M I've stuck with]

Having opened in line with previous entries in the franchise, Underworld Awakening dropped a high 63% on a Friday to Friday basis, (a better 51% overall) as word of mouth and competition stepped into the fray. The good news is that the film has all but surpassed the final total of the third film in the series (Rise of the Lycans closed with $45M) and when factoring in Awakening's international tally, the picture is well on the way to recouping its $70M production budget. It should last another couple of weeks in the top ten before beginning its journey to a lucrative home release.

Having seen success with Knocked Up and 27 Dresses, Katherine Heigl hoped to get her own franchise with One For The Money. The film is an adaptation of the Janet Evanovich novel of the same name, and features Heigl as Stephanie Plum, an unemployed lingerie salesperson who winds up as a bounty hunter (the character has featured in at least 17 further novels). When Plum is hired to bring in Joe Morelli, an old flame, things get complicated as not only does the evidence not weigh up, but an old spark looks to be rekindled. While the star may have had confidence in the project (even acting as executive producer) the studio had other ideas and opted not to screen the film for critics (and issuing a discount ticket scheme - see below). Those that did manage to see it, hated it with a passion, and at the time of writing the film has just a 4% approval rating.

As alternate programming the film almost worked, taking in $4M on Friday, though a good percentage of the figure could be accredited to fans of the book and character. Not only that, but like they did with The Lincoln Lawyer, Lionsgate offered a special Groupon ticket discount, allowing patrons to see the film for $6. However, early word seems to indicate that the studio estimate ignores the discounted tickets, counting them as full price ones instead - which obviously falsely inflates what the film has actually made (but avoids it being an outright disaster). A weekend finish of $11.7M isn't too bad but there are signs that the poor word of mouth is already spreading fast. Like The Grey, One for the Money's second frame will be more telling as to how well the film will end up performing. Heigl may yet come to regret burning her Grey's Anatomy bridges.

Red Tails drops 45% in its second frame. The George Lucas production, based on the lives of the Tuskagee Airmen, got off to a better than expected start last frame but lost some momentum to the new films this week. Produced for $58M, Red Tails has a lot of work yet to do and unlike many other flicks, may not be able to rely on a strong performance overseas. Expect a sub $55M finish.

After starring in three major releases (Avatar, Terminator Salvation and Clash of the Titans), Sam Worthington slowed down somewhat with 2011's The Debt (along with a few smaller films, such as Texas Killing Fields and Last Night). He returns to the big screen this week with Man On A Ledge, playing Nick Cassidy, a guy who feigns suicide in order to prove he has been setup by Ed Harris' David Englander. But is it all a cunning diversion for a risky diamond heist? The film also co-stars Elizabeth Banks as the police psychologist attempting to talk Cassidy down. Unlike The Grey, critics weren't much impressed with the film, with only 22% giving it a positive review. As in previous weeks, competition would be fierce, but Summit would be hoping for a good result - outside of the Twilight Series the studio have struggled for a hit.

Sadly for them, it seems that Man on a Ledge is going to go the same way as Push and Never Back Down. The film opened the weakest of the new releases with just $2.5M, barely good enough for fifth place - and that's with a 50% off ticket promotion similar to One for the Money. Things didn't improve much over Saturday and into Sunday, giving the movie a weekend total of just $8.2M. This lacklustre opening has doomed the film pretty much from the off, and even if it recovered next weekend (which given its word of mouth, is highly unlikely), it wouldn't be enough to keep it from ending up a long way from its $42M production budget. Worthington will now look to March's Wrath of the Titans to get him back on top.

Having received a surprise Best Picture nominations, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was able to hold much better than expected in this, its second frame on wide release. The film made $10M last weekend, thanks in big part to the star power of Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, and added another $7.1M over the last three days. Whether this will be a one-weekend boost remains to be seen but it does allow the film to hang around a little longer, giving it chance to be noticed by a wider audience.

Like Extremely Loud, The Descendants Academy nominations (and expansion into wide release) helped it break back into the top ten after dropping out a few weeks ago. The Alexander Payne/George Clooney film has already been an incredible success ($58M from a budget of just $8M) and its expansion this week enabled a lot more people to see what all the fuss was about - adding $6.5M in the process. A final hurrah may yet come should the film take home an Oscar or two at the end of February.

Contraband has already done what it set out to do - make a profit and do it fast. The film opened a fortnight ago and secured the top spot, all but recouping it production budget in the process. A half decent second frame helped it add to this figure, with a further $6.5M from this frame. It should see one more weekend in the top ten, finishing up with around $75M, a similar figure potentially coming from the overseas markets.

Unlike the Lion King, Beauty & The Beast hasn't clicked with audiences despite being the only family friendly film on general major release. This second release has bought Disney a further $5.3M, which gives the film a total figure (including its initial release) north of $210M. This is all bonus money for Disney so the quick drop off/disappearance of the film won't be a concern to the studio, who will no doubt expect a much better showing for September's re-release of Finding Nemo.

With a poor start last frame, Haywire tumbled 50% in it second weekend. The well reviewed Steven Soderburgh actioner has a running total of $15.2M, against a budget of $23M but even at this still-early stage is all but done, and won't receive another top ten placing. At one point it looked as though the The Iron Lady (which is at roughly half the locations of Haywire) would secure the final top ten spot instead, which would have only added to Haywire's disappointment.

With the exception of Chronicle, things stay low key due next weekend, in part due to the Superbowl on Sunday.

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