Sunday, 19 February 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 17th - 19th February 2012

1. Safe House - $23.9M - $78.2M
2. The Vow - $23.6M - $85.5M
3. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance - $22M - $22M
4. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - $20M - $53.2M
5. This Means War - $17.5M - $19.1M
6. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace - $7.8M - $33.7M
7. Chronicle - $7.5M - $50.9M
8. The Woman in Black - $6.6M - $45.2M
9. The Secret World of Arietty - $6.4M - $6.4M
10. The Grey - $3M - $47.9M

After last weekend's huge box office, Hollywood would be hoping for more of the same a week later. Two major releases join a well received Studio Ghibli release, as they battle with The Vow, Safe House and Journey 2, three films that opened incredibly strong last frame. Next frame is just as busy, with four releases, though only one of them is at more than 2,000 locations.

Safe House opened to an impressive $40M last frame - a high number considering the top film of the weekend made $41.2M. A week on and the Washington/Reynolds thriller dipped 52% on a Friday to Friday basis, which according to Box Office Prophets, is about on track with the falls witnessed by Washington's previous few films. Less than a million dollars separated it from the top spot on Friday and by Sunday evening the picture had managed to leapfrog Spirit of Vengeance and The Vow, to take take the no.1 placing that had eluded it last frame. The jury is still out as to whether Safe House will maintain that position once actuals are issued tomorrow - especially with only $300K currently between them. Made for $85M, Safe House could be looking to recoup it production budget sometime next weekend and $100M is almost certainly on the cards. With the international appeal of both leads, a further $100M overseas is all but a given

Our number two film this frame is The Vow. The Channing Tatum/Rachel McAdams romantic drama beat off all comers on Friday to take $7.4M. While the Ghost Rider sequel had initially given it a run for its money, the Nic Cage sequel couldn't keep it up over the remainder of the frame, and it would be Safe House that gave it the most trouble in the end. The flick wasn't a slouch during the week either - on Valentine's Day it made a massive $11.6M - giving it the weekday Valentine record (something that has stood with Hitch since 2007). What's also worth noting is the $23.6M that the film has made this weekend would have still been a solid figure had this been its first frame on the top ten. The movie, released by Sony, was produced for $30M and has a running total of $85M.

It's been five years since the first Ghost Rider film and while it got off to a good start, the film barely recouped its $110M production budget in the US. Sequel talk was being bandied around before the first film had even hit the screens but it would take until February 2009 before the second flick was greenlit, with a further six to eight months before David S Goyer signed on to write the script. While Nicholas Cage had always said he would be up for a sequel, he didn't officially join the project until July 2010, with the Crank directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor signing on to helm Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance at around the same time. This time the action would take place in Eastern Europe and Cage would be the only major cast member to return, joined by Idris Elba and Christopher Lambert. The story sees Ghost Rider asked by a sect of the church, to save a young boy's life from the devil. While reluctant at first, the character sees this might be a way to rid himself of the curse, once and for all. While initial trailers looked promising, early word from AICN's Buttnumbathon pegged the film as being worse than the original. Indeed, by the time the film was released it had a worse Rotten Tomatoes rating than the first flick (26% Vs 16%). Worse still was that the original film had only Bridge to Teribithia to contend with while the sequel would face at least one new flick (This Means War) and some strong holdovers (Safe House, The Vow).

Things started poorly for Spirit of Vengeance, losing Friday to the week old The Vow, with $7M - less than half of what the first film did in the same time frame. While the Tatum/McAdams flick held firm, the poor word of mouth was already starting to hinder Ghost Rider, giving it a $22M weekend. Again, a huge amount down on what the first film made, leaving it with everything to do to in order to recoup its $75M production budget. Furthermore, this is yet another disappointment for Cage, who hasn't seen a major domestic hit since 2007's National Treasure sequel. Unless Spirit of Vengeance sees an inexplicable turn around next weekend, it will be heading for a sub-$50M finish.

For Journey 2, its first Friday on release looked like a disaster in the making - a $6.5M fourth placing. Then Saturday happened and all bets were off as the film saw its takings increase by an unheard of 92% on the previous day. By the end of the weekend the Dwayne Johnson flick had made $27.3M - which as mentioned in last week's report, would have been good enough for the top spot on any other weekend. The Friday to Friday drop was an impressive 32% (27% weekend to weekend ) and that helped it add a further $20M this frame, to give it a current total of $53M. Even better for studio Warner Bros. is the news that the flick is north of $80M on the international market. Whether the film manages to pass the $241M global finish of the first film remains to be seen but one thing is for sure - Journey 2 is far from being the disaster that that first Friday figure painted.

Spirit of Vengeance wasn't the only film to disappoint this weekend. This Means War is the latest action/comedy from director McG and sees two CIA operatives, played by Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, inadvertently falling for the same girl (Reese Witherspoon). With each intending to be the one who wins her heart, they revert to borrowing CIA hardware as their methods become wilder and more dangerous as they attempt to put the other one out of the running - a la Spy Vs Spy. Indeed, for part of the film's production period it was known as Spy Vs Spy, with the studio ultimately settling on This Means War sometime prior to it release. The film is the first for McG since the disappointment of 2009's Terminator Salvation and was produced for around $70M. While critics weren't enamoured with the film (24% at RottenTomatoes), audience approval is much stronger. However, that doesn't appear to have translated into good box office. Having seen $1.7M from sneak peaks on Valentine's Day, the flick could muster just $5.6M on Friday, barely enough for fourth place. With the family crowd once again flocking to Journey 2 on Saturday, This Means War was pushed down again, ending the weekend with a disappointing $17.5M, fifth place finish. While word of mouth isn't anywhere near as bad as the Ghost Rider sequel, This Means War just isn't going to have the breathing space to break out any further - in the next three weekends alone there are nine new releases.

The initial hype of seeing The Phantom Menace on the big screen in 3D appears to have already worn off. Indeed, by its first Saturday it was showing signs of some heavy front-loading. This weekend the 'fourth' Star Wars feature added $7.8M, which allowed it to surpass the original Star Wars on the all time gross chart. This current re-release has made the film $33.7M so far.

The superhero found-footage movie Chronicle, adds another $7.5M to its total this frame. Down 38% on last weekend, the $15M production crossed the $50M mark this week and would almost certainly have been much higher were it not for the fierce competition on all sides. Abroad the film is just getting started but already has an impressive $23M in its coffers.

The Woman In Black hit $45M this weekend and has already recouped it production budget, and almost certainly its advertising & prints budget too. The Daniel Radcliffe ghost story got off to a strong start a few weeks ago and has seem similar drops to release partner, Chronicle. Expect a $60M finish in the US, with an equally strong figure overseas.

The Secret World of Arietty is the latest production from Studio Ghibli, the legendary Japanese animation company, and is based in part on ideas seen in The Borrowers. The film follows Arietty, a young borrower who lives under the floorboards of a house inhabited by Sho, a young boy with a heart condition, and his aunty, Sadako. When their maid becomes suspicious of the disturbances under the floor, Arietty has to help her family escape, even if it means leaving their beloved home behind. Already a huge hit overseas (especially in Japan where it was the biggest film of 2010), Disney once again secured the rights to release the film domestically, and set about dubbing the film for the American market (there's also a British dub done by Studio Canal). The Secret World of Arietty was easily the best reviewed new release of the week, with an impressive 93% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Its 1500+ location role out also marks the biggest opening for a Studio Ghibli film in North America. Perhaps due to a lack of marketing push or the public being sadly turned off by the traditional animation style, Arietty made only $1.7M on Friday. By Sunday that figure had risen to $6.4M, good enough for ninth place and a stronger figure than the studio's previous release, 2009's Ponyo, but still way down on U.S based cartoon releases. As mentioned, with so many releases coming up, The Secret World of Arietty isn't likely to get another weekend in the top ten but hopefully this won't deter Disney from releasing further Studio Ghibli films.

The Grey rounds us out this weekend. The Liam Neeson actioner adds $3M this frame, to bring its total to $47.9M. The film is still awaiting release in a number of major overseas territories, and currently has a international take of $6M. Expect that figure to rise and potentially pass its North American figure.

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