Sunday 5 February 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 3rd - 5th February 2012

1.     Chronicle -    $22M - $22M
2.     The Woman in Black -    $21M - $21M
3.     The Grey -    $8.1M - $34.7M
4.     Big Miracle -    $8.4M - $8.4M
5.     Underworld: Awakening - $5.6M - $54.3M
6.     One for the Money -    $5.2M - $19.6M
7.     Red Tails -    $5M - $41.3M
8.     The Descendents -    $4.6M - $65.5M
9.     Man on a Ledge -    $4.5M - $14.7M
10.     Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close -    $3.9M - $26.7M

A mixed bag for Superbowl weekend. We've got a found-footage superhero flick, a Gothic horror marking Daniel Radcliffe's first major role since Harry Potter, and a true life drama featuring Drew Barymore attempting to save trapped whales in Alaska. We've also got the second frame for The Grey, which opened in the top spot to the tune of $19.6M.

Chronicle is the tale of three teenagers who find themselves bestowed with super powers when they encounter a glowing object within a hole in the ground. At first using their new found powers to make mischief, things take a dark turn when one of them forces a car off the road and into a river, seemingly unconcerned by the consequence. Utilising the found-footage device, the film cleverly avoids the shakey-cam route by having the camera controlled via the group's super powers. Chronicle appeared almost out of nowhere, with very little pre-release hype and was directed by first timer Josh Trank, with scripting by Max Landis (Son of John). Strong word began to build from early screenings, and that was reflected in some of the best reviews of the last few months. Chronicle currently sits on an 87% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Better still for studio Fox is that the flick cost just $15M to produce. Even with competition from The Grey, Chronicle stood a good chance of recouping its production budget by Sunday night.

Entering the weekend, Chronicle was the favourite for the top spot, by some margin. However, things took a turn when the film opened Friday to $8.7M, just $400K more than The Woman in Black - setting themselves up for a weekend long sparring match. With the Superbowl kneecapping Sunday cinema visits (BoxofficeGuru estimate that takings dip by 65-70% on average, from Sat to Sun), Saturday would all but decide who would win the weekend. The sparring would continue as the weekend wore on but ultimately, Chronicle won the frame with an impressive $22M (this figure apparently factors in a potential 69% drop for Sunday thanks to the Superbowl, meaning official Monday figures may be higher still). Even if the film ends up being a one weekend wonder, word of mouth will keep the public interested and the success has certainly put both the writer and director (Josh Trank) firmly on the map. Next frame should be an interesting one to see how well that word of mouth is working.

After huge success with the Harry Potter franchise, Daniel Radcliffe steps out on his own this week in The Woman in Black, a Hammer production based on the 1983 Susan Hill novel. Radcliffe stars as the young lawyer Arthur Kipps, who visits a village outside of London, with the view to settling the legal affairs of a recently deceased girl. However, upon arriving he discovers that all the villager's are fearful for the safety of their children, a mysterious woman in black having already claimed the lives of a number of them...The film was announced in 2009, with shooting taking place in September 2010, from a script written by X-Men: First Class scribe Jane Goldman. Hoping to attract some of the Potter crowd, the trailer played attached to prints of Deathly Hallows Part 2 back in July 2011. Reviews were above average, with 67% of reviews being positive ones. Like Chronicle, The Woman in Black was a relatively cheap film to produce, around $13M according to estimates. CBS Films (whose track record isn't great) needed only to rope in a small percentage of Potter fans to see a return.

Early week predictions had The Woman in Black finishing a somewhat distant second to Chronicle, but the race proved to be much closer when Friday estimates were issued. The Hammer production opened to a solid $8.4M, with a good percentage of that figure being attributed to Daniel Radcliffe's female fans (59% female Vs 41% Male was the audience make up). The film may also have been able to rope in some of the horror crowd too, though they may have steered clear given its PG-13 rating. Whoever did attend helped the film to a weekend total of $21M, seeing the picture recoup its production budget in one swoop. While it had to settle for a second place finish, The Woman in Black certainly gave Chronicle a good run for its money - with both films performing admirably. Where it will go from here is largely dependent on the word of mouth and how well the new films play against it next frame. One thing is for sure, this has been a step in the right direction for the young actor.

Having all but hit $20M during its first frame, The Grey fell 52% on its second Friday on general release. The film had recouped its $25M production budget the day before but faced competition from Chronicle (and The Woman in Black to a lesser degree) as we went into the weekend. With little left to prove, its $34.7M weekend total isn't quite as strong as Unknown, which at this point had a running total of $42.9M, but is still a solid figure. A finish of around $60M is on the cards, with a stronger figure almost guaranteed overseas.

Our final new release this week is a true life drama based on the events of Operation: Breakthrough - an 1988 international rescue effort to free three gray whales, trapped in a hole in the ice, just inside the Arctic circle. The film stars Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski as part of the rescue team who end up becoming romantically attached during the quest. Made for $30M, the film shot in Anchorage (doubling for Barrow) during Autumn of 2010, with extensive effects work taking place during the follow year, readying for a February release date. Reviews were similar to The Woman in Black, with the film currently sitting on a 67% approval rating. Chances are Universal were hoping for Dolphin Tale-like rewards with Big Miracle, but it was not to be. Friday saw a weak $2.3M start for the flick (Dolphin Tale opened to a $5M Friday) which didn't improve as the weekend wore on. Even with the family market pretty much to itself, the drama could manage only $8.4M for the weekend overall. With a good hold next frame, the film might go some way to toward recouping that $30M budget but that's unlikely with The Phantom Menace and Journey 2 waiting in the wings.

Underworld Awakenings sheds 442 locations this frame as it begins to make way for the newer releases. It's looking increasingly likely that this fourth film in the series will also be the most successful - an accolade that currently resides with the second film's $62.3M haul. The movie should manage at least one more week in the top ten before heading for the lucrative home market. Overseas the film is up over $40M so far.

The George Lucas produced Red Tails crossed $40M this weekend but is all but done at this point. While its opening frame was stronger than expected, the film hasn't really had chance to build on that start. Curiously, the $58M film may be knocked out of the top ten by another George Lucas picture - the 3D release of The Phantom Menace, due next weekend. (It's worth noting that at the time of writing, TPH makes up 10% of all advanced tickets sold - the best percentage of any near-upcoming release)

One For The Money had to rely on money off vouchers to avoid being a total disaster during its opening three days. A week on the terrible word of mouth seems to have gotten around as the Katherine Heigl feature could only muster $1.7M on Friday. By Sunday that figure was just $5.2M, giving One For The Money a running total of $19.6M. There's little chance this one will recoup much more than half of its $40M production budget, and unless they're cheaply made straight to DVD releases, this marks the end for further Stephanie Plum adventures.

The Descendants continue to defy all comers and despite being released in November, it'll go down as one of the first sleeper hits of 2012. Made for $8M, the film has not only made over $65M, but is also a smash with critics. Even with four major releases next frame, the flick will still be a force to be reckoned with.

Like One For The Money, Man On A Ledge was aided by a discount coupon scheme but it didn't seem to aid the film in quite the same way. While the film had reviewed better, it opened in fifth place and barely made a dent with its $8M haul. A week on and the news is barely better - down 40% on a Friday to Friday basis (43% for the weekend as a whole) for a three day total of just $4.5M. While obviously the Superbowl would have had some bearing on its Sunday take, this is still a poor showing. Chances are, Man on a Ledge won't see another frame in the top ten and will fall a good way short of its $42M production budget.

With a bit of an Oscar boost, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close managed an ok second frame in wide release, dipping 30%. Budget details on this one have been kept tight with estimates putting it somewhere between $30-50M - meaning the film should turn a production profit at the end of the day (with thanks from the international appeal of its stars).

Next Weekend...

Journey 2 - The Mysterious Island

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 3D

The Vow

Safe House

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