Sunday 18 March 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 16th - 18th March 2012

1.     21 Jump Street     - $35M - $35M
2.     Dr. Seuss' The Lorax - $22.8M - $158.4M
3.     John Carter - $13.5M - $53.2M
4.     Project X - $4M - $48.1M
5.    A Thousand Words - $3.7M - $12.1M
6.     Act of Valor - $3.6M - $62.3M
7.     Safe House - $2.7M - $120.2M
8.     Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - $2.4M - $95M
9.     Casa Di Mi Padre - $ 2.2M - $2.2M
10.    This Means War - $2.1M - $50.5M

With only one new wide-opening release this frame, almost all of the top ten gets something of a breather before the onslaught that will be The Hunger Games and Wrath of the Titans. The former is already generating incredible buzz with many expecting it to open above $100M while the latter should do well despite the poor taste left by the prequel back in 2010. Wrath will also steal a number of 3D location from John Carter, as will the re-release of Titanic a week later. One thing is for sure, the warm up for the summer blockbuster season is well under way.

Our number one film this weekend is the R-rated comedy 21 Jump Street. The flick stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum and is remake/re-imagining of the hit Johnny Depp TV show which debuted back in 1987. In the show, Depp played Tom Hanson, who was part of a special police unit that employed a number of youthful looking officers, enabling them to pass as teenagers and go uncover in high schools and colleges. The show ran from 1987 until 1991 and was largely responsible for thrusting Johnny Depp into the limelight.  Columbia announced their intention to create an updated film version of the show back in 2008 and Jonah Hill signed on to rewrite an already existing script. When scripting finished sometime in mid-2009, the hunt began for a director, a role that ultimately went to two people, Chris Miller and Phil Lord, who had had success with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Once casting got underway, it was revealed that Channing Tatum would star opposite Hill, with Ice Cube taking a supporting role. This new version follows two inept police recruits who find themselves assigned to the 21 Jump Street unit and heading back to high school to infiltrate a drug ring. Initial trailers were disappointing but word from early screenings was exceptionally good. That solid start would continue when mainstream critics weighed in, giving the film an impressive 87% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. While The Lorax was the top film last frame, it would be John Carter which would offer 21 Jump Street the most direct competition.

As the original show debuted over 20 years ago, there would be limited appeal for the original fans, and with this being an all new cast and story, that appeal would be stunted further. But none of that seemed a concern on Friday when 21 Jump Street cleared $13M, comfortably cementing the top spot for the weekend there and then. Thanks to those strong reviews and solid word of mouth, the film continued to play well through the remainder of the frame, ending with an impressive $35M three day total. That figure puts it amongst the biggest R-rated comedy openers and beats the entire theatrical total of Jonah Hill's December misfire The Sitter. What's even more impressive is that there were major NCAA basketball games this weekend, not to mention St Patrick's Day falling on a Saturday, both of which were expected kneecap the film, yet neither seem to have had anything like that kind of impact. By next frame, even with the competition, 21 Jump Street will have recouped its $42M budget and we may possibly be looking at a new franchise (rumour is that the studio have signed Hill for a sequel based on that first day take).

Again, thanks to next to no competition, The Lorax had another great frame. Heading into the weekend the Dr.Seuss adaptation was up to $135M, almost double its production budget, and had seen some strong week day totals too. Friday, the family flick managed to add a further $6.7M, down 30% on its second Friday take. By the end of the frame, and thanks once again to solid Saturday figures, The Lorax crossed the $150M mark, surpassing the final take of Horton Hears A Who ($154M finish back in 2008). At this point one cannot rule out a $200M total though The Grinch's $260M finish looks fairly secure. Internationally the film has yet to begin any major roll out but there's little reason it won't perform as strong as it had in North America. To follow up The Lorax, Universal are planning a CGI Cat in the Hat adaptation for 2014.

Not many films have caused such a debate, post opening weekend, as John Carter did. Depending on what you read (or where the author originated), Carter either flopped with $30M, or soared with a global take of $101M. It's true that while the film did disappoint in North America, its international performance was much healthier and was quickly being pegged as being the picture (and Disney's) saviour. What would give us a clearer picture of where John Carter was heading would be its second frame - the hype and front loading out of the way. With 21 Jump Street added into the mix, Carter dropped a worrying 59% on what it made during its first Friday on release. The flick did manage to recover somewhat over the remainder of the frame but its weekend total is still down 55% on the $30M it made during its first three days. The word of mouth on the film is strong but its lacklustre marketing campaign continues to confuse those who are unaware of its story. This second frame may have all but finished the film in the North America and even with a fair wind, is still looking at a sub-$90M domestic haul. Internationally, things were once again much healthier, with the film making $40M, allowing it to clear $125M on just foreign receipts. Its worldwide total is a stone's throw from $180M at this point. With The Hunger Games due in just five days, John Carter has an uphill battle, but could still have the breathing space to clear $200M internationally.

Taking a hit from 21 Jump Street, found footage flick Project X drops 64% this frame as it crosses the $50M mark. Made for just $12M, the film has already been lucrative for Warner Bros, who are pushing forward with ideas for a sequel. While the upcoming releases are major, there are only one or two a week, meaning Project X should stay in the top ten for at least another fortnight. Chances are it'll end up surpassing the $62M made by Chronicle back in February.

With a poor start last frame, the latest Eddie Murphy vehicle, A Thousand Words, drops a not-that-bad 39% this week, adding $3.7M in the process . Murphy's lowest gross was for Pluto Nash, which made just $4M, followed by Meet Dave's $11M haul. A Thousand Words has surpassed both of those but this couldn't be further from the Murphy heydays - Beverly Hills Cop made $234M, Coming to America $128M and even Norbit managed $95M.

Having opened in the top spot a few weeks ago, many though Act of Valor would be a one-weekend wonder. However, two sub 50% drops put paid to that idea, with the active SEALs flick crossing $60M this weekend, its fourth on general release. Made for $12M, the film should top out at around $70-80M, and is just getting started overseas, though it's unsure as yet to how the film will play.

Safe House drops below 2,000 locations this frame as it begins is descent out of the top ten. The thriller opened well in February and narrowly missed out on the top spot due to an even stronger showing by The Vow. A week later the films swapped places and continue to spar even now, a month on. This frame the Reynolds/Washington picture adds $2.7M, bringing its running total to $120M. Safe House is now just $9.8M from becoming the biggest picture of Denzel Washington's career.

Journey 2 manages another weekend in the top ten, adding $2.4M and bringing its running total to an impressive $95M. Overseas the film is still playing strong and hit $200M this frame.

A surprise entry in the top ten this frame is the new comedy from Will Ferrell. While one would expect a Ferrell film to open near the top of the chart, this one is something a little different for the star - the most important being that it's actually in Spanish. Casa De Mi Padre sees Ferrell playing Armando Alvarez, a man who has lived on his father's ranch his entire life. When the ranch runs into finanical problems, Armando's successful brother Raul shows up and offers to solve all their troubles....except Raul's business isn't quite as legitimate as he has made out, resulting in a drug war with Onza (Gael García Bernal), Mexico's most feared drug kingpin. Further trouble raises its head when Armando starts to fall for Raul's new financee, Sonia.

The production shot late 2010/early 2011 in the style of a Mexican Telenovela on a budget of $6M.  Even with Will Ferrell involved it was decided to keep the release low key, perhaps based in part on the subtitled nature of the flick, and the distributor (a co-partnership between Lionsgate and Televisa) opted to launch the film into 368 locations. But even with that limited count, Ferrell's name managed to get people through the doors, opening to a Friday take of $760K, securing a top ten spot. By the frame's end it was up over two million dollars, giving it one of the best location to dollars-taken averages in the top ten. It's unknown whether the film will expand next frame but it's clear from this weekend that there's an interest in the film.

Having hung on for at least two weeks longer than expected, This Means War looks set to exit the top ten after this frame. The action comedy clicked with audiences, if the word of mouth is anything to go by, but failed to set the box office alight. This frame it managed to cross the $50M mark and will finish up with around $60M in total box office.

Just outside the top ten is the well reviewed Jason Segal drama, Jeff, Who Lives At Home, which made $840K from 254 locations. We also have a new low for Nicholas Cage this weekend as Seeking Justice, which co-stars Guy Pearce and January Jones,  made just $260K from 231 theatres, giving him the lowest screen to dollar average of his career thus far, worse even than the barely seen Trespass back in October 2011 (which ultimately made less money, but had a better average). His other current film, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance has yet to hit $50M domestically.

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