Sunday 4 March 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 2nd - 4th March 2012

1. The Lorax - $70.7M - $70.7M
2. Project X - $20.8M - $20.8M
3. Act of Valor - $13.7M - $45.2M
4. Safe House - $7.2M - $108.1M
5. Tyler Perry's Good Deeds - $7M - $25.7M
6. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - $6.9M - $85.6M
7. The Vow - $6.1M - $111.7M
8. This Means War - $5.6M - $41.4M
9. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance - $4.7M - $44.8M
10. The Artist - $3.9M - $37M

And so we come to what could be the verge of summer movie season. From next frame, we have potential blockbusters almost every weekend until August. John Carter kicks us off, and he's followed by 21 Jump St, The Hunger Games, Wrath of the Titans, Mirror Mirror, American Reunion, Titanic 3D.....But this week brings a much needed family movie and yet another found-footage flick. They'll go up against the second frame for Act of Valor and Good Deeds.

Dr Seuss' The Lorax is fourth adaptation of the famed child author's books, coming on the heels of Horton Hears a Who, The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch. It follows the story of Ted, who lives in a walled-in, artificial city. To win the affections of a girl, Ted sets off to find a real tree and discovers the world outside the city to be a barren wasteland. He meets the reclusive Once-ler, who recounts to him the story of the Lorax (the guardian of the land) and how the world came to look like it did, thanks to greed of the Once-ler's family. This sets Ted on a path that sees him attempting to bring trees (animals and the Lorax) back to his world. The voice talent involved includes Zac Efron as Ted, Danny Devito as The Lorax and Taylor Swift as the girl of Ted's dreams, Audrey. Reviews for the film weren't great, pitching itself somewhere between Horton (79%) and The Grinch (53%), but obviously stronger than the critically reviled, Cat In The Hat. With the family market starting to tire of Journey 2, not to mention that flick not really being suitable for those families with young children, the floor was wide open for The Lorax to clean up. Better still, it would have no future competition until The Pirates! Band of Misfits in late April.

And clean up it did! Opening day saw The Lorax soar to the tune of $17.4M, easily securing the weekend's top spot there and then. Better still, with that start there was the potential for it to become the biggest opening Dr Seuss flick so far (something The Grinch currently owned with $55.8M - and that didn't have 3D on it side). After that solid first day, things really ramped up on Saturday, with the picture scoring well from all showings, especially the matinee ones. By Sunday night The Lorax was up to an astonishing $70.7M, giving it the biggest weekend of 2012 so far and third biggest March debut in history (behind Alice in Wonderland and 300, which it might overtake once actuals are issued on Monday). With a budget of only $70M attached to the picture, this opening couldn't have been much better and means that by next weekend it will have all but covered its prints and advertisting budget too - not to mention crossed the $100M barrier. What might have helped the film, 3D ticket prices aside, is the fact that the young family market have had little to shout about so far this year, with only Beauty & The Beast and Arrietty appealing directly to them. With no competition on the horizon, this one could run and run for some time yet and may even hold John Carter off the no.1 spot next frame.

Our only other major release this weekend is the latest entry into the found-footage genre. Having been a stalwart of the horror genre for some time, studios are quickly discovering there's money to made by introducing the idea to different, perhaps more mainstreams movie ideas. After Chronicle a month or so ago, which dealt with a group of teenagers gaining super human powers, we now have Project X. The film follows three unpopular teenagers who decide to throw a party that gets way out of control as more and more uninvited guests arrive. The footage is made up of film shot by party-goer Dax, along with iphone/blackberry/police camera footage, allowing the picture to focus on other parts of the party unseen by the main three stars. Commercials director Nima Nourizadeh would be making his feature debut on the film, with The Hangover's Todd Phillips producing (allowing WB to utilise The Hangover link in the marketing of this film). The film's title, Project X, was originally meant as a place holder title but was kept as it helped to create mystery around the production (indeed, cast members were not even sent the full script, only pages that contained their dialogue). With a $12M budget and a cast of mainly first time actors, Warner Bros. were hoping for a quick profit before the onslaught of bigger, showier films. It would face competition from other R-rated flicks but not in the comedy genre (save for the already flopped Wanderlust)

Project X made $1.3M from midnight previews (around 1,000 locations) before expanding fully on Friday and making another $6.8M. The teen to 25 year old market were out in some force it would seem, and were happy to ignore the poor reviews. In fact, that Friday figure is eerily similar to Chronicle, which opened to $8.6M. As the weekend began proper, Project X remained solid and had all but covered its production costs by Saturday night. Its weekend total finished up as $20.8M, a little way behind Chronicle's $22M opening haul. Whether it will play well next frame remains to be seen as word of mouth and the gimmick factor might have already kneecapped the film before John Carter gets chance to next Friday. With the found footage device no longer confined to the horror genre, expect studios looking for a quick buck to play it for all its worth.

With its production budget covered last weekend, it wasn't a major concern as to where Act of Valor would be heading a week later. The film, which features active Navy SEALS made $24M in its first three days, from a revised budget estimate of $12M. A week on, with only so-so word of mouth spreading, Act of Valor found itself down 58% on its first Friday. By the end of the frame the flick had recovered somewhat for a $13.7M total - giving it a running total of $45.2M. At this point, with the previously mentioned releases on the doorstep, Act of Valor looks to be heading for a very profitable $65-70M finish. How it will play overseas remains to be seen but with prints and advertising now taken care of with it domestic take, the film is going to turn a solid profit for Relativity, who have struggled to find hits, with only Immortals and Limitless being of any note.

The Denzel Washington/Ryan Reynolds action drama, Safe House, hit $100M on Wednesday, its 20th day on general release. The $85M production opened well four week ago and even managed to take the top spot in its second frame. It should enjoy at least one more weekend in the top ten and top out at around $125M. Becoming Washington's biggest domestic release isn't quite out of the picture yet (currently at $130M with American Gangster).

As expected, Tyler Perry's Good Deeds falls hard a week on from its soft opening - though given its low budget, even an average start is good enough for Perry. Without his Madea character to fall back on, Perry's core audience opted to give Good Deeds a miss, which made the difference between a $15M opening and a $30M one. A week later and the flick added just $1.8M on Friday (down 65%) toward a weekend total of $7M. The lowest grossing of Perry's film is Daddy's Little Girls with a $31M haul - a figure that Good Deeds may yet struggle to see.

Dwayne Johnson's Journey 2 isn't going to give up the limelight to The Lorax that easy. Having seen some impressive frame to frame drops, the action adventure adds another $6.9M this weekend, recouping its $79M production budget on Friday. At the current rate, Journey 2 looks set to surpass the $101M domestic finish of the first film within the next few weeks - it's already made more money than the first film in terms of total global box office - $245M and counting.

The Vow adds another $6.1M this weekend, to give it a running total of $111M. The romantic drama benefited hugely from a perfectly timed release date, aided no doubt by scoring the biggest weekday Valentine total ever. The picture is up to $30M overseas, which could easily rise to $50M and beyond. Up next for Channing Tatum is the G.I Joe sequel, while Rachel McAdams will feature opposite Ben Affleck in Terence Malick's currently untitled new flick.

Still having a hard time is the McG directed This Means War, which could only add $5.6M this frame. Its total of $41M must be a thorn in the side of Fox who would have been hoping for much bigger things given the $65M they put up to produce the film. At this point, This Means War will barely clear $50M.

The Ghost Rider Sequel, Spirit of Vengeance, drops another 48% this frame, which is slightly better than last frame's 59% dip. The Nic Cage starrer has only just made more than what the first film took during its first three days and will be lucky to recoup its $57M production budget domestically. Overseas, Spirit of Vengeance looks to have stalled at $40M, with little further expansion expected.

With huge Oscar success last Sunday, The Artist finally breaks into the top ten after expanding into 1,756 locations (the film has actually been in the top ten a couple of times during the week but this marks its first weekend on the chart). Even in its somewhat limited release pattern, the silent movie has managed to make more than $37M. Abroad it is even stronger - $44M so far. Whether further expansion will take place remains to be seen, especially with it almost certainly losing its top ten spacing next frame, but one can't deny the success of the $15M production.

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