Sunday, 22 April 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 20th - 22nd April 2012

1.     Think Like a Man - $33M - $33M
2.     The Lucky One -     $22.8M - $22.8M
3.     The Hunger Games - $14.5M - $356.9M
4.     Chimpanzee - $10.2M - $10.2M
5.     TheThree Stooges - $9.2M -  $29.3M
6.     The Cabin in the Woods - $7.7M - $26.9M
7.     American Reunion - $5.2M - $48.2M
8.     Titanic 3D - $5M - $52.8M
9.     21 Jump Street - $4.6M - $127M
10.     Mirror Mirror - $4.1M - $55.2M

A relatively quiet week, a calm before the summer storm, but that isn't to say this weekend is without its share of drama. The Hunger Games made it four weekends at the top last frame and with seemingly limited competition this week, could it make it five? Elsewhere, The Three Stooges surprised by opening much stronger than expected, while Cabin in the Woods did ok, though paled when compared to recent found-footage horror pictures. This week, The Lucky One is our only wide opening release, and it is joined by limited openers Chimpanzee and Think Like a Man. But as we'll see, a limited release doesn't necessarily limit a film's box office... Next weekend is a busy one with four major releases, followed a week later by The Avengers.

Our number one film this frame isn't The Hunger Games, nor is it The Lucky One. Think Like A Man is based on the best selling  Steve Harvey self-help book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. The story follows four couples, and what happens when the female partners read Harvey's book and discover how their male partners are playing them. Outraged that Harvey (who has a cameo as himself) has given away all their secrets, the guys attempt to turn the tables. The film was made by Tim Story, who, amongst other features, directed Barbershop and both Fantastic Four films. With four central couples plus numerous other characters, Think Like A Man had quite an ensemble cast, including Regina Hall, Meagan Good, Michael Ealy, Gabrielle Union and actor/stand up comic Kevin Hart, who saw success last year with his concert movie, Laugh At My Pain. Reviews were just above average, with 52% of critics finding something to like about the picture - the studio hoping to target some of the Tyler Perry market. But Screen Gems weren't that sure about the 'urban' comedy's prospects, opting to release it into 2,015 locations, marketing heavily across the male and female demographic, trying to appeal to both while alienating neither.

Signs that the picture was breaking out came midweek when online ticket vendor Fandango announced that Think Like A Man accounted for 42% of all tickets sold. This was further cemented when midnight sneak peaks scored $552K, setting the picture up for a decent weekend figure - providing that initial momentum could be kept up. The film comfortably won Friday, knocking The Hunger Games from the top spot with a very impressive $12M haul - which is incidentally what the picture cost to produce. It maintained its dominance over the remainder of the frame, with its Saturday take up on Friday's, and ending up with an outstanding three day total of $33M - putting it firmly in Madea/Tyler Perry territory. In fact, only Madea Goes to Jail opened stronger. Even the studio themselves were reluctant to predict more than $15M for the entire frame. Word of mouth is also strong on the picture, with it currently sporting an A+ Cinemascore. The performance of Think Like A Man also left more than a few analysts scratching their heads. While the book had been successful, it's not in the same crowd as a Twilight or Harry Potter. The same goes for the cast, while they are known players, none of them could open a film on their own, certainly not to these kind of numbers. There's four kinds of competition next frame so the picture may only be at the top for one weekend, but considering it has almost tripled its production budget in three days, a quick fall won't trouble the studio too much. Expect further Steve Harvey books to be optioned very quickly.

The Lucky One is the latest Nicholas Sparks book to be adapted for the big screen. The story follows a soldier who narrowly avoids death on his third tour of Iraq thanks to a photograph of a woman he finds amongst some rubble. Taking it as a good luck sign, Sgt. Logan Thibault sets about tracking down the woman in the photograph when he is posted back to the US. Discovering her name is Beth, he eventually finds himself at her door, and later takes a job helping out on her farm. Through all this, he decides not to reveal to Beth what led him to her, but as romance blossoms between the couple, Thibault's 'secret' threatens to tear their relationship, and possibly their lives, apart. Hoping to further shed his teen-idol image, Zac Efron signed up to portray Sergeant Thibault, with Taylor Schilling as Beth. Scott Hicks, who'd previously directed Shine and Snow Falls on Cedars, was set to helm the flick. The Lucky One marks the seventh Sparks' books to make it to the big screen, the first being Message in a Bottle back in 1999. This was followed up in 2002 with A Walk To Remember, followed by arguably his most well known work, The Notebook (which starred Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams and was Sparks' first published novel). Three more adaptations followed, with Dear John being of particular note for knocking Avatar from the top spot in 2010. Warner Bros. kept the marketing fairly low key, banking on Efron's fans showing up during opening weekend (even if the star was trying to distance himself from those earlier associations, with this film aimed at an older audience).

Of Sparks' previous works, The Notebook and Dear John have been by far the most successful, both taking around $80M at the domestic box office (Box Office Mojo put The Notebook slightly ahead, with a fraction over $81M). With apparently very limited competition from the new releases, The Lucky One would have to face off against The Hunger Games, even though both pictures skewed a different demographic. Critical reactions were fairly scathing, with the film scoring only a 22% approval rating (the lowest of this weekend's main releases). Going into the frame it looked like a comfortable victory for the feature. As we have already seen, Think Like A Man swiftly put paid to that idea on Friday, though The Lucky One was no slouch either, debuting to an opening day take of $9.1M. That figure is around $4M less than Dear John's first day, but its arguable that Avatar aside, Dear John didn't have as much competition as The Lucky One had to face. By Sunday night the film was up to $22.8M - again a solid figure for a romantic drama and the second best weekend debut for a Sparks adaptation since the aforementioned Dear John. Obviously, without Think Like A Man the film may have debuted above $25M but The Lucky One's $22M start is far better than Efron's previous films Charlie St. Cloud ($12.3M opening) and New Years Eve ($13M) and pushes him ever further from his teen roots.

After four weekends at the top spot, The Hunger Games was finally usurped by Think Like  A Man. However, losing the no.1 position didn't mean a collapse in takings for the hugely successful novel adaptation. The film turned a $4M Friday into a $14.5M weekend, for a $356.9M running total (that gives it a 31% drop on its last frame). Its take over the last three days enabled it to enter the top twenty grossing films of all time, needing less than a million dollars to surpass Jurassic Park, which is currently at eighteenth place. The Hunger Games crossed $500M in global ticket sales last Sunday evening but where it will ultimately finish up remains an enigma. While $400M domestically does seem a long stretch at this point, especially with The Avengers just a fortnight away (not to mention four wide opening releases next frame), it does look set to best Deathly Hallows Part 2, which was the most successful film of the Harry Potter franchise. As mentioned in previous weeks, the film is nowhere near as strong overseas as either Potter or the Twilight franchises, but did manage to cross the $200M mark this weekend. Meanwhile, the second film, Catching Fire, is still without a director, and after seemingly passing on (or getting rejected by) Alfonso Cuaron, Lionsgate are said to have offered the project to I Am Legend helmer Francis Lawrence.

In previous years, Disney Nature have released a documentary to mark Earth Day, starting with Earth in 2009, Oceans in 2010 and African cats last April. For 2012, the studio's Earth Day film is Chimpanzee, a co-production between Disney Nature and the Jane Goodhall Institute. At the helm were wildlife documentary veterans Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill, both of whom cut their teeth with the BBC, working on, amongst others, Wildlife on One, The Blue Planet and The Trials of Life, as well as the aforementioned Earth doc. Chimpanzee follows Oscar, a young chimp who finds himself alone, but ends up adopted by another chimpanzee. The film shot over three years, in Uganda and Ivory Coast. A trailer attached to Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, back in December. Disney Nature opted to release the documentary into 1,500 locations, more than Oceans (1,232) but less than Earth (1,804). Like previous releases, Chimpanzee reviewed well, and currently has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 77% (Oceans was 81%, Earth 87%, African Cats 71%). From that relatively limited location count, Chimpanzee had a $3.5M Friday - a Disney Nature best, beating African Cat's opening day by $200K. The picture steadily improved over the remainder of the weekend, finishing up Sunday with a $10.2M total - some way above Ocean's $8.8M opening, and another best for Disney Nature. Chances are Chimpanzee won't get much breathing space but this is a good start, especially for a documentary. (It's also great news for the Jane Goodhall Institute who receive a donation for each ticket sold)

After opening to far stronger numbers than expected last weekend, The Three Stooges took a tumble on a Friday to Friday basis, seeing a dip of 60% (a better 46% for the weekend overall, thanks no doubt, to Saturday matinees again). In fact, apart from its initial opening, the picture had to settle for a fourth place finish during the week, sinking to fifth by Thursday. For the weekend, The Three Stooges added $9.2M, giving it a ten day total of $29.3M. A higher weekend fall was expected given the average word of mouth attached to the picture, but with a  $30-35M production budget, Fox should make a small profit off the project, better if the flick plays well overseas. In terms of other Farrelly Bros. productions, The Three Stooges looks set to finish up somewhere between The Heartbreak Kid ($37M) and Hall Pass ($45M), their best performing flick being There's Something About Mary, which made $176M.

Cabin in the Woods was looking to beat The Three Stooges last weekend but found itself having to settle for a third place, $14M opening haul. By Monday, the Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard horror reinvention moved into second place and stayed there until the new releases entered the fray. Its second Friday saw the picture make $2.4M, down 55% on the same day last week. The competition won't have helped Cabin, despite it having a different demographic, and it managed a weekend total of $7.7M (an overall weekend to weekend fall of 47%). The positive word of mouth appears to be drowning out the negative at this point (the film split opinion down the middle upon release) and that should help push the movie above $30M. The picture is actually doing better than anticipated, as it has since been revealed that production costs were only in the $12M range. It's hard to say if Cabin in the Woods would have played better with a Halloween release date, especially given how successful (and all consuming) the Paranormal Activity sequels seem to be at that time of the year, but it's certainly destined to become a cult hit on the home market.

American Reunion isn't finding life any easier in this, its third frame on general release. After a rough start (at least in comparison to the rest of the franchise), the film toppled 51% last weekend, and a further 50% this one, making only $5.2M in the process. While the film will recoup its production budget of $50M with its domestic release, it won't venture much higher. Overseas American Reunion has made $40M and should go on to outgross its U.S take.

While it may have disappointed during its opening frame, Titanic 3D made things up a week later, seeing a dip of only 31%, but with the romantic competition from The Lucky One, the James Cameron picture witnesses a 58% fall this frame. Overseas the film is stronger, especially in China where it has broken box office records. This boost has helped Titanic push over the $2B threshold in total lifetime ticket sales, a feat achieved by only one other film, Avatar.

At ninth place is the R-rated comedy 21 Jump Street. Made for $42M, the Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum film adds a further $4.6M, to give it an impressive $127M total.

Getting set to leave the top ten is Mirror Mirror, which adds $4.1M this frame. The Julia Roberts/Lily Collins feature has disappointed in North America but may yet find itself saved thanks to an ever growing international figure, which currently stands at $64M.

Overseas, Battleship is still the dominant picture, crossing the $125M mark in ticket sales this weekend. It also gave Universal their best debut in China, with a $3M opening Wednesday, and $8.2M by Friday night. The Peter Berg flick is doing well in Russia too,  opening better than Thor or Iron Man, though as pointed out by Deadline Hollywood, the country has seen a huge cinema building push in the last 18 months. With a $205M budget attached (which is said to be closer to $250M in reality), this big start is good news for the studio ahead of its U.S debut in mid-May.

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