Sunday 13 May 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 11th - 13th May 2012

1.     The Avengers -    $103.1M - $373.1M
2.     Dark Shadows -    $28.8M - $28.8M
3.     Think Like a Man - $6.3M - $81.9M
4.     The Hunger Games - $4.4M - $386.9M
5.     The Lucky One - $4M - $53.7M
6.     The Pirates! Band of Misfits - $3.2M - $23.1M
7.    The Five-Year Engagement - $3M - $24.4M
8.     The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - $2.6M - $3.72M
9.    Chimpanzee - $1.6M - $25.5M
10.  Girl In Progress - $1.3M - $1.3M

The second weekend of blockbuster season brings us another major release in the guise of Dark Shadows. The Tim Burton directed picture won't have an easy time of it though, having to face off against the second frame of the record breaking Avengers. After opening above $200M, the Marvel release will be hoping for a sub-60% drop this weekend. Next frame we've got three wide opening releases, followed a week later by the return of Will Smith in Men In Black 3.

The Avengers had a record breaking start last frame, defying even the most extreme of estimates. When Boxofficemojo predicted that a $200M three-day haul was possible, there were many a raised eyebrow. However, the site would be proved not only correct, (based on the first weekend estimates), but would be $7M short when actuals were issued late Monday. The official debut weekend figure for the superhero match-up was a staggering $207.4M - clearing the previous record by around $38M. The picture had managed to skew almost every demographic, and while missing out on the biggest Friday haul, it would comfortably take the Saturday and Sunday records. It also became the film with the largest four day gross in box office history, not to mention the biggest May debut and the fastest film to reach $150M and $200M. In all, it set seventeen new records, and it was just getting started. Its first Monday on general release saw the feature add a further $19M to its already huge gross. It would see further weekday figures of $17.6M, $13.6M and $12.3M, entering its second Friday with a colossal $270M. Overseas the flick continued to play incredibly well, clearing $475M on only its thirteenth day and surpassing $530M by Friday - giving it over $800M in total global ticket sales at that point. The success of the film cannot be understated - even with the franchise somewhat established with the previous Marvel pictures, these opening figures are completely unprecedented. But that led many analysts to wonder how the The Avengers second frame would play out - would we also see a record breaking weekend to weekend fall? It would seem not, as online vendors were still reporting that The Avengers made up 75% of all tickets sold.

The film's first day on release saw it earn $80M, but that figure included midnight takes, which accounted for just under a quarter of its total. On its second Friday, the picture added a further $29.1M, that's a drop of 64% on that first day (52% when we take out the midnight numbers). That drop is well within what many expected, and despite Dark Shadows not opening huge, it would have still have had some effect. It left The Avengers teetering on the edge of $299M. By Saturday morning it had become the fastest film in history to reach $300M - besting The Dark Knight's record by a full day (and was set to beat that same film to take the $350M record, which had previously taken fourteen days).

The comic-book adaptation remained steady over the remainder of the frame and finished up Sunday night with an impressive $103.1M - down 50% overall on that record breaking weekend. That gives the film a domestic running total of $373M. The second weekend take record had been held by Avatar, with $75.6M, yet like we saw last week, it's another trophy that now belongs to Marvel's epic, by some way. What's even more amazing about that second weekend figure is that it is more than some major films make during their entire run - just using movies released this year as examples, Wrath of the Titans made $81M, John Carter $70M. In fact, even the many films that go on to do very well at the box office don't open with anywhere near that $103M second frame number. Abroad The Avengers remained the dominant picture, pushing up to $628M. That gives the film an unbelievable global total of over one billion dollars after just 19 days on general release (only 10 in North America). Chances are we looking at what will become the biggest super hero picture in box office history - it's already number 18 on the all time domestic gross list (and the eleventh biggest on the worldwide chart). Next frame will offer the superheroes their first direct competition in the guise of Battleship, the Taylor Kitsch/Rihanna military-science fiction mash up, but even that might struggle to break The Avengers grip on the box office.

Dark Shadows began life as a 1960s Gothic soap opera, set in the town of Collinsport, Maine. The show featured one Victoria Winters, who was attempting to unearth her past, and her dealings with her employer, the Collins family, who reside in a large house on top of Widow's Hill. Its original brief contained no reference to supernatural elements, so it was seen as fairly ground-breaking for the time, when six months into its run, ghosts were introduced into the story. However, the show got off to a rough start, with critics singling out the unknown actress Alexandra Moltke (who played Victoria) and the plot's slow progress as particular sticking points. It wasn't until the introduction of the 200 year old vampire Barnabas Collins after the first year, that the show took off, especially with the teenage market. Seen as a last ditch attempt to save the programme from cancellation, Barnabas was only meant to be part of the series for 13 weeks but proved so popular that he went on to become the main focus of the story. As time progressed, more and more fantastical elements were introduced, including werewolves, witches, zombies and the concepts of time travel and parallel universes.

The show would run for five years (66-71), with an episode count of 1,225 - a figure surpassed by only one other English language sci-fi/fantasy show (Passions, which ran for 8 years from 1999 to 2007). It would also spawn two films (House of Dark Shadows in 1970 and Night of Dark Shadows a year later) and have two revival attempts - a TV show in 1991 which ended after a single season, and a failed pilot in 2004. Even now, the original programme continues to have a strong following, and counted Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (who was so obsessed with Barnabas as a child that he wanted to be the character) as fans. When Warner Bros. acquired the rights to produce a film in 2007, the duo, who had worked together on seven previous occasions, were the perfect fit to bring Dark Shadows to a whole new audience. The Pirates of the Caribbean star tentatively joined the project shortly after Warner's secured the property, with Burton signing on to direct in 2009. John August was set to work on the script, having collaborated with Burton a number of times (Big Fish, Corpse Bride), but he would be replaced a year later by Seth Grahame-Smith (author of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). With scripting complete, filming was set for a May 2011 start, and a supporting cast was assembled.

Michelle Pfeiffer was cast in the role of Elizabeth Collins, matriarch of the family with Chloe Moretz as her tearaway daughter, Carolyn. Also joining Depp and Co. were Johnny Lee Miller and Burton's wife, Helena Bonham Carter, as Elizabeth's live-in psychiatrist. Rounding out the cast would be Eva Green, as the main antagonist Angelique Bouchard. The film would also see cameo roles for members of the 1960's show, including Jonathan Frid, who played the original Barnabas. (It would be Frid's last screen appearance, the star passing away in April 2012). The story begins in 1752 and sees Barnabas, in his playboy/pre-vampire days, spurning Angelique, who happens to be a witch, and curses him with vampirism, leaving him buried alive. 220 years later, Barnabas is accidentally set free and discovers not only his Collinwood mansion in ruins, but that the descendants who now live there have plenty of dark secrets of their own. If things weren't complicated enough for the vampire struggling to adjust to life in the 1970s, Angelique makes a reappearance, promising plenty of hassle for Barnabas and his family. Production took place primarily in the United Kingdom, with shooting commencing May 2011 as planned. With a hefty price tag of $105M attached (more than one site claim the budget to be closer to $150M), it was a surprise to see Warner Bros. keeping the hype on the project to a minimum. Indeed, the first and only full length trailer made its debut in March, followed by TV spots in the following weeks. It has only been since late April/early May that more promotional material has appeared online, including various clips and featurettes. The studio opted to open the film wide, putting it out to over 3,750 locations.

Reviews for Dark Shadows were average, with 43% of critics finding something to like, the main criticism being that the film could not decide what it wanted to be - homage, spoof or something else entirely. However, Depp's appeal is still an incredibly strong pull, more so overseas, and his collaborations with Tim Burton have generally done well (their best being Alice In Wonderland's $334M domestic haul, followed by the $206M grossing Charlie & The Chocolate Factory). Furthermore, the picture would be facing the second frame of The Avengers, which despite its record breaking opening, was still expected to comfortably win the weekend (and remain the film of choice for most cinema goers) even if it did suffer a high frame to frame drop in takings. Things certainly didn't begin well, with the picture making just $500K from midnight sneaks - less than the poor start seen by Wrath of the Titans back in March. For its first full Friday on release, Dark Shadows managed a somewhat lacklustre $9M, putting it on course for a sub-$30M weekend, unless Saturday saw a decent sized increase in sales. Sadly for all concerned, the film failed to break out much further, ending up with a weekend total of $28.8M. While Warner Bros. wouldn't have been expecting Alice In Wonderland-like numbers ($116M opening), they must have surely been hoping for $40M or above. This now leaves Dark Shadows in a difficult position, with three major releases due next week (The Dictator actually opens on Wednesday) it may already be up to the international market to save everyone's skin.

Like last weekend, The Avengers (with help from Dark Shadow this frame) left the remainder of the top ten decimated. The best of the weak bunch was once again, Think Like A Man, the urban comedy which opened at no.1 to the tune $33M just over four weeks ago. It managed to hold on to the top spot for a further weekend (making $17.6M) and up against the number one film last frame, still did a not-bad $8M. Over the last three days, Think Like A Man made $1.5M on Friday, heading to a $6.3M weekend - a drop of only 22% on last week. The Screen Gems release has now recouped its production budget more than six times over and is surely amongst the most profitable of its releases. Five new films grace our screens in the next fortnight, two of which are comedies, and while Tim Story's comedy-drama will no doubt take something of a battering from them, it may still be in the top ten by the start of June.

After a spectacular opening and solid subsequent weekends, The Hunger Games surpassed the tally of the final Harry Potter film on Monday. This frame the Suzanne Collins adaptation added $4.4M, to give it a $386.9M total. As mentioned in previous weeks, the film's appeal overseas isn't quite as strong, though it should cross $250M before too long. With that overseas figure added in, the film is a $620M+ phenomenon. In the last week or so, Francis Lawrence (Constantine, I Am Legend) has been confirmed as director for the sequel, Catching Fire, which is due November 2013.

Zac Efron's attempt at re-invention, The Lucky One managed to cross the $50M mark on Friday, its 22nd day on release. It looks likely that it will end up as the fourth most successful Nicholas Sparks adaptation, behind The Last Song ($62M), Dear John ($80M) and The Notebook ($81M). It's managed to double it production budget and has already made $18M overseas.

Aardman Animation's The Pirates! Band of Misfits struggles on, despite being the only real option for those with a young family. Two weeks ago it opened to $11.1M, witnessing a 50% drop in takings last frame. This weekend, the Hugh Grant voiced flick took a further $3.2M, bringing its total to just $23M. A $30-35M finish is on the cards, even worse than the previous Aardman picture, Arthur Christmas, which ended up with a disappointing $46.6M. Fortunately for the studio, their films play very well overseas, The Pirates having already made $70M, while the aforementioned Arthur Christmas scored $100M.

The Five Year Engagement continues to disappoint, adding $3M this weekend ($24.4M overall). By this point in its release, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the last picture on which Nick Stoller directed Jason Segel, had made $44.7M. The $30M Engagement managed to move up to third place during the week but tumbled back down to sixth for the majority of its third weekend. The Dictator will all but finish the film off from Wednesday, with the Friday release, What To Expect When You're Expecting putting the final nail in the coffin.

As we've seen this week and last, a huge film in the top spot can often leave other pictures floundering - some barely making $1M. This gives a smaller film the chance of a top ten placing, more so if a cunning studio expand it into a few more locations. Such a thing has happened with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which had performed very well last weekend at just 27 locations (it made $737K). Fox Searchlight opted to expand the film to 152 screens (still an incredibly limited count) this frame and were suitably rewarded with a $665K Friday take, good enough for eighth place. Even once the weekend had got going proper, the Judi Dench/Tom Wilkinson comedy-drama held firm, finishing with a solid $2.6M. Further expansion is almost certainly on the cards. Abroad the film has proved very successful, having made $72M to date.

Disney Nature documentary, Chimpanzee adds $1.6M this frame, its third on release. It has now made more than $25M.

A final surprise entry in the top ten is the Eva Mendes comedy drama Girl In Progress. It follows the tale of Grace, a struggling single mum, and her daughter, Ansiedad, who finds inspiration in the stories she is reading at school. Out to only 322 locations, the film managed a top ten placing on Friday with $409K, on its way to a $1.3M weekend.

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