Sunday 3 June 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 1st - 3rd June 2012

1.     Snow White and the Huntsman     - $56.2M - $56.2M
2.     Men in Black III - $29.3M - $112.3M
3.     The Avengers - $20.3M - $552.7M  
4.     Battleship - $4.8M - $55.1M
5.     The Dictator - $4.7M - $50.8M
6.     The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - $4.6M - $25.4M
7.     What To Expect When You're Expecting - $4.4M - $30.7M
8.     Dark Shadows - $3.6M - $70.8M
9.     Chernobyl Diaries - $3M - $14.4M
10.     For Greater Glory - $1.7M - $1.7M

With the 'four day' weekend, most films received a boost on Monday. Men In Black 3's victory last frame was bolstered by a solid Memorial Day while The Avengers managed to get within $10M of The Dark Knight's finishing figure. A week on and we've got a single solitary release opening wide, Snow White & The Huntsman. The aforementioned MiB3 would be hoping to hang on to the top spot, while The Avengers hoped to push over $550M. Next frame promises to be a very interesting one, with the release of Ridley Scott's Prometheus.

A clash of two films with similar central themes happens more often than you think in Hollywood. Competing studios hope to be first out the gate with their idea, and if they do have to settle for second place on the release schedule, they at least want to make the bigger splash. Deep Impact and Armageddon famously battled in 1998, as did Antz and A Bug's Life. 1999 gave us EDtv and The Truman Show, and there were competing Volcano flicks (Volcano and Dante's Peak - 1997) along with two movies based on the life of Wyatt Earp (also 1997) and manned trips to Mars (2000). 1987-88 gave us five body swap comedies, 1989 had at least three underwater thrillers, while as recent as 2011, saw copycat plots in No Strings Attached and  Friends with Benefits. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Which brings us to 2012, whose clash is Snow White pictures. We've already had Tarsem's family comedy Mirror Mirror back in March, and now it's the turn of the darker, grittier Snow White and The Huntsman. The films follows a slightly different path but the central components remain the same - a beautiful girl and a wicked queen hell bent on destroying her. In the case of Snow White and The Huntsman, the evil queen Ravenna sees her kingdom threatened when the magic mirror reveals her step daughter, Snow White, is destined to become the most beautiful girl in the land, and will ultimately challenge Ravenna's reign. Discovering the only way to stop this from taking place is to consume her heart, the queen orders Snow White be killed. However, before this can happen, White escapes into a nearby wood. There, she teams up with seven dwarves, along with the titular Huntsman, who had been sent by the queen to capture her, but instead feels sympathy for her plight and decides to ready her to face destiny.

Newcomer Rupert Sanders was attached to direct, with the flick being his only feature credit to date. The title roles went through several possibilities before they were set. At first, a relative unknown was to be cast as Snow White, potentials included Felicity Jones, Riley Keough and Bella Heathchote, before producers pushed to snag The Twilight Saga's Kristen Stewart (who was Keough's co-star in The Runaways). In March of 2011, co-producer Palak Patel let slip an offer was out to Stewart, with an official announcement confirming the actress for the role of Snow White a few weeks later. As for the Hunstman, that role too went through several actors, but in contrast to Snow White , all of these were established (and big) names. Johnny Depp and Viggo Mortensen were both considered, as was Hugh Jackman briefly. How far along the process each actor went is unknown, and considering Depp is offered most Hollywood roles these days, his name may only have been a pipe dream rather than an actual offer attached being made. Sometime in July it was announced that Thor star, Chris Hemsworth, would take on the role of Eric the Huntsman. For the dwarves, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone and Ian McShane would all play a part, and they would be joined by Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan and Brian Gleeson. Finally, for the key role of the evil queen Ravenna, Oscar winner Charlize Theron beat out original choice Winona Ryder. Filming took place in England, starting in September 2011 and a late May/early June release date was set. With conflicting films vying for attention, each studio had to push hard to get its own picture noticed. Mirror Mirror opted for luxurious sets and stunning costumes, while Snow White and The Huntsman played up its darker, more epic angle.

The first trailer suitably impressed though was notable for its lack of Snow White and dwarves, instead concentrating on Hemsworth and Theron's characters. A further trailer added a lot more footage, much of it visually impressive, but worryingly seemed to play down Stewart's role - something rectified to a degree, with subsequent footage and featurettes. Mirror Mirror had the edge due to its earlier release date and its lower costs - $85M against Huntsmans' $170M. However, upon release, while Tarsem's flick opened quite well with $18M, it limped to a $64M domestic finish. Fortunately star Julia Robert's appeal overseas helped shore things up to the tune of $97.9M. Reviews for Snow White and The Huntsman were only marginally worse than those of Mirror Mirror (50% at Rotten Tomatoes) and while it began well with 67%, its rating had settled to 48% by Thursday. Most critics loved the look of the film but were disappointed in the story's execution. The picture  got off to a poorer start than MiB3, making $1.3M from midnight sneak peaks. Snow White's first full Friday weighed in with an impressive $20.3M, dethroning Will Smith & Co and setting itself up for a weekend win. Word of mouth was seen as decent enough, but a Cinemascore rating of 'B' from audiences had the potential to give it problems over the remainder of the frame. By Sunday night, Snow White and the Huntsman had made $56.2M, a little better than what Men In Black 3 debuted to last frame but while the figure was seen as disappointment for the Smith sequel, it's above expectations for Snow White (Universal had it tracking to around $30M, though that could have been to avoid any issues if the film did indeed come in lower than expected). For a non-sequel, without a megastar to carry it, that $56M is a strong start, and very much welcome by the studio, given the huge budget attached and the recent domestic failure of Battleship. Where it goes from here is the million dollar question - next frame it'll face off against two wide releases, which will no doubt impact the flick in some way. Expect the studio to be hoping for a sub-50% drop. What ever happens, the film will be the more successful of the two Snow White features this year.

With a start only a few million better than the first film in the series (which is 15 years old), Men In Black 3 looked to have faltered somewhat before it even got started. However, thanks to Memorial Day, the Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones flick managed to add a further $14M to its $54M weekend, boosting its haul to a slightly healthier $69M by the close of play on Monday. This is really a case of how one wants to skew the figures - $69M is a decent four day start but if the studio had been looking for closer to $90M there are plenty who will jump on that start and deem it a poor showing. Overseas MiB3 was much stronger, debuting at the top spot in at least 104 territories and chalking up $133M. All eyes were now on how it would play in its second frame, with increased competition from Snow White. The original film fell just 41% in it sophomore frame, while the sequel dropped 53%. Somewhere in between would be acceptable, but much higher would give the film problems going forward. Budgets estimates stretch between $160-250M, with the later figure said to still be on the conservative side due to the break in filming while the script was reworked. A week on and Men in Black 3 dropped 53% on a Friday to Friday basis,  a little high but not a disaster, with most of the damage put down to Snow White. For the weekend as a whole, the film dropped 46% and managed to surpass the $100M mark on Saturday becoming the thirteenth Will Smith film to do so. Next weekend it will need a better hold to avoid finishing below $150M domestically - something that Sony will be very keen to avoid. Overseas figures were again stronger, to give the picture a $330M+  global total.

Now in its fifth weekend on general release, The Avengers still refuses to go quietly into the night. On Friday, day 29 of its release, it surpassed The Dark Knight's $533M finish to become the third biggest film in domestic history. At the same time, on the all time worldwide chart it leapfrogged the final Harry Potter film, and now, as with the domestic chart, only Titanic and Avatar have made more money. While $600M certainly isn't out of the question, it's a long shot at this point, especially with the competition just around the corner, but $575-585M is more than achievable, and the Marvel match up took a step closer to that figure on Friday, chalking up another $5.6M. Even with the competition, both old and new, the film managed a weekend take of $20.3M, down 45% on last frame, which itself saw a remarkable hold against Men In Black 3's debut. It also managed to hit $550M on day 31, seven days quicker than Avatar. That gives the Avengers a North American total of $552M, and a total global haul of $1.33B. No one could have predicted the success of the film, at least not on this scale, and it's set the bar incredibly high for both The Amazing Spider Man and The Dark Knight Rises in July.

Continuing to struggle, Battleship managed just $1.4M on Friday. Hit on all sides, the Taylor Kitsch/Rihanna film has barely made an impact since debuting to a disappointing $25M opening frame, with a much too high fall a week later. Battleship did manage to hit $50M on day fourteen, but that's a figure it should have been looking for during its first three days, if not the initial week - indeed, after only 3 days, Snow White & The Huntsman has already passed the film. For its third weekend, the film managed just $4.8M. Prometheus will hit it next weekend, though at this point any damage would be minimal given the public's apathy toward the picture. A $70M domestic finish is on the cards, with that huge $232M saving the picture overseas.

The Dictator managed a slight recovery last weekend, after a disappointing first Friday but that may not have been enough to save it from a Bruno-like $60M finish. On its third Friday the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy added $1.3M and slipped to sixth place, behind fellow comedy What To Expect When You're Expecting. Overall the film made $4.72M this frame, for a $50.8M running total. At this point, day 19, Bruno was up to $57M while Borat had an impressive $93M in the bank, leaving The Dictator with some work still to do. It should see a couple more weekends in the top ten and top out around $65M. Overseas the film is slightly stronger but again, isn't a patch on Borat. Not the successful new character Cohen had been hoping for, one assumes.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continues to play well in its still somewhat limited release and had racked up an astonishing global total of $102M by Thursday. The comedy drama, which stars Tom Wilkinson, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith added a further $4.6M this frame, to give it a domestic total of $25.4M.

Of the two comedies in the top ten, What to Expect When You're Expecting faired better last weekend (percentage drop-wise) but its opening frame was below what the studio had been looking for. Even with a large ensemble cast, the film has struggled but did manage to beat out The Dictator on Friday with a $1.45M start leading to a $4.4M three day total. With a $40M budget attached, the flick won't lose Lionsgate any money, but neither has it been this year's Hangover or Bridesmaids.

Dark Shadows may be looking at its last frame in the top ten. The latest collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp just hasn't clicked with the public, at least not domestically. Made for an estimated $150M, the Gothic comedy will top out at around $80-85M. Abroad Dark Shadows has already made over $100M.

Word of mouth has kneecapped Chernobyl Diaries this frame. Having not been screened for critics, the film managed to attract $9.3M worth of business during its first three days but as people's disappointment in the horror film spread, it found itself floundering. A week on and the film completely collapsed, down 72% on its first Friday (62% for the weekend), making $3M over the last three days. Yet as with other Oren Peli pictures, Diaries was a cheap production, costing around $1-3M - so with foreign totals and the home market, it should turn a tiday profit for all concerned.

A surprise entry into the top ten is the Andy Garcia picture, For Greater Glory, which is at around 700 locations. The film is a true story based on the Cristero War, a battle which arose in the 1920s and was caused by the Mexican government's persecution of Catholics. Also starring Eva Longoria, Peter O'Toole and Bruce Greenwood, For Greater Glory did not review well, receiving just 17% approval from critics. Thanks to low grosses from the pictures in the lower end of the chart, the flick managed to score a tenth placing, with $1.7M.

Receiving a token release at 86 locations, Piranha 3DD made just $179K, that's down 98% on what the original film opened to in 2010 according to the Box Office Guru.

Bernie, the latest film from Richard Linklater, has bubbled just outside the top ten since release. It has seen impressive weekend figures despite being at only a handful of locations. This frame, at 302 venues, Bernie made $937K to give brings its total so far to $3.6M.

And one other film of note - Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, which opened last weekend to $669K, set a new record for the best screen to dollars taken average, $130K, surpassing previous record holder Dreamgirls. Further expansion this frame, onto sixteen screens, has seen the Bruce Willis/Bill Murray picture add $849K, for a $1.7M running total.

Finally, Ridley Scott's Prometheus opened in a number of foreign locations in the past five days and made $35M. The sci-fi thriller expands further in the coming weeks, debuting in North America this coming Friday and will be covered in depth in next Sunday's report.

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