Sunday 17 June 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 15th - 17th June 2012

1. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - $35.5M - $120.4M
2. Prometheus - $20.2M - $88.8M
3. Rock of Ages - $15M - $15M
4. Snow White and the Huntsman - $13.8M - $122M
5. That's My Boy - $13M - $13M
6. Men in Black III - $10M - $152.6M
7. The Avengers - $8.8M - $586M
8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - $2.2M - $35.1M
9. Moonrise Kingdom - $2.1M -$6.7M
10. What To Expect When You're Expecting - $1.3M - $38.7M

Two new releases enter the summer slam this weekend, the musical Rock of Ages is joined by Adam Sandler's That's My Boy. They'll be taking on not only each other but the second frames of Madagascar 3 and Prometheus - two pictures which opened above $50M seven short days ago. Next week sees the release of what some are calling Pixar's wild card, Brave, which will be joined by the action horror Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and the comedy drama Seeking a Friend For The End of The World.

Having won last weekend with a solid $60M, Madagascar 3 continued to dominate through out the week, with its best day (besides its second Friday) being Tuesday, when the film made $7.1M. As we entered the second frame, the Dreamworks sequel had only limited competition from the new films and was operating on some good word of mouth too. It managed $10M on Friday, down 51% on the same day last weekend, when it lost the day to Prometheus - but barring a major miracle, looked to already have won its second weekend at the top there and then. That 51% fall is a little on the high side for a film with no direct competition but one has to remember that this a family flick whose audience prefer a Saturday or Sunday cinema visit to a Friday evening. Again, thanks to weekend matinee performances, Europe's Most Wanted saw an increase in sales, which ultimately led the film to hit $100M on day nine (the same amount of time that the prequel took to reach the figure), leading to a second weekend tally of $35.5M (down 41% on last frame overall). Overseas the news is even better, with Madagascar 3 hitting $100M midweek. As mentioned last weekend, in recent times Dreamworks Animation releases have gone on to perform much stronger internationally than domestically (though this is quickly become the norm for most releases, animated or not) and this looks like being no different. Unfortunately, its competition free days are numbered in North America with the release of Pixar's Brave in just five days time. While the market is big enough to support two animated releases, the obvious choice for families will undoubtedly be the newer option. Made for $145M, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted has now made $120M.

While the debate continues to rage around some of Prometheus' bigger (and smaller) issues, there can be no denying that Ridley Scott's return to the science fiction genre was a financial success - at least during its opening frame. The film impressed with its $50M 3-day total and like Madagascar, played well during the week ($5.2M Monday, $4M Wednesday). Overseas, as of Thursday, Prometheus had made $92M (with $100M assured within a day or so). However, by its first Saturday, the film was showing inevitable signs of front loading and that made many wonder how its subsequent frame would play out, especially with the flick's differing word of mouth. On its second Friday, the picture collapsed to just $5.8M, that's a dangerously high drop of 76% on opening day and seemed to confirm the fears. With increased, though thankfully weak, competition, Prometheus was lucky to hang on to second place by Sunday night, gaining a weekend total of $20.2M. This isn't what Fox wanted to see, they'd have been looking for a stronger second weekend hold rather than the worrying 60% it fell by. But this aside for a moment, given its rating and genre, it did well to hit $85M by its tenth day on release. While the frame to frame drop is very high,  Prometheus could have easily opened to a soft $30M (which is what the studio had predicted) and seen the same fall a week later - which would have been little short of disastrous. Instead, it has a ten day total of $88.8M, and the potential to hit $150-175M overseas. With talk of an extended cut on DVD and what may occur in a proposed sequel, Ridley Scott seems ready to return to the Prometheus universe sooner, rather than later, even if Fox might not be so sure after this weekend.

Rock of Ages began life as a stage musical, making its debut in 2005 at the King King Club, Los Angeles. After a subsequent successful run at the Vanguard Hollywood, the show moved to the Ren Mar studio, playing to sell-out crowds. By 2008, the show was ready to make its off-Broadway debut, and would run until January 2009, before transferring to Broadway proper. The show has toured North America and spawned both a West End and Australian production of its own. While still playing off-Broadway, the rights for a movie adaptation were secured by Warner Bros. and New Line, with a view to releasing a film in the summer of 2011. Various issues meant production was delayed for almost a year, pushing the release of the picture back to June 2012. To helm the flick, WB decided on Adam Shankman, the director of Hairspray (along with choreographer and/or producer on a number of musical and non-musical TV shows and films), and he set about assembling a cast who could bring the 80s based show to life on the big screen. Rock of Ages follows a number of characters, but primarily Sherrie Christian, a small town girl with dreams of being a singer, and Drew Moley, a bar tender cum wannabe rock star, both of whom work at the Bourbon Club. Into this mix comes Stacee Jaxx, lead singer of the band Arsenal, who despite huge success over the years, are on the verge of breaking up. Convinced by the club's owner to play their last gig there, Jaxx's appearance sets off a chain of events that will have an impact on not only his own life, but those in and around the club.

The musical features a number of 80s power ballads performed by the cast, and it was up to Shankman to find actors who would be able to do the production justice. For the role of Sherrie, the relatively unknown (at least movie-wise) Julianne Hough was cast, having scored her first lead role last year in the remake of Footloose. Hough shot to small screen fame as one of the professional dancers on ABC's Dancing with The Stars. Diego Boneta, a Mexican soap star and singer, and current actor in 90210, was set to play Drew - Rock of Ages is only his second picture, after a role in the straight to DVD sequel, Mean Girls 2. While the two are central characters, the real 'star' of the show is Stacee Jaxx, a flamboyant character with traits of Axl Rose, Steve Tyler and any number of 80s soft metal singers. With that description, and the fact that the film is a musical, one can imagine there were more than a few raised eyebrows when Tom Cruise was cast in the role. Shankman has stated how impressed he was by Cruise's audition and says the actor trained for up to five hours a day prior to production starting. And Cruise wasn't the only big name to join the project - Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand became attached as the owner and manager of the Bourbon Club respectively (Brand also acts as narrator) and Malin Ackerman as a Rolling Stones journalist sent to interview Jaxx prior to his final show. Joining them would be Paul Giamatti, Mary J Blige, Bryan Cranston and Catherine Zeta Jones - the last two playing characters who appear under different names to their stage counterparts. Shooting took place during summer of 2011 and the first trailer appeared online in December, though it wouldn't be until the second full trailer went live that people got a proper look at Cruise's character. With an estimated budget of $80M attached, WB were hoping the combination of music, star-power and nostalgia would bring in the crowds. Initial reviews weren't good, but did improve as the week wore on, leaving Rock of Ages with a 43% approval rating.

Sadly it seems all the star power amounted to little in the end. Rock of Ages made $5.3M on Friday and had to settle for a third place showing.  While WB couldn't have been expecting to take the top spot, they would have looked for closer to $7-9M for opening day. Given the poor start, hopes were high that things would improve Saturday, but the film finished up with a very disappointing 3-day total of $15M. In comparison, Shankman's version of Hairspray opened to $27M, on its way to an $87M finish - something it seems Rock of Ages is unlikely to replicate, even from this early stage. The studio may try and put a positive spin on things - it is a musical, set in the 80s, with a soundtrack to suit, so they wouldn't have been expecting huge opening figures due to the size of the demographic such things would attract, but similar could be levied at Hairspray. With that pretty hefty budget attached, all concerned now need to hope the word of mouth compels people to catch the flick, and in the long run, it may find itself becoming something of cult/midnight sing-a-long type thing, as opposed to anything resembling a summer blockbuster. But even that poor start wasn't the worst of the weekend.

After a decent start a fortnight ago, Snow White and the Huntsman stumbled last weekend, seeing a 59% drop in takings. On its third Friday, the Chris Hemsworth/Kristen Stewart movie added $4M, with a further $9.8M over Saturday and Sunday - down a better 40% on that second frame figure. It managed to cross $100M on day 11 but with the so-so word of mouth and increased competition, it looks to be heading for around a $150-160M domestic finish - a little less than what Universal would have been expecting after such a solid start and means the picture will need to rely on overseas money in order to recoup its $170M production budget. (Its international total currently stands at $83.5M)

That's My Boy is Adam Sandler's new film and is one of only a handful of R-rated pictures the comedy star has been involved in. In fact, outside of 2009's Funny People, one would need to go back to 1996's Bulletproof (which was made before the formation of Sandler's Happy Maddison production company) to find an R-rated comedy in which the actor has played lead, though he has starred in two adult dramas, Reign Over Me (2007) and Punch Drunk Love (2002) which received the higher rating. This new picture sees Sandler as Donny Berger, a man who fathered a son (Todd) with his school teacher while still in his early teens, and has to raise the boy until Todd's 18th birthday. Having been a disaster as a father, due to age, short lived infamy and his own recklessness, the two haven't seen or spoken to each other for twelve years. However, when Donny has to find $43K or face jail and discovers his son, who is about to get married, is now a wealthy businessman, a reunion is on the cards. Joining Sandler, playing his adult son, is SNL stalwart Andy Samberg (who made his feature debut with 2007's Hot Rod). The film was originally titled I Hate You, Dad, then Donny's Boy, before settling on That's My Boy. The first trailer, a 'red band' one, appeared in March 2012, followed shortly after by the standard, cinema friendly version.  Adam Sandler is an incredibly successful movie star, and while often critically reviled, the average take for a film in which he is the lead works out to $90M - and that's just from pictures made since 2000. Even the recent Jack and Jill, which seemed to many to be a new low for the star, made $79M domestically, with another $75M abroad. While there have been missteps, as recent as 2010 saw the second best domestic return of his 20 year career, when Grown Ups made $162M (a sequel, a first for Sandler, is currently shooting). So while critics were once again, largely unimpressed with That's My Boy, rival studios know that Sandler can still be a force to be reckoned with. What would be interesting this time around is how that R-rating affected proceedings. Competition-wise, the flick would be up against Men in Black 3, and to a much lesser degree, The Dictator and What To Expect When You're Expecting, at least in the comedy stakes - while other releases in the top ten, including Rock of Ages, would also impact the film on some level.

If the other new release had it bad, spare a thought for That's My Boy. Making only $5.3M on Friday, it seemed Sandler's fans weren't willing to forgive and forget Jack & Jill in a hurry - that's providing the R-rating didn't stop them from seeing it altogether (something that will be heavily debated by studio execs on Monday morning). The rest of the weekend panned out roughly the same, with disappointing Saturday and Sunday figures, giving the picture a pretty much flop-worthy $13M for the weekend. For a wide opening comedy in which Sandler was the star, we need to go back some way to see figures as poor as these. The aforementioned Jack & Jill managed a $25M opening frame and even the infamous misfire that was Little Nicky made $16M during its first three days. In fact,  if we discount comedy dramas Spanglish and Funny People, That's My Boy opened only slightly stronger than 1996's Happy Gilmore ($8.5M - which equates to $12.6M in 2012 dollars). There really isn't any way for the studio to put a positive angle on this, especially given this is a straight Adam Sandler comedy, generally a safe bet for a $25-30M+ opening frame, if not more . Even an unprecedented hold next frame (which simply won't happen) would mean the film will have barely cleared $25M in 10 days, a figure Sandler's films usually surpass by the first Saturday evening of release. Expect this one to be dumped from theatres as quickly as possible.

Men In Black 3, now in its fourth weekend on general release, managed to cross the $150M milestone on Sunday. This frame the Will Smith/Josh Brolin comedy made $2.8M on Friday, heading to a $10M weekend overall. At this point it's safe to say that this will be the lowest grossing of the series, at least domestically (MiB finished with $250M while its sequel made $190M). Internationally the film is still going strong and that enabled Sony to announce that MiB3 had crossed the half a billion dollar mark in total global ticket sales earlier this week. Furthermore, its current overseas figure of $391.6M is a series best.  Proof, were it needed, that despite a four year break from screens, Will Smith is as popular aboard as he ever was.

The Avengers finally dips below double figures in terms of weekend takings, as it edges ever closer to $600M. There are few places for the Marvel picture to go now, with Titanic and Avatar's final totals seemingly out of reach, though the film may not be done with summer quite yet - news emerged this week that a 3 hour cut may visit theatres some time in August. Domestically The Avengers added $8.8M this frame (down only 21% on last weekend) bringing its total to an astounding $586M.  Overseas the film has made $833M at the time of writing, for a global figure of $1.41B.

Still at less than 1,300 locations, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continues to hang in there, quietly becoming something of an early summer sleeper. Its North American total this weekend stands at $35.1M, thanks to a $2.2M frame, with a further $81M coming from its international release. It may yet have one more showing in the top ten.

Continuing to impress from a minuscule locations count, Moonrise Kingdom managed another frame in the big leagues. Out to only 178 theatres, the Wes Anderson comedy-drama scored $618K on Friday, for a weekend finish of $2.1M. Further expansion is surely on the cards and Focus Features would do well to strike while the iron is hot. Moonrise Kingdom has so far made $6.7M in North America.

What To Expect When You're Expecting managed to knock The Dictator out of the top ten and grab one last chart placing. Made for $40M, the flick, based on a self help of the same name, has running total of $38.7M.

Outside the top ten, My Sister's Sister opened to $117K while the second weekend for comedy drama Safety Not Guaranteed saw $295K.

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