Sunday 24 June 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 22nd - 24th June 2012

1. Brave - $66.7M - $66.7M
2. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - $20.2M - $157.5M
3. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - $16.5M - $16.5M
4. Prometheus - $10M - $108.5M
5. Snow White and the Huntsman - $8M - $137M
6. Rock of Ages - $8M - $28.8M
8. That's My Boy - $7.9M - $28.1M
7. The Avengers - $7M - $598.2M
9. Men in Black III - $5.6M - $163.3M
10. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - $3.8M - $3.8M

With a disastrous start from last weekend's major releases, Hollywood is covering all bases this frame with a family movie, an R-rated action horror and a romantic comedy drama. The aforementioned disasters, Rock of Ages and That's My Boy will be looking for anything they can grab while The Avengers continues to edge closer to the big 600. Next frame is more of the same, with the return of Tyler Perry's Madea, Seth McFarlane's feature debut Ted and the Channing Tatum stripper pic, Magic Mike, alongside the drama People Like Us.

Brave is Pixar's thirteenth release, and actually began life as The Bear and The Bow. Announced by Pixar and Disney in April 2008 (along with a slate of other pictures which included the now aborted 'Newt'), its name was changed sometime during production to the one it carries now. Conceived by Brenda Chapman (co-director of Prince of Egypt), the film's journey to the screen has not been without its issues. Chapman had been set to direct Brave, making her Pixar's first female feature director, but by April 2010 she had been replaced by Mark Andrews due to creative disagreements, though she still shares a director credit with her replacement (while contributing writer Steve Purcell receives a co-directing credit). Andrews cut his teeth as a story board artist, working on Iron Giant and Osmosis Jones and made his directorial debut on the Pixar short, One Man Band. After working on the aforementioned Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, he became known as Brad Bird's go-to guy but also helped shoot some second unit work for Andrew Stanton on John Carter. Brave is set in 10th century Scotland and centres around a young girl named Merida, who defies an ancient custom, inflicting a terrible curse upon her family. She faces a race against time to put things right or risk the curse having an everlasting effect. When the film was first announced, a Christmas 2011 release date was bandied around. Also of note was that Reese Witherspoon would be providing the voice for Merida, but owing to scheduling conflicts, she was replaced by Kelly McDonald, who despite having quite a distinguished career, is known to many nowadays as Boardwalk Empire's Margaret Schroeder. Joining her would be Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Billy Connoly and Robbie Coltrane, amongst others.

The first still from the film arrived online in March of 2011 and was met with a great deal of praise for its detail, something also levied at the first teaser trailer released in June. Pixar went on the reveal that in order to handle the complexity of the visuals, they had re-written their animation system for the first time in 25 years. With a June 2012 release date now in place, people were eager to see how the studio would follow up the critically drubbed Cars sequel. A few short years ago the company were untouchable both in terms of visuals and story but slowly, Dreamworks animation (primarily) has begun to close the gap, with many remarking that their 2010 release How To Train Your Dragon was equal to almost anything Pixar had done. After the disappointment of Cars 2, many had began to wonder if the shine had indeed worn off (it has to be noted though, that the sequel was one blip on an otherwise exemplary record - and did go on to make over $550M). Initial reviews for Brave weren't anywhere near as bad as the Cars sequel but neither did they quite hark back to recent critical hits Up (98%), Wall-E (96%) and 2010's Toy Story 3 (99%) either (it wound up with 74% rating at Rotten Tomatoes). While critics were quick to praise the visuals, it was the storytelling, usually something of a strong point, that came in for the majority of the negative comments. There was also concern that a female lead character might limit the picture's box office appeal and while Madagascar 3 was now in its third week, it would still pose a risk. Brave was out to 4,164 locations, the most of any Pixar release, and at least 2,700 of them would be 3D.

It seems those fears were unfounded. Cars 2 opened last June to a first day total of $25.7M and while Brave wasn't as strong, it gave the film a good run for its money with its $24.5M debut (third best opening day for a Pixar flick). The sequel was operating on the built-in audience where as this new release didn't have that advantage, so while it was financially weaker, Brave's opening was more impressive (it was also Pixar's thirteenth number one in a row) It easily took the top spot from its nearest rival, Madagascar 3. With Saturday expected to be stronger thanks to family-filled matinee performances, all eyes turned to where the picture would end up on Sunday, especially in comparison to other Pixar releases. It was building some very good word of mouth, backed up by an 'A' Cinemascore rating. The studio's best debut was Toy Story 3's $110M, something Brave obviously wouldn't be troubling, but there was every chance it could surpass Up ($68M), Wall-E ($63M) and the aforementioned Cars 2 ($65M). In the end, Brave ended up with a three-day total of $66.7M, a great start for an original property and puts it just below Up on the Pixar first weekend list, in fifth place. But it looks as though audience's weren't sold on the 3D, according to Box Office Guru's Gitesh Pandya, with only 34% of tickets sold being for 3D screenings. The studio will have been pleased with that start, especially given the initial reviews, and they'll be hoping that word of mouth will continue to build and allow Brave to retain the top spot next weekend. As with most Pixar releases, this one will receive a staggered opening throughout the world - taking in Australia and New Zealand this weekend, amongst others, and making $13.5M.

Madagascar 3 relinquished the top spot to Brave this weekend but still put up a decent fight. As with last week, the Dreamwork's flick played well Monday through Thursday, taking almost double the money of its closest competitor. By its second Thursday on release (Day 14), it had taken $137M (in comparison, the prequel had made $121.4M by that point) and was hoping to surpass $150M by the end of its third weekend - something heavily dependant on how well Brave opened. Friday saw Europe's Most Wanted take $6.1M up against Pixar's latest, that's down a pretty good 39% on the same time last week and proved the film was still popular with the public despite the new choice. With both films vying for the matinee dollar, the sequel again found itself trailing in second position but by the end of the frame had made $20.2M for a running total of $157M (down 41% on last weekend). Overall Dreamworks must be pleased with that figure and how the film is performing generally. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted may yet become the most successful of the series, if it can just hold out for a few more weeks (which is indeed all it has before facing Ice Age 4). Overseas the film is already above $170M, with big numbers coming from Brazil and Russia.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter marks Seth Grahame-Smith's second script to make it to the big screen in six weeks (Dark Shadows being the other). In the case of this picture, Smith also wrote the source material in the form of a fictional biography in which the 16th President of the United States details his double life as a vampire killer. The rights to produce a film were purchased in March 2010 (the same month the novel hit book stands) by directors Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov, with a view to funding the production themselves. By October, Fox had beaten several competitors for the rights to the film, and a few months later, Bekmambetov was announced as director. The picture marks his second English language release, his first being 2008's Wanted. In the interim Bekmambetov has produced a number of features including 9, The Darkest Hour and Apollo 18. Filming began in March 2011 with a view to release in the summer of 2012 (there were rumours of a Halloween 2011 showing for the picture, but its 2012 date has actually been in place since October 2010). As mentioned, the story follows the idea that Abraham Lincoln led a double life - one of a noted politician and future president, the other as a relentless vampire hunter, a role he had taken on after learning the creatures were responsible for his mother's death.

Adrien Brody, James D'arcy and Josh Lucas were all said to be in running for the role of Lincoln, but Benjamin Walker, a noted theatre actor, ultimately won the lead, despite having few feature roles to his name. As friend and mentor Henry Sturges, Dominic Cooper was cast, while Rufus Sewell would take on Adam, head of the vampires. The public got their first glimpse of the picture in February 2012 with the debut of a teaser trailer, showing a number of impressive looking set pieces. This was further added to with a full length trailer in May. Given the average cost of summer blockbusters, it was unusual to hear that this one was budgeted at $70M - partly based, one assumes, on the low key cast. While there was no direct competition this frame, Prometheus and Snow White could both cut into the picture's potential audience. Furthermore, Lincoln's R-rating meant a huge part of the target demographic would be unable to see film (or at least, find it difficult to). Reviews didn't begin to arrive until late in the week, with 38% of critics finding something to like about the movie. From midnight sneaks, Lincoln took $701K, as it headed towards a soft opening day of $6.3M, barely $200K ahead of Europe's Most Wanted. Given the 3D ticket prices, this wasn't the first day that Fox would have been hoping for - more so when poor word of mouth had quickly began to circle the picture. Saturday didn't give it much help, and that led to a weak $16.5M 3-day total, putting it amongst the lowest performing potential summer blockbusters so far this year (Battleship made $25M, Dark Shadows $29M, though Lincoln had neither the advertising budget or star power of those films). Had the budget  been closer to $50M, the $16.5M debut would probably been looked on more favourably by the studio. While next week's release, Ted, is a different genre, it will attract a similar demographic to Vampire Hunter, and with the poor start this frame, the film will quickly find its days in the top ten numbered.

After that nasty second frame fall, Fox were hoping Prometheus would recover somewhat. The good news came on Friday, when the picture hit $100M domestically, making it the eleventh picture of 2012 to achieve such a feat. The Ridley Scott picture had struggled after its solid opening and had shown signs of serious front-loading and poor word of mouth. This frame it would also have to face R-rated competition in the guise of Abraham Lincoln. On Friday it managed $2.9M, and found itself pushed down to fourth place. Come Sunday evening, Prometheus had added a further $7.9M, to give it a $108.5M total thus far. With such a strong start, Fox may be slightly disappointed with how things have panned out and the picture is now looking at $130-140M finish - still a decent number given the factors affecting it, but not has high as they'd originally hoped, one assumes. Internationally Prometheus has so far earnt $153M, which should cover any short falls left by its domestic performance. The official budget is $120M, but estimates peg it closer to $200M.

Snow White and The Huntsman hit a global total of $297M on Sunday. Domestically this frame it made $2.5M on Friday (ahead of That's My Boy), heading to a $8M fourth weekend total. There's not much between the North American and the international figures, but there may be more longevity in the later. Made for $170M, the film should top out at around $160M state-side, with $200M overseas not out of the question (its current haul there is $160M).

Similar to That's My Boy (see below), Rock of Ages disappointed during its opening three days, only securing third place by the skin of its teeth and making $15M in the process. The ensemble musical, which features Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin, struggled to find an audience and a week on, the news is little different. Friday saw the movie make $2.5M, that's down 52% on the same day last weekend (similar to what Shankman's previous musical, Hairspray dropped on its second Friday, though that film had a much stronger start). For the weekend the picture made $8M, bringing its ten day total come Sunday to $28.7M. Again, while the dip is similar to Hairspray's overall frame to frame drop (45% vs 42%), Rock of Ages faces the real prospect of a North American finish some way below $50M. With four new releases next frame, there's even a slim chance the film won't see a third weekend in the top ten. The only person to come out of the picture well is Tom Cruise, who received some good notices for portrayal of rock star Stacee Jaxx

With one of the worst starts of his entire career last weekend, Adam Sandler was hoping fans would give That's My Boy another chance. It did actually move ahead of Rock of Ages during the week but in the truth, there was little to separate them. The comedy entered its second frame with just $20M in its coffers. On its second Friday the picture fell 46% on last frame, which is actually much better than was expected - but still meant a second Friday take of only $2.4M. As Box Office Prophets pointed out in their Friday review, the fall isn't that bad because it didn't have that far to fall anyway. That's My Boy added just $5.5M, to finish the frame with a total of $7.9M, $28.1M overall. That figure is still less than what Grown-Ups made during its first two days ($29M). The only saving grace is that the flick should outgross Sandler's most notorious failure, Little Nicky, which ended its run with $39M.

The Avengers now stands perilously close to $600M, and might actually surpass it within the next few days. This weekend it added $7M, to bring its North American total to $598M. Curiously, if you remove Titanic's 3D re-release, it made $600M during its first run, so one could argue that Avenger's has the chance to become the second biggest picture of all time - at least in terms of first runs. Overseas the Marvel match-up is up to $838M (Global total $1.43B)

Men In Black 3 adds $5.6M this weekend, its fifth on general release, and is looking upon its last frame in the top ten. Made for between $200-300M, the Barry Sonnefeld directed picture has performed moderately well in North America but has surpassed $400M overseas. Next up for star Will Smith is a role in M.Night Shyamalan's After Earth, while Tommy Lee Jones will appear alongside Steve Carell and Meryl Streep in Hope Springs and Daniel Day Lewis in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln.

Our final major release this frame is the romantic comedy drama Seeking a Friend For the End of the World, which stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley and was written and directed by Lorna Scafaria (who adapted Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist for the big screen). After an attempt to destroy an earth-bound asteroid fails, humanity faces extinction. The film is a global disaster movie told on a small scale, primarily how it affects two people. Carell plays Dodge Petersen, with Knightley as Penny Lockhart, his neighbour. With little time left to live before the asteroid hits the planet, Dodge decides he wants to find his high school sweetheart, while Penny hopes to get back to be with her family, prompting a road trip for the pair, and perhaps an unlikely romance at the most unfortunate of times. Scafaria claims she was inspired to write the script after recent upheaval in her own personal life. The marketing on the film has been kept fairly low key and Focus Features opted to release the picture into around 1600 locations. Reviews haven't been strong, and the early word that this could be a summer sleeper began to quickly fade. With bigger, showier movies on offer, 'Seeking' would need to rely on any word of mouth it could get, more so given its reduced location count. Sadly it seems the film didn't get much chance to shine, barely making the top ten on Friday with just $1.6M - good enough only for tenth place. While Focus wouldn't have been looking (or expecting) big numbers, they must have been disappointed with the start, and equally so with the flick's overall weekend total of $3.8M. Obviously the poor reviews and word of mouth won't have helped matters but one has to question the logic of releasing a picture like this bang in the middle of the summer.  Unless a miracle happens, (more so with four wide releases next frame) this will be Seeking a Friend's only week in the top ten. (In comparison, Moonrise Kingdom, which is out to only 395 theatres, made $3.4M this weekend).

New in limited release this weekend is Woody Allen's To Rome With Love. While the film took a critical kicking, it managed a strong 3 day total of $379K from five locations. Further expansion will follow, but whether it will see the dizzy heights of last summer's Midnight In Paris remains to be seen.

One final note relates to The Dictator and how quickly a film is shifted from theatres once its money making ability diminishes. The Sacha Baron Cohen comedy opened on May 16th, meaning it has been on general release for 40 days as of Sunday (this being its sixth weekend), yet its location count stands at just 316 theatres, and that's from a start of 3,008 back in May. By only its fourth frame on release, it had shed almost half of its screen count and goes to illustrate that no matter how wide a film opens, if the money isn't flowing quickly enough, a studio will cut its losses to make way for the next potential money maker. The Dictator isn't the only one this summer - Dark Shadows, Battleship and Chernobyl Diaries all had their screen counts quickly slashed when they failed to make much of an impact with the general public.

No comments: