Sunday 29 July 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 27th - 29th July 2012

1. The Dark Knight Rises - $64M - $289M
2. Ice Age: Continental Drift - $13.3M - $114.8M
3. The Watch - $13M - $13M
4. Step Up: Revolution - $11.8M - $11.8M
5. Ted - $7.4M - $193.6M
6. The Amazing Spider-Man - $6.8M - $242M
7. Brave - $4.2M - $217.2M
8. Magic Mike - $2.5M - $107.5M
9. Savages - $1.8M - $43.9M
10. Moonrise Kingdom - $1.3M - $38.3M

Something of a shorter report than last weekend's epic Batman-themed one. Two new films joined the fray on Friday, but all eyes were on the second frame of The Dark Knight Rises. Events in Colorado left many wondering how it would affect the film's debut and opinions were mixed, though few could deny that its $160M start wasn't impressive on a number of levels. Looking ahead to next week, we have the costly Total Recall remake, followed seven days later by The Bourne Legacy, and then we're all but done with summer blockbuster season - unless a last minute sleeper turns up like The Help did back in August of 2011.

The Dark Knight Rises had been look upon as the last big blockbuster of summer 2012  but found its opening overshadowed by tragedy. Reports differed as to how much its performance had been affected - some felt it had come up short, others thought it had made as much as could be expected, but most agreed that not being in 3D cost the film at least $30M in potential takings. While the jury was still out, eyes turned towards its weekday totals and further ahead, to its second frame - would there be a recovery, if indeed, one was needed. Comparisons with The Dark Knight are inevitable - and by the end of the first weekend, the predecessor had made $158M, while TDKR was on $160M. That would be the only point that the new film would be ahead in takings. Monday saw Christopher Nolan's new picture make a solid $19.3M, against the $24M figure made by The Dark Knight. A day later and the gap in takings was slightly reduced, but by Wednesday, when The Dark Knight Rises hit $200M (making it the fifth fastest to hit the figure), the difference in total grosses was $11M. Take out the comparisons and again, one can't help but be impressed that the film hit $200M in six days. Come Thursday evening, 'Rises' was sitting on a $224M total, and wasn't expected to have much trouble from new film, The Watch. While the gap between the new and old movie was now more pronounced, it seemed a little off to say it was disappointing, just simply underwhelming. What was needed now was a strong second frame - and WB would have been looking for around a 50% drop. Alas, it seemed the front-loading was initially worse than many had expected, with the feature dropping a sharp 76% on a Friday to Friday basis, making $18M. The desire to see the picture that first frame was obviously a factor, as was the shadow cast by Colorado, but one can't rule out the effect the Olympics opening ceremony may have had too - something that would continue to be an influence throughout the remainder of the weekend. However, that figure also means The Dark Knight Rises had already made more money in eight days than The Amazing  Spider-Man had amassed in its entire run to date (this was its fourth weekend).

The picture did recover over the remainder of the weekend, seeing a stronger Saturday, to finish up with a second frame total of $64M, down 60% overall. This brings its ten day total to $289M. Once again, a very strong total figure but underwhelming when compared to The Dark Knight (and obviously, some way short of where The Avengers was, even if we remove 3D surcharges). You can also bet WB were hoping it would have crossed $300M this weekend. At this point, the second picture of the series was sitting on $313M, having been witness to a 52% frame to frame drop (and a $75M second weekend total). Evidentially the aforementioned front-loading of that first weekend (indeed, that first day) was in effect, as was the Olympic factor, meaning TDKR is acting more like a typical sequel this frame (The movie had been the most anticipated sequel/prequel possibly since The Phantom Menace). That, combined with slightly lower weekday figures (along with a weaker second weekend) has widened the gap between the Dark Knight flicks. Like we saw with The Amazing Spider-Man, if we take away comparisons with earlier films, The Dark Knight Rises is a near-$300M feature after only ten days on release -and few can argue with that kind of success. There should be a better hold next frame but the picture isn't going to have the sort of legs witnessed by its predecessor and looks to be heading to around a $425-450M finish, though that largely depends on how much trouble the new films present it. Overseas the picture has already hit $175M and expanded into many more territories this weekend. Expect the international gross to ultimately surpass that of the domestic.

Most had predicted new release, The Watch would drop into second place, but as we'll see, that didn't happen. Ice Age: Continental Drift dropped hard last frame, despite no new direct competition, but did at least cross the $100M marker on Thursday. Come the weekend, the animated feature hung on to second position thanks to the lacklustre performance of the new releases, making $4M on its third Friday. Comparisons with Dawn of the Dinosaur are pretty telling with how this new film is performing - by its third Friday, 'Dawn' was up to $139M, a figure Ice Age 4 will be lucky to see during its entire domestic run. All told, the picture made $13.3M this frame, to give it a domestic gross of $114M. Yet again, it is the overseas numbers that are making the news - $514M and still going strong. ParaNorman is the only direct competition on the horizon, and that isn't released until mid-August. By that point, given the amount of new releases coming up, Ice Age 4 may well have already exited the top ten anyway.

The Watch stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade as neighbours who decide to form a neighbourhood watch group as a method of spending time away from their respective families and humdrum lives. All appears to be going well until the gang uncover an alien invasion right on their doorstep. The movie actually began life in 2008 as a sort of teenage Ghostbusters-style comedy, under the guidance of director/producer Eugene Levy, with a screenplay by Jared Stern. By May 2009, Will Ferrell had expressed an interest in starring and director David Dobkin began revising the script. However, by August of that year both had left the project, while later negotiations with Peter Segal also amounted to nought. In December 2010, Levy decided a different tact was needed, which saw Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg hired to completely rewrite and re-imagine the script as an R-rated feature, with older lead characters. This new angle got the greenlight, with Hot Rod director Akiva Schaffer signing on to helm the flick. When marketing began, the first trailer made no reference at all to an alien invasion or any other sci-fi elements - instead showing the gang cruising in their car, pretending to shoot at people on the street. This was quickly changed after a real life incident in Florida, in which a neighbourhood watch captain shot and killed an unarmed man. This caused Fox to alter the title of the film from Neighbourhood Watch to simply The Watch. Accompanying this change was a new trailer, playing down the one angle and introducing the alien element. Further trailers followed, both standard and R-rated, and a release date of July 27th was set, a week after The Dark Knight Rises.

Stiller's last live action film, Tower Heist, disappointed domestically and overseas, making $78M and $74M respectively, while Jonah Hill is coming to this picture after a very successful turn in 21 Jump Street (and the Oscar nomination for Moneyball). Vaughn was last on screen in 2011's The Dilemma, which failed to make much of a dent at the box office, while newcomer to Hollywood, Richard Ayoade, secured the gig after working on directorial debut, Submarine, which was produced by Stiller's production company. Reviews were very poor, with only 14% of critics finding something to enjoy. Apart from The Dark Knight Rises, there was no direct competition save for the five week old Ted. While the studio never expected a shot at the top spot on Friday, they would have at least hoped for second place, something that eluded them thanks to Step Up Revolution making around $350K more. Given the amount of hype and star power attached to this flick (not to mention its $68M budget), $4.5M must have been quite a disappointment - and set it up for a worrying weekend of less than $15M. By Sunday night, The Watch had to settle for third place, ending up with a very poor $13M. Word of mouth won't do it any favours going forward and there's a very real chance it could finish below $45M in North America. While not an outright flop, it isn't far off, and The Watch now has a hell of a task to even be relevant in two weeks time.

The only other major release this frame is the fourth movie in the Step Up series - Step Up Revolution. The first film opened back in 2006 and starred Channing Tatum (it was the star's fourth feature) and went on to make over $65M in North America. Tatum would return in a reduced capacity for the sequel, Step Up: The Streets, which would go on to be almost as successful, ending its run with $58M. Furthermore, the second film broke out in the international market, making $92M. A couple of characters introduced for the sequel would return for Step Up 3D, though Channing Tatum would pass - by 2010 the star had began to make a name for himself in pictures such as G.I Joe, Public Enemies and Dear John. The third movie would struggle domestically, becoming the lowest grossing of the series to date with $42M in takings, but overseas the film did blistering business, making over $115M. By the time a fourth feature was announced, the Step Up series had made $424M in total global ticket sales - from a combined budget of less than $60M. Step Up Revolution would again be in 3D and would follow Emily, the daughter of a wealthy businessman who falls in with the leader of a dance crew style-flash mob. Trouble rears its head when Emily's father decides to re-develop the crew's historic neighbourhood. Director of the third flick, John Chu, returns in a producing capacity here, his main commitment being to the G.I Joe sequel, Retaliation.

The best opening weekend for a Step Up flick lies with the first picture and $20M, and given its main demographic, this new flick would encounter only minimal competition. Critical opinion on this fourth picture is better than that of the first two (20% and 27% respectively) but weaker than Step Up 3D's 46%. As we've already seen, Step Up Revolution caused something of a minor upset on Friday when it beat The Watch into second place. That said, its $4.8M take is the lowest first day of the series, and pointed to a subdued weekend overall. By Sunday evening, the dance feature had made only $11.8M, which puts it as the weakest opening of the series. With a $33M budget attached, the Summit release won't lose any money in the long term and will have a good life on the home market. Its potential success abroad will have more bearing on whether we'll see a fifth Step Up movie, than its domestic showing.

With the R-rated competition not up to much this weekend, Ted added a further $7.4M, to bring its five week total to $193M. The Seth MacFarlane comedy could hit $200M by next Sunday, heading to a $215M domestic finish. Ted has been the summer sleeper of 2012, and has yet to open wide around the rest of the world, where its current total is $39M.

Peter Parker and his alter ego, Spider-Man, took the full brunt of the Batman's launch last frame, dropping an eye-watering 69% on the previous frame. Any hopes of a recovery a week later quickly faded with a $1.9M Friday take (lower than Ted), leading to a fourth weekend figure of $6.8M ($242M overall). $250M should come within the next week or so, and as a stand alone feature, The Amazing Spider-Man has done very well indeed, and will almost certainly end up as one of the biggest domestic earners of 2012. Comparisons with the Sam Raimi movies continue to highlight how this new film has underperformed, but with a global total approaching $650M, Sony will be more then content to push forward with the 2014 sequel.

Brave is now the most successful animated feature of 2012, surpassing the Madagascar sequel. After a decent start, there were fears of a quick downturn that never really materialised, even with the release of Ice Age 4. This weekend, its sixth on general release, the Pixar release added $4.2M for a running total of $217.2M. At this stage, it is the ninth most successful release for the studio, and should beat Wall-E's $223M domestic total within the next ten days.

The Channing Tatum stripper drama, Magic Mike, has now made $107M, adding $2.5M this frame to bring it to that total. The picture had a very strong opening day, yet seemed to burn out quickly, only to recover as time passed on. It should see at least one more weekend in the top ten, finishing up with about $120M - not a bad return on its $7M production costs.

Savages has now become Oliver Stone's eighth most successful film, surpassing the $43.8M made by Wall St (obviously, without inflation factored in). This frame the Taylor Kitsch thriller added a further $1.8M. A finish of around $50M is on the cards.

Moonrise Kingdom once again manages to hold on to a top ten placing, even with only 853 locations to its name. This frame the picture added a further $1.3M to bring it total to $38.3M

Finally, at just three theatres, the NC-17 rated Killer Joe managed $38K, giving it one of the best screen to dollars-taken averages of any film on general release.

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