Sunday, 8 July 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 6th - 8th July 2012

1. The Amazing Spider-Man - $65M - $140M
2. Ted - $32.5M - $120.2M
3. Brave - $20.1M - $174.5M
4. Savages - $16.1M - $16.1M
5. Magic Mike - $15.6M - $72.7M
6. Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection - $10.2M - $45.8M
7. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - $7.7M - $196M
8. Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D - $7.1M - $10.2M
9. Moonrise Kingdom - $4.6M - $26.9M
10. To Rome With Love - $3.5M - $5.2M

[This week's report contains an extended history on Spider-Man's journey to the screen. Should you wish to skip this part, please scroll down to the --------- line. Thank you]

After a surprising weekend last frame, with both Ted and Magic Mike wildly over-performing, all eyes have been on the Amazing Spider-Man since Tuesday. Arguably the second of the three biggest summer films (The Avengers being the first, Dark Knight Rises being the last), Sony had a lot riding on Marc Webb's reboot of the already hugely successful franchise. Elsewhere we had the Katy Perry concert movie, Part of Me, and a violent thriller from Oliver Stone in the guise of Savages. All that, and the second frames for last weekend's big openers.

Spider-Man's origins stretch right back into the early 60s, when the Stan Lee - Steve Ditko creation made its debut in Amazing Fantasy Comic (Issue 15, August 1962). Over the years the character of Peter Parker and his alter-ego, Spider-Man, have remained incredibly popular, appearing in numerous comic book storylines, videogames, TV shows and, from 2002, up on the silver screen. It had taken more than few years for the character to make his movie debut, (though the extended pilot for the the 1977 TV show was released outside of North America as a movie, as were other stitched together episodes), with Roger Corman initially failing to get a film off the ground when he was briefly granted the rights to the character in the early 80s. Cannon Films then optioned the property, but company heads Golan and Globus misunderstood the character completely, and ordered a script in which Spider-Man was literally a 'spider man', complete with eight limbs, after being forcefully bombarded with radiation. Unhappy with the project's direction, Stan Lee pushed the company to abandon what they had and try again. With a new script in place, and director Joseph Zito replacing Tobe Hooper, the project looked to be moving forward (after yet another rewrite ordered by Zito). However, after the costly failure of Master of the Universe and Superman IV, the Spider-Man movie found its budget slashed to under $10M ($21M in 2012).

Ultimately, more rewrites and re-workings would follow, with Golan (who left Cannon when financial difficulties resulted in the company being purchased by Pathe) eventually seeking to fund the film through his 21st Century Film Corporation, with Columbia pictures becoming involved when they bought the TV rights to the still-unmade film. And this is when things started to get really complicated, which would eventually lead to a Spider-Man movie remaining unmade until 2002. After completing work on True Lies, Variety announced that Carolco entertainment had received a completed Spider-Man screenplay, by James Cameron. In actual fact, this script was the same one Golan had been shipping around for funding the previous year. Some time later, Cameron did indeed submit an extended treatment for a picture based on the character but due to a contractual clause, which gave the Terminator director a say as to who would get a credit on a Spider-Man picture, trouble was ahead. With no mention of him in articles related to this new production, Golan decided to sue Carolco, with further lawsuits emerging from Viacom and Columbia - all coming to a head when Carolco, Marvel and 21st Century all filed for bankruptcy (even Fox became involved, though indirectly, as they had Cameron under contract at that time).

In 1995, MGM acquired 21st Century and its assets, including Spider-Man, which would result in yet more lawsuits. When Marvel eventually emerged from their financial woes, the rights had reverted back to them, and they granted Columbia (now a subsidiary of Sony) permission to make a Spider-Man film, but MGM contested this, and claimed they still had the right to bring a webslinger picture to fruition. The battle would now bring the screen legend 007 into the mix. The studio (MGM) owned the rights to James Bond, but Sony, through Kevin McClory, had permission to make a new Bond film based on Thunderball (the result of an extremely complex series of legal battles). MGM didn't want a rival Bond flick in production as the British spy was their only money-making franchise. Conversely, Sony didn't need MGM attempting to bring their version of Spider-Man to cinema screens either, and certainly not while they were attempting to kickstart a franchise of their own. Common sense eventually prevailed in 1999, when Sony agreed to give up any claim to Bond, on the proviso that MGM left their Spider-Man movie on the page (and gave the rival studio the rights to work with the original Cameron treatment). Finally, after more than fifteen years of stop/start, a Spider-Man picture moved into actual pre-production. A release date of May 2001 was set, and the hunt was on for a director to do the character justice. Tim Burton, Roland Emmerich and Chris Columbus were all in the running, as was David Fincher, who wanted to drop the audience straight into the story, bypassing any kind of Spider-Man origin setup. In January 2000, Evil Dead director Sam Raimi was hired to helm the first in what Sony hoped would be a long-running franchise. David Koepp was put to work on the screenplay, using Cameron's setup as his basis (Cameron is not credited on the finished film). Further work was done on the script by Scott Rosenberg and Alvin Sargent. Tobey Maguire was cast as the titular hero, while Kristen Dunst would take on the role of Mary Jane. Instead of using multiple enemies to battle (as Cameron had done), Raimi opted to have Spider-Man face the Green Goblin, portrayed by Willem Dafoe.

To say the original Spider-Man was a success is something of an understatement. It broke the single day record, the weekend record and became the fastest film to hit $100M. In fact, some of the records it set during its theatrical run weren't broken until the release of the Spider-Man sequel two years later. It became the most successful film of 2002, raking in over $400M from just its North American release and seeing similar overseas. A sequel was set in motion almost instantly, with all the key players, both in front and behind the camera, reprising their roles. A script was commissioned in April 2002, with Alfred Gough and Miles Millar tasked with bringing what was then known as The Amazing Spider-Man, to life. David Koepp was brought in to work alongside Gough and Millar, with another pass made by  Pullitzer prize winner Michael Chabbon. Seeing something of what he liked in all their versions, Raimi worked with Alvin Sargent on assembling the final version of the script, that would see Parker retiring his alter-ego so as to have a life of his own. Forgoing numerous villains again, Spider-Man 2 features only Doctor Octopus as the webslinger's antagonist - Alfred Molina being more than a match for the role. Again, the picture was a huge success, becoming the second biggest release of 2004, behind the first Shrek sequel. In all, while not as successful as the original film, Spider-Man 2 made $373M domestically, with another $410M abroad. So confident were they of the second film's inevitable success, Sony announced the release date for Spider-Man 3 before a single word had even been written for it (indeed, part 2 was barely in theatres when the sequel was announced). This time, everything was going to be ramped up to eleven - instead of one villain the picture would carry three, and Mary Jane would find herself rivalled by Gwen Stacey. Spider-Man would face the new Green Goblin, Sandman and fan favourite Venom (at one point during scripting, Ben Kingsley was considered as a further villain, Vulture). The project became so complex that returning scripter Alvin Sargent toyed with the idea of splitting the story over two films, but this was quickly abandoned when a suitable ending could not be worked out (and cost, one assumes, was a bigger issue).

While the third film would be another financial success (North America - $336M, Foreign - $554M), it was not as well received, especially by fans, who felt Venom was particularly wasted, amongst other issues. Many mainstream critics thought there was perhaps too much story, too many characters. Raimi himself was said to be unhappy with studio interference but after Spider-Man 3's release in 2007, Sony were once again quick to announce a fourth picture in the series. Initial rumours that parts four and five would be shot back to back were quickly cut down by the returning director. James Vanderbilt was hired to script, with both David Lindsay-Abaire and Gary Ross doing subsequent passes (rumours of David Koepp's involvement appeared to amount to little). This time around, seeds sewn in the first film would come to fruition, with Peter Parker being set to face the Lizard (whose alter ego, Dr Curt Connors was played briefly by Dylan Baker in the original movie), Vulture and even a villain created especially for the picture, to be portrayed by Anne Hathaway. All the principle cast were set to return but in a surprising move, Sony announced in January 2010 that Spider-Man 4 had been cancelled due to Sam Raimi leaving the project, the director stating that he didn't feel he could meet the already-booked release date while still maintaining creative integrity. Almost immediately after the cancellation announcement, the studio moved forward with what was described as a reboot of the entire series. A new director, a new screenplay and more importantly, a new Spider-Man, were all set to come together on The Amazing Spider-Man.


Just days after Raimi's exit, Sony announced that Marc Webb, director of the small romantic drama (500) Days of Summer, was set to helm the reboot. Webb was seen as an unusual choice because despite having a extensive background in music video, Summer was his first and only feature directing credit. However, Sony saw something in his work, and he began casting while the screenplay was knocked into shape, credit for which goes to James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves (with minor uncredited work from Bridesmaid's Paul Feig). By May 2010, Webb was looking to cast his Spider-Man, with Jamie Bell, Andew Garfield and Alden Ehrenreich, in the running, among others. A month later and Anton Yelchin and Aaron Johnson had been added to the list of potentials but by July, Andrew Garfield was announced as the new Peter Parker. Despite intial reports that the film would feature both Mary Jane and Gwen Stacey, only the later made it to the screen, to be portrayed by Zombieland/Easy A's Emma Stone. Dennis Leary was later cast as Stacey's father, with Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May. The identity of the villain was kept under wraps, with Rhys Ifans announced for the role in October 2010 (shortly after revealed to be Dr Curt Conners aka Lizard). With legendary stuntman and second unit director Vic Armstong covering the action sequences, shooting commenced December 6th 2010 in Los Angeles. Filming wrapped in April of 2011 and the extensive post-production work could begin, looking toward its July 2012 release date. The first teaser for The Amazing Spider-Man debuted in July 2011, with the full trailer arriving in March of this year. First impressions were good but as witnessed recently with Prometheus, Sony appeared to become nervous about the picture's prospects, perhaps more so after the astonishing success of The Avengers (and the failure of other potential summer faire). They remedied this by releasing more and more footage, including clips, B-roll and trailers, to the point that one resourceful fan managed to assemble a rough cut of the entire movie, which ran for nearly 25 minutes.

The picture would face no direct competition until The Dark Knight Rises on July 20th and Sony opted to open the day before Independence Day, giving it a chance at the holiday dollar, but also forgoing any weekend records. Opening at midnight, The Amazing Spider-Man impressed with $7.5M in takings, with $1.2M of that figure from Imax screenings. A good start, which would lead to the film taking the Tuesday opener record and the biggest Tuesday figure for any picture (though there was actually little competition for either ) with $35M, which included the midnight figures. Things looked good going into July 4th but a drop of 35% in takings potentially pointed to issues going forward, even if they were minor ones at the time. By the end of day 2, The Amazing Spider-Man was sitting on a $59M total, not a figure to scoff at and only bettered by one other July 4th holiday picture  - Spider-Man 2. Thursday saw an expected dip due to many returning to work, leaving the film on a $75M total as we entered Friday and the weekend itself. At this point, the flick was tracking similar to the original Transformers movie, though Spider-Man didn't have an $8M Monday to help things along like Bay's picture had. As the weekend began, the picture headed upwards after the Thursday dip, taking $20.7M, leaving it $4M shy of $100M. With those figures in place, a clearer picture of where The Amazing Spider-Man was heading, began to emerge. Despite a strong cinemascore of A-, word of mouth was buoyant, even with more than a few people deeming the reboot as redundant. When the dust finally settled on Sunday evening, the film had made $65M for the weekend, giving it a six day running total of $140M. On the surface, those are strong figures, but obviously pale compared to The Avengers and The Dark Knight ($207M and $158M 3-day totals respectively). Again, the original Transformers is a good yardstick - it made $146M over its first six days (discounting the $8M Monday) but it didn't have the advantage awarded to Spider-Man by its 3D ticket surcharge. Furthermore, factoring in inflation means Transformers would have opened today to $163M. Even against the most recent of the original Spider-Man films, this new version seemingly underperformed. Spider-Man 3 managed $151M from its first weekend, and $176M from its first six days ($196M in 2012 numbers). For their part, Sony are pushing the reboot numbers to show how well the flick has done, comparing it to the opening weekends of Batman Begins and X-Men: First Class ($48.7M and $55M respectively). It's incredible to think that a $140M opener could be seen as a disappointment but that may well be how this goes down. All eyes will now be on next frame, where it needs a drop below 45% to help it push past $200M before the arrival of Batman a week later. Overseas, The Amazing Spider-Man has already cleared $200M, bring the film's total global figure to $341M.

After performing wildly beyond expectations, Ted found itself having to settle for second place from Tuesday onwards. The Seth MacFarlane comedy opened to a staggering $54M last frame, and managed to add a further $8M on Monday. With a production budget of $50M covered after the first three days on general release, Ted could breathe a little easier going into its sophomore frame, knowing it would pick up holiday business on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a decent second weekend if the word of mouth stayed positive. By Thursday night, Ted had made an impressive $87M - meaning that $100M was a shoe-in by the end of the weekend - something no one could have predicted three weeks ago. On its second Friday the picture dropped 49% on the same time last week, making $10.5M. It's worth remembering that Ted's first day was much higher than was expected, so this dip wouldn't have been that much of a concern to Universal. Saturday saw it become the thirteenth picture of 2012 to hit $100M, and led to a three day take of $32.5M, giving Ted a stunning cumulative gross of $120.2M (Its weekend to weekend drop was only 40%). Next frame brings us the Ice Age sequel, which shouldn't concern the R-rated comedy too much and if word of mouth keeps bringing in business, we may be looking at one of the bigger summer movies of 2012. (After ten days, Ted has already surpassed the final figures of Battleship, Dark Shadows and The Dictator, and nearly cleared American Reunion's entire theatrical run in its first three days). It may still be relatively early days yet, but it seem increasingly likely that Ted will become this year's Bridesmaids, with some already predicting $200M a possibility.

Pixar's Brave saw an expected boost over the holiday too, adding $5.7M on Tuesday, $6.4M on Wednesday, giving it a total of $154.3M by Thursday night. It had also managed to keep Magic Mike firmly in its place too. The studio needed a better hold this frame, because while its second weekend wasn't as bad as Cars 2, they know Ice Age 4: Continental Drift will pull viewers away from Merida & Co. next week. On its third Friday on general release, Brave added $6.2M, down 40% on the previous Friday. Solid matinee sales once again helped the film keep ahead of most of the competition, leaving it with a $20.6M 3-day weekend haul (that's down a better 39% on last frame overall). With Pixar, as we saw in last weekend's report, the best comparison for success is the company's own previous releases. By day 17, Cars 2 had made $148M while Up was some way ahead with $187M (for completions, Toy Story 3 was at $289M) - Brave stands at $174.5M. At this point the film is a shoe-in to become Pixar's tenth $200M earner, but how much more above that, remains to be seen, especially with the competition on the horizon. Overseas the film is only out to a handful of locations at this time, and has so far made $26.8M.

Savages is the only new release that actually opened on Friday this frame, and is the latest directorial effort from veteran Oliver Stone. The film is actually an adaptation of Don Winslow's book of the same name and follows the fallout that occurs after a drug cartel, headed by Elena (Salma Hayek) and Miguel (Benicio Del Toro) kidnap the girlfriend of expert Marijuana growers Ben and Chon, who have refused to join them in business. Forced into a confrontation, it would seem that the cartel may have underestimated the guy's bond with their girlfriend, not to mention the lengths they will go to get her back. Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch play Ben and Chon, with Green Lantern's Blake Lively as Ophelia. Further muddying the situation is Dennis, a corrupt DEA agent portrayed by John Travolta. Lively won the role when Jennifer Lawrence dropped out to work on The Hunger Games, while Kitsch was cast when Oliver Stone was screened 30 minutes of the actor's work in Battleship. Shooting took place from July to October 2011, and while a September 2012 release was originally on the cards, the studio opted to move the picture up to the middle of summer. Reviews started off well but declined as more critics weighed in with an opinion. In some regards, the violent drama could be seen as alternate programming to Spider-Man, while attracting a more mature audience than Ted. Savages had to accept a fifth place finish on Friday, with a $5.6M haul, which considering its content and stars, wasn't too bad. The film kept steady over Saturday and into Sunday, leaving it with a weekend total $16.1M. With Spider-Man, Ted and Magic Mike all vying for attention, that figure was an ok overall start for Savages, and becomes Stone's third biggest opener, after World Trade Centre and the Wall St sequel. What may give it a problem is word of mouth, which is said to be quite poor, something reflected in its Cinemascore rating of C+. The film cost $45M to produce, so with domestic and international ticket sales, it is unlikely to lose money, but may have started off with more had it kept its quieter release date.

Like Ted, Magic Mike got off to a great start last frame, making just under $20M on its first day. However, the subsequent Saturday and Sunday saw the film witness to pretty hefty front-loading, managing to add only $19M more to that initial figure. Obviously, for a film that cost between $5-7M to make, anything it made after that first weekend was practically pure profit, but it did quickly make one question the potential longevity of the Channing Tatum stripper flick. Brave pushed the film back to third place on Monday, but only $300K actually separated the two. On Friday, having made $57.1M up to that point, Magic Mike added $6.1M, that's down a very nasty 69% on the same time last week, and goes some way to proving just how front loaded that first Friday was. Over the remainder of the frame it added $9.5M (down a still harsh 60% overall), to give it a ten day total of $72M. While the film may not end up being Tatum's third $100M earner of 2012, given its budget, this is already a resounding success - and it still has the rest of the world to play for.

As expected, the latest Tyler Perry flick, Madea's Witness Protection, took a tumble on its second Friday - down 66% with a take of $3.4M. In actual fact, the film was already falling as early as Monday, when it dropped almost 60% from the previous day. Both Perry and Lionsgate would have been expecting this as the general pattern for the films, whether they feature Madea or not, is a high second frame fall. Witness Protection was produced for $20M, so with a take of $45.8M so far (the flick made $10.2M overall this weekend), this will go down as another hit for the one man film studio, and it may also finish up as third best of the Madea series, behind ...Goes to Jail ($90M) and Family Reunion ($63M). Thanks to there being only two major releases in the next fortnight, Madea's Witness Protection might get to hang around the top ten for a little longer than normal.

Madagascar 3 also benefited from the holidaying cinema-goer, and that helped the picture to become the biggest of the series on late Saturday/early Sunday, surpassing the $193M made by the original film. This weekend, the Dreamworks sequel added a further $7.7M, to bring its 31 day total to $196M. Like Brave, it will no doubt be hit by Ice Age 4, but that'll be of little concern for the $145M budgeted picture. Overseas the news is even better, with $250M coming and going sometime midweek.

Our final new release this weekend is the documentary/concert film Katy Perry: Part Of Me, which debuted in theatres on Thursday. Part of Me follows Perry's career path, starting from her childhood, through to her stint as a gospel singer and then onto global stardom, with all the ups and down that that bought to her life. These scenes are interspersed with concert footage taken from the singer's California Dreams tour, shot in November 2011. Perry announced the film herself via Twitter in March 2012, stating that she wanted people to get the 'best friend' perspective, even including the breakup of her marriage to Russell Brand. Heading for a July 5th release date, critical opinion was actually the strongest of all the wide opening new releases this week, with a 76% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes (Spider-Man weighed in 72%, while Savages was just above averages with 52%). Paramount had enough confidence in Perry and her fans to release the film into 2,700 locations, more than Savages was at. Upon opening, Part of Me managed $3.1M, which is much lower than recent concert features such as Never Say Never and Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds, but again, this was a Thursday release, not a Friday one, and that will have affected its initial prospects. Alas, it seems few outside of Perry's fanbase turned up for the weekend showings as the picture struggled to $2.7M on Friday, dropping down to seventh. Thing didn't improve much from there, and Part of Me ended with a three day total of $7.1M ($10.2M since release). Comparisons to the aforementioned concert movies go some way to highlight how poorly this new one has performed - Never Say Never opened to $29.5M, while Best of Both Worlds scored $31M from a timed and limited release. Even The Jonas Brothers movie managed $12.5M.With only one release due next weekend, the picture will at least get one more chance in the top ten, but ultimately it's likely to do much bigger business on the home market.

In 884 locations, Moonrise Kingdom continues to enjoy a top ten placing. This week, the Wes Anderson comedy drama made $4.6M, to bring its 45 day total to $26.9M. Only The Royal Tenebaums has now made more money in terms of Anderson's directorial output. While it may not expand further, it could remain the chart while bigger pictures fall by the wayside.

Coming out of limited release this weekend is Woody Allen's To Rome With Love. The film expanded to over 800 theatres and managed to crack the top ten with a Friday take of $860K, on its way to a 3-day haul of $3.5M. At this point the Jesse Eisenberg/Alec Baldwin comedy has made $5.2M, but is unlikely to see the dizzy heights of Allen's 2011 hit, Midnight in Paris, which finished up with a career best of $56M (Obviously that excludes inflation applied to his earlier flicks).

Finally, at only 19 theatres, Beasts of the Southern Wild had the best ticket/theatre average of any of the top ten once again this week, making $375K in the process. The award winning drama has now made $745K.

Overseas, Ice Age: Continental Drift approaches $200M after 12 days on release. Check back next Sunday to see how it plays on the domestic market.

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