Sunday 19 August 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 17th - 19th August 2012

1. Expendables 2 - $28.5M - $28.5M
2. The Bourne Legacy - $17M - $69.9M
3. ParaNorman - $14M - $14M
4. The Campaign - $13.3M - $51.6M
5. Sparkle - $12M - $12M
6. The Dark Knight Rises - $11.1M - $409.9M
7. The Odd Life of Timothy Green - $10.9M - $15.1M
8. Hope Springs - $9.1M - $35M
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days - $3.8M - $38.7M
10. Total Recall - $3.5M - $51.7M

Something for everyone this week, with four major releases and a potentially interesting limited one.  The Expendables 2 will be looking to open stronger than the first film, while ParaNorman offers fresh family entertainment. Meanwhile, Sparkle and The Odd Life of Timothy Green hope to play well as counter programming. They'll all be facing of against the second frame for The Bourne Legacy and The Campaign, two films which opened quite well last weekend. Next frame brings us action-comedy Hit & Run and the delayed Joseph Gordon-Levitt film, Premium Rush.
The first Expendables movie was like an action fan's dream, with a special nod to the 1980s. From a story by David Callaham, Sylvester Stallone wrote, directed and starred in the feature, with action stars Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li and Jason Statham, being joined by MMA fighter Randy Couture, former wrestler Steve Austin and Mickey Rourke. The film also managed the scoop of featuring a short scene with Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The ensemble followed Stallone's team of Expendables on a mission to take out a military leader and a corrupt CIA official (played by another 80s veteran, Eric Roberts). While not quite delivering on the wall to wall action some were hoping for, it was a global smash, making $107M domestically, with a further $174M overseas, on a budget pegged at $80M. Before the film was even in theatres, Stallone was already talking a sequel, and his plan to bring back even more action icons next time around. The follow-up was greenlit a few months later with the star adapting a story by Ken Kaufman, David Agosto and Richard Wenk. By April 2011 things were shaping up but Stallone announced he would not return to direct, instead, Con-Air's Simon West, who had worked with Jason Statham on the remake of The Mechanic, would be at the helm. He hired story co-creator Richard Wenk to pen a new draft of the script, after which casting commenced.

After seeing the success of the first film, a number of stars expressed an interest in being part of the sequel. 80s action legend Chuck Norris accepted a role, as did Jean Claude Van Damme, who had actually turned down a spot in the first flick. He'd now play the lead villain, aided by actor and martial artist Scott Adkins. (Van Damme also re-worked a major fight sequence with Stallone's approval). Further additions included Liam Hemsworth and Yu Nan. Rumoured, but ultimately failing to appear for one reason or another, were Donnie Yen, Charlie Sheen, John Travolta, Nic Cage and Antonio Banderas, and while Mickey Rourke was originally scheduled to reprise the role of Tool,  by September 2011 it was confirmed that the actor would not return. Obviously Stallone would once again play Barney Ross, alongside Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li (who some thought would be replaced by the aforementioned Donnie Yen), Randy Couture, Terry Crews and Charisma Carpenter. Willis and Schwarzenegger would be back too, in a more substantial capacity. Filming on the $100M feature commenced last September but ran into a number of issues, not least of which were the death and serious injury of two stuntmen while shooting in Bulgaria. The production was also blamed (and fined) for a number of environmental issues that arose while filming took place. As well as Bulgaria, the feature also took in Russia, Hong Kong and France, with principal photography announced complete by January 2012.

But as post-production began, a worrying rumour came to light - that at Chuck Norris' demand, the picture would have to be cut and released for a PG-13 certificate. While many laughed this off (the original picture had been R-rated), Sylvester Stallone confirmed to AICN's Harry Knowles that they were indeed aiming for a lower rating this time around (though there has never been any confirmation that this was down to Norris). The film's certificate would continue to be the subject of much debate, with various stories and comments bouncing it between PG-13 and R. The first footage appeared in mid December of 2011, with a full trailer arriving just as summer kicked off, promising more of everything - stars, action and explosions. The only question remaining was whether the fan base would return for the sequel. Signs went from good to great when Simon West stated in an interview with Empire that the film would indeed be R-rated, with the official MPAA rating confirming the news in late July. With competition coming mainly from The Bourne Legacy (Total Recall was DOA and The Dark Knight Rises is looking a little long in the tooth), there'd still be plenty of room for The Expendables 2 to perform, especially as it would be targeting a slightly older demographic. Reviews for the sequel were much stronger than the original, with 65% of critics finding something to like about it. Producer Avi Lerner was so confident that he's already talking up who he has contacted in regards a third feature.

It seems that that confidence may have been somewhat misplaced. On Friday, The Expendables 2 opened to a soft $10.5M - that's $2.8M less than what the original film debuted to back in 2010 and not the kind of start the studio would have been looking for, especially with the amount of pre-release publicity the flick has been receiving. It appeared that the movie was going to act like a typical sequel - with the law of diminishing returns in effect. With Friday being its best day, the news didn't really get much better over the remainder of the weekend, leaving the film with a three day start of $28.5M. The first Expendables picture opened to $34.5M, which leaves the sequel trailing, with some work still to do to avoid disappointment, more so given the increased budget. Fortunately next week sees only two low key releases meaning it will have some breathing space, but while word of mouth is strong, there's no denying this start is some way short of the $40-45M estimates being bandied around last week.

When the dust settled on last weekend, The Bourne Legacy had actually opened slightly lower than the predicted $40.2M, making $38.1M for its first three days on release. As was mentioned in last week's report, this is some way below the last two films in the series, but taken as a stand alone thriller, wasn't actually a bad start. However the issue was its budget, which is now reported to be in excess of $125M. That figure put a different slant on proceedings and meant that the film needed to perform well during the week and have a solid second frame to avoid any problems going forward. Monday and Tuesday were decent enough ($3.8M, $4.3M), while subsequent days were slightly lower, meaning that by the eve of its second week, The Bourne Legacy had only just made what the second film in the series made over its first three days. On its second Friday it had to contend with The Expendables sequel, and only managed to make $5.3M, which is down a high 62% on its opening day. Its overall weekend drop was slightly better (55%), for a three day total of $17M. The second film, Supremacy, dropped a similar 54% while Ultimatum dipped 52% in its sophomore frame - but both had much stronger starts than Legacy. At this point it looks as if the film might struggle to hit $100M in North America, leaving Universal to rely on overseas grosses to shore up any domestic shortfall.

Our family offering this week is ParaNorman (in 3D), a stop-motion animated feature from the company that brought Coraline to theatres back in 2009. Laika have once again gone for something a little off the straight and narrow with ParaNorman, which sees a misunderstood boy with the abliltity to speak to the dead called upon to save his town when an ancient witch's curse unleashes all manner of ghouls, zombies and otherworldy nasties. Voicing the role of Norman is The Road's Kodi Smit-McPhee, and he's joined by Casey Affleck, Anna Kendrick and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Directing duties fell to Chris Butler and Sam Fell, the former making his directorial debut after working as a story board artist on Coraline, while the later cut his teeth on the UK tv series Rex The Runt, before going on to co-direct Flushed Away (who's other co-director, David Bowers, helms current release, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days). The teaser for the film appeared over Halloween 2011, with the first of two standard trailers appearing in December (the other debuted in March). Production company Laika is owned by Nike co-founder Phil Knight, and is headed by his son, Travis. Their work is split between commercial products, such as music videos and advertisements, and feature productions. While Coraline (directed by Henry Selick) was their first completed film, the company also had CGI flick Jack & Ben’s Animated Adventure in production at around the same time, but which ended up being cancelled in 2008. Selick himself left Laika after the release of Coraline when contract renegotiations fell apart. As with their previous release, ParaNorman is being distributed by Focus Features, which may explain the slightly lower-key marketing push.

While there has been a glut of animated releases in the last few months (Brave, Madagascar 3 and the fourth Ice Age film), there's always room for a new one, though ParaNorman's PG certificate (and scary themes) might stop it being the film of choice for those parents with very young children. Critics were certainly impressed by what they saw, and with an 87% approval rating, it was the best reviewed wide-opening release this weekend. Even with little in the way of competition, ParaNorman had to settle for third place on Friday, making $4.5M. That figure puts it just ahead of Coraline, which scored $4.4M during its first day on release. Unlike most family films, it didn't receive much of a matinee boost on Saturday and Sunday, and added $9.9M to its first day total, to give it an underwhelming weekend finish of $14M. In comparison, the aforementioned Coraline made $16.8M in the same time period, going on to make $75.2M in North America. ParaNorman won't face any major competition until Finding Nemo (the 3D re-release) in September and we'll get a much clearer view of where it might be heading when next weekend's figures roll in. A lot depends on its word of mouth, which at the moment is good (Cinemascore rating of B+) but the scares may be costing it more than a few dollars. A Halloween release (as counter-programming to the adult themed horror) may also have helped it open stronger.

The Campaign opened quite well last weekend, making $26.5M (again, like The Bourne Legacy, its estimated weekend figure was higher, with some blaming the discrepancy on the final day/closing ceremony of the Olympics). While the gap between the top two was quite large, The Campaign would give Bourne a good run for its money during the week. Budget details had the comedy costing around $56M, so a good second frame would certainly put it with grasping distance of that figure (on a quieter weekend, it may even have achieved it). Alas, like Bourne, The Campaign tumbled a high 59% on a Friday to Friday basis, adding $4.1M. Over the next two days the Will Ferrell picture added a further $9.2M, to give it a second weekend figure of $13.3M, down 50% on last weekend. As it stands, after ten days, the flick has made $51M and will recoup its production budget within the next week, though is unlikely to top the $85M made by Anchorman.

Amongst the other wide opening releases this weekend is Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 film of the same name, which starred Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas. The plot in this new version, which follows the original closely (though swaps the 50s for the 60s) sees struggling singer Sparkle team up her two sisters in an attempt to break into the Motown scene. Things are further complicated for her by a new romance with a music manager, and her sister's affair with an abusive drug pusher, not to mention having to deal with her tough single mother, a performer herself back in the day. The film may well have fallen under the radar of many people, were it not for the tragic death of Whitney Houston back in February, who takes on the role of Sparkle's mother, Emma. Houston's involvement with the project stretches back to the mid-90s, when her BrownHouse production company secured the rights to remake the film (indeed, Houston is said to have been hugely influenced by the original picture, inspiring her on some level, to become a singer). Her first choice for the role of Sparkle had been Aaliyah, but when the R&B singer was killed in a plane crash in 2001, the project was put on hold. Move forward to 2011, and having seen success with the TV show Girlfriends, and with theatrical release Jumping The Broom, the husband and wife team of Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil became attached to direct and produce the film, with Houston executively producing and playing the aforementioned role of Emma. Sparkle herself would be played by singer Jordin Sparks (marking her film debut) with Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter as her sisters. The film shot in Detroit from October through to the end of November and began post-production shortly after.

The first trailer would debut in April, two months after the singer's death, with Tristar setting an August release date for what would be Whitney Houston's final on-screen performance (the picture is also dedicated to her). It was hard to gauge how well the film would open, certainly its profile with the public had been raised, and that may have influenced the studio to push the film into more locations (along with the quite extensive use of Houston's character in the trailer to further promote awareness). It faced no direct competition as such, and was seen by some as a fitting swansong to Houston's career. Reviews for the picture were just above average and it managed a fourth placing on Friday, with $4.5M. Takings dipped steadily over Saturday and into Sunday, giving Sparkle a three day total of $12M. It's difficult to compare this performance to Houston's previous releases as even the most recent, The Preacher's Wife, is sixteen years old (it made $7.6M during its first three days). Given its 2,244 location roll out, one imagines Tristar will be quietly pleased with how well Sparkle has opened - though how much the picture was front-loaded due to the late singer's involvement remains to be seen.

On Friday, day 28 of its release, The Dark Knight rises hit $400M, becoming only the fifteenth film to see such a figure (and also the fourth fastest to reach it). Even with fresh competition, Christopher Nolan's final Batman flick added $11.1M this frame, to bring its cumulative gross to $409.9M. With that figure the TDKR also moves ahead of The Hunger Games, leaving only The Avengers as having made more money this year. In terms of the all time chart, the picture moves up to number twelve, just behind Toy Story 3. With only two wide releases next frame, The Dark Knight Rises should see at least one more weekend in the top ten, topping out at around $440M. Overseas the film continues to stay ahead of its domestic performance, crossing $450M in the last few days.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a fantasy drama starring Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton. It follows the tale of a couple who discover they are unable to conceive. One night, while drowning their sorrows they make a list of hopes, dreams and achievements that they would have wanted for their child. Still slightly tipsy, they take the list, place it in a box and bury it in the garden. Next morning they're surprised to find a ten year old boy at their door, who claims them as family. However they soon discover that 'Timothy Green' is far more special than they could have ever imagined. The idea was the brainchild of Ahmet Zappa (son of Frank), who would go on to produce the film with Scott Sanders (this marks the first film produced through Sander's 2007 deal with Disney). With funding in place, Peter Hedges, director of Dan in Real Life and Pieces of April, signed on to adapt and direct the story in June 2009. While Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg were both said to be in the running for the role of Jim Green, it would ultimately go to Australian actor Joel Edgerton (Warrior, The Thing). He would join the already cast Jennifer Garner and relative newcomer CJ Adams (Cindy and Timothy Green respectively). Production went smoothly and the first teaser appeared in August 2011, with a full trailer coming in May of this year. Initial reviews weren't positive, with the film scoring just 41% at Rotten Tomatoes. With this being a busy week, Disney opted to get a jump on the competition by releasing the picture on Wednesday, and saw a $2.3M debut - only good enough for fourth place. A slight dip on Thursday meant The Odd Life of Timothy Green had made $4.2M when the other releases entered the fray. On Friday, it added another $3.4M (finding itself pushed down to sixth) on its way to a weekend finish of $10.9M ($15.1M since Wednesday). On a quieter weekend, it may have easily added a few million more, but while word of mouth seems to be solid  (and it has gotten of to a decent enough start), chances are the picture will fade fast from here on out.

Opening on the Wednesday helped Hope Springs get a few million under its belt before the rest of the releases arrived on the scene. By the end of its first weekend, the Meryl Streep/Tommy Lee Jones movie was looking at a five day figure of $19.1M and was expected to play well during the week thanks to its lack of front loading. In all, the film managed to add $6.6M from Monday through Thursday, giving it a $25.9M running total. The picture made $2.7M on its second Friday, dropping a respectable 41% but getting knocked down to eighth place (competition from Sparkle and Timothy Green partly to blame). By the frame's end the well received comedy had made $9.1M, to give it a ten day total of $35M. That figure means Hope Springs has already covered its $30M production budget and looks to be heading for a finish of around $50M.

The third Diary of Wimpy Kid sequel, Dog Days, added $3.8M this frame for a $38.7M overall total. It won't reach the $52M made by its predecessor but nor will it lose Fox any money in the long term, especially when one considers its cost around $22M to bring to screens, minus prints and advertising fees. This will be its last weekend in top ten and as yet, there is no word on a fourth Wimpy Kid picture.

Finally, Total Recall managed to cross $50M this frame with the help of a $3.5M weekend haul but is unlikely to even surpass the $65M that Battleship finished up with. Overseas it is just getting started and as of Thursday, had made $27M.

Opening in a limited capacity is the much talked about Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg directing Robert Pattinson, in an adaptation of Dom DeLillo's novel of the same name. The film takes place mainly in the back of Pattinson's character's limousine, as the billionaire Eric Packer makes his way across Manhattan for a haircut. Through the course of the journey he encounters all manner of people, and indulges in a number of questionable practices, while the world around him is falling deeper into chaos. The picture also stars Jay Baruchel, Paul Giamatti and Juliette Binoche, and marks another step away from the Twilight universe for Pattinson. Cronenberg had been attached to the project since 2009, going on to adapt and direct the picture. Originally Colin Farell had been cast in the Eric Packer role but couldn't make the filming schedule work alongside Total Recall, paving the way for Pattinson to join the project. Similarly, Marion Cotillard had been involved at one point but commitments to other films also put her out of the running. Debuting at Cannes to mixed reviews, Cosmopolis opened limited, at three theatres this weekend, making $96K - giving it the best theatre-to-tickets sold average of any film this weekend. Expansion is assured at this point, with the studio hoping that more of Pattinson's Twilight fan base will show up to further give it a boost.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Best weekly box office summary on the internet!