Sunday 26 August 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 24th - 26th August 2012

1. The Expendables 2 - $13.5M - $52.3M
2. The Bourne Legacy - $9.2M - $85.4M
3. ParaNorman - $8.5M - $28.1M
4. The Campaign - $7.4M - $64.5M
5. The Dark Knight Rises - $7.15M - $422.2M
6. The Odd Life of Timothy Green - $7.12M - $27M
7. Premium Rush - $6.3M - $6.3M
8. 2016: Obama's America - $6.2M - $9M
9. Hope Springs - $6M - $45M
10. Hit and Run - $4.7M - $5.8M
(12. The Apparition - $2.9M - $2.9M)

A relatively low key weekend with just three releases, one of which is it at less than 1,000 locations. We're now in the tail end of August, where studios will often off-load movies that they're not quite sure what to do with. According to Box Office Prophets, last frame was only the second time that seven films made more than $10M. This weekend couldn't be further from that, as we will see. Next weekend isn't expected to be very much different,  with only Lawless looking to stand head and shoulders above the competition. But back to this frame and the big news wasn't to do with any of the new releases but a documentary that was already six weeks old....
With only lacklustre competition, The Expendables 2 managed to hold on to the top spot for a second week. Its opening frame performance appeared to have split opinion, some saying its $28M opening was the best the sequel could have hoped for, while others stating it had  failed due to not topping the opening of the original picture. With earlier estimates coming in at between $35-45M, either idea had gravity. Week day numbers weren't that strong, its best day being Tuesday ($2.8M), it weakest, Thursday ($2M). Compare that to recent release The Bourne Legacy, whose poorest week day was still stronger than Expendables' best, and a worrying pattern emerges. By the eve of its second Friday, the action-flick had made $38.3M, some way short of where its predecessor was in the same time frame ($48.3M). On Friday it scored $3.7M, which is down a high 64% but in line with the drop witnessed by the first film in the same time period. By Sunday night the total stood at $13.5M, an overall fall of 53%. That drop is slightly higher than witnessed by the first film (which made $16.9M in its second frame and fell 51%), and while it could have been worse, it puts The Expendables 2 in the very real position of not seeing $75M domestically. With three releases next weekend, one of which will be in almost direct competition, there's only a very slim chance the Stalllone-led ensemble will retain the top spot. While the word of mouth on this sequel is very good, that isn't translating into the ticket sales the studio would have liked to have seen. Overseas, where the film is just getting started (and is expected to go on to perform very well), it has so far amassed $22.4M.

The Bourne Legacy will just about hit $100M state-side, but it's a task not aided by a somewhat underwhelming start and higher than hoped second frame drop. Word of mouth isn't helping the spin off either, which again resulted in a below average Friday take of only $2.7M. With Expendables 2 covering the action genre, Legacy had little room to manoeuvre, but fortunately the new films failed to fly with the public, offering only very limited competition. Come Sunday night it was looking on a third frame haul of $9.3M, down 46% from last weekend. Universal will be hoping for a better showing abroad in the long term (it's currently amassed $28M) to help cover that $125M production budget. One assumes the studio will wait a while longer before committing to any further Bourne pictures.

ParaNorman got off to an alright start last weekend, making $14M, but its PG rating and scary themes may have ultimately cost it money. A week on and the Laika production managed $2.3M on Friday - down 50% on the same day the previous week. Unlike last frame, there was boost from the matinee crowd which led the stop-motion feature to an $8.5M weekend total (down 39% overall). The closest comparison is Laika's own Coraline, which saw a staggering second frame of $14M (A fall of just 12% on its opening weekend), something that ParaNorman just couldn't compete with. Sadly it looks as though the well reviewed picture is heading for a finish below $50M and may leave many questioning Focus Features marketing and choice of release date.

Hit & Run (see below) had little, if any, affect on rival comedy, The Campaign. The Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis political comedy added $2.2M to its total on Friday, as it headed toward a weekend finish of $7.4M. That figure brings its overall 17 day total to $64.5M. With its $56M production budget covered, it will now be looking toward surpassing Ferrell's 2004 comedy, Anchorman, which finished its domestic run with $85M.

Now in its sixth frame, The Dark Knight Rises added $7.2M, to bring its 38 day total to $422.2M. It's now a stone's throw from breaking into the top ten all time domestic earners (it surpassed Toy Story 3 in the last few days). While it was never going to reach the dizzy heights of The Dark Knight's $533M finish, this is still an incredibly strong showing for Christopher Nolan's final Batman picture. Overseas, TDKR is now a half a billion dollar concern.

A Wednesday opening in the previous week gave The Odd Life of Timothy Green a small head start. With its weekend figures factored in, the fantasy drama saw a five day total of $15M, with a slight increase in takings from Friday to Saturday. A week on and the movie added $2M on its second Friday (down a not bad 40%), with a further $5.1M over the remainder of the frame. After twelve days the Disney release has made $27M. Word of mouth is keeping the film buoyed up and should help it see another frame in the top ten, ultimately finishing up with $40-45M.

Our first new release this frame is the action thriller, Premium Rush, which sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt's bicycle courier chased across New York by a corrupt cop (played by Michael Shannon) who is intent on intercepting a package Levitt's Wilee is set to deliver. The film is co-written and directed by David Koepp, the famed screenwriter who cut his teeth on such pictures as Toy Soldiers and Death Becomes Her, before moving on to blockbusters Jurassic Park, Spider-Man and Angels & Demons (to name but a few). His first feature directing gig was the little seen Trigger Effect, starring Elisabeth Shue and Kyle MacLachlan. He would then work on Stir of Echoes, Secret Window and the 2008 Greg Kinnear movie, Ghost Town. Premium Rush shot through the summer of 2010 with Levitt finding out just how dangerous the job was when a cycle accident resulted in him receiving 31 stitches. During production, Sony set the movie for a January 2012 release, which even at that point was some way off. It was greeted with further surprise when the picture was pushed back again, to August 24th 2012, almost two years since principal photography was completed. In the meantime, Levitt's star has continued to ascend, with impressive turns in Inception, 50/50 and a pivotal role in The Dark Knight Rises.

The first teaser appeared in November 2011, with a full trailer arriving in June. The delay may have hurt the film, and Sony's decision to open at 2,200 locations (and release in late August) also showed a possible lack of confidence. Furthermore, there was no shortage of competition, with Hit & Run, The Expendables 2 and The Bourne Legacy all vying for very similar markets. Reviews for Premium Rush were easily the strongest of the new openers, managing a 75% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Sadly that meant little as on Friday the picture scored just $1.9M, slotting into eighth place and losing out to 2016: Obama's America (at 1,100 less theatres) in the process. While it did perform best of all the new films this frame, given their performances, that isn't very reassuring. The picture added only $4.4M more over the remainder of the frame for a very weak three day total of $6.3M. Premium Rush may pick up a little business thanks to some positive word of mouth but there's no denying this is a flop for Sony, who put up the $35M production budget.

A surprise entry into the top ten this weekend isn't actually new, having been in limited release since July 13th. 2016: Obama's America is a documentary made by Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan, based on D'Souza's 2010 book, The Roots of Obama's Rage. The doc, which is highly critical of the current president, traces his upbringing, his relationship with his parents (particular his father) and aims to paint a picture of what 2016 America will look like, should he receive a second term. It opened to $32K from a single theatre, adding three further locations a week later and making a further $33K. Interest has continued to build as the picture has slowly expanded into more locations. In weekend six, while still at an incredibly limited screen count (169), it managed to take $1.2M and narrowly missed out on a top ten spot. With election momentum increasing daily, Rocky Mountain Pictures opted to expand the picture into 1,091 locations. Word that the documentary was going to crack the top ten emerged midweek, when online ticket vendor Fandango announced that Obama's America was outselling nearest rival, The Expendables 2 at a rate of three to one. With a $2.2M Friday haul, the film actually managed to break into the top five, landing at fourth (an upset for the makers of Hit & Run and Premium Rush, whose pictures were out to 2,870 and 2,200 locations respectively). However, with such huge front-loading accounting for that Friday start, the picture faded over Saturday and into Sunday, ending up with a weekend total of $6.2M ($9M since release). Chances are, 2016 will be a one-weekend wonder, but there's little chance Rocky Mountain Pictures will be disappointed with its performance.

Hope Springs continues to operate on some solid word of mouth and lack of direct competition for its target demographic. The Meryl Streep/Tommy Lee Jones comedy drama recoup its production budget last weekend. This frame, while settling for ninth position, added $6M, to bring its cumulative gross to $45M.

Hit & Run is a romantic action comedy starring Dax Shephard, Kirsten Bell and Bradley Cooper. It follows ex-con, Charlie Bronson, who breaks out of witness protection to help his girlfriend get to Los Angeles for a once in a lifetime job opportunity. But they won't be making the journey alone as they quickly find themselves pursued by his former partners in crime and a Marshall tasked with keeping the 'witness' protected. Bell and Shephard play the couple, while Cooper plays one of the ex-partners, who ended up enduring prison as a result of Bronson's apparent betrayal. Shephard not only stars in the picture but also wrote, produced and co-directed, alongside David Palmer. The two worked together on the 2010 film, Brother Justice, a mockumentary that followed Shephard's attempts to become the next Chuck Norris style martial artist-movie star (That flick also starred Cooper and Tom Arnold, who plays Randy in this new movie). Prior to that, the actor/director had worked on Punk'd and appeared in Mike Judge's Idiocracy, amongst other film and TV appearances. Shooting took place in mid-late 2011, with Open Road signing up to distribute in December of that year (Changing the film's name from Outrun to Hit & Run in process). The first trailer appeared in May of this year, with a release date of August 24th originally in place. However, the film was pulled forward by two days after positive preview screenings over the summer. This marked the third week in a row in which we've seen a major release open on a Wednesday.

Having Cooper on board certainly won't have harmed the feature as the actor's profile has continued to rise since breaking out in the 2009 comedy, The Hangover, with turns in The A-Team, Limitless and the Hangover sequel keeping him firmly in the public eye. Furthermore, thanks to Open Road's relationship with certain cinema chains, they managed to get the film into 2,870 locations, making it the widest opening of the new releases. However, reviews for Hit & Run weren't positive and the film managed just $600K on Wednesday, adding a further $568K on Thursday (and barely remaining in the top ten). On its first day with competition from Premium Rush it managed only $1.4M and actually dropped down to tenth. The news was no better over the remainder of the weekend, leaving the picture with a very poor $4.7M total ($5.8M since opening). The only thing stopping this from being a complete flop is its $2M production budget, which it should end up covering a few times over. Still, given its location count, Open Road much be extremely disappointed with this performance.

Out to only 800 or so theatres is the horror thriller The Apparition. The story follows a young couple who are plagued by a series of frightening events in their home. Upon further investigation they discover a presence which was brought into existence by a group of para-psychology students as part of an experiment. Becoming increasingly desperate, the couple turn to an expert in the supernatural but soon discover that even with his help, they may be too late to save themselves. Like Premium Rush, The Apparition has been awaiting release for some time. The film was first announced by Joel Silver's Dark Castle production company back in May 2009, with Todd Lincoln set to make his feature debut (as well as scripting). Lincoln had actually been attached to direct an adaptation of comic book Hack/Slash but despite extensive development, which began in 2006, the project was abandoned when Relativity purchased Rogue Pictures from Universal.

By early 2010, the full cast for The Apparition was in place, which included Twilight's Ashley Greene, Harry Potter star Tom Felton and Sebastian Stan, who would go on to play Bucky Barnes in Marvel's Captain America. Shooting took place in Germany, at the famed Studio Babelsberg (where Fritz Lang shot Metropolis) and entered post-production mid 2010. Since then, little had been heard of the Dark Castle production until a trailer arrived online in May 2012, announcing an August release. With next to no marketing push and a somewhat limited theatre count, it felt more like a  contractual obligation than a proper release, which seemed bizarre given its rumoured $17M production budget. Reviews were horrific, with it scoring the infamous 0% approval rating with critics. It barely registered with cinema-goers on Friday either, making just $1.1M and failing to crack the top ten. By the end of the weekend it had struggled to $2.9M and didn't even finish within the top ten. Expect The Apparition to vanish as quickly as it appeared. One imagines Ghost House productions will be hoping for a better showing next weekend, with their horror release The Possession.

David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis expanded into 163 locations this frame, adding $153K, for an overall figure of $477K. Meanwhile, the well reviewed Sleepwalk With Me, about a stand-up comedian with a stalled career, relationship issues and a severe sleepwalking problem, made a staggering $75K from just one single theatre.

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