Sunday 2 September 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 31st Aug - 2nd Sept 2012

1. The Possession -  $17.7M - $17.7M
2. Lawless - $9.7M - $11.8M
3. The Expendables 2 - $8.8M - $66.1M
4. The Bourne Legacy - $7.2M - $96.1M
5. ParaNorman - $6.5M - $38M
6. The Odd Life of Timothy Green - $6M - $35.9M
7. The Dark Knight Rises - $5.8M - $431.1M
8. The Campaign - $5.4M - $73M
9. 2016: Obama's America - $5.1M - $18.2M
10. Hope Springs - $4.7M - $52M
(18. The Oogilives In The Big Balloon Adventure - $448K - $673K)

It's another mixed bag at the cinema this weekend, with serious drama and horror tussling with a brand new family film. Even with Monday being a holiday in the US, this frame was expected to be as equally poor as the last one in terms of box office takings. As we'll see, at least one of the new films became a record breaker - but for the wrong reasons. Next weekend brings us just one wide opening release, the Bradley Cooper flick, The Words, while further ahead we have the fifth Resident Evil film and the Finding Nemo 3D re-release.

The second widest release this weekend is the Sam Raimi produced, The Possession. It stars Jeffery Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick as a divorced couple whose daughter, Em, becomes obsessed with opening a Hebrew-inscribed box she bought at a garage sale. When her behaviour becomes erratic, the parents blame it on the recent trauma of their divorce. However, things quickly escalate, leaving them forced to scramble for an explanation and a solution, scientific or supernatural, for whatever is attempting to destroy their daughter before its too late. Raimi acts as producer, via his Ghost House Pictures company, with Ole Bornedal directing. Bornedal shot to fame with the 1994 Danish film, Nightwatch (he also directed the 1997 English-language remake) and won acclaim with I Am Dina in 2002. The producer and director are no strangers, Raimi having acted as distributor on Bornedal's 2007 comedy/horror flick, Vikaren (aka The Substitute) via his Ghost Pictures subsidiary, Underground. The director was drawn to The Possession from the initial script, seeing it as an allegory for divorce, rather than a straight scare flick. The core device in the film,  the Dibbuk box, is actually based on a real life item, said to be haunted by a spirit from Jewish folklore. The box first featured in a story by Kevin Mannis, who came across the item in 2001. When he tracked down the daughter of the original owner, she refused to take it back. The box has passed through a number of owners since, who have reported tales of terrible bad luck and it is said to have been indirectly responsible for two deaths. Many people have since contacted Mannis and current box owner Jason Haxton, detailing ways in which it has affected their lives, for the worse. However, noted psychologist Christopher French has stated that if people already knew of the Dibbuk box's legend, it is easy to blame any misfortune on it.

Kyra Sedgwick was amongst the first to join the film, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan compelled to sign after seeing her audition tape. As Em, Bornedal cast Natasha Calis, a young actress who made her screen debut aged just seven. With a $14M budget attached, shooting took place early 2011, in British Columbia. With filming and post-production out of the way, the picture sat on the shelf for close to a year, not receiving a trailer until May 2012. While The Possession had a bigger marketing campaign and a much wider roll out than The Apparition (released last weekend), the similarities in theme are there. Reviews were certainly strong than the aforementioned scare flick, with The Possession scoring 36% at Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing (The Apparition scored 0% approval). With Lawless opening Wednesday, the new kid on the block had some breathing room, allowing it to easily secure the top spot on Friday with $6M. That was a decent enough start given the time of the year, the genre and the reviews. It also meant that forgoing an incredible boost for any other release, The Possession had won the weekend there and then. Over the remainder of the frame the Sam Raimi production added $11.7M, to bring its three day total to a solid $17.7M (with a potentially decent Monday given that it's public holiday). In terms of August horror releases, the Possession has opened much stronger than 2011's Apollo 18 ($8.7M) but weaker than The Final Destination ($27M) in 2009 and 2010's The Last Exorcism ($20M), though the former was a sequel in a well established franchise. Given that the movie has already recouped its production budget, Lionsgate will have few concerns to what happens to it from here on out.

Lawless is based on the Matt Bondurant book, The Wettest County in the World, a prohibition set story dealing with Bondurant's great grandfather and uncles who ran a moonshine business in Virginia. Work on a film adaptation began a number of years ago, with musician Nick Cave writing the screenplay for director John Hillcoat. The duo first worked together on the 1988 film, Ghosts of the Civil Dead, and would re-team on the 2005 blood-soaked western, The Proposition. Cave (along with Warren Ellis) also provided the music for the both of those pictures, along with Hillcoat's adaptation of The Road and this new film. With a completed script, the picture moved into pre-production in late 2009, casting Ryan Gosling, Michael Shannon, Paul Dano, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johannson as the main players. But, on the eve of shooting, the production fell apart as a result of funding issues. The project was then put on hold, with a view to move forward once new finances could be secured. Indie studio Sony Red Wagon eventually backed the project, but with so much time having passed, the original leads were no longer available to return. Instead, Hillcoat cast Shia LeBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska, with shooting finally getting underway more than a year since the collapse of the original production. The cast wasn't the only thing to change, with the film's title becoming The Promised Land, then reverting back to The Wettest County...before finally settling on Lawless in March 2012. The story, like its source, follows three brothers who run a moonshine business. With things initially going smoothly, trouble rears its head in the guise of Guy Pearce's Special Agent Rakes, a man intent on getting a cut or putting an end to the brothers and their business. The situation is complicated (and bloodied) further by the boy's employer, the gangster Floyd Banner (Oldman).

The teaser debuted in March 2012, and was followed by a standard trailer, featurettes and clips, with a violent red-band trailer arriving online just last week. Lawless screened at Cannes back in May to mixed reviews, fairing roughly the same in North America, with 65% of critics giving the film their approval. The picture certainly had pedigree, both in front and behind the camera, and there was only limited competition in current release. However, on the down side, its bloody action may have put many off. Lawless opened Wednesday to a soft $1.1M, but still good enough to secure the top spot from The Expendables 2.  Thursday saw a slight dip in takings, with the picture winding up with a $2.1M total as Friday began (it also lost the top spot to Stallone & Co). With The Possession in the frame, the picture held on to second place, clocking up $2.7M. Solid word of mouth, something reflected in its A- cinemascore helped keep Lawless steady over the rest of the weekend, finishing up with a three day total of $9.7M ($11.8M since Wednesday). Overall, an ok start for the violent period picture but one imagines the Weinstein Company would have been looking for another $3-5M, with a no.1 finish also being welcome. If the word of mouth stays strong, there's a chance it will hold better than The Posession, especially with next weekend's limited competition.

The Expendables 2 gave up the top spot this frame, having reigned for a fortnight. It began its third frame with $59.5M, scoring an additional $2.1M on Friday. Over Saturday and Sunday the Stallone-led ensemble action flick made a further $6.7M to finish its weekend with $8.8M, down a much better 34% on last frame. That brings its cumulative gross to $66.1M, in comparison, the original was at $82M by this time in its release. Lionsgate already know that $100M is out of the question, and will be looking to the overseas figures to dictate whether we'll be seeing a third Expendables feature. Initial signs are strong, with the international gross already surpassing the domestic one, clocking in at $66.5M as of last Thursday.

The Bourne Legacy is still grasping for $100M and while it will come, the spin off won't make much more - and will fail to surpass the $121M made by the original film back in 2002. This weekend the Jeremy Renner starrer added $7.2M, to bring its 24 day total to $96.1M. Chances are it will top out at around $110-115M, with $100M possible overseas, where its current total stands at $43M.

Even though there's fresh family competition this weekend, it had no impact on ParaNorman. The stop-motion film had an ok drop last frame, but couldn't compete with the studio's previous picture, Coraline, which it continues to trail. This week ParaNorman grossed $1.4M on Friday, for a three day total of $6.5M (down only 24% on last week). At this point a $50-55M North American finish is on the cards.It's a shame the picture is getting lost amongst the other August releases as it had some solid reviews and word of mouth, but as mentioned in previous weeks, its scary nature may be doing it more harm than good.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is working on some decent word of mouth despite only average reviews. This weekend the fantasy drama, which stars Jennifer Garner, made $6M bringing it nineteen day total to $35.9M. With a budget of $40M, The Odd Life... might break even before next weekend and should remain in the top ten for a couple more weeks.

The Dark Knight Rises is now the ninth biggest domestic film of all time, surpassing The Lion King and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest earlier this week. Its $5.8M take this frame put it within a stone's throw of E.T's $435M finish and brings its total to $431M. Abroad, TDKR has pulled well ahead of its domestic haul, making $535M to date. A total worldwide gross above $1B is certainly achievable.

Comedy The Campaign adds another $5.4M this weekend, dropping down to eighth. After four weekends on general release the Will Ferrell/Zack Galifianakis movie has made $73M and should enjoy at least one more frame in the top ten.

Even if Obama's America faded as the weekend wore on, there was no denying it got off to an incredible start last Friday (thanks in part to its expansion). By the end of Sunday, the documentary had made $6.5M and would continue to play well during the week, rising to second place on Monday. On its second Friday in wide release (with a further 659 location added to no doubt capitalize on the Republican convention on Thursday night), it added $1.6M, down around 27% on the same day last week. Over Saturday and Sunday, unlike last weekend, 2016 held quite steady,  grossing a further $3.5M for a weekend total of $5.1M ($18.2M overall). Further expansion can't be ruled out and we may yet see the film in the top ten for a third time.

Hope Springs has managed to keep a corner of the box office all to itself. Opening to $14.6M, it witnessed subsequent weekend figures of $9.1M and $5.7M. It covered its production budget during weekend two and made a further $4.7M over the last three days, to bring its running total to $52M.

The fact that our final wide opening release doesn't even feature in the top ten may tell you all you need to know about it. The Oogieloves In The BIG Balloon Adventure's journey to the screen is a curious one and emerged from a dispute that producer Kenn Viselman had with Anne Wood, creator of the Teletubbies. Viselman, who was responsible for localising the costumed kid's show and Thomas the Tank Engine for the U.S market, had tried and failed (on a number of occasions) to convince Wood to allow him to move forward with a Teletubbies movie. He then found inspiration in the oddest of places - while watching the audience participating during a screening of Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Jail. Seeing how the crowd 'interacted' with the movie, telling the characters what to do (and not to do), he was compelled to reinvent the family movie as an interactive experience. From this, he created The Oogieloves, a film in which the audience are encouraged to shout, sing and dance along with the on-screen action. The plot see the Oogieloves (Goobie, Zoozie and Toofie) on a quest to recover five magical balloons needed for a birthday party. Along the way they encounter all manner of characters, including Lero Sombrero (Christohper Lloyd), Rosalie Rosebud (Toni Braxton) and Marvin Milkshake (Chazz Palminteri). The picture also features Jaime Pressly, Carey Elwes and Cloris Leachman.

With no TV show to hang the series off (the hope being the movie would spawn its own TV show), The Oogiloves had to succeed on its own hype and interactive elements. That last feature may actually make parents reluctant to see it, along with all but the youngest of children. Viselman certainly had confidence though, managing to secure the picture a 2100+ location roll out (initially opening at 1500 midweek and expanding on Friday). It seems that the producer's attempt to reinvent cinema failed before it had chance to get off the ground. With school back in session, the Oogiloves made just $102K on Wednesday, which equated to around $47 per theatre. That figure is the lowest ever first day for a picture at more than 2,000 locations - it snatched the infamous title from the animated Delgo, which averaged $59 per screening on its opening day. A very slight improvement followed on Thursday, with the picture adding $123K. Hard as it is to believe, things actually got worse for The Oogieloves on Friday, when it made just $95K. By the frame's end, the family film, budgeted at $20M, had made just $448K, $673K since Wednesday. That three day figure is lower than Delgo's three day total of $511K and cements the film's reputation as the lowest performing wide opening release (above 1,000 locations) of all time. Expect the Oogiloves to vanish even quicker than they appeared.

With its DVD/Blu-Ray release just a few weeks away, Disney opted to put The Avengers back into 1700 locations this frame and were rewarded with a $1.7M weekend total. That brings its domestic tally to an astounding $619.5M. Its global total now stands at $1.501B.

Finally, the raunchy comedy, For A Good Time, Call...which sees two room mates starting a phone-sex business, made $141K from 23 theatres.

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