Sunday, 28 October 2012

U.S Box Office Report - 26th - 28th October 2012

1. Argo - $12.3M - $60.7M
2. Hotel Transylvania - $9.5M - $130.4M
3. Cloud Atlas - $9.4M - $9.4M
4. Paranormal Activity 4 - $8.6M - $42.6M
5. Silent Hill: Revelation - $8M - $8M
6. Taken 2 - $8M - $117.3M
7. Here Comes The Boom - $5.5M - $30.6M
8. Sinister - $5M - $39.5M
9. Alex Cross - $5M - $19M
10. Fun Size - $4M - $4M
(13. Chasing Mavericks - $2.2M - $2.2M)

Another busy weekend at the movies with four wide opening releases all set to take on Paranormal Activity 4 and the still white-hot Argo. The audacious Cloud Atlas was set to clash with the Silent Hill sequel, teen comedy Fun Size and real life drama, Chasing Mavericks. Not only would they need to contend with each other but the very real danger created by Storm Sandy attacking huge areas of North America. Next week brings another three releases hoping for glory, with Wreck-It Ralph already expected to see a comfortable victory. But back to this frame, and the now three-week old Argo...

Having dropped just 15.5% in its second weekend, Argo would remain a threat throughout the week, toppling Paranormal Activity 4 from the top spot on Tuesday, when it made $1.7M. It would continue to hold off the found footage film and by Thursday night, was sitting on a $48.4M total (by day 14 The Town, Affleck's previous directorial effort, had made $54M). Even before we approached the weekend, there were many analysts who felt Argo could hang onto the top spot inspite of the four wide opening new releases it would come up against. And indeed, they were proved correct when the film made $3.94M on Friday, holding off nearest rival, Silent Hill: Revelation. That figure means it was off just 22% on last Friday and set the picture up for a comfortable weekend win - barring any last minute advances. All told, Argo's third weekend total came in at $12.3M, down just 25% on its already very impressive second frame. It's also the first film since February's Safe House to move up from second to first place. After 17 days the political drama has made $60M and should continue to play well even as more dramatic competition weighs in. $100M still isn't a dead cert but it's certainly moved a step closer with Argo's performance this frame.

With Fun Size (See below) aimed at the slightly older market, Hotel Transylvania continued to play well this weekend, its fifth on general release. It made another $2.5M on Friday, as it headed towards a weekend total of $9.5M - moving up into second place in the process. The Adam Sandler-voiced fantasy comedy now has a cumulative gross of $130M and is already the seventh biggest film of the comedian's career (it also has the $135M earner Anger Management firmly in its sights). There's a strong chance of it making $150M in North America but its competition free days are almost up as Wreck-It Ralph enters the fray next Friday. Next up for Sandler is comedy sequel Grown-Ups 2, along with the recently announced Magnificent Seven knock off, Ridiculous Six. Overseas Hotel Transylvania continues its expansion and has made $91M to date.

Cloud Atlas is an adaptation of David Mitchell's sprawling, multi-layered book of the same name. It spans six different time periods, beginning in 1850 and ending in a distant post-apocalyptic future, and covers many aspects of the human condition and the idea of eternal recurrence. Thought to be impossible to translate into a screenplay (something Mitchell himself admitted) due to its complex nature and themes, it came as some surprise when director Tom Tykwer revealed in 2009 that he had begun work on a script for Cloud Atlas with The Wachowskis, who had optioned the rights to the book. This came about when The Matrix duo were shooting second unit on the 2005 flick V for Vendetta, and noticed star Natalie Portman engrossed in the novel. After listening to Portman rave over it, both Lana and Andy read it and were equally as impressed. On the look out for a project on which they could collaborate with Tom Tykwer, they urged the German-born director to read it. He too was blown away and quickly joined the project. But commitments on both sides held back work until 2009 (Tykwer  was finishing up The International, the Wachowskis were recovering from the financial disappointment that was Speed Racer and tentatively experimenting with Iraq war drama Cobalt Neural 9, a project on which they would not secure funding). By February 2009, the trio assembled in Costa Rica to begin work. They immediately ran into problems of how to convey the different storylines, yet keep the links between them in tact. There were also issues with how the book was set out and its use and partial invention of language. Furthermore, the story only follows a chronological path until half way through, when it reverses (meaning it starts and finishes in 1850). The directors attempted to break it down into hundreds of small scenes and arranged them into a time line which would (they hoped) resemble the order in which a traditional film would play out. Still they could make no headway, but with their time together almost up, they were hit by a revelation - they could have the same actors playing different roles in each story to show that the human soul is reincarnated and goes on - tapping into the aforementioned eternal recurrence (a major theme in the book).

With this in mind, the Wachowskis started work on assembling a screenplay and thus began a back and forth between themselves and Tykwer. Having been burnt badly by Alan Moore's comments regarding their V for Vendetta adaptation, they, along with Tykwer  agreed that if author David Mitchell disliked their screenplay, they would scrap the work they had done and go their separate ways. Fortunately, Mitchell loved it and joked that the trio now knew his book and its characters better than he himself did. With his blessing, they began to seek funding. Despite their combined clout (the Wachowskis' Matrix trilogy had earnt within excess of $1B in theatrical, home and ancillary sales for WB) they hit walls at every turn. Warner Bros. did eventually offer to distribute the picture domestically, but that fee would only partially cover the proposed $140M production budget. Worse was to come. While casting the film the studio put the deal on hold, claiming that the figures didn't add up (Lana Wachowski told New Yorker that Warner Bros. had used the Darran Aronofsky film, The Fountain, as their financial projection model for Cloud Atlas). Thanks to securing Tom Hanks for the project, they were able to return to WB and get the funding, though not as much as originally offered. Further money was also secured from the German Federal Film Fund. The project continued to stall a number of times, with the traditional method of raising funds out of the window. Instead, the production signed up a number of investors, but this still wasn't enough and left the picture in the risky position of falling apart if even one financier dropped out. Even a passionate presentation by Tykwer, The Wachowskis and Focus Features' James Schamus at the Cannes film festival in 2011 failed to generate enough interest. In fact the opposite took place - seeing a lack of investment in the project prompted others to withhold or withdraw their funding. Eventually the costs were scaled back to $100M, giving the picture an $86M shooting budget. The Wachowskis not only gave up their directing fees but also invested some of their own money into the film. With funding coming from so many sources, Cloud Atlas has been deemed one of the most expensive independent movies ever produced.

Casting could finally begin in earnest. Along with Hanks, the trio signed up Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Ben Wishaw, Susan Sarandon, Doona Bae and Halle Berry (taking the role originally earmarked for Natalie Portman), along with Hugh Grant, who was cast at the last minute. All would have multiple roles across the sections. It was decided The Wachowskis would handle the 19th century chapter, along with the two future ones, while Tykwer took on the 30s, the 70s and the present day instalments. Two separate crews would operate on the film, but work closely together. Shooting commenced in September 2011, primarily in Berlin but also counting Majorca and Scotland amongst its location shoots. By December, filming was complete and the directors screened a 170 minute cut to Warner Bros. brass, who much to the trio's surprise, loved it. The only issue now was how they could possibly market the film to the public - attempting to convey its complexities in two minutes and thirty seconds. In a move as bizarre as their funding process, Tykwer  and The Wachowski's issued an epic five minute long, online trailer, which sought to explain what the film was about, while displaying some incredible visuals. Furthermore, they created an introduction to the trailer in which the three talked about the film and its themes. Having had their lives shrouded in secrecy for many a year, after an earlier encounter with the Hollywood machine left them fearful, The Wachowskis (now classing themselves as Wachowski Starship) appearing on screen generated almost as much hype as the trailer itself. Knowing their livelihoods depend on the film's success, they continued to use themselves to promote the picture, granting interviews and such like. Cloud Atlas premièred at the Toronto Film Festival to great acclaim and received a ten minute standing ovation. Subsequent screenings had gone equally well, but more than one critic had mentioned that while the movie was audacious in both theme and scale, it was almost as far from potential commercial success as was possible. At 164 minutes in length, with six interweaving and time spanning stories, along with the same actors playing multiple characters, Cloud Atlas was set to find success at the box office hard to come by this weekend. It opened on just over 2,000 theatres and while its reviews were initially very positive, as more critics weighed in, its approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes dropped to 61%.

Alas, the hype and positive festival word of mouth did little to separate Cloud Atlas from the other releases this frame, as it stumbled to $3.45M on Friday, not even good enough for second place, let alone the top spot. Word of mouth from the general public was decidedly mixed, something reflected in its C+ Cinemascore. Over the remainder of the weekend, the sci-fi epic made only $5.9M more, bringing its three day total to a disappointing (but not that unexpected) $9.4M. As mentioned, this was a tough sell to the average movie-goer, with its complex story and a runtime that limited the amount of showings possible each day (Location count too, would have been a factor, albeit a minor one). Its $9.4M start puts Cloud Atlas in flop territory, as with that poor word of mouth attached, it's unlikely to make much of a dent next weekend either. Ultimately, the issue, apart from the difficult sell, may well have been the fact that it was essentially an art house film with a blockbuster-style budget - and thus had to play in the blockbuster field if it was to see a worthy return. A very limited roll-out may have benefited the film initially but it would have been unlikely to save it, at least not in North America. There's a chance the overseas market may be its saving grace, but for now, Cloud Atlas will go down as one of the bigger flops of 2012.

Paranormal Activity 4 opened as the second lowest of the series last weekend, making $29M over its first three days. While largely academic given its $5M production budget (and the fact it also scored over $26M overseas), it did highlight the growing apathy amongst the general public for the found footage series. Week day figures were equally poor, with the then two week old Argo managing to usurp PA4 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to control the number one spot. By the eve of its second frame, the film had made $33.9M - a long way from the $49.1M and the $62.7M made by parts 2 and 3 in the same time. With poor word of mouth in full effect, along with four new releases to counter against (along with the still popular Sinister), Paranormal Activity 4 was expected to give up the top spot. It toppled a disastrous 80% on its second Friday, making only $3.1M (and dropping to fourth place). That drop is even higher that the one witnessed by PA3, and that entry at least had a huge opening frame on its side. Over the remainder of the weekend PA4 added a further $5.5M, to bring its second frame total to $8.6M ($42.6M overall and a weekend to weekend drop of 70%). While it's hard to worry about a $5M film that has only made $42M, it does mean this fourth entry will be the lowest grossing of the series and may only just surpass what the third film made in its first week, by the end of its theatrical run. None of this appears to have worried Paramount, who have not only announced a fifth entry into the series but also put forth a Spring release date for the proposed Latino-themed spin off.

Silent Hill: Revelation is the sequel to the 2006 minor hit Silent Hill, which was itself based on the best-selling Konami videogame series (the adaptation borrowed elements from the first four games). Set largely in the titular town, the original starred Sean Bean, Radha Mitchell and Deborah Kara Unger and had been in development for a number of years before moving forward. Scripting on the original film went to Oscar winner Roger Avary, known for his work with Quentin Tarantino and for directing 1994's Killing Zoe and The Rules of Attraction in 2002. At the helm was Christophe Gans, who described the film as a labour of love. It would go on to make $46M domestically, with a further $50M coming overseas, and North America DVD sales in excess of 1.3M. Gans claimed in December 2006 he had a follow-up officially ready to go, but he would leave the project shortly after citing that he had other ideas he wished to work on instead. This caused a delay in proceedings which was exasperated when Roger Avary, already on board to write the sequel, was jailed in 2008 for vehicular manslaughter. There was little movement for almost two years, apart from Silent Hill video game artist Masahiro Ito declining the offer to work on creature design/general world aesthetics for the sequel. It would be November 2010 before Michael J. Bassett signed on to write and direct Silent Hill: Revelation. Bassett was an English born director whose previous work included the World War 1 horror Deathwatch and the 2009 action adventure Solomon Kane (which received a very limited release in North America just a few weeks ago).

Along with her father Christopher (a returning Sean Bean), Heather Mason has spent years evading malevolent forces. Just as she is about to turn 18, her father disappears and Heather discovers her identity and origins may actually be false. This discovery leads her to an alternate Silent Hill, which is controlled by Claudia (played by Carrie-Anne Moss) and Leonard Wolf (Malcolm McDowell). She soon discovers she may be trapped in the demonic world of Silent Hill forever. Filming on the sequel took place in Toronto in March and April of 2011, with the picture  shooting in 3D as opposed to being converted in post-production. At the San Diego Comic-Con of 2012, two short clips were unveiled, followed by a trailer appearing online late July. Silent Hill: Revelation had its work cut out this weekend, as it faced not only the second frame of Paranormal Activity 4 but the still popular Sinister. Reviews, while largely irrespective for such a film, were little short of horrific, and left it with just a 7% approval rating. But the good news was that it would receive a wide roll out into just under 3,000 locations, which enabled it to debut in second place on Friday with $3.5M (way down on the $8.1M made by the original feature on its first day, albeit with much less competition). But with that being its strongest day of the three and the terrible word of mouth starting to bite, Revelation couldn't hold on to its placing, and had dropped down to fifth by Sunday evening, with a weekend finish of $8M (Silent Hill's three day total was $20.1M). While a poor starter, the picture cost $20M to produce, which it will cover at least three quarters of domestically, with any shortfall being covered overseas. Expect Silent Hill: Revelation to be a distant memory within a few weeks.

With the new releases this weekend, Taken 2 found itself relegated to fifth place on Friday, making $2.7M in the process (which considering this is the film's fourth weekend on release, isn't bad at all). All told, it finished the weekend with an $8M total, down around 40% on last frame. While reviews and weekend to weekend falls couldn't hold a candle to its predecessor, the action sequel crossed $100M on day sixteen of its release and now sits on a $117M total. It should manage one more frame in the top ten before heading on to the lucrative home market. Overseas Taken 2 continues to dominate and has made more than double what the first movie made, with expectations high that it would surpass $200M by Sunday night.

Here Comes The Boom drops 35% this weekend as it continues to struggle to find an audience. Despite a not-bad drop of 29% in its second frame, the picture opened below estimates and has struggled to recover to any great degree - though many doubted it would be in the top ten by its third weekend. This frame saw the Kevin James comedy make $5.5M, for a $30M overall total.

With fresh competition from Silent Hill: Revelation, Sinister took hit on Friday, making $1.75M. The Ethan Hawke horror, made for only $3M, opened well a fortnight ago taking over $18M and fell a not-bad 51% last weekend, up against the Paranormal Activity sequel. Back to this week, and Sinister finished up with $5M, bringing its 17 day total to $39.5M. While this may be its last placing in the top ten, it will turn a solid profit for Summit, and take some of the disappointment off Alex Cross' lacklustre showing.

Along with Paranormal Activity 4, the Alex Cross reboot also failed to woo crowds last weekend, making only $11.3M (a figure that was lower than what Along Came a Spider made in its second weekend). Tyler Perry's first lead role (outside of his own work) failed to entice his fan base or those looking for a solid thriller. Some speculated that the lack of violence alienated those who enjoyed James Patterson's Cross novels, but conversely, the violence that did feature (or the implication of violence) put off many of Perry's fans, who are far used to seeing him as his female alter-ego, Madea. A week on and Alex Cross tumbled down to eighth place on Friday, making just $1.69M (a drop of 56% on opening day). Over Saturday and Sunday it continued to struggled, finishing its second weekend with an unspectacular $5M ($19M overall and a weekend to weekend drop of 56%). It's unlikely to cover its modest $35M budget in North America and will need to rely on a better showing overseas, where Perry is a relative unknown.

Our next new release this weekend is the Nickelodeon produced comedy, Fun Size, featuring Victorious star Victoria Justice. When Wren is invited to a Halloween party by a guy she has a major crush on, she couldn't be happy. But the plans fall apart when Wren's mother asks her to babysit/go trick or treating with her little brother Albert. Trying to kill two birds with one stone, she takes her brother along to the party, but inadvertently loses him amongst the crowds of people. With the help of two geek guys (who just happen to have a access to a car) and her best friend by her side, Wren faces a race against time - find Albert before her mother realises he's missing. She soon discovers her Halloween adventure is about to get a whole lot crazier. Josh Schwartz makes his directorial debut on the picture, but is no stranger to the game, having created TV series The O.C, and been co-creator on Chuck and Gossip Girls, amongst a number of other TV productions. He was announced as director back in January 2011, and had cast Victoria Justice by March, to be joined a month later by Jane Levy, who was set to play Wren's best friend, April. With everything set to go on the production, bad weather delayed filming, causing newcomer Schwartz to have to shoot much faster than he'd anticipated when things finally got back on track. Switching locations from Minnesota, to Michigan and then finally Cleveland didn't help matters either. The first (and only) trailer for Fun Size was issued in June 2012, with a late October release set. Interestingly, despite being a Nickelodeon production, the film received a PG-13 rating, only the second time this has happened on a 'Nick' picture (the first being Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging). That left the picture in a tricky position - too old for the family market but not edgy enough for the teen crowd. There was also the Halloween effect to factor in, with many choosing this weekend to celebrate. While Fun Size faced no direct competition, it made little impact as it cleared just $1.3M on Friday, not even good enough to crack the top ten (it finished eleventh). Unlike Hotel Transylvania, the teen comedy didn't really benefit much from a Saturday matinee boost and ended up on Sunday with a poor three day total of $4M (though it did at least chart). Even with a $14M budget, Fun Size is unlikely to break even domestically and will have to hope for a return on DVD/Blu-Ray instead. But even this wasn't the poorest opener this frame.

Chasing Mavericks stars Gerard Butler and Jonny Weston and chronicles the life of surfer Jay Moriarty and his tutelage under local surf legend, Frosty Hesson. Moriarty dreams of surfing the most dangerous waves in North America but finds he still has a lot to learn about surfing and life in general. Hooking up with Hesson, who is initially resistant to the idea of teaching him, the two form a friendship as Moriarty prepares to realise his dream. Joining Butler and Weston is Elisabeth Shue, taking on her third role in the space of a few months (she featured in Hope Springs and House at the End of The Street). At the helm of Chasing Mavericks (Which was originally titled Of Men and Mavericks) are veteran directors Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted, known for, amongst many other things, his work on the 'Up' documentary series. While Hanson has been directing since 1973 (his debut was the Roger Corman produced Sweet Kill), it was his 1990s output that shot him to mainstream success, beginning with Bad Influence, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and The River Wild, before going on to direct arguably his best work,  the multi-award winning L.A Confidential in 1997. Chasing Mavericks shot around this time last year, with Walden Media and Fox opting for a busy Halloween release date. Real life dramas can go either way at the box office, but often have the power to surprise - 2011's A Dolphin's Tale opened to an impressive $19M, before going on to gross over $70M in North America. That was not to be the case for Chasing Mavericks, which opened at the fewest locations of any of the wide releases (2,002). Of the critics who expressed an opinion, only a third found something they liked about the picture, leaving it with a 34% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It managed $825K on Friday, and like Fun Size, failed to break into the top ten. Curiously though, of the four new openers, Chasing Mavericks had the highest audience approval (a B+ Cinemascore). Sadly that still wasn't enough to save it over the rest of the weekend and it ended up making just $1.3M more, for a opening frame total of $2.2M. Expect its screen count to be slashed quickly and for it to make its debut on the home market by January, if not sooner.

No comments: