Sunday 16 June 2013

U.S Box Office Report - 15th - 17th June 2013

1. Man of Steel - $113M - $125M
2. This Is The End -  $20.5M - $32.8M
3. Now You See Me - $10.3M - $80M
4. Fast & Furious Six - $9.4M - $219.6M
5. The Purge - $8.2M - $51.8M
6. The Internship - $7M - $30.9M
7. Epic - $6M - $95.4M
8. Star Trek Into Darkness - $5.6M - $210.4M
9. After Earth - $3.7M - $54.2M
10. Iron Man 3 - $2.9M - $399.6M

Welcome back to the weekly U.S box office report. This weekend brings the release of one of the most anticipated films of 2013, Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. Would it be able to shake off the ghost of Superman Returns? Elsewhere, Seth Rogen & Co. faced the apocalypse in This Is The End, while The Purge hoped to build further on its impressive start. Ahead to next weekend, we have Pixar's first prequel, Monsters University, and the Brad Pitt zombie epic, World War Z.

Superman's origins stretch right back to 1933, when he was created by high school students Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. The duo conceived him as a bald villain with telepathic powers, who would make his first appearance in the short story "The Reign of Superman", in the fanzine Science Fiction: The Advance Guard of Future Civilization #3. A year later, Siegel re-envisioned the character into a hero, basing his look around that of Douglas Fairbanks Jnr and Harold Lloyd (the latter being the basis for Clark Kent). The character would eventually be sold to Detective Comics (who would become DC) and Superman made his official debut in their new publication, Action Comics No.1, in 1938. From that point on, he has appeared consistently in all manner of media; comic books aside, this includes radio serials, TV shows, videogames, cartoons and in 1978, a major feature film and its numerous sequels. He is also credited as being the first superhero to have appeared on the big screen, in the 1951 picture Superman and the Mole Men, which starred George Reeves. The character, his values and actions, have been an influence (directly or indirectly) on almost every superhero created since his inception.

Richard Donner directed the 1978 Superman movie, to great acclaim and success. Producers Ilya and Alexander Salkind had opted to shoot a sequel at the same time, but tensions between them and Donner soon reached critical mass, and work on the second movie was halted while the original picture was completed. Despite having shot around 75% of Superman 2, the director would not return to finish the film, resulting in Richard Lester being drafted in to rework and complete what Donner had already shot. [The full history behind the situation would require a report many times larger than this one]. The sequel was eventually released in 1980, and two further films would follow, Superman III in 1983, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace in 1987 (A Supergirl movie would also see release in 1984). Neither of the latter two films saw great success, and Part IV essentially killed off the franchise. In the intervening years, the studio would try numerous times to bring the character back, notably in Tim Burton's Superman (with Nicholas Cage), but all amounted to nought. It would not be until 2006, and Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, that the original superhero would be back on the silver screen. Singer's movie sought to ignore the third and fourth picture, and pick up events after Superman 2. While the film would received positive notices, and make $391M worldwide, Warner Bros. were still disappointed, stating that it should have made closer to $500M. Still, work began on a follow up, with Singer claiming that the action missing from Returns (one of the major critical sticking points) would be front and  centre in the sequel. Despite development beginning, with a mid-2007 shooting date on the cards, constant delays resulted in Singer opting to direct Valkyrie instead, with a view to returning to the picture later.

In 2009, Warner Bros. announced they would be rebooting the Superman franchise, with an all new cast. This was for a number of reasons but primarily to satisfy a rights issue - if the studio did not begin production on a new film by 2011, then the estates of Shuster and Siegel could sue for lost revenue (this was only one part of a bigger court case, which saw Siegel's family recapturing a percentage of the rights to the character and his origins). Singer chose not to return, focusing instead on Jack The Giant Slayer (there were also rumours he had hoped to return to direct X-Men: First Class, having left the franchise after X2 to direct Superman Returns). In an interesting move, Warner Bros. opted to take pitches from comic book writers and directors on how to restart the franchise. Various ideas were put forward, including a proposal from Mark Millar and Matthew Vaughn to create an epic 8-hour trilogy of movies, but little progress was made overall. Some time later, while working on ideas for The Dark Knight Rises, screenwriter David S. Goyer pitched an idea for a Superman movie to director Christopher Nolan, who was impressed enough to then pitch it to the studio. Having seen incredible success with The Dark Knight, WB signed up Goyer to script Man of Steel, with Nolan acting as producer.  The new story would be a complete reboot, taking in (and expanding) the origins of Kal-El, his departure from Krypton and his life growing up on earth. Goyer was also quick to add that while he respected the work Singer had done on Superman Returns, Man of Steel would have no link to that, or the original film series. With Nolan tied up on the third Batman movie, the hunt was on for a director.

As one can imagine, the list of potential candidates to helm the flick covered all bases, including a number of newcomers, established talent and veteran directors. Guillermo Del Toro was offered the job, but turned it down to work on At The Mountain of Madness (which would not move forward, Del Toro ultimately boarding the July 2013 release, Pacific Rim). Also mentioned were Ben Affleck (who had coincidentally portrayed George Reeves, the TV version of Superman, in the 2006 film, Hollywoodland), Matt Reeves, Darren Aronofsky and Duncan Jones. Old hands Tony Scott and Robert Zemeckis were also said to be in discussion. However in October 2010, Watchmen director Zack Snyder was officially announced as director on Man of Steel. Snyder had begun his career as a cinematographer and director of TV commercials, and made his feature debut on the well received Dawn of the Dead remake in 2004. He then saw huge success with his adaptation of 300, based on Frank Millar's comic mini-series (he also produced the sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire, due March 2014). More than pleased with the performance of 300, WB offered him the chance to direct his dream project - an adaptation of Alan Moore's Watchmen. Despite being a fairly faithful version in many regards (too faithful some claim), the film struggled at the box office, taking $185M from a budget of around $130M. Undeterred, Snyder and the studio pushed forward with an original project, Sucker Punch, the tale of  a group of girls held in a mental institute, and the fantastical adventures they embark upon in order to escape. All the hype and set-pieces in the world couldn't save the picture, and it made only $89M from a budget of around $82M. The failure of Sucker Punch led many to question if Snyder was the right person for Man of Steel (which he had signed on to direct a few months prior to Punch's release). Warner Bros. were quick to play up Nolan's involvement, reminding everyone of his amazing work on Batman's rebirth.

In November 2011, Snyder had Goyer's script, and was ready to start casting. As on the original series and Singer's Superman Returns, a relative unknown was sought for the role of Kal-El. After screen testing a number of candidates, British actor Henry Cavill (who was arguably a little more 'known' than Reeves or Routh had been) was cast in the title role. The actor was known primarily for his role in the TV show, The Tudors, but had appeared in a number of features, including Stardust, The Count of Monte Cristo and Tarsem's Immortals. In an odd turn of events, it was revealed that Cavill had previously already been cast as Superman, in McG's aborted project, Superman: Flyby in 2004 (Singer replaced Cavill with Brandon Routh, when he began casting for Superman Returns). At one point, the actor was dubbed the unluckiest man in Hollywood, having missed out on the role of Cedric Diggory (Goblet of Fire), Edward Cullen (Twilight Series) and James Bond (Casino Royale), along with the aforementioned Superman role. Joining the Brit actor would be Amy Adams (as Lois Lane), Laurence Fishburne (as Perry White) alongside Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as The Kents. In the role of antagonist, Michael Shannon was cast, though his role as General Zod was kept under wraps for a short period. One further star to join the project was Russell Crowe, who would play Jor-El, the true father of Superman, famously played by Marlon Brando in the original film series. With everything now in place, Snyder began shooting on August 1st 2011, with a view to complete principal photography in the following February. The director opted not to shoot in 3D, but convert the film in post production.

The first shots of Cavill in character appeared not long after shooting had commenced and  given the scale of the production, on-set shots soon began to emerge. The first actual footage from Man of Steel debuted in July 2012, with the first full trailer appearing online in November of that year. Subsequent trailers, clips and a viral marketing campaign all followed and as the film's release date neared, more and more footage began to show up online (as seems to be the norm these days). Early word was very strong, but since the review embargo was lifted on Monday, a slightly different picture has emerged. While the good reviews outweighed the bad, many cited a lack of chemistry between Cavill and Adams, while others took exception to the CGI-battlefest that makes up much of the film's last 45 minutes. At the time of its release, Man of Steel sat on a worrying 57% approval rating (as an aside, Superman Returns scored 76% upon release). For a tentpole movie such as this, reviews are often of little concern, rather word of mouth going forward is the bigger issue. Estimates for its opening weekend had been quite varied, and rival studios have been quick to call out WB for low balling their estimate of a $75M opening frame (the issue being the studio are certain it will make more, but by under-estimating, it has the potential to look an even bigger success). Should the studio need to put a spin on lower than expected numbers, they could claim, as Sony did with The Amazing Spider-Man, that this a brand new franchise, and should be judged as such. Whichever way one approached the film's potential success, the studio had a lot riding on it - if Man of Steel hit big, it would pave the way not only for a sequel (which is already rumoured to be underway), but also the future of the fabled Justice League movie.

Man of Steel opened at 4,207 locations, the second highest count for a non-sequel, and got off to a flying start. Midnight screenings and a ticket tie-in with Walmart helped the picture clear $21M by early Friday morning (Split $12M for the Walmart offer and $9M in standard midnight ticket sales - for clarity going forward, many sites recorded the ticket offer figure as a Thursday take, while the midnight figure was factored into Friday, even though there was some overlap between the two). That overall figure of $21M put MoS in a stronger initial start position than The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and The Hunger Games, and set it on a path for an opening well above $100M. Its overall Friday figure came in at a very impressive $44M (That includes midnight sales, but not the ticket offer figures) giving the film the record of the biggest 'June Friday' in history, surpassing the $41M made by Toy Story 3 in the same time period. There are numerous comparisons that could be made at this point with other comic book flicks, but the most important would be how it faired against Superman Returns. That picture opened on a Tuesday and had made $48M by the end of Friday, a figure Man of Steel managed to surpass with just over a day's worth of ticket sales.

The superhero flick held fairly steady during Saturday, adding a further $36.3M to its tally, helped in part by the strong word of mouth (highlighted by its A- Cinemascore). The studio will be hoping that momentum continues in the weekends ahead. By Sunday night, Man of Steel was sitting on a three day total of $113M, ($125M since release), marking it as the biggest June weekend opening in cinematic history, again besting Toy Story 3's record. In comparison, Superman Returns  had made $84M ($98M in 2013 dollars) in its first six days, comprised in part of $52.5M in Fri-Sun ticket sales. Overseas the news was equally good, with the movie making $71.6M from twenty four markets (its major international roll-out takes place next weekend). Factoring in its US tally, that put Man of Steel on a global total of $196M after only four days on general release. All eyes now look ahead to weekend two, and its clash with World War Z and Monsters University. Its performance in that frame will give us a much clearer picture as to where Man of Steel might ultimately end up. As it stands, this is a fantastic victory for Warner Bros. and gives gravity to the plan of creating a Marvel-style universe of films, based on their DC Comic properties. Man of Steel is our number one film this weekend.

Hoping to avoid the onslaught from Superman, Sony opted to release the R-rated comedy, This Is The End on Wednesday. The film, written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg sees a group of actors (Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel and the aforementioned Rogen) attending a party at James Franco's house and suddenly finding themselves dealing with what may very well be the apocalypse. As Hollywood actors, this isn't something they were trained to deal with, and a siege mentality quickly takes hold as the world comes apart at the seams. The twist is that everyone in the film, which includes numerous other actors in major or cameo roles, is actually playing themselves (or an exaggerated version, one assumes). The idea for the picture came from a short that Rogen and Baruchel made in 2007 entitled  Jay and Seth vs.The Apocalypse. Goldberg and Rogen (with co-writer Jason Stone) expanded the story to feature length and opted to make it their directorial debut. Bringing in numerous friends they'd collaborated with in the past, the duo shot the film in the spring of 2012, with a view to release in the summer of 2013. Originally entitled The Apocalypse, the movie received a name change, This Is The End, prior to the first teaser going online at Christmas.

Early screenings were very positive, with a number of critics saying it was potentially the funniest film of the year. This strong word carried on up to the picture's release and thanks to some attractive tax breaks and a limited location shoot, the studio were safe in the knowledge that a good opening weekend would cover the picture's $32M production budget. An 84% approval rating certainly did the movie no harm and saw it open to a solid $7.8M Wednesday. The flick was off 42% on Thursday, adding $4.4M, which gave it a running total of $12.3M overall. Up against the full brunt of Man of Steel, This Is The End found itself struggling, and could only manage a $6.8M Friday haul (in a way, that figure justifies the studio getting a head start on Wednesday). Over Saturday and into Sunday, the R-rated comedy made a further $13.7M, bringing its weekend tally to $25M, and $32M since Wednesday. That figure is probably around what Sony had been expecting given the competition, and they'll be hoping now that the strong word of mouth catches on and turns This Is The End into a decent sized hit.

The magic heist ensemble Now You See Me managed to hold off After Earth a fortnight ago, and stayed ahead of The Purge and The Internship this weekend, adding another $10.3M. The film, which stars Jesse Eisenberg and Morgan Freeman cost $75M to bring to screens, and has so far made $80M. At this stage, $100M is certainly a possibility, though it may take a few weeks to hit that mark. Now you See Me has yet to open in any major capacity overseas, but should perform equally well, if not better, than its domestic showing.

The sixth entry in the Fast & Furious series lost a little ground to the new releases this weekend, but still managed an ok $9.4M. It had hit $200M on the previous Sunday (day 17 of its release) and became the most successful film of the series in North America on Thursday, when it surpassed the $209M made by Fast Five. It currently sits on a $219.6M domestic total. Overseas Fast & Furious Six is still going strong, having crossed $400M. Fast & Furious 7 is already in production for a May 2014 release.

Two releases currently in the top ten that weren't covered by last weekend's recap are The Purge and The Internship. The former stars Ethan Hawke as a security expert in a near future America where one night each year, the citizens are free to commit any crime they want, without any repercussions. Expected to perform ok at the box office, The Purge exceeded even the most outlandish estimates when it opened to $34M. Given the fact it cost only $3M to produce, one can see why Universal were quick to announce a sequel was already in the works. A week on and the film dropped a very nasty 83% on its second Friday, making $2.9M. While a big fall was expected given the picture's $16.7M opening day and the new competition, this was still very high. For its entire second frame, the thriller saw $8.2M, bringing its total after ten days on release to $51.8M. The big fall in takings is largely academic given the picture's tiny production budget, not to mention the fact that Universal now have a potential franchise on their hands. Expect The Purge to top out at around $70M.

The Internship stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as two salesmen who find themselves redundant in a tough economy. When Bill (Vaughn) decides to sign them up for a summer internship at internet giant Google, the two end up as part of a team of underdogs competing with other groups for a full time job. Despite the re-teaming of The Wedding Crashers duo, with direction from Shawn Levy (Real Steel, Date Night), The Internship took just $6M during its first Friday on release, being overshadowed by The Purge. It ended up making $17.3M for the weekend, and was all but cast aside by the public when This Is The End was released on Wednesday. In its second weekend, the picture made $7M, bringing its total figure to $30.9M against a high budget (for a comedy) of $58M.

Epic gets just a few more day to make magic happen before the arrival of Monsters University. The animated family film cost around $100M to make, a figure it should just about cover domestically. This frame, its fourth on general release, saw the Blue Sky Studios production make $6M, bringing its cumulative gross to $95M. In the international market, Epic is performing slightly better and currently sits on a $117M total.

Elsewhere, Star Trek Into Darkness hit $200M on Monday, and is looking to finish up with around $230M in its coffers by the end of its run, just shy of what the 2009 Star Trek movie earnt domestically. Oversea the picture is not quite as strong, but should still clear $200M - a much better showing than the $127M earnt by its predecessor in the international arena. This weekend the JJ Abrams sequel made $5.6M, to bring its total to date to $210.4M

Even at this relatively early point, it's looking likely that M.Night Shyamalan's After Earth will end up making little more than The Happening ($64M finish) at the domestic box office. Made for $130M, the movie sees Will Smith and son Jaden, crash landing on a long abandoned earth and facing off against a deadly new species in a race against time. This weekend, only its third, saw the release make $3.7M ($54.2M overall). Overseas, where Smith senior is incredibly popular, After Earth has made $91.1M.

Rounding us out is the superhero flick that kicked off the summer season. Iron Man 3 is now less than half a million dollars from $400M, a figure it should see by Tuesday of this week. The smash hit has now taken an astounding $1.2 billion dollars worldwide.

With competition from The Internship and now This Is The End, it is all but over for The Hangover Part 3 (it dropped over 1200 locations this frame, and slipped out of the top ten). While its current domestic total ($107M) must come as a disappointment considering the $277M and $254M made by Parts 1 and 2 respectively, overseas this third picture has already hit $200M.

No comments: