Monday 15 July 2013

U.S Box Office Report - 12th - 14th July 2013

1. Despicable Me 2 - $44.7M - $229.2M
2. Grown Ups 2 - $42.5M - $42.5M
3. Pacific Rim - $38.3M - $38.3M
4. The Heat - $14M - $112.3M
5. The Lone Ranger - $11.1M - $71.1M
6. Monsters University - $10.6M - $237.7M
7. World War Z - $9.4M - $177M
8. White House Down $6.1M - $62.9M
9. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain - $5M - $26.3M
10. Man of Steel - $4.8M $280.9M

This weekend sees the return of Adam Sandler in the comedy sequel, Grown Ups 2. He was set to take on both monsters and robots in Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim, a huge risk that Warner Brothers were hoping would pay off. After a spectacular opening last frame, Universal were ready to see Despicable Me 2 cross the $200M point while the critical and financial disappointment The Lone Ranger would be hoping for any interest it could get. Next weekend looks to be a busy one with the release of Red 2, R.I.P.D and The Conjuring, all joining Turbo, which opens on Wednesday.

After a blistering start last weekend, Despicable Me 2 comfortably dominated throughout the week (Tuesday's $12M haul being the strongest, Friday aside obviously). All up the sequel was sitting on a very tidy $184M by the close of play on Thursday, and looked set to keep hold of the top spot in its second weekend, leaving Grown Ups 2 and Pacific Rim to fight it out amongst themselves. On its second Friday on general release, Despicable Me 2 made $13.4M, which is down a slightly high 56% on the same day last weekend. That figure allowed the film to cross the $200M barrier, making it the seventh picture to do so this year. Strong matinee sales kept things buoyant over the remainder of the weekend despite initially losing the top spot to Grown Ups 2 and it finished up Sunday night with $44.7M. All up, in its first ten days on release the Steve Carrell voiced sequel has made $229.2M - more than three times what it cost to produce. Fresh competition arrives on Wednesday in the guise of Turbo but even at this point, Despicable Me 2 is an incredible success and will have eclipsed the original's $251M theatrical total in another week or so. Its current overseas total is a little stronger at $243M.

In 2010, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James and David Spade scored big with the comedy, Grown Ups. Following a group of high school friends who have reunited to commemorate the death of their basketball coach, the picture went on to make $162M in North America, and a further $109M overseas. It would become the third most successful film of Sandler's career. The comedian followed it up with Just Go With It (another hit) but then hit back to back failures with That's My Boy and Jack & Jill. Perhaps in response to this downturn, Sandler opted to appear in his very first sequel, Grown Ups 2. All the principle cast would return, which also included Salma Hayek and Mario Bello, with the notable exception of Rob Schneider. The film picks up three years after the original and sees Lenny Feder (Sandler) moving back to the town in which he grew and once again reconnecting with his old friends.

The comedian's movies are generally critic proof, though Grown Ups 2 ended up being one of the lowest rated of his entire career. While its tracking against Pacific Rim put the ensemble comedy on top, there was still a concern that the public had tired of Sandler, especially after the near universal dislike that Jack & Jill had spawned. Growns Ups 2 would also be up against The Heat, which had proved to be no slouch in the past fortnight. The original picture opened to $40M against Knight & Day and the second weekend of Toy Story 3. The sequel got off to a strong enough start on Friday and managed to topple Despicable Me 2 from the top spot with $16.2M - that's $1.8M more than the original film made during its first day. Cinema-goers ignored the abysmal reviews, making it a tight race for biggest film of the weekend. While GU2 ultimately lost out, it still finished with a very respectable $42.5M - the third largest opening of Sandler's career (second if you discount voice work). After back to back failures, this must have been a relief for all concerned and sets the film up to be another $100M hit for all concerned.

Pacific Rim principally came about due to the collapse of two other project. In 2006, Guillermo Del Toro signed on to direct an adaptation of Travis Beacham's script, Killing On Carnival Row. However, despite initial work, the project did not move forward and Del Toro moved on to Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, after which he joined Peter Jackson with a view to co-writing and directing The Hobbit. But issues over the rights and a lengthy development process saw pre-production on that film become a very drawn out process which began to impact on the director's other commitments. Meanwhile, a year after Carnival Row failed to get off the ground, Beacham had conceived the central idea for Pacific Rim while walking on a Santa Monica beach, and began turning it into a detailed movie outline. By 2010, it was announced that Legendary Pictures had purchased a 25 page script treatment written by Beacham, with Del Toro signing on to produce and co-script. The Pan's Labyrinth helmer was at this point knee deep into adapting his dream project for the screen, a faithful version of H.P Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. By mid-June 2011, he was ready to commence pre-production, and already had Tom Cruise lined up to star, with James Cameron as producer. But Universal baulked at the budget and the insistence that Madness be an R-rated movie. Things then happened very quickly, with the director later stating that he left the failed project on Friday, and had signed on board to helm Pacific Rim by the following Monday.

Pacific Rim sees earth attacked by giant creatures (Kaiju) released from the deep, and man's creation of equally huge robots (Jaegers) in response to the threat. Known for his hands on approach to creature design, Del Toro and his crew came up with at least forty different Kaiju designs, and numerous jaegers, eventually whittling down the monster tally to the nine that appear in the finished movie by way of an American Idol style process of elimination. The Jaegers themselves required two people to pilot them, one for each side. The lead role of washed-up Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket went to Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam, with the Academy award nominated Rinko Kikuchi signed on board to play co-pilot Mako Mori.

Rounding out the cast were long time Del Toro collaborator Ron Perlman, and Idris Elba as Commanding Officer Stacker Pentecost, a role that was originally earmarked for Tom Cruise. Production officially started in Toronto on November 14th 2011, and shot through until the April of 2012 (The film was not shot with 3D cameras, but converted in post production, even though Del Toro had been initially reluctant). Despite the time period, this was the director's shortest ever shoot at 103 days, and would see him working up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week for much of the duration. With shooting complete, an extended post-production process could begin that would employ Industrial Light & Magic, and the creative talent behind the Star Wars prequels, Iron Man, Star Trek and Reel Steel. During filming, very little information was forthcoming, and the first footage actually appeared at Comic-Con 2012, to rapturous praise. Apart from a few photographs, little was heard from Pacific Rim until the first teaser debuted in December. The reception was generally positive, and has continued to build with subsequent trailers and footage.

The film was considered by many to be one of the riskiest studio projects in some time. With an estimated budget of $180M, WB and Legendary Pictures knew Pacific Rim had to break out into the mainstream audience if they were to see a decent return on their investment. There was the very real risk that only those in the direct demographic would show up to see the film, which simply wouldn't be enough. With no major star on which to hang the picture's publicity, the studio opted to wait until Man of Steel was out of the way before rolling out a huge marketing push. However, recent tracking estimates had Pacific Rim opening below the Grown Ups sequel. This tracking information seemed to have been used by rivals to kneecap the film before it even made it into theatres. Early word had been very positive, and as the more mainstream critics weighed in, that opinion has kept fairly steady (it was 72% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes on Thursday night).

A Thursday evening/midnight haul of $3.6M put in it line with World War Z, but it couldn't sustain that start into Friday - perhaps already highlighting its front-loading amongst fans of the genre. While it kept Despicable Me 2 at bay to begin with, it wasn't strong enough to take on Sandler and co, leading to a somewhat subdued $14.6M first day total (that includes the Thursday $3.6M figure). Over Saturday and into Sunday, Pacific Rim made a further $23.7M, leading to a three day total of $38.3M. That's a figure that can be interpreted a number of ways. For a genre movie with no major stars or historical reference (no comic book, novel etc), it is a solid enough start, and its A- Cinemascore proves that those who saw the picture enjoyed it a great deal. However, on the other hand, this is a film that cost $180M to produce, and at least half that again to market, if not more. WB must have known that no matter how well it was received, there was always going to be a ceiling on what it could reasonably be expected to make, and chances are it hit that point. We need now to look ahead to next weekend, to see if Pacific Rim can break out further and capitalise on its strong word of mouth. Overseas, where the studio are hoping for a much bigger showing in the long term, it made $53M and is surely just getting started.

Despite competition from Grown Ups 2, The Heat still managed a solid $14M (a drop of 43%) in its third weekend on general release and crossed the $100M barrier on Friday. While it may not surpass Bridesmaids' $169m finish, The Heat is already a very profitable release for Fox. Next up for Sandra Bullock is Alfonso Cuaron's long-awaited Gravity in October, while McCarthy will appear in 2014's Tammy, alongside Susan Sarandon.

In stark contrast to Despicable Me 2, The Lone Ranger stumbled to a $48.7M five day opening and had already slipped down to fourth place by Wednesday. The hugely expensive action thriller didn't connect with audiences and it's already looking likely that film won't hit $100M in North America. Disney invested over $220M into the project, with a further (estimated) $125M spend on marketing. This weekend the film dropped down to fifth place on Friday, taking only $3.6M up against the new releases (a nasty fall of 68% on the same day last week). The situation got no better over Saturday and into Sunday, and it finished up with a second frame total of $11.1M (an overall fall of 62%). With the four major releases next weekend, The Lone Ranger is all but done in North America, and will need to look overseas for some form of salvation. Critics were quick to dismiss its international performance based on a $24M opening, but the picture still had a large number of locations in which to open. That said, a week on it has still only made $48M in total.

In only its fourth weekend, Monsters University has already surpassed the entire theatrical run of 2012's Brave ($237.2M). It may have taken a knock from Despicable Me 2 (and will again from Turbo) but it has taken it all in its stride. This frame the prequel made $10.6M, to bring its cumulative gross to $237.8M. Abroad Monsters University is shadowing it domestic performance by just over a million dollars.

World War Z continues to play well and made another $9.4M this weekend, to bring its domestic total to $177M. While $200M is a little tight at this point given the film's age and upcoming competition, its performance to date has already put it into the top ten biggest earners of 2013. It is also the most successful zombie film in cinematic history. Overseas WWZ crossed $200M in the last few days and looks set to climb higher still. Talk of a sequel is still on the agenda, though one imagines the studio will keep a much tighter hold over the script and budget.

Olympus Has Fallen really did take the wind out of White House Down. The expensive Roland Emmerich release has made only $62.9M in its theatrical run to date and has already begun to shed its location count. Expect a disappointing $80-85M finish in North America, with perhaps not even that much overseas.

Having had a fantastic debut last weekend, the Kevin Hart concert movie, Let Me Explain, added another $5M to its tally, to give it a twelve day total of $26.3M. The film is already an incredibly profitable one, having cost only $750k to produce (less even than the $1M reported last week). It should continue to play well outside the top ten.

Man of Steel made $4.8M over the last three days, to bring its thirty one day total to $280.9M. With four major releases in the next five days, this will be Man of Steel's last frame inside the top ten, but when the latest worldwide figures are factored in, the superhero reboot will be a $600M concern.

A few figures for some older releases. Iron Man 3 has now made $406M in North America, for a global total of $1.21 billion dollars. It is comfortably the biggest film of 2013. Elsewhere, The Great Gatsby has managed to make $143M, with a further $183M abroad. Meanwhile, early summer disappointment The Hangover Part III ended up with $111M domestically, and an impressive $235M overseas.

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