Monday, 22 July 2013

U.S Box Office Report - 20th - 22nd July 2013

1. The Conjuring - $41.5M - $41.5M
2. Despicable Me 2 - $25M - $276.1M
3. Turbo - $21.5M - $31.2M
4. Grown Ups 2 - $20M - $79.5M
5. Red 2 - $18.5M - $18.5M
6. Pacific Rim - $15.9M - $68.2M
7. R.I.P.D - $12.7M - $12.7M
8. The Heat - $9.3M - $129.2M
9. World War Z - $5.2M - $186.9M
10. Monsters University - $5M - $248.9M

One of the busiest weekends of the summer sees four new wide opening releases set to do battle with each other, and the rest of the top ten. Studios looked to cover all the bases - the family market, the horror crowd and the action comedy fans. Last weekend saw Grown Ups 2 narrowly miss out on the top spot, while the well received Pacific Rim ended up making a solid, if slightly underwhelming debut. Oddly, after the four major releases this frame, there is only The Wolverine next weekend.

The Conjuring is based on a real life incident and began its journey to the screen almost twenty years ago. When paranormal investigator Ed Warren played an interview he had conducted with Carolyn Perron, to producer Tony DeRosa-Grund, they were convinced there was a movie to be made. Perron had called in the Warrens (Ed and Lorraine, famed for their work on the Amityville hauntings) to help investigate a series of terrifying disturbances she and her family had endured at their farm house. What they discovered would see them not only fighting for the safety of the family, but facing their most frightening challenge to date. Producer Grund wrote a treatment (entitled The Conjuring) and would spend the next fourteen years trying to get it in production. A deal with the company that made The Haunting in Connecticut almost came to fruition a few years back. Yet it would not be until Chad and Carey Hayes had re-written the script from the point of view of The Warrens, that studios sat up and took notice. A fierce bidding war saw New Line emerge triumphant in late 2009. Things moved slowly forward, with James Wan joining the project as director in June 2011. Wan shot to fame working on the Saw franchise, and had recently directed the low budget frightener, Insidious (he also helms the sequel, which he worked on after completing The Conjuring). As The Warrens he cast Partick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, with Lili Taylor and Ron Livingstone as Carolyn and Roger Perron. The film temporarily became known as The Warren Files, before reverting back to its original title, The Conjuring.

The studio had initially set the flick for release in early 2013 but very strong early word saw them chance their luck in a busy summer (according to Box Office Mojo, this is the first major R-rated horror release in the middle of summer since 2006's The Omen). The strong word kept building, bolstered further by an effective teaser trailer and a curious decision from the MPAA. The movie ratings board awarded the film an 'R' - when Wan went back to them for advice on how to get a PG-13, they told him they could not offer a way to cut the film - that it was simply a scary movie and no single editing choice would alter this. Critics would go on to agree, scoring the picture a near unheard of (for the horror genre) 84% fresh rating. This combined all but guaranteed the film the top spot despite the wealth of new and existing competition.The Conjuring got off to a spectacular start, earning $17.7M in just over 24 hours. It easily grabbed the top spot with that figure and dominated throughout the weekend. By Saturday afternoon it had already recouped its $20M costs, and with an excellent (and rare, given the genre) 'A-' Cinemascore, kept the crowds coming. By the end of Sunday, it was sitting on an incredible three day total of $41.5M - a new record for an original R-rated horror flick, an accolade it stole from June release, The Purge. With strong word of mouth, the sky is the limit on this one, and should see The Conjuring enjoy a good few weekends inside the top ten - its word of mouth should also enable it to avoid the horror movie second frame plunge. It would seem Warner Bros' summer move has paid off handsomely.

Despicable Me 2 gave up the top spot on Wednesday when Turbo entered the fray, but certainly wasn't going down without a fight. On its third Friday the Steve Carrell voiced picture made another $7.5M, and slipped just one place. It has now overtaken Monster University to become the most successful animated release of 2013. It has also surpassed the entire theatrical run of its predecessor ($251M). All up, in its third frame Despicable Me 2 made $25M, to give it an overall total of $276.1M. $300M is a foregone conclusion, even with Planes and Smurfs 2 waiting in the wings. Next up for the series will be a Minions spin-off due in 2014.

The family release for this weekend is Dreamworks' animated picture Turbo, the tale of Theo, a snail who dreams of becoming the greatest racer in the world, in spite of nature deciding otherwise. A freak accident sees him sucked into a drag racer, where his DNA is fused with nitrous oxide, and before long Theo finds himself part of a snail racing troupe, with an eye on racing the Indy 500. Turbo marks the feature directorial debut of David Soren, a story board artist and voice actor who has worked on Shrek, Shark Tale and Over The Hedge, along with two Madgascar shorts. The idea came to Soren from his son's fascination with race cars and snails - and he saw a story in taking one of the world's slowest creatures and turning it into one of the quickest. With a budget of $135M, the fledgling director assembled a voice case which included Ryan Reynolds (in his first of two appearances in this weekend's box office report), Samuel L. Jackson, Michelle Rodriguez and Paul Giamatti. To keep things as accurate as possible, the studio signed up with Hulman & Company, the overseerers of the Indianpolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League. They also worked with four-time IZOD Indycar champion, Dario Franchitti, who acted as creative consultant.

Turbo hasn't garnered anywhere near the levels of hype associated with Monsters University or the Despicable Me sequel, and was seen by many as something of an underdog. Furthermore, both of the aforementioned pictures were still very real threats, and they'd be joined in a fortnight's time by The Smurfs sequel. Perhaps in an effort to get an early foothold on the competition, Turbo debuted on Wednesday to a so-so $5.5M - only $210K more than the two week old Despicable Me 2 made on the same day. By Thursday, Gru & co. were already back in the top spot, and with The Conjuring thrown into the mix on Friday, Turbo slipped down to third place. Things did pick up a little bit as the weekend began proper, but that still left the film with so much work to do. Its overall weekend total of $21.5M is one of the lowest in Dreamworks' history - indeed, we need to go back to 2006's Flushed Away to see a similarly poor start. For Turbo's first five days, it made $31.2M, which while not an outright disaster, is still a long way from where it should have been. The film still has another weekend before the Smurfs arrive, and its very strong word of mouth (it carries an 'A' Cinemascore) should help on some level. Like most animated features, it should also fair well abroad.

Having been in a close battle for the top spot last frame, Grown Ups 2 had to make do with a still very good second place figure of $41.5M. The Adam Sandler ensemble comedy kept Pacific Rim at bay during the week, only dropping to third on Wednesday with the release of Turbo. On its second Friday on general release, and facing fresh competition, it made $6.4M - that's a fall of 60% on the same day last week. Over Saturday and into Sunday Grown Ups 2 added another $13.6M, to give it an overall weekend total of $20M (an overall fall of 51% on last weekend as a whole). In the same amount of time, the original picture had made $77.6M, and managed a second frame haul of $19M. Whether the sequel will see the dizzy heights of the $160M the first film made remains to be seen, but $100M is a dead cert within the next week or so, which would make it the fourteenth Adam Sandler picture to earn such a figure.

Red 2 is the sequel to the surprise 2010 sleeper hit, which starred Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman (amongst others). Released in a relatively quiet October, it made $21M on its way to a $90M domestic haul. It did equally well oversees, all on a budget of $58M. A sequel was announced in early 2011 but given such a major cast, it took until September 2012 before shooting could commence. Joining a returning Willis and Mirren would be John Malkovich and Mary-Louise Parker, alongside series newcomers Catherine Zeta Jones and Anthony Hopkins. This time around, the Retired Extremely Dangerous team find themselves attempting to track down a cold war scientist (Hopkins) in an effort to defuse a nuclear bomb. At the same time Willis' Frank Moses has to contend with the return of an old girlfriend and being hunted by two of the world's deadliest assassins. Costing $84M, Red 2's first trailer debuted quietly back in January, and has kept things fairly low key until recently. It was originally set to open opposite The Smurfs sequel in August, but was pulled forward to this weekend.

With competition from both The Conjuring and R.I.P.D (not to mention Pacific Rim), Red 2 was set to find things a bit tougher this time around. Reviews weren't anywhere near as strong either, with the film sitting on a 40% Rotten Tomatoes rating. It debuted in  a  disappointing fifth place on Friday, making $6.3M in the process (in comparison, its predecessor scored $7.3M). Obviously, there was a wealth of competition to hinder Red 2's chances, but the average reviews and lacklustre word of mouth certainly won't have helped either. Over the remainder of the weekend it kept fairly consistent in its performance, finishing up Sunday with an $18.5M total. Again, the first Red saw $21.7M over its first three days, so this is about where the sequel should have been based on the law of diminishing returns. However, the key to the first film's success was that it had strong legs after its first weekend, something this sequel is unlikely to replicate. With higher costs, Red 2 will ultimately need to look overseas for help.

Pacific Rim was seen of one of the more riskier movies funded by a major studio in recent times. At a budget of $190M, the picture was always going to struggle to break out of its genre's fans and attract decent mainstream box office money. However, its $38M opening, while derided by some, was a solid start for a film with no major stars or novel/comic book on which to hype it. Sadly, even with great word of mouth, the Guillermo Del Toro monsters versus robots flick failed to make any headway over the competition during the week. Friday aside, its best weekday fell on Tuesday, when it made $4.4M. As the second frame began, it was sitting on a $52.2M total, and faced fresh competition from at least three of the major releases. On Friday it made $4.7M, and dropped down to seventh place. That's a sharp fall of 67% on the same day last weekend. Another $11.2M gave Pacific Rim a three-day total of $15.9M (an overall fall of 57%) and means $100M in North America is now out of the picture. Overseas, things are looking a lot healthier, and as Pacific Rim has expanded into more territories, its box office has risen. At the time of writing, its international tally stands at $110M.

Our final new release this weekend is R.I.P.D - Rest In Peace Department. Based on a Dark Horse comic book series, it tells the tale of newly deceased cop, Nick Walker, who finds his skills being utilised in the afterlife to round up evil spirits who refuse to move on to the next world. Joining Walker on his quest is legendary gun fighter and veteran RIPD officer, Roy Pulsipher. Taking the leads would be Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, with support from Mary Louise Parker (in her second movie this weekend) and Kevin Bacon. Both Bridges and Parker's roles had originally been envisaged for Zach Galifinakis and Jodie Foster respectively, but The Hangover star was unable to commit due to scheduling conflicts, while it is unknown whether Foster was actually approached or was simply wishful casting. The movie has certainly been a long time coming. Having completed shooting all the way back in January 2012, almost nothing was seen or heard of the movie until April 2013. The first (and only) domestic trailer revealed the film to be something of a carbon copy of Men in Black, with the benevolent spirits substituted for aliens.

The lack of publicity led some to wonder if Universal had lost faith in the costly $130M production - something all but confirmed by their reluctance to screen the movie for critics. When they did finally get to see the finished project, it wasn't good, with only a handful finding something to enjoy about it. With strong competition from Pacific Rim, The Conjuring and Red 2, the situation with R.I.P.D didn't look good, and it ran the very real risk of being a costly failure. Out to 2,800+ screens, the picture opened in a very disappointing sixth position on Friday, making just $4.8M. And things certainly didn't improve from there as all and sundry gave the picture a very wide berth. A $12.7M overall weekend total puts R.I.P.D as one of the biggest failures of not only 2013 but of recent times. Indeed, as Scott Mendelson wrote in his Friday report, the studio would have been pleased with Battleship/John Carter style numbers on this one. But while this is now a very costly write off, Universal are still having one of their best summers, with major hits Fast & Furious 6 and Despicable Me 2 doing sterling business. R.I.P.D will see at least one more frame in the top ten thanks to only one major release debuting next weekend, but will a distant memory not long after.

Now in its fourth weekend, The Heat just keeps on going, seeing the smallest percentage drop in takings of any film in the top ten. The Bullock/McCarthy action comedy, directed by Paul Feig, looks set to be the biggest picture of both actor's respective careers. Over the last three day it made $9.3M, to bring its total to date to $129.2M. It should see at least one, possibly two more weekends in the top ten and top out at around $150M in the US.

World War Z hangs on in there for one more weekend. The Brad Pitt zombie epic, loosely based on Max Brooks' novel of the same name, made $5.2M this frame, bringing its North American total to $186.9M. Globally, factoring in the US, WWZ is just shy of half a billion dollars.

With new and old competition, Monster University quietly slipped down to tenth place. Its $248M domestic tally means it is now the sixth most popular Pixar film in the studio's history. It is also fast approaching the $255M made by its predecessor and may end its run with around $265M.

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