Monday 29 July 2013

U.S Box Office Report - 26th - 28th July 2013

1. The Wolverine - $55M - $55M
2. The Conjuring - $22.1M - $83.8M
3. Despicable Me 2 - $16M - $306.4M
4. Turbo - $13.3M - $55.7M
5. Grown Ups 2 - $11.5M - $101.6M
6. Red 2 - $9.4M - $35M
7. Pacific Rim - $7.5M - $84M
8. The Heat - $5.8M - $24.3M
9. R.I.P.D - $5.9M - $24.4M
10. Fruitvale Station - $4.6M - $6.3M

Something of a calm before the storm moment this weekend, as only one new movie sees a wide release. The Wolverine brings back Hugh Jackman as the titular hero, hoping to serve as a successful stop-gap between X-Men movies. Last weekend's surprise hit, The Conjuring was expected to hold much stronger than the usual horror fare, while Turbo and Red 2 would be hoping there was still room for them after their lacklustre opening frames. Ahead and Wednesday brings us The Smurfs 2, followed on Friday by the action comedy, 2 Guns.

With his comic book origins stretching back to 1974, Wolverine has remained one of the most consistently popular characters within the medium. Created by Len Wein and John Romita Snr, he first made his appearance in The Incredible Hulk #180. His proper introduction an issue later would set him on a path that would see him join The X-Men. In 1982 Wolverine (often referred to as Logan) was featured in his own eponymous series, the anti-hero receiving something of a makeover from artist Frank Miller. Numerous attempts were made to bring the character to the silver screen (primarily as part of the X-Men), but it would not be until the year 2000 that Bryan Singer achieved such a feat. X-Men featured a vast array of mutants but focused on Wolverine and his quest to unlock his origins. Expected to be played by a major star of the time, Singer surprised many by casting the relatively unknown Australia actor and musical theatre star, Hugh Jackman. While the experience of starring in a big Hollywood production was alien to him, Jackman took to the role with gusto, making it his own almost from the get-go. X-Men, which also featured Patrick Stewart, Anna Paquin and Halle Berry would go on to become a $296M smash hit, launching a brand new franchise in the process. Most of the cast would return for the sequel, X2: X-Men United, which was an even bigger hit, scooping $407M in 2003. Fox quickly geared up on a second sequel, but offered his dream project of Superman Returns, Singer opted to not return. After a number of names were put forward, Matthew Vaughn signed on the dotted line, but dropped out some way into pre-production (he would eventually return to the series to direct X-Men: First Class). With a start date looming, Brett Ratner was hired at the eleventh hour. At the time Ratner was known principally for his work on the Rush Hour series and facing not only a very tight schedule but a suddenly reduced budget, the director struggled with X-Men: The Last Stand. While a critical disappointment, it would become the most successful entry in the series, a position it holds to this day.

Perhaps feeling the characters had run their course for now (and also figuring why have one franchise when you could have a number of them), the studio opted to make a series of movies based on the origins of certain individual mutants. Making Wolverine the subject of their first 'Origins' movie was a no-brainer (A Magneto origins movie was also in an advanced stage of development, but after the idea was abandoned, its plot ended up being merged into that of X-Men: First Class). X-men Origins: Wolverine sought to explain Logan's history and introduce hitherto unseen mutants from within the X-Men universe. Along with Jackman, Liev Schreiber would take on the role of Sabretooth, while Ryan Reynolds and Taylor Kitsch would play Wade Wilson and Remy Etienne LeBeau respectively. The picture had a troubled production, with director Gavin Hood and the studio clashing over a number of aspects. A further blow was dealt when a near complete workprint of the film was leaked onto the internet more than a month before its general release. Despite Fox claiming this version was missing a number of effects and differed considerably from the finished picture, there was in fact little to separate the two. Origins: Wolverine would make $373M on the global market, but poor critical opinion and a domestic tally of $179M (against a budget of $150M) put the dampers on things somewhat. While a sequel was announced not long after the picture's release, it was put on the back burner as development moved forward on what would become X-Men: First Class. Jackman would feature in that film, though only in an uncredited (yet memorable) cameo. There was speculation that any true Wolverine sequel would be based in Japan, evidenced by one of Origin's post-credit sequences. This led fans to speculate that the story would be based around the limited Chris Claremont/Frank Miller series, which ran in 1982. Jackman had claimed that this was his favourite of all Wolverine stories, but that they'd needed to establish the character in his own right first.

Christopher McQuarrie, director of Way of the Gun and writer of The Usual Suspects, was hired to script the new picture in August of 2009 (he had actually done some uncredited work on the X-Men series for Bryan Singer). By early 2010, Jackman was talking of a 2011 shoot for the new picture, and things looked to be on track when McQuarrie submitted his finished script in March 2010. With Gavin Hood out of the picture, the hunt was on for a new director. Having worked with Darren Aronofsky on The Fountain, Jackman was eager to get him on board. The Requiem for a Dream helmer joined the project in late 2010, and was quick to state that this would be a stand alone feature and not a follow up to Origins. By November of that year, the film became officially known as The Wolverine, and pre-production continued apace. However, in March 2011, Aronofsky left the feature, stating it would keep him out of the country for almost a year, a length of time he was not comfortable with. Fox called a halt on the production while they searched for a new director. In the meantime, Japan suffered a terrible earthquake and tsunami, leading some to wonder if the film would still shoot there when production resumed. A number of directors were thrown into the mix, including Justin Lin, Jose Padilha and Doug Liman, before it was announced that James Mangold had gotten the job. Mangold shot to fame directing ensemble drama Copland, before moving on to such fare as Walk The Line, 3:10 To Yuma and Knight & Day. His position was officially announced in the summer of 2011, with a view to commence shooting in the winter. However, the start date was pushed back to the Spring of 2012 while Jackman finished up work on Les Miserables. In the meantime, X-Men: First Class had been released to acclaim and made $353M at the global box office.

Finally, July 10th 2012, The Wolverine entered principal photography. The picture shot primarily in Australia, though did take in Japan for some sequences. True to what Aronofsky planned when he was in charge, the picture would exist on its own and feature very few mutants from other films in the series. Set after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, it would see Logan travelling to Japan and being offered the chance to finally become mortal again. In the process, he finds himself protecting the granddaughter of a man he saved during World War 2. While there was talk Jessica Biel would join the production in some capacity, this never materialised. Principle roles were filled by Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima and Hiroyuki Sanada. With work now taking place on the sequel to X-Men: First Class, titled Days of Future Past, there was a gap in the market for The Wolverine to slot into. An end of summer release was set for the picture, and the first trailer debuted in March. This was followed by further footage, and Jackman hitting the publicity trail hard. Reviews for The Wolverine have been generally positive, and much stronger than those garnered for Origins. As of Thursday, it was sitting on a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 68% (the previous movie scored 38%). Competition was reduced thanks to the film opening against no other major release, though last week's hit The Conjuring wasn't about to go quietly into the night. Other releases such as Red 2 and Pacific Rim would have less of an impact.

Opening at just shy of 4,000 locations, things initially got off to a good start with a decent $4M midnight haul - that was in line with recent hit World War Z, which went on to have a $66.4M opening. But not everything was rosy, as The Wolverine's Friday figure came in at $21M (including the midnight figure) - that's some way down from the first full day of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which opened to $34.4M. In fact, the $21M figure is the lowest opening Friday of any X-Men film, even First Class, which made $21.3M. Comparisons aside, things were still looking good for a $50M+ opening weekend. Over Saturday and into Sunday, the picture made a further $34M, giving it a $55M total. Again, that's a solid enough figure for a $120M budgeted flick, but significantly lower than Origins' $85M opening total (First Class scored $55.1M). Some have put this lower figure down to the fact that this was essentially a one-mutant film - and all of that hung on the shoulders of Hugh Jackman. There could also be the fact that Origins left a bad taste in the mouth for some, and competition certainly can't be discounted either. Where the picture goes next weekend will be more revealing for its overall future. A decent hold will see it well on its way to recouping the $120M costs, but a sharp fall could see it struggle - at least domestically, where it'll be facing Elysium and Kick Ass 2 in the coming weeks (not to mention next weekend's 2 Guns). Overseas things were much healthier, with Fox reporting an $86.1M total, giving The Wolverine a $141M global take after just three days.

After a stunning opening last weekend, all eyes where once again on The Conjuring, and whether its fantastic word of mouth would save it from the typical second frame plunge that curses most horror movies. Early signs based on its weekday totals were certainly positive and by Thursday night it had recouped its production budget twice over. With The Wolverine in play, the James Wan-directed flick slipped down into second, but managed a solid second Friday take of $7.3M. That's down 57% on the same day last week, and was less to do with any kind of box office collapse and more to do with the fact its opening day was so strong. In comparison, The Purge fell a shocking 82% on its second Friday. The Conjuring remained steady during the weekend, finishing up with $22.1M (an overall dip of 47%), a sure sign it isn't just a flash in the pan. That brings its ten day total to $83M and means $100M will come relatively easily within the next week or so. It's already the 13th biggest supernatural horror film in history and stands to threaten the box office totals of The Ring, The Grudge and the entire Paranormal Activity series in the very near future. If Universal aren't already hard at work on a sequel, they soon will be.

With new competition from Turbo last weekend, it was suspected that Despicable Me 2 had had its run at the box office. Nothing could be further from the truth however, as Turbo dominated the family market for just one day. As DM2's fourth weekend began, it had its sights set on surpassing $300M at the domestic box office, something it would achieve on Saturday. It's now the second biggest film of 2013 and even with fresh competition on the horizon (The Smurfs 2 mainly), it could still climb to $330M. This frame it made $16M, to bring its overall total to $306M. Overseas the sequel is a little further ahead, having made $354M to date.

As mentioned, Turbo never really go going with the general public to the degree it needed to, despite its excellent Cinemascore (a rating based on a survey of people who have seen the picture). The film, about a snail who dreams of racing in the Indy 500, couldn't gain much ground during the week either, and knew it only really had this weekend to make much of impact before The Smurfs return on Wednesday. It scored $4M on its second Friday, a not bad fall of 40% on the same day last week, but not as strong as it needed to be on a $135M budgeted picture. It earnt a further $9.3M over the weekend proper, giving it a second frame total of $13.3M (An overall dip of 37.5% on its opening weekend). Turbo now faces the very real prospect of not hitting $100M in North America, and will need to look overseas for help (Similar to May release, Epic, although the Fox picture did at least manage $105M domestically).

Grown Ups 2 hit $100M on Sunday, an achievement that must come as something of a relief to Adam Sandler, whose last two live action features made just over $105M combined (and arguably burnt up a lot of the good will the actor had earnt). A third weekend of $11.5M puts Grown Ups 2's total at $101.6M. By the end of weekend three, the original film had made $110M, on its way to a $162M. It remains to be seen if the sequel will perform as well, but wherever it does end up, it'll be a solid return on its $80M investment. Unlike most Sandler flicks, Grown Ups did well overseas, and there's every chance part 2 will do just as well.

With a much busier market to play in, Red 2 looks unlikely to have the legs of its predecessor. Opening to $18M last weekend, it struggled through the week, not even clearing $1.6M on Thursday. A full week on from its opening, the Bruce Willis ensemble flick dropped 58% on Friday, making $2.7M. While both The Wolverine and The Conjuring continued to dominate the demographic, Red 2 picked up a little, finishing the weekend with a $9.4M total ($35M overall). At the same point, the original movie had made $33M and had a few quiet weeks ahead to make its $90M total. The sequel faces a number of busy weeks, and that combined with the average reviews and word of mouth will see it top out at around $65M.

Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim managed to get back up to fifth place on Thursday, crossing the $75M barrier in the process. While the film hasn't performed as well as WB had hoped it would (or needed it to), it's already surpassed the domestic totals of John Carter and Battleship, two releases it was compared unfavourably to. Were the weeks ahead a little quieter, $100M in North America would be a done deal, but with ten wide releases in the next four weekends, it is unlikely to get the chance to hang around. This weekend the Monsters versus robot thriller made $7.5M, giving it a domestic tally of $84M. Overseas however, things are much healthier, which has resulted in the picture hitting $140M, with a number of major territories still awaiting its release.

This weekend saw The Heat become the biggest film of Melissa McCarthy's career - at least as one of the main leads (Bridesmaids, where she had a supporting role, made $169M). It made $6.8M this frame, to bring its cumulative gross to $141.2M. The cop comedy should clear $160M in the US and could see at least half as much overseas. There are already rumours that director Paul Feig wants McCarthy for the lead role in his new super-spy project, Susan Cooper.

R.I.P.D became one of the biggest flops of recent times in its first three days on release. Made for an estimated $130M, it struggled to a $12M first weekend total. A week later and the collapse is all but complete - it dipped 54% and barely cleared $5.8M. That gives the Reynolds/Bridges action comedy a nasty $24.3M ten day total. By next Friday its screen count will have been slashed as Universal cuts its losses and sets about sending the film to the home market as quickly as possible. Expect R.I.P.D, along with The Lone Ranger, to be the "What Went Wrong" essay subject for summer 2013.

Managing to crack the top ten from a theatre count of only 1,064 is dual Sundance winner, Fruitvale Station. The film is based on the controversial final day of Oscar Grant's life, who was shot and killed by a Bay Side police officer for apparently resisting arrest in 2009. The topical picture opened on July 12th to exceptional reviews and made $386K from only 7 locations. Expansion a week later saw its box office takings rise to $739K. Based on this strong showing, The Weinstein Company opted to rapidly expand Fruitvale Station in its third weekend and were rewarded with a $4.6M total. That figure brings the film's total box office to $6.3M.

In limited/expanding release news, raunchy comedy The To-Do List, which stars Aubrey Plaza, made $1.5M from 591 locations. Blue Jasmine, the well received new feature from Woody Allen made $613K from 6 locations, while The Way, Way Back, which expanded into 886 theatres scored $3.3M ($8.9M to date). Elsewhere, The Lone Ranger has managed to rise to $85M ($161M global total) while World War Z is at $192M ($473M globally).

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