Sunday 25 August 2013

U.S Box Office Report - 23rd - 25th August 2013

1. The Butler - $17M -$52.2M
2. We're The Millers - $13.5M - $91.7M
3. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones - $9.3M - $14M
4. The World's End- $8.9M - $8.9M
5. Planes - $8.5M - $59.5M
6. Elysium - $7.1M - $69M
7. You're Next - $7M - $7M
8. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters - $5.2M - $48.3M
9. Blue Jasmine - $4.3M - $14.7M
10. Kick Ass 2 - $4.2M - $22.4M

This is arguably the last weekend of major summer releases, and two of those are still fairly low key. To be fair, August's line up has been stronger than in recent years, though at this point cinema-goers are somewhat burnt out from blockbuster season. Hoping for one last shot at the top was The Mortal Instruments, which was joined by Edgar Wright's The World's End and horror flick You're Next. The Butler and We're The Millers were set to offer some strong competition too. Next weekend looks to be a bit of a free-for-all, with Closed Circuit, Getaway and the One Direction movie all seeing release.

After a strong start that saw it all but recoup its production budget within the first three days, The Butler didn't play quite as well during the week as The Help did. Friday aside, its best day came on Tuesday when it made $3M. By the eve of its second frame, the drama which stars Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, had made $35.2M and was in with a very real chance of retaining the top spot for a second weekend. A $4.7M Friday (a drop of 42.5% on last weekend) kept the picture ahead of all the competition, both new and old. By Sunday night it had made $17M for the weekend, giving it a $52.2M ten-day total. While The Butler won't end up making anywhere near what The Help did, this is already a solid return on the investment made. With the lacklustre releases next weekend there's a chance The Butler will make it three for three.  Expect the Weinstein Company to push the film hard around awards season too.

R-rated comedy We're The Millers had a solid second frame thanks to some great word of mouth. The film stars Jason Sudekis as a drug dealer forced to create a fake family, which includes stripper Jennifer Aniston and a runaway, played by Emma Roberts. Another week on and the picture made $4M on Friday,stronger than any of the new releases. That start led to an overall weekend total of $13.5M (a tiny drop of 25% on last frame). We're The Millers should clear $100M domestically by as early as next Saturday, and easily make another $50M abroad. A smart move by WB in opting to open the picture at the tail end of summer.

In the latest attempt to replicate the success of the Twilight and Harry Potter series, Sony/Screen Gems released The Mortal Instrument: City of Bones this past Wednesday. The film is an adaptation of Cassandra Clare's novel of the same name, which is part of an initial trilogy which also includes City of Ashes and City of Glass (along with a number of spin off series' set in the same universe). The story follows a young girl called Clary who discovers a dark and dangerous world that exists within our very own. With the help of Jace,  a Shadowhunter (demon killer), she finds herself on a quest to save her mother who was taken by a rogue Shadowhunter called Valentine, in his search for something called the Mortal Cup. The author had initially struggled to sell the film rights, studios fearful that a primary female character/lead would be a difficult sell (it was even suggested she change the  lead character's sex in order to make it an easier deal). However, as the Twilight franchise started to hit big, studios made a dash to secure any fantasy drama that they hoped could replicate its success. In 2010 it was announced that Harald Zwart (Karate Kid remake) would direct Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower in a big screen adaptation of the first book - City of Bones. However, it would be another 18 months before production actually got underway. The first footage debuted just as filming finished, with a second trailer appearing in front of The Host in March 2013. While the books have a strong fan base, there is always the worry with such a project that only that core group will show up to support such a film. Similar happened to Beautiful Creatures in February and again with The Host in March (along with such titles as Eragon, I Am Number Four and The Seeker in previous years).

Furthermore, out of all the attempts to create another money-spinning franchise, only The Hunger Games (and to a much lesser degree, Percy Jackson) has had any modicum of success outside of the Twilight/Harry Potter universe. The studio seemed happy with what they had produced, with potential casting on a sequel said to have been already underway (though this may have just been part of a marketing ploy). Now that the dust has settled on the film's first five days, it looks unlikely that any follow-up will happen. City of Bones scored mainly negative reviews, with many citing its confusing nature and redundant sub-plots as particular sticking points. Opting to open on Wednesday, the $60M picture got off to a poor $3M start, though did manage to unseat The Butler from the top spot. A day later it lost over 40% of its business and slipped down to third place. With two more releases entering the market on Friday (along with an expanding Blue Jasmine), things barely improved, and City of Bones entered the main part of the weekend with only $7.8M in the bank. By the close of play it had made just $6.2M more, to bring its total to a disappointing $14M since Wednesday (It made $9.3M for the weekend period). In comparison, Beautiful Creatures opened to $7.8M while The Host saw $10.6M. Hard as it is to believe, City of Bones is pretty much done at this point - fans of the novel will have showed up this week/weekend, and poor word of mouth won't bring in the much-needed mainstream crowds over the coming days. Whether it will fair better overseas, remains to be seen, but it will need to if that sequel is going to more any further forward.

The World's End reunites Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright for the final part of their Cornetto trilogy, a series of movies which kicked off with 2004's Shaun of the Dead and continued with Hot Fuzz in 2007. The trio had always planned on making a third film but commitments elsewhere (Pegg's work on Star Trek and Ghost Protocol, Wright directing Scott Pilgrim) meant it would not be until 2012 that things could finally get underway. As before, Pegg & Wright would script, with the later directing. The idea for the picture has its roots in a script the director had written when he was twenty one, entitled Crawl. He now saw the central idea would work better with older characters in mind, with a dash of alien invasion mixed into proceedings. In May 2012 it was announced that The World's End was set to go into production in September of that year. The story follows a group of old friends who reunite with the intention of completing an epic pub crawl which they'd attempted (and failed) year's earlier. But in the interim, the people and places have changed, and the group soon discover nothing is quite as it seems. Along with Pegg and Frost, Paddy Considine, Rosamund Pike and Eddie Marsen all took on roles

As with both of the previous films, At World's End opened first in the UK, in July, and has so far made $13M. In the US, both Hot Fuzz and SotD received somewhat limited releases (especially in the case of the latter) and went on to make $23.6M and $13.5M respectively. At World's End was set to open at a still fairly limited 1,549 locations, but was backed up by exceptional reviews - 92% approval at the time of writing. In terms of the weekend, At World's End initially opened as the strongest of the new releases,  managing a $3.4M Friday - a stronger debut than Hot Fuzz's $2.1M. Over Saturday and into Sunday the movie added a further $5.5M, to finish up with a weekend total of $8.9M. Obviously stronger than the first two movies in the Cornetto series and actually comparable to Scott Pilgrim's debut (a release that saw almost double the location count). Next weekend will be telling as to whether The World's End has broken out of its fan base

Disney's Planes covered it $50M budget on Thursday, and seems to benefiting from the quick fall of The Smurfs 2 (not to mention the gradual disappearance of Despicable Me 2). This frame, its third on release, saw the film add another $8.5M, to give it an overall total of $59.5M. It should manage at least one more frame in the top ten before heading to its lucrative home market release.

Elysium certainly isn't going to replicate District 9's success - at least not domestically. Having opened to $29M two weekends ago, the Matt Damon action thriller could only manage $13M in its second frame - in part thanks to the increased competition of Kick Ass 2. This frame it found itself dropping down to sixth place, making $7.1M in the process,  giving it a $69.1M running total. This pretty much seals Elysium's fate for a sub-$90M finish. Abroad, where it has yet to open in a number of major territories, it has so far made $70M.

You're Next marks the first major release for Adam Wingard. The writer/director has been working within the industry for a number of years, turning out short films and features, to some acclaim. His profile was raised by the well received horror flick, A Horrible Way To Die, which featured in numerous film festivals throughout 2010. He then set to work on You're Next, (along with a number of other projects including date rape anthology, What Fun We Were Having) hoping to put his own personal spin on the home invasion genre. The story follows a family assembling at their country home, where old rivalries and issues soon begin to bubble to the surface. The 'peace' is then shattered when the house is attack by a group of invaders, all wearing realistic animal masks (the likes of which have featured heavily in the film's promotional run) and set on leaving no survivors. You're Next isn't actually a new film as such, having shot sometime in 2010-11. It made its debut, to great acclaim, at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, where it was quickly snapped up by Lionsgate. The studio then promptly sat on the film for almost two years, mainly it is assumed, due to its already busy schedule. Meanwhile, You're Next continued to play the festival circuit, picking up further strong notices and awards (So impressed was he with the picture that The Raid director Gareth Evans bought the rights to distribute it in Indonesia). Almost a year after acquiring the picture, the Lionsgate were ready to announce its release, which would be another year away in August 2013. An effective trailer was released to support the film, along with a viral poster campaign featuring the aforementioned animal-masked villains.

This has been a bumper year for horror releases, especially well received ones, something the genre doesn't see very often. We had Mama, Evil Dead and The Purge earlier in the year, before The Conjuring arrived in July to both acclaim and huge box office ($125M and counting). The strong early word on You're Next seems to have filtered into the mainstream reviews with the picture receiving an 80% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The support combined with its shoestring budget meant You're Next only needed one half decent day to break even. Perhaps due to the success of some of the aforementioned flicks, audiences gave You're Next something of a wide berth. Opening along with The World's End, the home invasion flick could muster only $2.9M on Friday, good enough for fifth place. While that doesn't even compare to The Conjuring, it meant the picture had all but covered its costs from that first day (the film reportedly cost a $1M to make, and $2M for the rights). It added a further $2.4M on Saturday and another $1.6M Sunday, to finish up with an opening total of $7M. For a low budget horror film with no major stars, this is a perfectly acceptable start, but obviously does pale in comparisons to other genre releases this year. Expect You're Next to see a fairly high fall next weekend (unless word of mouth filters down) and ultimately find its audience in the home market.

The Percy Jackson sequel, Sea of Monsters made $5.2M this weekend, to bring its cumulative gross to $48.3M - little more than half of what the first film made during its theatrical run. It will clear $55M but is unlikely to see much more. Overseas it has made $62M to date, which has helped it recoup its production costs.

Managing to crack the top ten thanks to expansion this weekend is Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, a drama that stars Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and Peter Sarsgaard (There is already Oscar talk for Blanchett's role). The picture opened at the end of July and made an impressive $612K from only 10 locations. Minor expansion saw it continue to perform well (Last frame it made $2.2M from 229 screens). Hoping to strike while the iron was hot, Sony Classics expanded the film into over 1250 locations this frame (the widest ever screen count for a Woody Allen film according to Scott Mendelson) and were rewarded with a $4.3M haul and a top ten placing. Further expansion may take place if the movie continues to play well.

Like Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Kick Ass 2 was seen by many as something of an unnecessary sequel. The original film did manage to clear $48M, which is a figure the follow up stands next to no chance of emulating. While it opened to an ok $13M last weekend, a week on saw it collapse to a $1.3M Friday (a huge drop of 78% on the same day last week), before finishing up Sunday with a $4.2M total. That brings Kick Ass 2's ten day gross to $22.4M. Fortunately it cost less than the first movie did to produce ($30M vs $28M) so is unlikely to lose any money in the long term.

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