MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady Klady@moviecitynews.com

The Weekend Report: May 8

Oh, God! Book XXIV

The god of thunder  –  Thor – hammered an estimated $65.8 million to handily reign at the top of the weekend box office charts. The session also saw a pair of counter-programmers bow nationally with the sweetly romantic Something Borrowed slotting third with $13.2 million and Jumping the Broom a breath behind at $13 million.

In limited wide was the political drama There Be Dragons with $660,000 from 259 playdates and once again it was a Telegu film from India  –  100% Love –  that dominated in that niche with an impressive $203,000 at a mere 23 screens.

Among the exclusive bows the focus was unquestionably on the highly acclaimed The Beaver. Audiences however failed to concur with the film grossing roughly $102,000 in its first blush at 22 venues.

In what’s become the kickoff for the summer season of blockbusters, you’d have to say that 2011 came in like a lamb with revenues of just north of $160 million. It was a sliver better than last weekend and an 11% depression from last year when Iron Man 2 debuted to $128.1 million.

Thor wasn’t expected to debut to jaw dropping numbers with pundits predicting opening power between $70 million and $80 million. Exit polls not surprisingly pegged ticket buyers at 63% male but, more surprisingly, it was according to the studio a crowd that was 72% over the age of 25 years.

Add to that a decidedly older crowd for Jumping the Broom. Only Something Borrowed skewed younger and again predictably female.

So, where are the young males that have historically been at the vanguard (and head of the line) of movie going? That’s the industry’s biggest question and so far no one has a definitive answer (it’s unlikely they were buying $30 passes to the recently launched premiere VOD). Though not personally a betting man, I wouldn’t want to take the side _ regardless of long odds _ that the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean would turn the tide back.

The other puzzler of the frame was the limpid debut of The Beaver. The film’s subject matter _ abject depression _ was never likely to be an audience magnet. But its prestige elements should have at least drawn an upscale crowd regardless of such barriers and an opening salvo twice as large as what’s been recorded.

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Weekend Estimates: May 6-8, 2011

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Thor Par Intl 65.8 (16,640) NEW 3955 65.8
Fast Five Uni 32.3 (8,830) -62% 3662 139.7
Something Borrowed WB 13.2 (4,540) NEW 2904 13.2
Jumping the Broom Sony 13.0 (6,370) NEW 2035 13
Rio Fox 8.3 (2,560) -44% 3258 115
Water for Elephants Fox 5.6 (2,150) -40% 2614 41.6
Medea’s Big Happy Family Lions Gate 3.5 (1,850) -65% 1881 46.4
Prom BV 2.4 (880) -48% 2730 7.8
Soul Surfer Sony 2.1 (1,170) -38% 1781 36.7
Hoodwinked Too! Weinstein Co. 1.9 (770) -53% 2505 6.8
Insidious Film District 1.3 (1,340) -50% 1001 50.3
Source Code Summit 1.2 (1,300) -52% 930 50.9
Hanna Focus 2.2 (1,410) -58% 748 36.79
African Cats BV .87 (840) -64% 1035 12.7
Scream 4 Weinstein Co. .71 (530) -67% 1333 36.9
The Conspirator Roadside Attractions .68 (1,480) -38% 460 9.8
There Be Dragons IDP .66 (2,550) NEW 259 0.66
Hop Uni .50 (550) -81% 902 106.4
Win Win Fox Searchlight .46 (1,730) -30% 268 8.3
The Lincoln Lawyer Lions Gate .45 (1,030) -43% 440 55.5
Limitless Relativity .43 (1,1300 -61% 379 76.9
Rango Par .41 (1,480) 31% 277 120.4
Jane Eyre Focus .37 (1,500) -27% 248 9.4
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $154.80
% Change (Last Year) -11%
% Change (Last Week) 1%
Also debuting/expanding
100% Love Blue Sky .20 (8,840) 23 0.2
The Beaver Summit .10 (4,650) 22 0.1
In a Better World Sony Classics 82,300 (1,710) 15% 48 0.52
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold Sony Classics 65,700 (1,430) -27% 46 0.34
Engeyum Kadhal Sun 38,500 (2,960) 13 0.04
Forks Over Knives Monica Beach 26,600 (4,430) 6 0.03
Last Night TriBeCa 25,300 (2,810) 9 0.03
Battle of the Brides Variance 20,200 (4,040) 5 0.02
Octubre New Yorker 6,900 (3,450) 2 0.01
Haunted 3D Big Pictures 6,100 (550) 11 0.01
Caterpillar Lorber 2,100 (2,100) 1 0.01
Passion Play Image Entertainment 1,800 (900) 2 0.01

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Klady

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“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. It’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on Batman v Superman I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful. People don’t realize what goes into making a movie like that. It’s mind-blowing. It’s just insane, it’s hurting the business, it’s getting people to not see a movie. In Middle America it’s, ‘Oh, it’s a low Rotten Tomatoes score so I’m not going to go see it because it must suck.’ But that number is an aggregate and one that nobody can figure out exactly what it means, and it’s not always correct. I’ve seen some great movies with really abysmal Rotten Tomatoes scores. What’s sad is film criticism has disappeared. It’s really sad.”
~ Brett Ratner Has A Sad

“The loss of a local newspaper critic is a real loss. People who know the local audience and know the local cultural scene are very important resources. You can’t just substitute the stuff that comes in from nowhere through syndication or the wire. I think at the same time, some of the newer outlets have really beefed up and improved their coverage and made room for criticism. The real problem is in the more specialized art forms — fine arts, classical music, dance and jazz, say. There is a real slowing of critical voices, partly because those art forms have smaller audiences. Newspapers and magazines can say that doesn’t get enough traffic, so we don’t have room for that. To me, that’s especially worrisome. This is the opposite of what newspapers are supposed to do, which is not to try to figure out what people are already interested in and recite that back to them, but to hopefully guide them to something that they should be interested in, connecting potential audiences with more interesting work.

“Then again, not everyone needs a critic. People have been going to movies for more than 100 years now, and probably the vast majority of those people have not read movie reviews or cared what critics thought. But there has always been an important subset that wants to know more, that wants to think about what they’ve seen and what they’re going to see, and wants someone to think along with. I think critics are important, not just as dispensers of consumer advice — though that’s certainly part of it, too — but as trusted voices and companions for people to argue with in your head when you’re going to movies or afterwards.”
~ A. O. Scott