By Leonard Klady Klady@moviecitynews.com
The Weekend Report, September 18, 2011
I Am Simba … Here Me Roar
The Lion King, reconstituted for 3D, pawed its way to the top of the box office with an estimated $29.1 million. Three other films debuted nationally this weekend to generally disappointing results. The critically acclaimed vehicular crime yarn Drive ranked third with an $11.1 million box office while an update of 1971 violence allegory Straw Dogs sputtered to $5 million and at the bottom was the abstinence in the city I Don’t Know How She Does It with $4.5 million.
There were also a clutch of exclusive bows with the contemporary inspirational Seasons of Gray most impressive with a $21,300 tally from a single Dallas screen. There was good response for the French import My Afternoons with Margueritte of $20,700 at two. But the rest of the scrum was largely lackluster including the coming of age dramady Restless that eked out $16,900 from six engagements.
Overall weekend revenues edged close to $100 million that provided an encouraging 24% boost from the post-Labor Day doldrums. It was a slim 1% drop from 2010 when The Town’s bow generated $23.8 million; followed by freshmen Easy A and Devil with respective grosses of $17.7 million and $12.3 million.
Let me stress that no one foresaw the opening strength of the refurbished The Lion King. The most optimistic predictions pegged it at $20 million that was radically adjusted when opening day estimates generated $8.7 million. To no great surprise exit polling identified opening weekend buyers comprising 74% of the crowd.
From there things go askew. For starters the evolving industry wisdom is that pre-teens don’t like wearing 3D glasses and audiences are opting for non-stereoscopic shows at regular movie prices. So the film’s 92% box office from 3D engagements flaunts perceived logic. Add to that the film’s pre-U.S. international engagements that have been good but almost none topping foreign charts.
Disney’s new distribution chief Dave Hollis believes the unexpected opening strength might be fortuitous timing with the youngsters who saw it back in 1994 now taking their children to share the experience. He said the film is playing well across the board but perhaps a little better in the Heartland and possibly connecting slightly stronger in Hispanic centers. Certainly whether something more definitive evolves will require closer scrutiny and time.
Drive, as well as Straw Dogs and I Don’t Know How She Does It, were expected to debut to bigger numbers than the tale of the box office revealed. Drive attempted a mixed message campaign to appeal to both action and art house crowds and exit polls skewed younger and male _ similar to Straw Dogs that some felt siphoned off some business.
FilmDistrict’s Bob Berney nonetheless implied that more follow up was necessary to enhance the film’s appeal with genre fans. Critical response has generally been strong and early award’s talk has been an asset for niche dates.
The biggest misfire of the frame was unquestionably I Don’t Know … that pundits saw drawing in opening ticket sales of $8 million to $10 million. Armchair quarterbacks posited that it looked too much like a Sex in the City spinoff with the casting of Sarah Jessica Parker and despite the popularity of the book it’s based upon. It played older and female just not to the ferocity anticipated.
On a more positive note, last weekend’s leader Contagion had a stronger than anticipated hold. However, that wasn’t the case for Warrior and, to everyone’s great relief Bucky Larson appears born to be a commercial black hole and not his generation’s Deuce Bigelow.
|Weekend (estimates) September 16 – 18, 2011|
|Title||Distributor||Gross (avg)||% chng||Thts||Cume|
|The Lion King 3D||BV||29.1 (12,520)||NEW||2330||29.1|
|The Help||BV||6.4 (2,120)||-28%||3014||147.3|
|Straw Dogs||Sony||5.0 (2,090)||NEW||2408||5|
|I Don’t Know How She Does It||Weinstein Co,||4.5 (1,810)||NEW||2476||4.5|
|Warrior||Lions Gate||2.8 (1,480)||-47%||1883||9.9|
|The Debt||Focus||2.9 (1,580)||-39%||1831||26.5|
|Rise of the Planet of the Apes||Fox||2.6 (1,110)||-34%||2340||171.6|
|Shark Night||Relativity||1.8 (870)||-47%||2082||17.3|
|Crazy, Stupid, Love||WB||1.6 (1,370)||-31%||1145||80.7|
|Spy Kids: All the Time in the World||Weinstein Co,||1.5 (910)||-40%||1650||36|
|Our Idiot Brother||Weinstein Co,||1.2 (710)||-53%||1747||23.6|
|Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain||Code Black||1.2 (5,170)||-38%||230||3.6|
|The Smurfs||Sony||1.2 (830)||-34%||1419||137.5|
|Apollo 18||Weinstein Co,||1.1 (600)||-62%||1795||16.9|
|Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark||Film District||1.0 (780)||-52%||1334||22.7|
|Harry Potter & the Deadly Hollows, Part 2||WB||.66 (1,100)||-34%||601||378.1|
|Captain America: The First Avenger||Par||.55 (1,020)||-35%||540||174.3|
|Cowboys & Aliens||Uni||.54 (880)||-35%||614||98.8|
|Transformers: Dark of the Moon||Par||.41 (1,340)||136%||306||351.3|
|The Guard||Sony Classics||.38 (1,860)||-8%||203||3.8|
|Buck Larson: Born to Be a Star||Sony||.36 (240)||-64%||1500||2.3|
|Midnight in Paris||Sony Classics||.35 (1,160)||-16%||301||54.1|
|Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films)||$93.55|
|% Change (Last Year)||-1%|
|% Change (Last Week)||24%|
|Sarah’s Key||Weinstein/A-Z||.25 (910)||-39%||277||6.6|
|Higher Ground||Sony Classics||.19 (2,380)||59%||81||0.54|
|Seasons of Gray||Watermark||21,300 (21,300)||1||0.02|
|My Afternoons with Margueritte||Cohen Media||20,700 (10,350)||2||0.02|
|Restless||Sony Classics||16,900 (2,820)||6||0.02|
|Mill and the Cross||Lorber||10,800 (10,800)||1||0.01|
|Happy, Happy||Magnolia||7,300 (1,820)||4||0.01|
|Jane’s Journey||First Run||6,800 (6,800)||1||0.01|
|Silent Souls||Shadow||3,300 (3,300)||1||0.01|