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MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady Klady@moviecitynews.com

The Weekend Report: Float Like a Butterfly … Sting Like a Bee

The debut of Underworld: Awakening led weekend ticket sales with an estimated $25.2 million. Two other films bowed nationally and a fourth platformed after four weeks in Oscar-qualifying exclusives. The saga of the Second World War Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails, ranked second with $19.1 million and the take no prisoners actioner Haywire kicked out with $8.9 million. Wedged in-between was the expansion of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close in position four with $10.4 million.

Despite patches of inclement weather box office was generally spritely and considerably more potent than last year’s weak outset.

A trio of Oscar foreign-language submissions opened strategically but, ironically, none made the short list announced last week. Of the three only Mexico’s Miss Bala showed promise with an $8,070 average from four screens. Conversely China’s The Flowers of War was un-blooming with $51,400 at 30 venues. Also of note were the non-fiction Crazy Horse with $8,700 from a single screen and the modern-day adaptation of Coriolanus that grossed $62,500 from nine engagements.

Overall box office generated roughly $135 million that was flat with last weekend’s three-day portion of the MLK holiday. However, it was 31% improved from 2011 when the debut of No Strings Attached led with $19.6 million and Green Hornet’s sophomore weekend added $17.7 million.

The fourth installment of the Underworld franchise was expected to top weekend charts and managed to exceed the previous edition’s $20.8 million bow. It played largely to loyal fans with exit polls indicating an audience composed 55% of males and 60% of viewers aged 25-years and older.

For many the weekend surprise was Red Tails, the chronicle of the African American flying aces that George Lucas financed when all the majors took a pass. Pundits predicted opening day interest followed by steep drops. But Friday to Saturday posted a sizeable 44% boost. Exit demos showed a crowd composed 51% male and 66% aged 25 years and older but ethnic breakdowns were unavailable. Fingers are crossed that the picture will skew younger in the coming weeks.

With the Oscar slate announcement just days away Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close launched nationally in hopes of capitalizing on Academy attention. So far the yarn hasn’t been a significant award’s contender but Oscar favor is particular difficult to predict this year. The film drew a not unexpected 59% female audience and a whopping 82% aged 25 plus.

Haywire tilted 55% male with 64% of the audience 35 years old and younger. Notwithstanding its results, the movie going crowd is definitely aging and the majors are both mulling a shift toward more mature content and pictures that will ease the erosion of that younger demographic that had dominated ticket sales for decades.

Weekend Estimates

Title Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Underworld: Awakening 25.2 (8,190) NEW 3078 25.2
Red Tails 19.1 (7,620) NEW 2512 19.1
Contraband 12.2 (4,250) -50% 2870 46.1
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 10.4 (3,960) 11350% 2630 11.1
Haywire 8.9 (3,640) NEW 2439 8.9
Beauty and the Beast 8.6 (3,290) -51% 2625 33.4
Joyful Noise 6.0 (2,200) -46% 2735 21.9
Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol 5.5 (2,190) -53% 2519 197.3
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows 4.7 (1,880) -46% 2485 178.5
The Iron Lady 3.7 (3,470) -31% 1076 12
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 3.7 (1,930) -45% 1907 94.7
War Horse 3.0 (1,200) -49% 2525 72.2
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked 2.9 (1,410) -50% 2070 124.5
We Bought a Zoo 2.7 (1,320) -51% 2065 69.5
The Devil Inside 2.5 (1,140) -69% 2207 51.1
The Artist 2.4 (3,590) 99% 662 12.1
The Descendants 2.4 (4,340) 16% 560 51.3
The Adventures of Tintin 2.2 (1,630) -46% 1340 72.3
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy 1.8 (2,420) -45% 730 18.3
Hugo .90 (1,380) -14% 650 55.8
Happy Feet Two .42 (1,270) -13% 331 62.6
A Dangerous Method .41 (3,890) -18% 105 3.4
Puss in Boots .34 (1,160) -18% 292 147.7
My Week with Marilyn .32 (1,430) -32% 225 12.1
Carnage .31 (1,250) -55% 248 2
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn .30 (820) -61% 370 280.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $128.80
% Change (Last Year) 31%
% Change (Last Week) 0%
Also debuting/expanding
Shame .23 (2,440) 61% 95 3
A Separation .18 (13,650) 147% 13 0.55
We Need to Talk About Kevin 72,800 (10,400) 72% 7 0.18
Pariah 63,200 (3,010) -37% 21 0.49
Coriolanus 62,500 (6,940) 9 0.06
The Viral Factor 61,700 (2,800) 22 0.06
Fullmetal Alchemist 59,600 (1,320) 45 0.06
The Flowers of War 51,400 (1,710) 30 0.05
Miss Bala 32,300 (8,070) 4 0.03
16-Love 10,200 (780) 13 0.01
Crazy Horse 8,700 (8,700) 1 0.01
The Front Line 6,800 (1,130) 6 0.01
Carol Channing: Larger Than Life 5,100 (2,550) 2 0.01
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth 4,400 (4,400) 1 0.01
The City Dark 2,900 (2,900) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share:  January 1 – 19, 2012

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (8) 157.8 30.90%
Warner Bros. (9) 78.8 15.40%
20th Century Fox (4) 68.1 13.30%
Buena Vista (5) 63.4 12.40%
Sony (6) 43.7 8.50%
Universal (2) 34.9 6.80%
Weinstein Co. (3) 17 3.30%
Summit (2) 14.3 2.80%
Focus (2) 13.3 2.60%
Fox Searchlight (3) 11.2 2.20%
Sony Classics (5) 2.8 0.60%
Other * (22) 6.1 1.20%
511.4 100.00%

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“We don’t defy the laws of physics: There are no flying men or cars in this movie. So it made sense to do it old-school: real vehicles and real human beings in the desert. We shot the movie more or less in continuity, because the cars and the characters get really banged up along the way. The biggest benefit of digital technology for me was that the cameras were smaller and much more agile, so you could put them anywhere. We also spent a huge amount of time on spatial awareness—making sure the viewer could follow the action and understand what was happening. There has to be a strong causal connection from one shot to the next, just the same way that in music, there has to be a connection from one note to the next. Otherwise it’s just noise. Too often, if you just cram a lot of stuff into the frame, you get the illusion of a fast pace. But there’s no coherence. It doesn’t flow. It comes off as headbanging music, and it can be exhausting. We storyboarded the movie before we had a script: We had 3,500 boards, which helps the cast and crew understand how everything is going to fit together. Movies are getting faster and faster. The Road Warrior had 1,200 cuts. This one has 2,700 cuts. You have to treat it like a symphony.”
~ George Miller

“I was having issues with my script for It’s All About Love, so I called Ingmar Bergman and we ended up talking about everything but the script. He said, “Well, Festen is a masterpiece, so what are you going to do now?” At that point, I had not decided if I was going to make It’s All About Love, so I answered, “Hmmm, I don’t know. Maybe this, maybe that.” There was just a long pause, and then he said, “You’re fucked.” I said, “Well, how can you know?” “Well, Thomas, you always have to decide your next movie before the movie you’re doing presently opens.” And I said, “Why is that?” “Well, two things can happen. One thing is that you fail, and then you’ll feel scared and humiliated. It’ll get into your head. Second, and even worse, you have success, and then you’ll want more of it, or you’ll want to maintain it. But if you decide on your next film while you’re in the middle of editing, it becomes a very nonchalant choice. And then it’s shorter from the heart to the hand.”
~ Thomas Vinterberg

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