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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Klady

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“To be a critic is to be a workaholic. Workaholism is socially conditioned: viewed favourably by exploiters, it’s generally ruinous to a worker’s mental health. When T.S. Eliot said criticism was as inevitable as breathing, he failed to mention that, respiratory problems notwithstanding, breathing is easy. Criticism is reflexive before reflective: to formalise/industrialise an involuntary instinct requires time, effort and discipline. The reason we seek remuneration, as opposed to the self-hatred of being a scab, is because all labour should be waged…

“Criticism, so the cliché by now goes, is dying. None of the panel discussions on its death agony, however—including those in which I’ve formally participated—come at it from the wider perspective that the problem surely needs. They defend the ways in which criticism functions in relation to the industry and to the public, but they fail to contextualise these relationships as defined by ultimately rotten and self-harming imperatives.

“Criticism was a noble profession so long as only a few could practice it for money; when the field expands, as it has with a so-called ‘democratisation’ of our practice, those few lose their political power. Competition grows and markets are undercut: publications are naturally going to start paying less. Precarity is both cause and effect of a surplus workforce: the reason you’re only as good as your last article is because there are plenty of other folks who can write the next one in your place. The daily grind is: pitch, or perish.

B”ut criticism, so a counter-cliché goes, is not dying. An irony: this is an elite sport that is no longer elite in terms of who is able to practice it, but in economic terms it’s clutching to a perverse and outmoded hierarchical structure. It’s more meritocratic than ever, now: which is to say it isn’t meritocratic at all. That’s a paradox in bad need of a resolution…”

~ Michael Pattison Manifestoes Film Criticism

“It’s easy to forget when you’re reading a critic every single week or multiple times a week, that most of us who do this job, and have been doing it for a long time, understand that this is basically a parasitic profession. I don’t mean in the sense that we’re evil bloodsucking creatures, but we couldn’t exist if we didn’t have something to analyze. And I’m always conscious of that. So whether I like or don’t like a particular thing you do, my point of view is always that of an appreciator. I just like to be in the world that you create.”
~ Matt Zoller Seitz To Sam Esmail

Z Weekend Report