MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

The Weekend Report: March 25, 2012

Starved For Inattention

The Hunger Games set a slew of records and debuted to a jaw dropping estimated $153.6 million. Nuff said.

The competition decided there was little point to even consider a counter-programmer. But in the niches Bollywood offered Agent Vinod that bowed to an OK $440,000 at 121 venues.

There were also a few limited freshmen that showed signs of life. The Raid: Redemption, an urban shootout, grossed $219,000 from 14 locations while the Brit period drama The Deep Blue Sea fared fair with $113,400 on 28 screens. The frame’s handful of exclusive generated generally disappointing results.

The anticipation for The Hunger Games was palpable. The popularity of its series of young adult novels was likened to the Harry Potter books … albeit slightly more sophisticated and unquestionably more sober sided. Pundits could not image anything less than a $100 million debut and tracking pegged it at between $130 million and $135 million in the days leading up to its release.

Neither the film’s Thursday midnights of $19.7 million nor Friday additional box office of $48.5 million indicated that the prognostications were off track. Saturday was expected to experience a downturn but (previews aside) stunned the industry with a slight boost and estimates quickly shot up by $20 million.

As for records Hunger can claim the biggest domestic opening for a non-sequel and slots third all-time behind the Harry Potter finale and The Dark Knight. It also fueled the biggest weekend box office outside a holiday session. It also opened day and date in 57 international territories and scored an impressive estimated $60 million that should eventually provide it for the sort of business experienced by the recent Twilight installments.

Exit demos also provided a bit of a surprised. While its 61% female tilt wasn’t really a shocker what stood out was that less than half the crowd was under the age of 25 years; specifically 44%. All this ultimately bodes well in the coming weeks as the current momentum is likely to bring in a younger male crowd.

The Hunger Game accounted for more than 70% of weekend admission that should add up to roughly $212 million. That was sufficient for a 97% boost from last weekend’s tally and 79% better than last year’s gross when debuts of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules and Sucker Punch opened respectively to $23.7 million and $19 million.

Holdover titles generally took 50% hits in the wake of The Hunger tsunami. The weather notwithstanding, summer definitely arrived early in 2012.

Weekend Estimates: March 23-25, 2012

Title Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
The Hunger Games 153.6 (37,130) NEW 4137 153.6
21 Jump Street 20.4 (6,550) -44% 3121 70.2
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax 13.0 (3,540) -43% 3677 177.3
John Carter 5.0 (1,570) -63% 3212 62.4
Act of Valor 2.0 (910) -46% 2216 65.9
A Thousand Words 1.9 (1,050) -40% 1787 14.9
Project X 1.9 (920) -53% 2065 51.7
Safe House 1.4 (1,020) -50% 1330 122.5
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 1.3 (1,000) -44% 1340 97.1
Casa de mi Padre 1.0 (2,170) -55% 475 3.9
This Means War 1.0 (830) -54% 1188 52.3
The Vow .83 (660) -60% 1258 122.8
Friends with Kids .80 (1,440) -45% 556 5.5
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen .68 (5,480) 47% 124 1.6
Silent House .63 (520) -70% 1202 11.9
Good Deeds .59 (950) -57% 621 33.7
Jeff Who Lives at Home .57 (2,240) -33% 254 1.8
The Artist .47 (820) -55% 576 43
Agent Vinod .44 (3,640) NEW 121 0.44
A Separation .34 (1,320) -27% 261 6.1
The Iron Lady .25 (770) -41% 327 29.1
Hugo .24 (850) -50% 283 73.4
Alvin & the Chipunks: Chip-Wrecked .24 (960) -14% 248 132
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $206.60
% Change (Last Year) 79%
% Change (Last Week) 97%
Also debuting/expanding
The Raid: Redemption .22 (13,670) 14 0.22
Footnote .16 (6,920) 137% 23 0.32
The Deep Blue Sea .11 (4,050) 28 0.11
We Need to Talk About Kevin 94,300 (1,180) -6% 80 1.3
Being Flynn 72,100 (990) -51% 73 0.4
In Darkness 58,700 (1,130) -20% 52 0.79
Comme un chef 41,200 (2,750) 15 0.04
Un Heureux evenement 11,400 (540) 21 0.01
One Life 8,700 (2,900) 3 0.01
4:44: Last Day on Earth 8,400 (2,800) 3 0.01
Musical Chairs 7,300 (810) 9 0.01
The Trouble with Bliss 4.950 (4,950) 1 0.01
Brake 4,600 (2,300) 2 0.01
Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – March 23, 2012)
Distributor (releases) Market Share
Universal (6) 17.50%
Sony (10) 15.30%
20th Century Fox (8) 13.20%
Warner Bros. (11) 12.90%
Paramount (10) 9.90%
Buena Vista (7) 7.80%
Relativity (3) 3.70%
Lions Gate (4) 3.70%
Weinstein Co. (6) 3.30%
Open Road (2) 2.50%
CBS (2) 2.40%
Summit (4) 2.10%
Fox Searchlight (3) 2.00%
Focus (2) 1.00%
Sony Classics (8) 0.60%
Other * (76) 2.10%
Top Limited Releases (Jan. 1 – March 22, 2012) *
Title Box Office
A Separation 5,746,324
Friends with Kids 4,696,681
A Dangerous Method * 4,131,966
Pina * 3,712,244
Goon 3,689,726
Albert Nobbs 2,864,761
Casa de mi Padre 2,848,252
Born to Be Wild * 2,219,802
Carnage * 2,217,733
Shame * 2,049,382
Agneepath 1,990,856
Monsieur Lazhar * 1,748,051
2012 Oscar Nominated Shorts 1,693,261
We Need to Talk About Kevin 1,252,363
Jeff, Who Lives at Home 1,187,358

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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas