MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady Klady@moviecitynews.com

The Weekend Report, May 6, 2012

Vengeance is a Dish Served Hot

The Avengers rewrote the record books with the biggest ever opening three-day weekend that’s estimated at $200.5 million. With $30 million more than the former champ, there’s little chance that the Monday actual will change Sunday’s ebullience.

The film was anticipated to open at $155 million-$165 million and had already done close to $300 million in its opening week in internationally, where it premiered in 30 territories prior to the U.S. So, the other majors all decided there was little point to bother to offer up counter-programming.

There was still a lot to be said for the limited bow of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that racked up $727,000 from a meager 27 engagements. The yarn of senior Brits looking for a golden age life in India has already amassed $70 million internationally.

Apart from the ballet nonfiction First Position that grossed $44,800 on five screen, incoming exclusives were ho-hum.

The Avengers accounted for roughly 80% of the weekend’s $250 million ticket tally. Its entry into the marketplace boosted revenues from last weekend by 131% and improved on last year’s record by 53%. In 2011 the marketplace leader was the Marvelously debuting Thor with $65.7 million with Fast Five as the runner up with $32.4 million in its sophomore session.

The industry rule of thumb is that cinematic behemoths going the Midnight advance route can expect 10-to-1 returns. The Friday announcement that The Avengers had accrued about $18.7 million from early screenings was unquestionably heartening. Removing that portion of the box office from the overall picture was provided a not insignificant Friday-Saturday box office boost and early estimates of $170 million to $180 million were quickly revised.

The response at Disney was not unexpectedly fulsome though they were hard-pressed to explain the better-than-anticipated returns. Distribution EVP Dave Hollis credited Marvel for cleverly “seeding the market” by successfully introducing the likes of Iron Man, Thor and Captain America in earlier film and establishing a movie fan base.

Exit demos revealed a 50/50 split for the over/under 25-year-olds with an overall 60% skew toward males. However, with response at this lofty level the size, regardless of demographic, was considerable. Roughly 52% of revenues derived from 3D engagements which accounted for 75% of the screen count. Imax engagements were 8% of the tally but they will largely disappear next weekend as they’ve been committed to the opening of Dark Shadows.

In general holdover titles took hits of 50% to 65%. The Hunger Games ascended into the top 15 all-time box office grossers and, Avengers notwithstanding, should settle in at position 13.

The French sensation Intouchables continues to perform in Québec at a level that’s comparable to international grosses that are nearing $350 million. Its U.S. distributor would be thrilled to equal some vaguely proportional to Québec’s current $1.7 million box office.


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Klady

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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