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MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady Klady@moviecitynews.com

The Weekend Report: Shipwreck!

No one expected the trio of new national releases to unseat The Avengers … they just expected them to be more competitive. The Avengers third weekend prevailed with an estimated $55.2 million with Battleship not quite right behind with $25.3 million. Third spot went to The Dictator with $16.7 million and the third freshman, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, slotted fifth with $10.5 million.

Among niche and regional newcomers there was encouraging results for Crooked Arrows, the tale of a Native American Lacrosse team that netted $263,000 from 55 locations. Cannes preemed Laurence Always bowed softly in Quebec with a $63,700 tally at 26 venues and Bollywood entry Department was moribund with $59,700 from 60 playdates.

Best (but hardly boffo) among the new exclusive entries were Hysteria that vibrated $39,200 at five sites, French SVUish Polisse with $17,200 at three and a $9,100 solo flight for Russian import Elena.

Weekend revenues pushed to about $140 million and a 20% decline from seven days back. It was also 16% behind 2011 when the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Shores outdistanced the current crop of pictures with a $90.1 million opening salvo.

No one can quite believe The Avengers commercial momentum. It now ranks as the sixth biggest domestic grosser all-time after 17 days in cinemas while The Hunger Games (remember that one?) is not too shabby just down the list at position 14.

Battleship opened internationally last month and had a sizeable $220 million plus box office prior to arriving on these shores. Tracking had indicated decent opening momentum in the mid-to-high $30 million range and clearly things went seriously off course for the board game inspired yarn of the navy vs. hostile aliens. Exit demos showed a not unsurprising 57% male tilt but with 55% of the audience aged 30 years and older the film failed to bring out the young males that were its intended target.

Along with John Carter and Wrath of the Titans, Battleship enters the dry dock with considerable global box office that nonetheless can’t sustain mammoth production costs.

The younger than 25s that avoided the fighting machine were more receptive to the outrageous comedy of The Dictator. They comprised 56% of ticket buyers and were 65% male. The Sasha Baron Cohen comedy got a jump start on the weekend with a Wednesday debut that put $7 million in the purse pre-weekend. It also opened in line with tracking that suggested initial strength between $15 million and $18 million.

The Dictator opened simultaneously in 29 foreign territories (mainly Europe) and bettered the domestic take with an early estimate of slightly more than $30 million.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting was tracking almost identical to The Dictator and to no great surprise appeared to be the viewing choice for women. Exit reports revealed a 70% distaff audience that was 64% aged 25 years old and greater. A lot of younger women appear to have spent their weekend at other than the multiplex.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continues to be the alternative viewing choice with the current session adding 179 engagements while maintaining a sturdy per screen. Also expanding nicely was the Jack Black sly comedy Bernie with the addition of 59 screens that placed it just outside the weekend top 10.

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Weekend Estimates:  May 18-20, 2012

Title Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
The Avengers 55.2 (12,980) -46% 4249 457.2
Battleship 25.3 (6,850) NEW 3690 25.3
The Dictator 16.7 (5,560) NEW 3008 23.8
Dark Shadows 12.6 (3,360) -58% 3755 50.8
What to Expect When You’re Expecting 10.5 (3,470) NEW 3021 10.5
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 3.2 (9,020) 20% 357 8.2
The Hunger Games 2.9 (1,420) -35% 2064 391.6
Think Like a Man 2.6 (1,530) -55% 1722 85.8
The Lucky One 1.7 (850) -58% 2005 56.9
Pirates! Band of Misfits 1.4 (780) -55% 1840 25.3
The Five Year Engagement 1.1 (940) -67% 1175 27.1
Chimpanzee .69 (770) -61% 895 27
Bernie .51 (5,370) 133% 95 1.1
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax .46 (1,210) 6% 379 210.2
Girl in Progress .44 (1,370) -68% 322 2.1
The Three Stooges .41 (690) -62% 594 41.8
Wrath of the Titans .41 (1,130) 89% 360 82.4
Cabin in the Woods .38 (840) -61% 448 40.6
Mirror Mirror .38 (940) -36% 407 61.5
Safe .37 (730) -75% 503 16.7
John Carter .31 (2,690) -60% 114 72.1
Crooked Arrows .26 (4,780) NEW 55 0.26
American Reunion .24 (830) -44% 290 56.5
The Raven .23 (530) -83% 432 15.5
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $134.40
% Change (Last Year) -16%
% Change (Last Week) -20%
Also debuting/expanding
Laurence Anyways 63,700 (2,450) 26 0.06
Darling Companion 61,800 (1,030) -6% 60 0.42
Department 59,700 (990) 60 0.06
Hysterical 39,200 (7,840) 5 0.04
Where Do We Go Now? 25,500 (2,130) 66% 12 0.5
Bill W. 25,700 (2,340) 11 0.03
Mansome 17,600 (880) 20 0.02
Polisse 17,200 (5,730) 3 0.02
Lovely Molly 14,500 (2,900) 5 0.01
Elena 9,170 (9,170) 1 0.01
The Samaritan 6,900 (860) 8 0.01
Virginia 6,400 (1,280) 5 0.01
American Animal 6,300 (6300) 1 0.01
Toucher le ciel 5,700 (1,140) 5 0.01
Over My Dead Body 4,900 (4,900) 1 0.01
Indie Game: The Movie 4,700 (4,700) 1 0.01
Beyond the Black Rainbow 3,200 (3,200) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: Jan 1 – May 17, 2012

Distributor (releases) Market Share
Buena Vista (9) 15.80%
Sony (12) 13.70%
Universal (8) 13.40%
Lions Gate (8) 13.10%
Warner Bros. (15) 12.20%
20th Century Fox (9) 8.70%
Paramount (12) 7.60%
Relativity (5) 4.20%
Weinstein Co. (7) 2.10%
Open Road (3) 1.80%
CBS (2) 1.60%
Fox Searchlight (5) 1.30%
Summit (4) 1.20%
Focus (3) 0.60%
Sony Classics (11) 0.50%
Other * (130) 2.20%
* none greater than 0.04% 100.00%

Top Global Grossers: Jan 1 – May 17, 2012

Title Gross
The Avengers 1,070,897,538
The Hunger Games 633,769,552
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol * 391,194,286
Titanic 3D (reissue) 340,733,583
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 324,955,653
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax 304,036,707
Wrath of the Titans 302,096,128
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows * 298,488,422
John Carter 280,422,579
Battleship 220,398,663
American Reunion 205,786,616
Intouchables * 202,888,295
Safe House 202,503,960
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked 197,051,758
The Vow 186,845,041
21 Jump Street 184,362,366
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo * 178,708,267
Underworld: Awakening 161,053,441
Mirror Mirror 159,537,901
This Means War 152,876,666
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 147,252,185
War Horse * 140,044,414
The Descendants * 134,682,404
Puss in Boots * 155,785,805
The Woman in Black 130,275,654

* does not include 2011 box office

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Klady

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“The core fear is what can happen to you, personally. Your body. That’s what horror films deal with, precisely. We are a very thin skin wrapped around a pumping heart and guts. At any given moment it can come down to that, be it diseases, or somebody’s assault, or war, or a car wreck. You could be reduced to the simple laws of physics and your body’s vulnerability. The edged weapon is the penultimate weapon to disclose that reality to you.”
~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

MAMET
Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

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