MCN Columnists
Leonard Klady

By Leonard Klady

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.


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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“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