Box Office Archive for January, 2011

Weekend Estmates by Pro Bowl Klady

Ah, Riiiiite. WB did a Screen Gems movie and opened, probably, $4m or $5m short of where Screen Gems would have opened it and about $15m short on what will be the total domestic gross… because Screen Gems is really good at that kind of marketing. On the other hand, Screen Gems probably left $20m or so on the table for Easy A domestically because big studios tend to do a better job of marketing that kind of movie. Everyone has a skill set. And the more success a marketing team has with a certain kind of movie, the more they seem to do better and better with that kind of movie and less so with other kinds of films.

But hey… is $14.7m for The Rite something to be unhappy with? No.

Peaking of that, give Sony a lot of credit for taking a film that looked like a $30 million writedown for a long time and making it in to a $100 million domestic grosser with some real upside in the Asian markets in particular.

No Strings Attached is no Norbit… which is to say, unlikely to slow Portman’s Oscar role and unlike to gross more than 2/3 of the Eddie Murphy comedy.

The Mechanic is CBS Films’ 2nd best opening, just an estimated $700k behind The Back-Up Plan. It’s not great, but you know, aside from the Twilight phenomenon, it took Summit more than 2 years to get to its third 9-figure opening. CBS Films, thus, has more than a year to get to #3. Yes, it is leap to eliminate Twilight from the conversation. On the other hand, shouldn’t a hit of that size have made it easier to grab some 9-figure openings? Summit is on its way, heading into its fourth year of distribution, now making hits that are not such phenomena that the job is to stay out of its way. (And that’s not always so easy for distributors to do.) And I guess my overall point it, CBS Films has not had a beautiful start and they don’t have a phenom to hide behind… but there is still a chance to turn the ship around to a successful direction. (Some other time, we can discuss whether Sumner Redstone needs a brain exam to understand why he allows the two sides of Viacom to continue to compete with one another this way.)

The Oscar Racers dominate the rest of the Top Ten: Speech, Grit, Swan, Fighter. The King’s Speech expansion is excellent, though do note that the per-screen is still behind the second weekend of Portman/Kutcher. Black Swan is showing the most sign of slowing, albeit as it passes $90 million, which is a figure that I don’t think Fox ever thought was possible. (Aronofsky definitely did not.) True Grit, nearing $150 million domestic, is clearly finding some stragglers thanks to Oscar nods, estimated off just 1% in the sixth weekend of its very commercial run. The Fighter also benefited from its nods, in spite of losing screens for the fourth straight weekend.

Also, a spark of life for 127 Hours, which had its first $2m weekend after 13 weekends in theaters… 916 screens, which more than doubles the previous high count of 433.

The Current Oscar BP Box Office List
Toy Story 3 – $415m domestic (out of theaters, in Home Ent)
Inception – $293m (oot, in HE)
True Grit – $148m ($7.2m this weekend)
The Social Network – $96m (367 screens, around $500k a week, in HE)
Black Swan – $91m ($4.9m tw)
The Fighter – $79m ($3.9m tw)
The King’s Speech -$72m ($10.4m tw)
The Kids Are All Right – $21m (oot, in HE)
127 Hours – $13m ($2m tw)
Winter’s Bone – $6m (oot, in HE)

And though obviously a very rough set of numbers… why not?

Projecting End Of Next Weekend
Toy Story 3 – $415m
Inception – $293m
True Grit – $162m
Black Swan – $100m
The Social Network – $96m
The King’s Speech -$90m
The Fighter – $87m

Projecting Feb 13 grosses
Toy Story 3 – $415m
Inception – $293m
True Grit – $175m
Black Swan – $107m
The King’s Speech -$106m
The Social Network – $97m
The Fighter – $94m

Projecting Feb 20 grosses
Toy Story 3 – $415m
Inception – $293m
True Grit – $185m
The King’s Speech -$120m
Black Swan – $112m
The Fighter – $99m
The Social Network – $98m

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3-Day Weekend Estimates By The Green Klady

The Green Hornet probably did pass last MLK Weekend’s Book of Eli for 3rd best opening in January… but not by too much. Bless the 3D bump, which was worth about $5m in these 3 days, according to Sony’s 3D stats. And it may be worth reminding that Eli didn’t hit $100 million domestic off of that opening. Still, a solid opening for a long-troubled film. Sony spent a lot of time and money trying to fix the film and this opening, which may not have changed much but will surely make for stronger legs, proves them right. Think Steve Martin’s Pink Panther.

Universal put The Dilemma on the Paul Blart date, but evidently forgot that Blart was a big hit because of family business… and there is none to be found for this title. I haven’t seen the film, but the sense that Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder watch from the edges of the frame probably didn’t help any guys convince their wife/girlfriend to go to the movies with them.

An Oscar cluster formed just behind the two new titles. (Get out the penicillin!!!) True Grit keeps pounding away, closing in on $130m domestic today. The King’s Speech is the strongest – albeit newest to widening release – per-screen with $5810 per on 1543 screens. And Black Swan continues to flap its wings at the naysayers, as it should hit $75 million today, now officially Searchlight’s 3rd biggest grosser ever. A bit behind is The Fighter, which seems to be losing steam a little faster than the others, but is over $65m and into profit already. (This is also pretty much true of all four of these titles, marketing budgets being the only question mark.)

I am a little surprised that Blue Valentine is doing as well as it is so far. A $1.4m weekend may not seem like a lot, but given that it’s adults only, very dark, and very indie… huzzah. Also niching pretty well is Somewhere. Not a big number. But they seem to be reaching interested people. Rabbit Hole, not so much. People are scared of that film… which is a shame. It deserves better. And Nicole Kidman, would would have to see a split between the front-runners, would not be an unhappy story as the Best Actress winner.

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Friday Estimates By Kato Klady

Sony will open The Green Hornet to a Underworld: Evolution type number. How core is the audience? Today and next weekend will tell.

The Dilemma‘s opening is not gay…. as in happy. Let’s just say, it’s no Bride Wars… but if it’s better than the ads make it look, maybe there are some legs to be stretched… but probably not. The movies that have done a big multiple from this kind of opening and this month tend to be kids films.

True Grit is cruising along, nearing $125m by the end of the weekend. Also, The King’s Speech finally went semi-wide to good effect, passing $40m this weekend. Black Swan, expanded to 2328 screens, will crack $70m this weekend and perhaps become the #3 grosser in Searchlight history (if not tomorrow, Monday or Tuesday). And The Fighter, the only film in this group to lose more than 30% from last Friday, will close in on $65m this weekend.

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Looks Like Them Thar HFPA Foreigners Got It!

The Tourist passed $100 million internationally this weekend. Seven markets with #1 openings (Portugal, Ukraine, Hong Kong, Norway, South Africa, Israel, Philippines) and three holdover #1s (Spain, Singapore, Vietnam).

In Russia, it was the 18th biggest opening EVAH!

In Russia, Portugal, Ukraine, Norway, South Africa, and Israel it opened bigger than Wanted or Salt!

The road to Oscar goes through Norway, baby!

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Friday Estimates by Deja Vu Klady

Opening a horror/thriller in this slot – first weekend after the holiday – has become a bit of a tradition. Daybreakers last year… The Unborn the year before… One Missed Call… and so on. Season of the Witch will deliver, it seems, about 60% of the least impressive opening of this group.

Also opening is Country Strong… which is… who knows? This All About Crazy Heart Eve is opening on more screens than Crazy Heart saw at any time of its run last year and this will, in turn, be a bigger weekend than Crazy Heart ever had last year. But logically, this film is headed, at best, to a similar neighborhood as its predecessor… or less. It’s still only 1425 screens. And there is no way of knowing whether the Bible Belt will make this movie as leggy as its star. Meanwhile, the less happy comparison is Youth In Revolt, which had a similar opening day and just $15m total domestic.

The movies that are suffering most from the transition from a holiday Friday to a non-holiday Friday are the kids movies. Yogi and Narnia have 66%+ drops and Potter has fallen out of the 10. I would expect somewhat of a comeback for those titles over the rest of the weekend. Not huge, but more in the 50s than the 60s.

We’re still dealing with a lack of the kinds of massive December holdovers that we’ve had in the past. So, while Avatar and Sherlock Holmes outgrossed everything on the chart on this relative date, the smaller scale hits are doing okay heading into 2011. True Grit sits on top of the chart, as it has in 6 of the last 8 days. By the time I write this, it’s passed $100 million and will look for a boost when Oscar nods hit, by then likely to be in the $2m or $3m weekend range.

Little Fockers remains the shining example of why making the third in a series is often a bad idea, though it looks like it will find its way to black ink someday, if you believe the price tag the studio has put on it. I don’t. I have no direct insight or evidence. But reports about the process suggest that the $100 million figure may be as much as 25% low. Either way, the gross is a significant disappointment, with the film scraping to get to 50% of the last film in the series’ gross, both on the domestic and international side. For comparison, the disappointing Sex & the City sequel did about 70% of the prior film’s gross.

Tron: Legacy could find its way to $300 million worldwide… but just by the hair of its chinny chin chin.

Black Swan, The Fighter, and The King’s Speech are back-to-back-to-back on today’s chart, in that order. Swan is looking like a comeback kid this Friday, up 24% from last Friday, but part of that is the odd drop it suffered last Friday, about which I still haven’t been able to get a satisfying explanation. This is the 6th day in a row that Swan has been in front of Fighter. Meanwhile, King’s Speech is doing the least business of the trio, but with the best per-screen average. All three are poised to be in the 60s or 70s, depending on awards reaction.

And here’s an awards note that should be taken with a little salt… but not too much. Last year, the first year of 10, the lowest pre-nom grosser was at $8.8m when it was nominated. I don’t think that Academy members are looking at the box office before casting their nominating ballots, so I wouldn’t count out Winter’s Bone ($6.2m) or Another Year, which has really just done a qualifying run so far. But it’s an uphill fight. A big part of that is that grossers are somewhat of an indicator of how many potential Academy voters have seen the film. In the case of Bone and Year, their studios have been screening the heck out of them for month… and are still screening. (Tomorrow night, Winter’s Bone with John Hawkes at Harmony Gold… get out those Guild cards!)

And again, this would be one of my arguments for The Ten, an idea I pooh-poohed when I had a passionate discussion about it before it went to the Academy board 20 months ago. Like others, I feared that it would put junk into the race. Instead, we are seeing a relaxing of prejudices about “success: of some films and it is the Winter’s Bones and the The Kids Are All Rights that get to play in the big sandbox because of the larger group of nominees. And I am good with The Pixar Slot too, though it would be nice to see it just be The Animation Slot in future… Pixar just keeps doing such great stuff. (I suspect that next year, we will not be assuming that Cars 2 is in… so the door is open to some other animated film.)

If this were a 5 horse race, i would bet on it being True Grit, The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Black Swan, and The Fighter. Would we really like that better?

CURRENT DOMESTIC GROSSES OF CONTENDERS GROSSING AT LEAST $8.8 MILLION
Toy Story 3 – $415m
Inception – $293m
True Grit – $114.4
The Social Network – $93.4m
The Town – $92.1m
Black Swan -$55.5
The Fighter -$52.9
The King’s Speech – $28.2
The Kids Are All Right – $20.8m
127 Hours – $10.6m
Get Low – $9.1m

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Weekend Estimates by Year End Klady

The odd shape of this holiday weekend seems to have thrown a lot of number crunchers for a loop. No big deal… odd weekend with a Friday New Years Eve. I’m still trying to figure out the odd drop – compared to how other films grossed on Friday – for Black Swan on Friday, which there was no sign of on Saturday or Sunday.

It’s a sign of how stupid – a harsh, but accurate word in this case – box office coverage is when it obsesses on whether True Grit beat Little Fockers. It’s another one of those things in modern movie coverage that dumbs down the conversation, especially in this case. #1 Fockers is a relative flop, about $60 million behind its predecessor’s gross at the end of the holiday. #2 Grit is a an epic success for The Coens… for Westerns… the 11th best New Year’s Day gross in history. Talking about their rank is, well, rank.

In terms of comparing last year’s New Year’s weekend to this years, again, apples and oranges… but not because the world has changed, but simply because the product released this holiday had a clear absence of mega-movies. No Avatar. No Sherlock Holmes. No Chipmunks sequel. Those films meant three December movies over $135 million at this moment in their history (including $352m for Avatar)… and this year, none. There are only two $100 million-plus grossers from December so far… Tron Legacy and Fockers. And the only other film really aspiring to that kind of number over the holiday was Narnia 3… which will just barely get to $100 million after another few weeks. (Keep in mind that most of these titles will drop in the mid-40s – mid-50s next weekend, post-holiday.)

But the flip side is that this December is a lot deeper. There are eleven films with weekend grosses of over $5 million this weekend… and only seven last year.

Obviously, the marketplace can expand more than it has this season. But part of what happens is that opportunity changes when you have the mega-movies running and a multiplex that might have a second screen running a popular per-screen film like The Fighter or The King’s Speech has that screen occupied by the fourth screen for that mega-movie. Also, if you look at the distribution decisions, you see some titles being a bit more aggressive in this slot than they might have been knowing that there were more giants in the field and that the fight to get the best screens would be that much harder.

This is one of those areas where exhibitors are a little schizophrenic. Having recently had the conversation with John Fithian, head of NATO, I know that he knows that a broader range of films succeeding in the marketplace and having longer legs is good news for exhibitors. On the other hand, exhibition is the one area where the number of tickets sold really does matter, as there is more money in concessions than in 3D bumping, if it means fewer people in the theater. Likewise with a strong, more balanced field of movies than a few mega-titles at the top, sucking all the air out of the room, but delivering a lot more bodies to the theaters.

It’s a real issue… live for today or live for the future of the industry. The answer is almost always the short-sighted one, for both distributors and exhibitors. The problem is, you can’t pick your spots. So it’s hard to say that you object to studios wanting to try day-n-date while you are perfectly happy pushing films though your theaters faster than excrement through a Christmas goose. Plenty of people think I am a finger wagger… but I simply understand that there is a price to pay for short-term thinking… it’s the difference between morality and situational morality… all the same.

But I digress…

Burlesque looks like it will be the lowest grossing Screen Gems movie of 2010… while being the most expensive film the division ever made.

In Oscar chatter, the True Grit train moves forward with muscle, The Fighter is solid, if not spectacular, Black Swan is in tweener land, open wide enough to be saturating their strongest markets (1553 screens), but not full out, and The King’s Speech is dragging its feel in anticipation of awards more than the others, expanding to 700 screens to take what advantage they could of the holiday.

CURRENT DOMESTIC GROSSES OF CONTENDERS
Toy Story 3 – $415m
Inception – $293m
Shutter Island – $128m
The Social Network – $93.2m
The Town – $92.1m
True Grit – $86.7
Black Swan -$47.3
The Fighter -$46.4m
The King’s Speech – $22.7m
The Kids Are All Right – $20.8m
127 Hours – $10.4m
Get Low – $9.1m
Winter’s Bone – $6.2m
Rabbit Hole – $420k
Blue Valentine – $270k
Another Year – $170k
Biutiful – n/a

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Box Office

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“The word I have fallen in love with lately is ‘Hellenic.’ Greek in its mythology. So while everyone is skewing towards the YouTube generation, here we are making two-and-a-half-hour movies and trying to buck the system. It’s become clear to me that we are never going to be a perfect fit with Hollywood; we will always be the renegade Texans running around trying to stir the pot. Really it’s not provocation for the sake of being provocative, but trying to make something that people fall in love with and has staying power. I think people are going to remember Dragged Across Concrete and these other movies decades from now. I do not believe that they will remember some of the stuff that big Hollywood has put out in the last couple of years. You’ve got to look at the independent space to find the movies that have been really special recently. Even though I don’t share the same world-view as some of my colleagues, I certainly respect the hell out of their movies which are way more fascinating than the stuff coming out of the studio system.”
~ Dallas Sonnier

“My first objective relationship in life was with the camera. I didn’t understand anything but then I realized the camera is my friend. It doesn’t lie to me. It doesn’t manipulate me. It only reports what I’m doing. And therefore, for me to work with a camera and the camera to be directed by an artist, a craftsman, someone who knows what he or she wants, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
~ Elliot Gould