Harry Potter fans take heart. Just because Warner Bros says it won’t ship more DVDs or Blu-rays after December 29, that doesn’t mean Hogwarts will immediately vanish from physical or virtual shelves. Or that it won’t be available for …
‘The Tourist’ Tanks Despite Johnny Depp & Angelina Jolie; ‘Narnia 3D’ Opens Very Weak #1; ‘The Fighter’ & ‘Black Swan’ Strong
SUNDAY PM/MONDAY AM - 7TH UPDATE: Did the Midwest blizzards depress box office? Well, not a single studio exec mentioned it to me, and usually they’ll hide behind any excuse… Here are the Top 10 North American movie grosses for Friday and Saturday and Sunday. Both Walden/Fox’s The Chronicles Of Narnia: The …
SUNDAY AM: First weekend I’ve slept past 8 AM in what feels like forever. But this is Hollywood’s lone box office break for big movies before the end of the year, and the 2nd slowest grossing weekend of the year (since the Fri-Sat-Sun post-Thanksgiving is usually a turkey). But a lot of specialty films had their debuts or expansions including Fox Searchlight’s drama Black Swan from Darren Aronofsky starring Natalie Portman (18 theaters in 8 cities — NY, LA, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, Dallas, Toronto). It had Friday’s best per screen average with $23,660, and the studio knew it was overperforming when Friday’s matinees were double the per screen average of Aronfsky’s previous The Wrestler. Black Swan grossed $1.3M with a gross per theater average of $77,459, setting an all-time record for Fox Searchlight. (More than Juno, Slumdog Millionaire, Sideways, and Little Miss Sunshine all of which were in fewer theatres.) The drama also is the 2nd highest opening of a limited release for 2010, passing The Kids Are All Right and now only behind The King’s Speech.
Also for Fox Searchlight, there is Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours with James Franco (433 theaters for a gross per screen average of $3,695), The King’s Speech from The Weinstein Co (6 theaters) with another terrific gross per screen average of $54,312. Roadside Attraction release I Love You, Phillip Morris starring Jim Carrey scored $18,886 gross a screen in 6 theaters for its opening. “Considering the behemoth that is Black Swan, who took away a nice chunk of our hipster, gay and specialty audience, we think we came through with shining colors,” a Roadside exec tells me. Roadside and its partner on the release, Liddell Entertainment, are spending a fraction of what, say Fox Searchlight or The Weinstein Co is spending. Magnolia’s drama thriller All Good Things (2 theaters), directed by Andrew Jarecki, debuted with a gross per screen average at NYC’s Paris and Angelica of $20K. But the movie has already made millions on VOD and is on its way to becoming Magnolia’s most successful on that platform. “There is a giant section of America that doesn’t have access to these types of films,” said a Magnolia rep. “The VOD/Theatrical model is alive and very well and these numbers proves that clearly. Many wonder how VOD will affect theatrical – this opening shows that it can lead to success for both. The VOD acts as a sneak and word of mouth tool and theatrical numbers reflect that.”
The good news is that the marketplace expanded for all of these films because the adult audience still feels underserved. Also in theaters are Summit Entertainment’s Fair Game (436 theaters), and Waiting for ‘Superman’ from Paramount Vantage [85 theaters]. Most are platforming for awards season, but none are cracked the Top 10 this weekend. Fair Game added screens but still came in behind Black Swan which looks to gross a phenomenal $300K for Friday, so figure about $1 million for the weekend. On the other hand, the expansion of 127 Hours still can’t get it to hang with the big boys.
As for the major studios, only Rogue/Relativity’s martial arts western The Warrior’s Way stealth-opened semi-wide in 1,622 theaters. I never saw a single trailer or TV ad for it anywhere. No matter: it’s a bomb with the production budget at $42 million and independently financed thanks to international superstar Dong-gun Jang. It was distributed in the U.S. as a rent-a-system deal by Relativity. With a CinemaScore of “C-”, the studio claimed today, “The opening results, while modest, didn’t fall far below expectations as the campaign and spend were very targeted.” According to exit polls, 35%/65% were under/over age 25, with 65% of moviegoers male. But it was a very diverse audience with 27% Asian, 23% African-American, 20% Caucasian and 20% Latino. Among holdovers, this weekend should have seen even steeper drops since a week ago was the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest moviegoing day of the year. But 3 of the 4 opening pics badly underperformed. Disney’s Tangled finally surged past Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows which continues to dominate the overseas marketplace, grossing an estimated $54.4M in 62 territories for an international cume to date of now $469.1M and a global cume of $713.3M. Disney’s 50th animated toon took in $26M this weekend from 15 territories representing 35% of the international market. With Tangled now hitting a domestic cume of $96.5M and overseas total of $45.8M, the new global cume is $142.3M:
1. Tangled (Disney) Week 2 [3,603 Theaters]
Friday $5.1M, Saturday $9.9M, Weekend $21.5M (-56%), Cume $96.5M
2. Harry Potter/Deathly Hallows (Warner Bros) Week 3 [4,125 Theaters]
Friday $4.8M, Saturday $7.4M, Weekend $16.7M, Cume $244.2M
MAGIC! ‘Harry Potter-Deathly Hallows, Pt 1′ Biggest In Franchise With $330.1M Global Weekend Including $125.1M North America
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 7TH UPDATE: My sources are estimating $38.2 million for Saturday and $61.1 million for Friday from 4,125 theaters for the biggest installment in the Harry Potter franchise. Friday’s North American grosses were a November record for the Harry Potter franchise, including the $24M from 3,700 post-midnight locations. Warner Bros is now saying Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 translated to a weekend opening of $125.1M. That’s a lot of moolah as HP7A bested HP4‘s $102M weekend debut by +23% — and the 18-to-34 demos were +25% – and became #5 among all-time 3-day opening weekends. “The aging of the films have made them unique and the largest grossing franchise in motion picture history,” Warner Bros distribution czar Dan Fellman emails me. “No other film has successfully grown its audience in this manner.” Given that a net profit statement for 2007′s Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix shows that the film is still over $167M in the red despite grossing $938.2 million worldwide, I can’t wait to see how Warner Bros spins HP7A net.
Overseas, the latest Harry Potter installment earned a whopping $205M with 26.8 million admissions from 19,000 screens in 54 countries and 91 markets, including $4.2M from 101 screens for IMAX. Highlights included the UK’s £17.5m / $28.0M (3 million admissions on 1,852 screens) for the biggest 3-day opening ever while Saturday’s box office of £6.6M was the biggest single day ever in UK history.
1. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (Warner Bros) NEW [4,125 Theaters]
Friday $61.1M, Saturday $38.2M, Weekend $125.1M
The strategy by Warner Bros’ Sue Kroll was to launch “The Motion Picture Event of a Generation” — a year-long campaign that began selling both Parts 1 & 2 combined last summer. The marketing czarina positioned it as a must-see cultural phenom, the culmination of the ultimate battle between good & evil all leading up to Harry’s final face off with Voldemort. The studio launched a teaser trailer and poster touting both installments with Twilight last June that played through the summer, plus showed a 4-minute piece at Comi-Con in July to appeal to hard-core fans (the first time Harry Potter has ever been shown there.) All subsequent materials focused entirely on Part 1 with the main trailer, print materials, and in theater campaign launching in September. Warner Bros also bought an extremely broad TV campaign claiming HP isn’t just for kids anymore on everything from kids programming to sports and high profile network & cable shows. In October, a massive outdoor campaign began. “The goal was ubiquity,” a WB exec tells me.
2. Megamind (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount) Week 3 [3,779 Theaters]
Friday $3.7M, Saturday $7.6M, Weekend $16.1M (-45%), Cume $109.4M
3. Unstoppable (Fox) Week 2 [3,209 Theaters]
Friday $4M, Saturday $5.8M, Weekend $13.1M (-42%), Cume $41.9M
This pic played well to those sparse audiences who showed up to see it. Fox Filmed Entertainment Group will be very happy when 2010 and its non-Avatar pics come to an end. Better luck next year.
4. Due Date (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,229 Theaters]
Friday $2.9M, Saturday $3.9M, Weekend $9.1M, Cume $72.6M
5. The Next Three Days (Lionsgate) NEW [2,564 Theaters]
Friday $2.2M, Saturday $2.6M, Weekend $6.7M
Another box office disaster for Joe Drake and the Lionsgate motion picture group. Given that marketing costs these days start at $30M and go up and up and up, I don’t understand how Lionsgate can claim to me it “knew all along” that writer/director Paul Haggis’ The Next Three Days would make only $7M-$9M. Then why make this very ordinary thriller in the first place? “We knew that counter programming against Potter would be tricky, but the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and fact that adult films don’t always live or die by their opening weekends factored into our risk calculations,” an LG exec tells me. “We were very careful with our media buy, niche targeting our adult audience and not overspending.” Yet Russell Crowe refuses to be hired on the cheap. At least he went above and beyond his normal press outreach, doing the full press junket in support of the movie, and then 6 national talk shows.
6. Morning Glory (Paramount) Week 2 [2,544 Theaters]
Friday $1.6M, Saturday $2.3M, Weekend $5.2M, Cume $19.8M
7. Skyline (Rogue/Relativity/Universal) Week 2 [2,883 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Weekend $3M, Cume $17.2M
8. Red (Summit) Week 6 [2,034 Theaters]
Friday $715K, Saturday $1.1M, Weekend $2.5M, Cume $83.6M
9. For Colored Girls (Lionsgate) Week 3 [1,216 Theaters]
Friday $680K, Weekend $1.8M, Cume $34M
10. Fair Game (Summit) Week 3 [386 Theaters]
Friday $380K, Saturday $690M, Weekend $1.5M, Cume $3.7M
FRIDAY 10 AM, 3RD UPDATE: Post-midnight screenings of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 made $24 million from 3,700 North American locations today. That’s a record for the franchise which has taken in nearly $5.5 billion in worldwide revenue, the most successful movie franchise in box office history. The previous midnight Harry Potter record was the sixth installment with $22M. (For midnight screenings of HP7A in 238 IMAX theaters in North America, the $1.436 million tally beat IMAX’s previous midnight record grosses of $1.036 million from the Twilight Saga: Eclipse.) “This is off to a huge start with $11M already reported for Friday matinees,” a Warner Bros executive emails me. The studio believes that HP7A could open to a whopping $135M by Sundays’s end.
THURSDAY 4 PM UPDATE:With only a few hours to go before its 12:01 AM Friday premiere, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is past $30 million in advance sales and may be looking at $60 million for Friday’s opening day and a 3-day debut weekend total of $130+ million. Maybe even $150M. Yowza! The last 2 Harry Potter films both had weekend grosses of $77M each. “We will EASILY pass $100M for our opening FSS this time around,’ a Warner Bros executive tells me. Meanwhile, the picture has already leaped over previous record-holders to become giant online ticketseller Fandango’s top Harry Potter advance ticket-seller in Fandango’s 10-year history, and the overall 3rd best pre-seller in company history following only Summit’s Twilight Saga: New Moon and Twilight Saga: Eclipse. It has bested Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. This #7A latest in the HP franchise currently represents 97% of today’s ticket sales and more than 3,000 showtimes are already sold out in cities and towns across the country. I hear theater owners are scrambling to add new midnight and 3:15 AM showtimes to meet the fan demand.
EXCLUSIVE… Wednesday 12:30 PM: Warner Bros is warning me to “get ready for a record-breaking weekend” for its Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 which opens at 12:01 AM Friday. But the pic is already breaking records and it hasn’t even opened for another 36 hours. It will play in a whopping 3,700 midnight locations, which is a record, with the screen count to adjust based on the demand so that figure could climb even higher. The general theater count for Friday’s release is already 4,125, a November record for the Harry Potter franchise, with over 9,000 screens. In addition to these unprecedented numbers, Warner Bros’ Dan Fellman has lined up 239 IMAX Theatres, another record (the last HP only had 166 IMAX screens). “Since almost all the IMAX have sold out the weekend already, they are adding a 3 AM show starting with the first midnight show,” my insider says. There also are an additional 65 “Special Presentation Circuit Screens”. Most importantly, the studio already has $25 Million in advance ticket sales, another record. “All good news for a huge HP weekend,” a Warner Bros exec gushed to me.
Here’s the statement from Warner Bros:
Warner Bros Pictures has made the decision to release “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” in 2D, in both conventional and IMAX theaters, as we will not have a completed 3D version of the film within our release date window. Despite everyone’s best efforts, we were unable to convert the film in its entirety and meet the highest standards of quality. We do not want to disappoint fans who have long-anticipated the conclusion of this extraordinary journey, and to that end, we are releasing our film day-and-date on November 19, 2010 as planned. We, in alignment with our filmmakers, believe this is the best course to take in order to ensure that our audiences enjoy the consummate “Harry Potter” experience.
Passing the giant Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps billboard at the Pico Blvd entrance to 20th Century Fox, I noticed the words “Academy Award” prominently mentioned no less than five times. Academy Award Winner Michael Douglas. Academy Award Nominee Josh Brolin. Academy Award Winner Susan Sarandon. Academy Award Nominee Frank Langella. Academy Award Nominee Carey Mulligan. Not so subtly, making an early bid like this to find any way to associate the Academy Awards and an opening movie this time of year can be a smart marketing strategy. It’s a way to establish a new film as a contender amid the endless glut of generally still-sight-unseen Oscar wannabes.
With that in mind, I continue my rundown of award hopefuls. I started last week with an assessment of Oscar chances for the films that had just appeared at any or all of the three Fall Film Festivals in Venice, Telluride, and Toronto. I began that list with Friday’s New York Film Festival opener The Social Network. Now comes, in order of scheduled release date, the trickier proposition of forecasting the awards status of films that weren’t unveiled at a Fall Fest but will be opening before the end of the year:
WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS (Twentieth Century Fox – 9/24) On paper, with its timely theme, this is exactly the kind of popular drama with an Oscar-heavy cast and director that the 10 Best Picture nominations would tend to favor. Well-received in Cannes last May, it still hasn’t generated the kind of serious buzz which fall fest entries like Social Network, The King’s Speech, and Black Swan all managed. Oscar Chance: Bearish, since sequels rarely compete and Oliver Stone’s 1987 original received just a single nomination — and won Best Actor for Michael Douglas. His bigger-than-life Gekko remains its best chance to jump in the race, particularly with goodwill for the actor running high due to his cancer and memories of his acclaimed work in the indie Solitary Man still fresh from earlier this year. Never-nominated Eli Wallach, 95, might have had a shot for his small but indelible role. But he’s already getting an Honorary Oscar in November.
NOWHERE BOY (The Weinstein Co – 10/8) This story of the young John Lennon opened last Christmas in England and has already hit British Airways and Blu-ray but is craftily timed for U.S. release the day before what would have been the musician’s 70th birthday. Oscar Chance: Both female co-stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff were BAFTA nominees last season and might have a long shot in the Supporting Actress category if Weinstein does any sort of serious campaign for this.
SECRETARIAT (Walt Disney Pictures – 10/8) This emotion stirring crowd-pleasing story of the 1973 Triple Crown winner and the woman who wouldn’t give up on him could appeal to the same feel-good contingent that made The Blind Side such a player last year. Oscar Chance: Diane Lane and John Malkovich could figure in acting races. While sound, cinematography, music, and Best Picture nominations are not out of the question. If 2003’s Seabiscuit, which landed 7 nominations including the big one back when there were only five slots, could do it, then it should be a breeze for this horse. But Disney has to campaign just as aggressively as Universal did back then.
COMPANY MEN (The Weinstein Co – 10/22) There hasn’t been a whole lot of buzz on this John Wells written and directed title since it debuted to mixed reviews in Sundance. But this of-the-moment drama about the effect of corporate downsizing on three men has a strong cast that includes past Oscar winners Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, and Chris Cooper. Oscar Chance: A longshot that needs to step up its awards game or risk downsizing to also-ran status against stiff competition.
WELCOME TO THE RILEYS (Samuel Goldwyn – 10/29) Fine acting from James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and Kristen Stewart highlight this drama about the effect that a young runaway has on a married couple. Oscar Chance: This quiet and effective drama was a Sundance success. But it’s likely to be more prominent at the Spirits than the Oscars.
FAIR GAME (Summit – 11/5) The hot button Valerie Plame/CIA leak story gets the cinematic treatment from director Doug Liman. It played well to critics in competition at Cannes in May but has been dormant on the Fall Festival circuit. Oscar Chance: It has two stars, Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, who are usually Academy bait. But so far neither is generating much heat in the highly competitive lead actor and actress races. Perhaps that will change when the film gets its second shot at glory just after election day. Of course, Penn already has a couple of Oscars.
FOR COLORED GIRLS (Lionsgate – 11/5) Except for the trailer, no one’s really yet seen this Tyler Perry adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s 1975 play with the longer title For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf. But apparently Lionsgate has enuf confidence to push the release right up to the start date of the film industry’s official holiday movie season. Oscar Chance: Perry’s a cash cow for Lionsgate but he’s got no Oscar cred yet except for an AMPAS membership card. Last year, this distributor scored 6 nominations and 2 Oscars with Precious (which Perry supported by lending his name). But can lightning strike twice?
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (Warner Bros – 11/19) The mega-box office Harry Potter series begins its wrap party with the first of a 2-part finale. Oscar Chance: These films are usually good for one or two technical nods but haven’t broken through into the marquee categories. If Harry has any shot at pulling a Lord Of The Rings-style victory lap, it’s probably with the more emotionally potent Part 2 which gets a July release.
THE NEXT THREE DAYS (Lionsgate – 11/19) Oscar-winner Paul Haggis co-wrote and directed this thriller about the turmoil in a couple’s life after the wife is accused of murder. Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson, and Elizabeth Banks star. Oscar Chance: Although Haggis and Lionsgate last struck Oscar gold together with Crash, this one is said to be a strictly commercial bet with no similar awards trajectory.
Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part I: