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