In one of its biggest movie-acquisition deals in the last few years, USA Network has bought a package of more than 30 titles from Universal Pictures. Nine of them include network premiere rights, including Judd Apatow’s sleeper comedy hit Bridesmaids; the Fast & the Furious sequel Fast Five; the latest installment in the Meet the Parents franchise, Little Fockers; as well as the Matt Damon starrer The Adjustment Bureau. All four will debut on USA. There was some corporate synergy at work in making the deal, with virtually all other NBCUniversal TV networks contributing financially, including NBC, Syfy, E!, Bravo, Oxygen, Style, G4, Chiller, Sleuth and UniHD. In exchange, those nets get rights to some of the titles in the package. For instance, NBC has committed to airing Bridesmaids and The Little Fockers after their premiere on USA and has an option to pick up more. Syfy will debut two of the nine movies, to which USA is getting network premiere rights: Repo Man and Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take.
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Rentrak is having system issues so box office will be a bit late today. But Paramount was so worried about its No Strings Attached being a stinker that the studio didn’t even bother to give me a pre-release briefing. I don’t necessarily blame them: any movie starring Ashton Kutcher is probably a bomb since his last one — PG-13 Killers with Katherine Heigl — opened to only $15.8M for Lionsgate. And rom-coms, especially sexy R-rated ones (Ed Zwick’s Love And Other Drugs which opened to only $9.7M for Fox with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal) have been stillborn at the North American box office with this caliber of star. But No Strings Attached surprised at the box office, not only coming in No. 1 but with a decent $20.3M. Exit polls showed 70% of the audience was female, meaning it should be the least affected by football on Sunday. As for CinemaScore, 40% of those aged under 25 gave the film an “A-” while 60% over 25 scored it a “B”.
This $25 million-cost movie started out as a Black List script titled Fuckbuddies and written by Elizabeth Merriwether. Natalie Portman came on board as a producer and star for Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock’s The Montecito Picture Company, which co-financed in partnership with Coldspring and Paramount’s usual partner Spyglass Entertainment.
Natalie is hot after her Oscar-worthy transformative performance in Black Swan and now finds herself with 2 movies in this weekend’s Top 6. And perhaps risking overexposure because of her new pics opening in January, February, April, and May. Anyway, the pic took advantage of being the only wide opening this weekend and may hang on for $20M. (Remember, it took Ron Howard’s Dilemma starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James 4 days to even make that over the MLK long holiday.) The film had been tracking strong with 20-year-old females whom Paramount pursued aggresively not with traditional newspaper ads but instead with a big Facebook push of a sexy Red Band trailer. Meanwhile, Sony’s The Green Hornet 3D and Universal’s aforementioned Dilemma look to drop more than -35% each this weekend. Here’s the Top 10:
1. No Strings Attached (Paramount) NEW [3,018 Theaters]
Friday $7.3M, Saturday $8.2M, Weekend $20.3M
2. The Green Hornet 3D (Sony) Week 2 [3,584 Theaters]
Friday $5.1M, Saturday $8.7M, Weekend $18.1M (-31%), Cume $63.4M
3. The Dilemma (Universal) Week 2 [2,943 Theaters]
Friday $3M, Saturday $4.5M, Weekend $9.9M (-33%), Cume $33.5M
4. The King’s Speech (Weinstein Co) Week 9 [1,680 Theaters]
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $3.9M, Weekend $9.1M, Cume $58.6M
SUNDAY AM: Knowing it was going to be a boring box office, I took off Saturday. First, I have zero interest in country music. Sony/Screen Gems’ Country Strong, which expanded into 1,424 theaters and made $7.3M in wider release, hitting the “high end” of the studio’s expectations, with a “B” CinemaScore. The only other tidbit of interest is that a Relativity genre movie finally had an opening that didn’t suck in even if audiences gave it only a “C+” CinemaScore and its budget was a too-big $40 million. This nonsense about medieval knights and witches, again something in which I have zero interest, did around $10.7 million for the weekend. Because all the bigwigs were at the Palm Springs Film Festival for The Fighter, the Relativity spin machine was keeping its other movie’s news under wraps – probably more used to handling losers at the box office.
Meanwhile Oscar-touted movies keep racking up bigger cumes. So how does Sony Pictures continue to remind awards voters about The Social Network when it was released way back in September? If you’re Jeff Blake, you decide to re-release the Facebook origins story in about 600 nationwide theaters this weekend to take advantage of all the critical acclaim and awards hype. And then launch the DVD on January 11th with more than 8 hours of bonus extras. But you also fete the fact that The Social Network will pass $200 million at the worldwide box office within the week. The Social Network has grossed more than $94 million in the U.S. after adding another $650K to its cume.
Here are the Top 10 grosses:
1. True Grit (Paramount) Week 3 [3,124 Theaters]
Friday $4.4M, Saturday $6.5M, Weekend $15M, Cume $110.4M
2. Little Fockers (Universal) Week 3 [3,675 Theaters]
Friday $4.2M, Saturday $6.3, Weekend $13.7M, Cume $127.9M
3. Season Of The Witch (Relativity) NEW [2,816 Theaters]
Friday $3.7M, Saturday $4.3M, Weekend $10.7M
This supernatural pic made with Atlas Entertainment had a too-big production budget of $40M although Relativity claims pre-sales and tax credits are estimated to cover “a minimum of 75% of that”. This one should earn out because box office combined with the foreign output deals and Relativity’s Netflix arrangement make this the first decent opening for the company in a long time. Somehow, Nicolas Cage (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, National Treasure, Ghost Rider) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Hellboy II) got roped into this. As I said, audiences gave it only a “C+” CinemaScore, and exit polls showed its moviegoers were 52%/48% male vs female, 39%/61% under vs over age 25, and 31%/69% Caucasian vs non-Caucasian (including 36% Hispanic, 14% Asian, 10% African-American, and 9% Other).
4. Tron: Legacy 3D (Disney) Week 4 [3,013 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Weekend $9.8M, Cume $147.9M
The big news here is that the Disney action pic’s international is up to $143.2M (including $17.6M this weekend), as Tron: Legacy 3D opened strong in Italy this past week and is now in release in 43 territories representing 75% of the international market. It will soon expand to China, Belgium, Holland, Germany, and France. New global cume is $291.1M which helps with that $170M budget and $120 worldwide marketing cost.
5. Black Swan (Fox Searchlight) Week 6 [1,584 Theaters]
Friday $2.3M, Saturday $3.3M, Weekend $8.3M, Cume $61.4M
6. Country Strong (Screen Gems/Sony) Week [1,424 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Saturday $3M, Weekend $7.3M, Cume $7.4M
Sony today said this “hit the high end of our expectations” as the Gwyneth Paltrow pic featuring lotsa country music stars expanded from its 2-theater platforming in Nashville and Los Angeles. Opening weekend exits had a core audience of women who made up 73% of ticket sales and 49% of those were under 30. The film earned a “B+” CinemaScore among women and a “B” overall.
7. The Fighter (Relativity/Paramount) Week 5 [2,528 Theaters]
Friday $2M, Saturday $3M, Weekend $7M, Cume $57.8M
8. The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Co) Week 7 [758 Theaters]
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.8M, Weekend $6.8M, Cume $33.2M
9. Yogi Bear 3D (Warner Bros) Week 4 [3,288 Theaters]
Friday $1.1M, Saturday $3.3M, Weekend $6.8M, Cume $75.6M
10. Tangled (Disney) Week 7 [2,383 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Saturday $2.5M, Cume $5.2M, Cume $175.9M
This Disney juggernaut added another $26.3M from overseas and opened at #1 in all 10 of this weekend’s debut territories, including Australia, Brazil, Greece, New Zealand, Argentina, and Columbia. The film is currently in release in 43 territories representing approximately 55% of the international market.
NEW YEAR’S WEEKEND: ‘True Grit’ Gives #1 ‘Little Fockers’ A Run For The Money; Many Holiday Pics Grossing Big Overseas
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM UPDATE, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Overall, the movie industry domestic box ended the year at $10.3 billion, down from $10.6B in 2009. As I previously reported, Warner Bros will three-peat (a record) in winning the domestic market share for the 3rd year in a row with $1.885 billion, followed by Paramount, then Fox. ”A lack of strong commercial product at Christmas was the reason that the 2010 box office could not close strong,” one top studio exec emails me. However, the final movie industry international box office cume will definitely be a record. The final figure isn’t available yet, but the international numbers look like a tie between Warner Bros and Fox with $2.290 billion, so that gives Warner Bros the crown for worldwide market share for 2010 with $4.804 billion. That’s the 2nd year in a row. As I’ve already reported, Disney’s international total for 2010 was its biggest ever with $2.3 billion. And domestic cume will end the year its second biggest year ever with $1.49 billion. Thank its three 3D titles, Alice In Wonderland and Toy Story 3 and Tangled. Here are official numbers from the studios for New Year’s weekend box office with daily and cume estimates. More bad news: overall grosses this weekend look to be $158M, which is -28% down from last year. Here are the Top 10:
1. Little Fockers (Universal) Week 2 [3,554 …
Blizzards Slow Xmas Weekend Box Office: FEW HOLIDAY GIFTS: ‘Little Fockers’ Soft; ‘True Grit’ Surprise #2; ‘Tron 3D’ Only #3; ‘Gulliver’s Travels 3D’ Bombs As Expected
MONDAY UPDATE: Actuals are in for the Christmas weekend, and the East Coast blizzards took their toll on box office. All the numbers were down 5% to 10% from studio projections, and Sunday’s moviegoing in the Northeast fell about 40%:
Top 10 Actuals
1. The Little Fockers (Universal) [3,536 Theaters]
Weekend $30.8M, Cume $45M
2. True Grit (Paramount) [3,047 Theaters]
Weekend $24.8M, Cume $36M
3. Tron: Legacy 3D (Disney) [3,451 Theaters]
Weekend $19.1M, Cume $87.3M
4. Chronicles Of Narnia 3D (Fox) [3,350 Theaters]
Weekend $9.4M, Cume $62.5M
5. Yogi Bear 3D (Warner Bros) [3,515 Theaters]
Weekend $7.8M, Cume $35.8M
6. The Fighter (Relativity/Paramount) [2,511 Theaters]
Weekend $7.6M, Cume $26.6M
7. Tangled 3D (Disney) [2,582 Theaters]
Weekend $6.4M, Cume $143.6M
8. Gulliver’s Travels 3D (Fox) [2,546 Theaters]
2-Day Weekend $6.3M, Cume $6.3M
9. Black Swan ( Fox Searchlight) [1,466 Theaters]
Weekend $6.2M, Cume $28.6M
10. The Tourist (GK Films/Sony) [2,756 Theaters]
Weekend $5.4M, Cume $40.8M
I’ve confirmed that those pickup shots which I first reported that Universal has scheduled for September on Little Fockers are now more than half a dozen full-blown scenes, including 4 with Dustin Hoffman. The notoriously difficult actor was written out of the Meet The Parents threequel altogether when Universal couldn’t reach a deal with him. But John Hamburg and Jay Roach helped convince Dustin to reprise his role which is “not dissimilar to what we were pitching him in the beginning,” an insider tells me. Hoffman won’t come cheap. “It’s costing what we were going to pay him in the first place,” my insider explains. Fortunately for the studio, the film was under budget, but even so it’s at least a $100M film. Hoffman will star in some pivotal scenes opposite Barbra Streisand, and then in a big scene at the end of the movie involving all the major characters. Other pickup scenes focus on Ben Stiller and the kids. Universal continues to spin that Little Fockers could have gone out “as is” since it scored an “85″ for the top 2 boxes with test audiences. ”But we want to make it better. It’s an investment in the future of the franchise.” So we’ll see whether the threequel still set for release in December kills Universal’s …
EXCLUSIVE: Watching the sausage being made when it comes to major studio laughers isn’t pretty. So here’s a very typical example. Ever since shooting began on the threequel in the lucrative franchise, Universal has been trying to figure out how to improve its Little Fockers. At one point, replacing director Paul Weitz with producer-writer John Hamburg was contemplated early on and then rejected after Hamburg visited the set one weekend. That’s because everyone realized what a DGA mess this would result in. Plus, Adam Fogelson had just taken over as chairman and didn’t want to throw the already traumatized studio into a worse funk. So the decision was made to fix the movie in post. For about 4 to 5 weeks now, Weitz, Hamburg, Jay Roach, and Ben Stiller have been going through the footage. The good news is that they just decided that re-shoots aren’t needed. The not-so-good news is that they think a week of pickups with all the principal cast in September is required.