SUNDAY 3:30 AM, 4TH UPDATE: Saturday’s box office was big after Friday’s business slowed when R-rated newcomers dominated North American movie theaters. The turnaround put this weekend around $100M for all moviegoing but that’s still -15% from last year. “Tough sledding for the new films this week – and next week won’t get any easier with the Super Bowl,” one studio exec warned me. First up: fairytale characters who are heavily armed. Not exactly PC for the serious gun control discussion begun in this nation over recent violence in real life and entertainment. Paramount‘s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D co-financed with MGM playing on 3,372 theaters opened to $5.9M Friday then went up +40% to $8.4M Saturday. That still makes for a disappointing $18M for the weekend, especially with the 3D premium. On 2,000 screens for its midnight opening, this mashed mash-up masquerading as an action comedy made $500K in midnight grosses, less even than Warner Bros’ recent disappointing Gangster Squad. Even though Hansel & Gretel will be #1 this weekend, Paramount has another underperformer. The R-rated pic only had one semi-star, machinegun-toting Jeremy Renner. Good thing Paramount claims it only cost $50M (though sources say budget was $83M). Audiences gave it a ‘B’ CinemaScore which won’t hurt or help its prospects. Exit polls showed filmgoers were 55% male with 57% over 25.
This reimagined dark twist on the classic Grimm tale kept moving its release date – never a good sign – from March 2nd, 2012, to January 11th, to now. “This should really set up the international,” a studio exec gave me as an excuse back then. ”Jeremy Renner’s international profile should be in great shape after being in Mission: Impossible 4, then The Avengers, then The Bourne Legacy.” Nope. Renner’s Bourne grossed only so-so: he just can’t carry a movie solo. It didn’t help that guns are falling out of favor. So I was surprised that Paramount didn’t change the TV ads to delete that shoot-em-up nonsense and instead show more comedy. Then again, this new film picks up the fairy tale 15 years after Hansel and Gretel’s evil encounter at the gingerbread house. They’ve become bounty hunters tracking and killing wicked witches. Tommy Wirkola directed and co-wrote the script with Dante Harper. Will Ferrell’s and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Prods produced.
Major studios are great marketers but only if they have the goods. To announce the IMAX release, Paramount debuted pic on MGM’s Skyfall IMAX screens – but without generating any buzz. The studio also negotiated coverage of an exclusive custom content piece with talent intros that launched at all Regal theatres on January 18th with Django Unchained, Broken City, and The Last Stand. Problem is, filmgoers only turned out for Quentin Tarantino’s pic. On opening night, the first 100 Hansel And Gretel fans at all Cinemark XD theatres across the country received a free movie shirt, while the first 60,000 Regal IMAX 3D audience members received a collector’s print of exclusive movie art. Kinda late for that. Media-wise, Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton did the usual press junket and talk show circuit plus Hispanic and African-American targets. Street teams visited nearly 50 high profile sporting events covering the NBA, NFL, NGL and College Football. New Years Day featured male-targeted cable marathons. H&G also had presence three weeks in a row in NFL playoff games. There was partnering with MTV. The online campaign focused on movie’s red band trailer. A custom Hansel & Gretel Play & Win sweepstakes on Xbox aligned with the rabid Halo 4 audience. And still pic’s grossed domestically underwhelmed.
But international prospects look good after Russia opened to huge $8.6M. Latin America and Southeast Asia are debuting after a strong lead by Brazil and Mexico. These markets represent 30% of the international box office.
#2 is last week’s PG-13 suspense thriller topper Mama from Universal in 2,682 theaters. Developed and presented by Guillermo Del Toro and starring Zero Dark Thirty‘s Best Actress Oscar likely Jessica Chastain as a brunette, pic had a second Friday of $3.8M and $6.2M Saturday for a weekend of $13.2M (-54%) for an expected cume through Sunday of $49M.
#3 is The Weinstein Company’s R-rated Oscar-buzzed Silver Linings Playbook in 2,641 theaters with a $2.3M Friday and $4.3 Saturday for a $9.3M weekend and $68.8M cume through Sunday. “Notice that Silver Linings is going to beat Zero Dark Thirty this weekend which is pretty impressive in my book,” a Weinstein exec gushed to me. “It is the best hold of the top films by far and that is after 11 weeks!”
#4 is another R-rated Oscar-touted pic. Zero Dark Thirty financed by Annapurna Pictures and distributed by Sony Pictures. Playing in 2,929 theaters, it made $2.3M Friday and $4.3M Saturday for a $9M weekend and cume of $69.1M through Sunday.
#5 is FilmDistrict’s barely registering R-rated crime drama Parker despite a ‘B+’ CinemaScore which could help word of mouth. It was directed by Taylor Hackford and stars Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez who only is in shadow on the main one-sheet and whose film career truly is DOA. in 2,224 theaters. Parker opened to $2.1M Friday and +40% for $3.1M Saturday for a lousy weekend of $7.2M. FilmDistrict licensed the U.S. distribution rights and knew pic would only gross in the single digits. Film had been tracking strongest with males ages 17-34 so primary media focused heavily on channels and programming tailored to men as well as actions fans and Hispanics. Based on the series of bestselling novels by Donald E. Westlake, Parker was financed by Sierra/Affinity, Incentive Filmed Entertainment, and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment. Doubtful whether future films based on the franchise will be made given this outcome. Current Entertainment’s Steven Chasman produced along with Sidney Kimmel, Les Alexander and Jonathan Mitchell via their Alexander/Mitchell banner, and Taylor Hackford.
Falling from #6 to #7 is Relativity’s $6M R-rated ensemble comedy Movie 43 that earned a dreaded ‘D’ CinemaScore from audiences to hurt word of mouth. Playing in 2,023 theaters, its gimmick is 12 directors, 30 name actors, and 18 writers working on different shorts stitched together. I’m already hearing a lot of them regret taking part. Movie 43 debuted at $1.8M Friday and +10% to $2M Saturday for a weekend of $4.0M. That’s only half what Relativity predicted. “If you are going to take a creative risk, what better way to do it than on a $6M budget with the opportunity to work with a large pool of writers, directors and actors including Peter Farrelly and Charles Wessler – two comedic geniuses.” Actors worked for scale and the production moved to accommodate schedules. This explains why the film was shot over 3 years. Seriously, how much longer is Relativity going to keep claiming its risk is mitigated by international pre-sales, outputs and Netflix before P&A spend? Meanwhile Ryan Kavanaugh, listed as a producer, may well be in the Witness Protection Program because he’s mercifully stopped publicizing himself. With Alliance Films distributing in Canada, Relativity owns worldwide rights and Lionsgate International handled international sales and distribution. Movie 43 has supposedly taken in $10M overseas.
Here are the Top 10 films based on weekend estimates:
1. Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D (MGM/Paramount) NEW [Runs 3,372] R
Friday $6.0M, Saturday $8.4M, Weekend $18.0M
2. Mama (Universal) Week 2 [Runs 2,682] PG13
Friday $3.8M, Saturday $6.2M, Weekend $13.2M (-54%), Cume $49.0M
3. Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein) Week 11 [Runs 2,641] R
Friday $2.3M, Saturday $4.3M, Weekend $9.3M, Cume $68.8M
4. Zero Dark Thirty (Annapurna/Sony) Week 6 [Runs 2,929] R
Friday $2.3M, Saturday $4.3M, Weekend $9.0M, Cume $69.1M
5. Parker (FilmDistrict) NEW [Runs 2,224] R
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $3.1M, Weekend $7.2M
6. Django Unchained (Weinstein) Week 5 [Runs 2,007] R
Friday $1.2M, Saturday $2.2M, Weekend $4.8M, Cume $146.1M
7. Movie 43 (Relativity) NEW [Runs 2,023] R
Friday $1.8M, Saturday $2.0M, Weekend $4.0M
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