SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 2ND UPDATE: Here is Friday and Saturday and weekend and cume North American box office grosses and the weekend forecasts. This was supposed to be Hollywood’s comeback weekend after a product-driven underwhelming start to the New Year. But Friday through Sunday is expected to reach only $135 million, which pales in comparison (-31%) to last year’s first weekend in March when just Alice In Wonderland 3D alone did $116M and the overall movie total was $196M. The result is that the movie execs are giving up on accurately predicting box office not just because of how depressed the overall marketplace has been but also because they no longer can rely on tracking to be accurate. They don’t like the year-to-date stats, either: $1.6B vs $2.1B, with revenue down 20% and attendance down 21%.
1. Rango (Paramount) NEW [3,917 Theaters]
Friday $9.7M, Saturday $16.8M, Weekend $38M, International $16.5M, Global $54.5
Remember back to the Super Bowl and that Rango ad? Well, according to a USA Today poll, it ranked higher that all the other movie ads including Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 and Transformers 3 screened during the big game. Now, after weeks of tracking strongly despite its dark and weird vibe, the reteaming of Pirates Of The Caribbean duo Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp lived up to its promise — though not the $50M opening weekend which Paramount had initially hoped. ”No question people responded to the concept of Johnny Depp in an animated film,” a Paramount exec told me. “Johnny has a track record in family movies and therefore attracts a broad family audience.” That’s a feat considering it’s a non-summer 2D toon and the kids weren’t even out of school Friday. When they were, the pic had a big Saturday matinee bump of +73% even though the film wasn’t aimed at young children but rather ages 6 to 12 and parents (who nevertheless gave Rango only a “C+” CinemaScore despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews). True, the pic might have added 15%-20% to its grosses had it been 3D. But that lizard and company played like a four-quadrant hit pic. It also helped that Paramount paired the trailer with True Grit and Little Fockers and could rely on other Viacom companies like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central and MTV for promotion.
Rival studios claim the movie cost $180M though Paramount pegs the budget at $130M. And the uber-marketing cost a pretty penny. What happened was that when Universal didn’t go ahead with his Bioshock pic, Verbinski went from just producing and prepping Rango to also directing Josh Logan’s script. One of the reasons Rango snagged Depp and impressed the critics was Verbinski’s idea to have the actors actually perform their roles, instead of the traditional approach of standing in a booth and just voicing, to create chemistry between the cast and deliver better performances. Verbinski decided to use ILM, which had done the CGI for Pirates Of The Caribbean but wasn’t in the toon biz, for the complete character animation film. Now Paramount expects ILM to keep making toons for it without any startup costs and give DreamWorks Animation a run for Paramount’s toon distribution. (“Have you checked the DreamWorks Animation stock lately? It’s becoming the biggest short in the media business,” a rival studio emailed me…)
Paramount just told me that, overseas in the 33 countries it was opening in day and date (including UK, Mexico, Germany, and Spain), Rango was #1. It opened about half the markets internationally this weekend and generated $16.5 million, led by the UK’s $3 million and Mexico’s $2.3 million.
2. The Adjustment Bureau (MRC/Universal) NEW [2,840 Theaters]
Friday $6.7M, Saturday $9.1M, Weekend $20.9M, International $10.5M, Global $31.4M
The Adjustment Bureau overperformed this weekend for definitely more than the mid-to-high teens Universal was predicting. The studio acquired the “B” CinemaScore pic (with ages up to 34 giving it either an “A-” or “B+” — from MRC for $62 million. Hey, Matt Damon running, and running, and running a la Bourne is a tried and true and derivative formula so the PG-13 actioner should have earned more. Exit polls showed the audience was 73% ages 30 years and older/27 % under 30 years of age and 47% male/53% female. Tracking indicated the film appealed to an older demographic because it’s a romance, a thriller, and a sci-fi’er all in one with known Damon and Emily Blunt starring. That made it hard to comp because it doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre. And also hard to sell since it required some unusual thinking in order to sell well. But it tracked with men and women over age 25, and Universal’s marketing department did a more than decent job. Besides North America, the pic earned $10.5M overseas when it released day and date in 21 territories: Australia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Serbia Montenegro, Singapore, Thailand, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Turkey, and the UK. Universal stressed that The Adjustment Bureau is Damon’s biggest opening weekend overseas since 2007′s The Bourne Ultimatum.
3. Beastly (CBS Films/Sony) NEW [1,952 Theaters]
Friday $3.5M, Saturday $3.9M, Weekend $10.1M
CBS Films’ Beastly starring Alex Pettyfer in yet another career debut — this time an updated Beauty And The Beast storyline that received a “B” CinemaScore (the highest of all this weekend’s films) and an “A-” CinemaScore from teenage girls — overperformed beyond the $8M predicted this weekend. That’s better than the low expectations considering the narrow release. This pic was all about attracting 12- to 14-year-old girls, but that one quad is always hard to predict. (Comps like Bandslam, Post Grad and I Love You Beth Cooper all tanked.) CBS Films wanted $5M this weekend against the $17M cost. Film was pre-sold internationally. Read More »