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UPDATE: ‘Last Airbender’ Opens To $16M Thursday, Including $3M Midnights

thelastairbender-movie-aang-poster-550x814UPDATESources tell me that Paramount’s The Last Airbender opened to $16+M Thursday, including the $3 million from its midnight shows. The pic based on the Nickelodeon animated TV series should be on its way to $60M for the 5-day July Fourth Holiday and a shot at 2nd place.

Hard to believe but there’s another movie opening this weekend besides the Twilight Saga’s Eclipse. It’s Paramount’s The Last Airbender 3D from M Night Shyamalan, and I’ve just learned it quietly opened to a solid $3 million in Thursday midnight screenings because of the studio’s counterprogramming strategy. Paramount says that’s the highest midnight gross this summer for a non-sequel. Unfortunately, the studio is stuck with a high price tag of $145M, including the 3D conversion costs of this actioner based on the animated TV series from Nickelodeon called “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, and what rival studios are telling me is at least a $50+M marketing campaign. But the movie has been tracking well with males of all ages and kids and now looks to break M Night’s recent drought at the box office. That’s despite horrid reviews — only 6% positive on Rotten Tomatoes, worse than this summer’s biggest bomb Jonah Hex. It should come in 2nd this weekend neck and neck with Disney’s Toy Story 3 but far behind Summit’s Eclipse with between $50M and $60M for the 5-day July 4th holiday thanks to help from higher 3D ticket … Read More »

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‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ Tracking Worse Than ‘Prince Of Persia’

sorcerers-apprentice-posterAt the same exact point, 2 1/2 weeks out, Jerry Bruckheimer’s U.S. underperformer Prince Of Persia for Disney scored 75 awareness, while his Sorcerer’s Apprentice for Disney scored 74 awareness. But Prince Of Persia scored 36 definite interest and 5 first choice, while Sorcerer’s Apprentice scored only a 29 definite interest and 3 first choice. “I’ve heard the Disney people are concerned though exhibitor screenings went well,” one rival studio exec tells me. Then again, Prince Of Persia was a North American disappointment when it opened to $30M and has now taken in $86M. But it has made 72% of its money internationally for $226M and what is now a worldwide cume of $312M. So perhaps Sorcerer’s Apprentice will, too.

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Paramount Ups ‘Last Airbender’ By 1 Day

By | Wednesday June 16, 2010 @ 10:30am PDT

last_airbender_movieParamount and Nickelodeon Pictures’ new date of release is now Thursday  July 1st for the 3D and 2D versions of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. Insiders tell me, “Early tracking is very good. Especially with males. So the studio is moving up to get a head start on the holiday weekend.” Let’s also not forget that the Twilight Saga’s Eclipse will do huge business with women especially on its Wednesday opener. “And while the threequel will definitely win the weekend, the two movies can coexist,” one of my sources said.

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JUNE GLOOM: More Bad News For Fox And Tom Cruise And Cameron Diaz

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 3:42pm PDT

Remember last week I toldja that Knight And Day was tracking terribly — no better than Killers? Now the about-to-be-released pic’s tracking is worse. Interest went from 29 on Friday down to 26 on Monday.

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June Gloom Continues: More Bad Tracking

By | Wednesday June 9, 2010 @ 4:01pm PDT

I hear both Fox’s Knight And Day and Warner Bros’ Jonah Hex are tracking terribly. As badly as Killers. But it’s still a few weeks out.

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EXCLUSIVE: Paramount To Make “Les Grossman” Film For Tom Cruise And Ben Stiller

By | Wednesday June 9, 2010 @ 2:47pm PDT


This riff off of Tom Cruise’s Tropic Thunder parody of a movie producer that was a hit at the MTV Movie Awards (and is a viral video phenom) couldn’t come at a better time for him. Because Cruise’s upcoming rom com with Cameron Diaz, Knight And Day, is tracking like a bomb. I’ve always said that, if Tom wants to have a film career again, he’s got to get out from under himself and start playing other people. And Les is a great character. UPDATE: Oops, I spilled the beans. Here comes Paramount with the announcement. The studio obviously had fun and wrote the release in “Les”-is-more style. Now, the question is whether Joel Silver will sue?

paramountlogoHOLLYWOOD, CA (June 9, 2010) – Paramount Pictures and MTV Films announced today that they are set to develop a movie around mega-producer Les Grossman. The announcement comes on the heels of Grossman’s groundbreaking and visionary production of the soon-to-be Emmy® award-winning 2010 MTV Movie Awards Sunday night. Tom Cruise, along with Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld of Red Hour Films will produce and have secured the life rights to Grossman.             Grossman, best known as a mega producer, has most recently mentored talents such as Rob Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. In 2008, Grossman was introduced to the masses by Stiller in the comedy “Tropic Thunder” where the famed producer had a cameo playing himself. Said

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‘Toy Story 3′ Should Win UK Summer Box Office

By | Friday June 4, 2010 @ 9:24am PDT

Toy Story 3So say UK exhibitors that I’ve talked to, handicapping this summer’s blockbusters. “We haven’t had a line-up this good since 2002 when Spider-Man, Star Wars II & l, and were released,” one UK exhibitor drools. “Even so, there will be a lot of catch-up to do in July and August because of this month’s World Cup.” This gels with an Odeon cinema chain poll that says 28% of cinemagoers are most excited about seeing Toy Story 3 3D, compared to 22% for Shrek Forever After, and 15% for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Odeon surveyed over 5,000 UK film fans.

This summer’s UK movie season starts in earnest on July 12, the day after the World Cup final. Some of June’s releases seem more about triggering that lucrative BSkyB pay-TV deal. Toy Story 3 is expected to romp home for Disney, grossing up to £50 million ($73 million) in the UK alone after its July 21 opening. Shrek Forever After, Paramount’s fourth 3D instalment of the franchise, opens on July 2. UK Exhibitors expect it to gross about £40 million. One week later Twilight: Eclipse opens for E1 Entertainment. Twilight: New Moon grossed £27 million compared with the original’s £14 million. . The UK multiplexes expect Eclipse to exceed the £30 million mark.

The UK dark horse is Christopher Nolan’s Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which Warner Bros releases on July 16. Hyped as “007 meets The Matrix”, cinema bookers predict … Read More »

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CANNES: Not All Aquiver For ‘Robin Hood’?

By | Thursday May 13, 2010 @ 4:19am PDT

UPDATE: ‘Robin Hood’ Opens To $6M In 3 Countries

crowe cannesThe 63rd Cannes Film Festival opened with Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. Stars Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett (but not director Ridley Scott, sidelined after painful knee surgery) faced 3,000 journalists from 80 countries. Launching a big movie like this at Cannes can leave a studio vulnerable to incoming arrows. It’s also incredibly expensive, costing Universal up to $5 million to fly in everybody from the talent to the executives and stage the glitzy premiere and after-party. Then again, the budget for the film was already high at $225 million (yet another reason Universal Pictures chairman Marc Shmuger was fired). Speaking from the red carpeted steps of the Palais des Festivals in his dinner jacket, Universal’s international president David Kosse was upbeat about the movie’s prospects. The studio is estimating — and audience tracking surveys suggest — that Robin Hood could sell twice as many tickets overseas as it does domestically, hence the Cannes hoopla. Then again, London’s Daily Mirror is giving away free pairs of Robin Hood tickets to its readers starting this weekend.

So what kind of reception has Universal received for its money? The execs thought the movie “played great” to the media, gushing to Deadline that “reviews and early numbers internationally are terrific”. But I found press reaction to the first screening was muted, with some critics questioning the political correctness … Read More »

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‘Basterds’ Comes On Tracking Very Strong; Only ‘G.I. Joe’ Showing More Male Interest; But Quentin’s Re-Cut Still Cannes-Length…

By | Friday July 31, 2009 @ 10:45am PDT

Quentin’s already much maligned Weinstein Company/Universal pic is getting 50s in “‘definite interest” from men. And women are stronger on Inglorious Basterds than on District 9, even though the Sony pic opens a week earlier. (That movie’s “looking really good, too,” a rival studio exec tells me. “It’s gotten some movement over the last few days.”) The only competing movie tracking higher with young guys right now is G.I. Joe. Yes, that much maligned Paramount pic coming out August 7th. It is 86 overall, with males in the 90s (just to give you a relative comparison). For weeks, Paramount’s claims that the movie works have fallen on deaf ears. But now a rival studio even tells me, “Paramount is doing a good job ignoring the sniping and snarking. It’s come on tracking really strong. It’s looking to open at $50M-$60M — which is a great result.”

Now for the bad news: Since most marketing say “unaided awareness” is a more important data point (that’s when you tell the pollster that you are aware of a certain film coming out without being given the title), Basterds‘ aided awareness is very low (“1″ overall, with a “2″ for males). The unaided awareness numbers for District 9 are good but not great (“4″ overall, with “7″ for younger males, and “5″ for older males).

Meanwhile, I’ve confirmed that Inglorious Basterds, to be released August 21st, is still the same length it was when it screened at the … Read More »

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‘Transformers 2′ Passes $300M In 14 Days

By | Wednesday July 8, 2009 @ 1:08pm PDT

Paramount keeps crowing about all the records that Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen keeps breaking. How it’s now the 2nd fastest film in history to earn $300M in U.S. ticket sales after The Dark Knight. (It just passed Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest by two days.) 2007’s Transformers earned $319.2M in its theatrical run, and more than $700M worldwide. The sequel has already taken in over $600M worldwide to date, besting several records (including what I think has to be one of the Top 10 worst reviewed blockbusters of all time):

•Biggest Wednesday-Sunday opening of all time.
•Biggest Wednesday opening of all time.
•Paramount’s biggest international opening of all time.
•3rd biggest worldwide opening weekend of all time.
•4th biggest international opening of all time.

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‘Transformers 2′ Now Up To $419M Global

By | Tuesday June 30, 2009 @ 9:20am PDT

I’m told that Monday’s haul was $14.8 million for Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen for a new $214.9M domestic cume. Internationally, it made $14M foreign Monday for a new $204M overseas cume. Worldwide, the total is now a whopping $419M. (Previous: ‘Transformers 2′ Opens To $390.4M Worldwide!)

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‘Angels & Demons’ Passes $400M Global

By | Sunday June 7, 2009 @ 10:57am PDT

Imagine/Sony’s Angels & Demons this weekend became the No. 1 grossing global hit released to date this year. Of it’s $409M, Angels & Demons has generated $292.9M in the international marketplace, including $22.2M this weekend from overseas. It also has a new North American cume of $116.1M after making $6.5M this weekend. Best performing territories for the film include the United States, Germany, Japan, Italy, UK and Russia. “No one ever expected to replicate the success of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code, which was a cultural phenomenon. But for his sequel to hit $400+M and continue climbing is really quite an achievement,” a Sony exec said. Especially since this wasn’t a cheap sequel to make what with all the top dollar and/or gross players involved like Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer. Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman received $4 million, a new high for a book adaptation, then another marquee name, David Koepp, rewrote the screenplay. But the film took in more than its production budget in its first few days of release, and the studio expected a good multiple. Angels & Demons also was the 2nd highest live-action debut of Tom Hank’s career with an opening greater than CastawayThe Da Vinci Code sold twice as many books as Angels & Demons with a similar Vatican mystery storyline. The 2006 film phenom did $77M domestic its opening weekend for $758M worldwide – $217M domestic vs $540M international.

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‘The Hangover’ Takes Down Holdover ‘Up’ In $45M vs $44M Weekend Race For #1; Will Ferrell’s ‘Land Of The Lost’ Bombs; ‘Angels & Demons’ Passes $400M Global

By | Saturday June 6, 2009 @ 10:25pm PDT

SUNDAY PM/MONDAY AM UPDATE: Box Office Cliffhanger: Sunday Numbers Show ‘The Hangover’ Caught ‘Up’ For #1

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Some of the fun of summer box office reporting is that, every now and then, a low-brow sleeper comes out of nowhere and challenges for the No. 1 film crown during a weekend. “I guess there’s no reason to do this if sometimes crazy things don’t happen,” marveled one rival studio exec. At first, Friday’s domestic grosses indicated that Warner Bros’ well reviewed Bachelor Party goes wrong comedy The Hangover might top Pixar/Disney’s Up after opening for $16.5M from 3,269 theaters. Then on Saturday, the R-rated laffer slid to $14.8M Saturday for a $43.3M weekend with Sunday’s estimate of $12M. That’s without stars, too. Instead, credit a hot concept (directed by Old School helmer Todd Phillips) and marketing plan combining word-of-mouth with heavy TV ad rotation. It was the 3rd best R-rated comedy opening ever.

Instead, The Hangover finished No. 2 and Pixar CGI toon Up, because of this four-quadrant pic’s usual Saturday crowded matinees for kiddies repeated as No. 1 with an impressive hold around -35%. Up was a strong No. 2 Friday with $13.1M from 3,818 plays, then jumped to #1 by adding $17.8M Saturday and an estimated $13.3M Sunday for a $44.2M weekend. Pixar’s 10th straight smash, Up will post a $137.3M cume, so that’s two success stories this weekend…. Read More »

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Online Sales: ‘Up’ 44%, ‘Hangover’ 21%

By | Thursday June 4, 2009 @ 1:16pm PDT

Fandango reports that, as of 10AM this morning, Disney/Pixar’s Up continues to lead with 44% of all online ticket sales and should enjoy a strong second weekend. Warner Bros’ The Hangover opening Friday is gaining momentum, now representing 21% of all online ticket sales. Holdover Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonium is scooping up 9%. Advance tickets for Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (opening July 15) are selling 6% of all online tickets — the same amount as Universal’s Land Of The Lost in theaters Friday.

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‘Transformers 2′ Tracking HUGE: 5-Day Weekend Closer To $160M Than $175M?

By | Monday June 1, 2009 @ 9:08pm PDT

Paramount is gonna call me screaming any moment. But rival studios are telling me they expect Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen to open with a high of $175M for its 5-day opening from Wednesday, June 24 to Sunday, June 28. Because the sequel came onto tracking HUGE today. Paramount will try to lower expectations. But here’s what can’t be argued: Spider-Man 2 opened on Wednesday, June 30, 2004, and did $152 million for its first 5 days. So Transformers 2 feels like at least it should be in the $160+M range. (See my box office report on Transformers 1.)

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‘Watchmen’ Still Tops Online Ticket Sales

By | Friday March 13, 2009 @ 4:52pm PDT

Fandango Five , Ticket Sales (as of 3/13/09 9:00 AM PT)

Watchmen (52%)
Race To Witch Mountain (16%)
The Last House On The Left (8%)
Slumdog Millionaire (2%)
Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience (2%)

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WEIRD OR WONDROUS? Zack Snyder’s ‘Watchmen’ Clocks $55.6M Weekend; Jonas Brothers Concert Film Sinks -78%

By | Saturday March 7, 2009 @ 11:00pm PST

SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Warner Bros’ superhero doomsday thriller with no stars and lots of violence opened to a $25.1 million Friday and $19M Saturday for a blockbuster $55.6M weekend with Sunday’s estimate of $11.5M. But that’s lower than the $60sM which the studio was hoping for WatchmenExit polling showed that 65% of the audience was male, and of those 65% over the age of 25. But moviegoers didn’t necessarily like the movie as shown by a Cinemascore of only “B”. However, pumping up Friday’s total was the $4.5M from 1,600 Thursday midnight and Friday 12:01 AM shows including all 124 sold-out Imax screenings. (IMAX even added about 20 more 3 AM shows to accomodate the big demand.) And Watchmen has the highest location count for an R-rated opening — 3,611 theaters — more than even the record-setting 3,603 venues for the studio’s The Matrix Reloaded. This marks the most anticipated superhero movie debut since last summer’s The Dark Knight. Only it’s not a sequel or remake but a long-awaited big screen retelling of a widely admired and highly creative graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Yet big questions remain: Is the complex story too murky? Is the rampant violence too noxious? Most importantly, will the pic have legs?

Overseas, Paramount is distributing it day and date in 45 major territories for $28M in grosses there. Japan and 14 markets are left to open. (Warner Bros was targeted in a lawsuit by 20th Century Fox to gets its legal piece of … Read More »

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UPDATE: ‘Watchmen’ Upstaging ’300′ Online Ticket Sales; Midnight Shows Selling Out; 1 Out Of 3 Seeing It On IMAX

By | Tuesday March 3, 2009 @ 2:07am PST


Watchmen doesn’t open until Friday, but online ticket sales are on fire. MovieTickets just reported that the pic is outpacing Zack Snyder’s previous 300 at 4-to-1 right now. but 300 sold more than 80% of its advance tickets on the Wednesday and Thursday prior to its release. Meanwhile, purchases for 124 IMAX screens now account for 1/3 of all Watchmen online ticket sales. Overall Watchmen ticket sales doubled Sunday to Monday. Fandango is already seeing the film snap up 61% of the online ticket site’s sales. Dozens of Thursday midnight showtimes for the film are already sold out from New York City to Dallas to San Diego.

Over the weekend, Fandango surveyed moviegoers planning to screen Watchmen
– 60% have read the Watchmen graphic novel
– 85% say the online clips and trailers made them more excited to see the movie
– 57% plan to see Watchmen with a group of friends
– 71% are planning a get together before or after the movie
– 85% had seen director Zack Snyder’s previous movie 300 on the big screen
– 73% are male
– 65% are aged 18 to 34

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‘The Dark Knight’ Hits $1 Billion Milestone

By | Saturday February 21, 2009 @ 3:27am PST

Well, I’d take $1 billion over a Best Picture Oscar any day. Warner Bros made the announcement late Friday. Helped by its relaunch on January 23rd, the Batman sequel is only the 4th Hollywood movie to do this (not adjusted for inflation or higher ticket prices), behind Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. The Dark Knight‘s current grosses break down to $533.1 million domestically and $468 million overseas. (Box Office Mojo says it’s the only movie in the Top 20 of the all time worldwide chart where the domestic gross exceeds the foreign gross, which is a common trait among comic book-based pictures. On the all time domestic chart, The Dark Knight ranks second to Titanic, while it stands at No. 22 on the all time foreign chart.) Warner Bros noted that The Dark Knight‘s box office total includes the highest-grossing two-dimensional re-mastered IMAX release ever at $49.6 million domestic and $15.3 million overseas.

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