BOX OFFICE FINAL: ‘Captain America 2′ Tally $41.2M, ‘Rio 2′ Runs Afowl With $39.3M, ‘Oculus’ $12M Over Disappointing Opener ‘Draft Day’ With Only $9.7M

OPENING: Rio 2 (FOX) on Friday was expected to fly to No. 1 for $43.9M to $44.3M (Fox was the only one to predict $45M), then Saturday got its wings clipped by Captain America: The Winter Soldier and ended at $39.3M, Oculus (REL) was expected to scare up $12M to $12.8M for third spot and ended up at $12M; Draft Day (LGF) on Fri. was second round pick for $10.9M (although Summit estimated lower $10.5M) and ended the weekend with $9.7M. NOTEWORTHY: Captain America 2 (DIS) expected to fall 56% in second weekend but will take No. 1 with $40.5M to $41.4M to end the 3-day with $41.2M.

BoxOffice_logo__131122164403-275x206UPDATED, MONDAY, 3:37 PM:  Rio 2 opened to $39.3M right in line with the first film which opened in 2011 to $39.2M. That hurts, but overseas, the film has already grossed $63.4M, so it has already pulled in over $100M worldwide and it should get some decent multiples as there is really nothing standing in its way for some weeks to come … well, there is the long- in-release Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Muppets Most Wanted. But for the sequel not to surge past the first film, something went a little haywire. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the champ again this weekend and the final tally ended up at $41.2M but next weekend, it has competition when Warner Bros. opens the Johnny Depp sci-fi thriller Transcendence. The big disappointment of the weekend was the Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner football feature Draft Day (LGF). It took in only $9.7M. That’s three in a row for Costner that really didn’t thrill audiences — behind 3 Days To Kill and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, although the criticism for that film really was directed at Chris Pine not being a strong enough lead. Regardless, it’s too bad for all involved. Oculus, despite its C CinemaScore, was able to pull in $12M for the weekend which served Relativity well. Noah also bypassed Divergent to step into the Top Five. Read More »

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UPDATE: Domestic Box Office Top 10: ‘Thor 2′ Eyeing $86M To $87.7M Weekend

By | Sunday November 10, 2013 @ 8:47am PST
Mike Fleming

2ND UPDATE: Thor: The Dark World has performed more strongly than expected and it will finish anywhere from $85.8 million this weekend to $87.7 million, even though I have one pundit who feels it could exceed that. Though many of our commenters have taken after Thor (and me, but the latter is inevitable given who I am temporarily replacing) in the comment thread following this box office report, Thor 2 is doing what a sequel is supposed to do. It is the ninth biggest November debut ever, coming just behind last year’s 007 pic Skyfall‘s $88.36 million, and it is the fourth biggest opening weekend of the year behind Iron Man 3‘s $174 million, Man Of Steel‘s $116.6 million and Fast 6‘s $97.4 million. It is scoring with younger audiences. Internationally, it is doing twice as well overseas as here, and that means the film could land upwards of $600 million.

The key will be how it plays before the opening of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which could have a $150 million opening weekend and consume all the oxygen in the room. Marvel seems to be able to do no wrong. The studio is in a zone I’ve seen in the past only with animated films, back when Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s Disney was cranking out one classic 2D animated classic after the other (my kids were small then, I saw The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast probably 500 times each and knew the words to every tune), and John Lasseter‘s Pixar. Marvel could probably score a big hit right now with a movie devoted to Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki character. The studio will undoubtedly come back to earth at some point, as the label tries to launch new franchises like Guardians Of The Galaxy and Ant-Man, and those will be Kevin Feige‘s real test.

There’s a real horse race going on for second place, and all three of the horses have held strongly. It’s a virtual dead heat for Bad Grandpa, Free Birds and Last Vegas. The drop-offs from last week’s numbers are low considering the arrival of Thor 2. Bad Grandpa only fell 43%, Free Birds is off 30% and Last Vegas only 32% as a younger audience is giving it a shot. Since there’s a statistical margin of error in early weekend numbers, the second place winner won’t be known until the photo finish comes in tomorrow morning, when all of the final grosses are submitted and Rentrak sends out box office actual weekend grosses.

Another title worth watching is Fox‘s slow build on The Book Thief, the Brian Percival-directed adaption of the Markus Zusak WWII novel for Fox 2000. It opened in four locations and put up a per screen average of $27,000, for $108,000 total.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa had another strong weekend and looks likely to squeak out second place. I saw this movie on the anniversary of a personal tragedy, picked up my distraught son from college and took him hoping to pull him out of the rut. I suppose it is easy to critically dismiss movies rife with physical comedy, but the two of us laughed like idiots, and director Jeff Tremaine and Johnny Knoxville will always occupy a place in my heart for helping my son get through what would have otherwise been an unbearable evening. As Tremaine told me, “Sometimes, you just need to laugh.” That movie, which cost a reported $15 million, ends the weekend around $78.5 million as Tremaine continues his evolution as a filmmaker with a movie on the decadent rock band Motley Crue.

Coming in third will be Free Birds, the Relativity released animated film that could get to $30 million after its second frame. Is that a good outcome for a film with a reported $55 million budget? I saw the Relativity team at last night’s AFI premiere of the Scott Cooper-directed Out Of The Furnace (more on that in a later post), and they seemed relieved that the film was performing more strongly than was expected going into the weekend. Over half that budget was covered by foreign pre-sales in what was the first film from Relativity and Reel FX as they find their footing in animation.

As for the rest of the Top 10, the under-$30 million Last Vegas will finish fourth and get to $33 million; Ender’s Game should finish with a $44 million gross. For a franchise starter with a $110 million price tag, that just won’t get it done. Gravity continues to defy its title, ending the weekend with a domestic gross around $231 million. I’d covered all of the project’s twists and turns when Angelina Jolie dropped out and Universal punted; when Warner Bros. struggled to find a package that worked. They came at Jolie again and when she passed a second time, the studio focused in on Natalie Portman and Sandra Bullock, after looking at a field of actresses that included Naomi Watts, Marion Cotillard, Carey Mulligan, Scarlett Johansson and some others. Then Robert Downey Jr. dropped out, and George Clooney stepped up. When I saw the movie, beyond feeling overwhelmed by an auteur-de-force Cuaron outing, I kept asking myself, how the hell did this movie get made? None of WB’s financing partners would touch it (RatPac was gifted the film). It made no sense on paper, as great films often don’t. It comes down to betting $100 million on a world class filmmaker. Globally it has crossed $430 million. Most refreshingly, like its 3D counterpart Life Of Pi, Gravity has no sequel in it. It’s just a great one-off, with no future installments to water down its memory.

One of the other two noteworthy films in the Top 10 is 12 Years A Slave. I must admit, I cannot stand violence against women and children (still haven’t seen Prisoners) and maybe that’s why I have missed seeing this movie at its Toronto, NYFF and Hamptons showings. My box office sources tell me that the film’s escalation from 734 to 1144 screens, which prompted a 37% spike in business, is good – not great. But the film has a chance to play well for a long time, as awards season heats up. I will see it before then.

Richard Curtis’s About Time will finish ninth in the rankings, getting to a $6.2 million gross. Does that make it a flop? I don’t think so. I’m told by insiders that the film cost under $15 million to make, and is has already grossed $43 million overseas. You empower a writer/director like Curtis and hope you get another Love Actually. Even if you don’t, when he covers the bet like he will here, it’s good news that he can keep taking his swings.

Finally, a word about the future of Deadline’s box office reporting. This is my second weekend at it; last week I put up numbers because nobody else did. And so I did it, in between moderating panels at our Contenders Event. I have my eye on someone who’ll soon be taking this over and who will elevate it and make it their own. But I do have some observations about this beat. There is a learning curve here, just as I am learning things every day in my new adventure here in Hollywood after covering this business from Long Island for so long. For instance, I learned from last night’s Out Of The Furnace premiere that when they post a 6PM start time, what they really mean is they won’t be dropping the puck for at least an hour after that. Box office has similar challenges for a newcomer.

People who have been critical of Deadline’s box office coverage in the past have said films got thumped based on the biased observations of studios jockeying for position. I don’t know about that, but I have seen all the spinning that goes on this weekend, and it’s an easy trap to fall into if you don’t actually go see the films and be better able to judge quality. I can see the spin at work, how one studio will over-project a rival’s weekend expectations, so that when the actual numbers roll in, the movie can be spun as disappointing. Or how reporting factors in tracking service projections. Tracking is a tool that allows studios to see whether their marketing is creating awareness, and campaigns are fine-tuned in the final weeks based on those results. That tracking is not a reliable measure of performance. When some journalists see that actual film performance falls below tracking projections, they thump the movies and not the flawed tracking.

I can tell you that while I am doing this for the next couple of weeks, I will try my best to see as many of the new movies as I can, something that wasn’t a priority here. I have a healthy respect for the creative process, for how hard it is to make a movie, and all the places it can go wrong. Last night at Out Of The Furnace, I met with the director, Scott Cooper. Here was a guy who put his own imprint on a spec script by Brad Inglesby (who was selling insurance when he got paid $500,000 against $1.5 million when Ridley Scott was directing and Leo DiCaprio starring), and Cooper made it very reminiscent of one of my fave films The Deer Hunter, with timely themes of economic hardship and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in soldiers returning from the Middle East. When I told Cooper how much I liked his movie, I could see him looking hard at me, as though trying to be sure I wasn’t shining him on (I wasn’t). Maybe it won’t be this way for every film he makes, but I could tell this one has themes that are very personal to Cooper and he really threw himself into this. Maybe this sense of empathy will make me the worst box office reporter of all time. I have seen already it isn’t pleasing some readers who come for bloodsport. I figure these would have been running around in togas in ancient Rome, using phrases like “epic fail” when they stopped throwing Christians to the lions. The only blood on display here will be my own, because I tend to bleed on the page sometimes. If that’s not good enough, so be it. Read More »

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#1 ‘The Purge’ Surges For $15M Friday And $34.5M First Weekend, #2 ‘The Internship’ Fetches $7M For $20M

By | Saturday June 8, 2013 @ 3:08am PDT

Weekend Box OfficeSATURDAY 3 AM, 5TH UPDATE: This is turning into a wild and wacky overperforming weekend at the North American box office For Universal’s The Purge. My sources saw a big Friday for its moviegoing helped by Tropical Storm Andrea which worked its way up from Florida at midweek to the MidAtlantic’s East Coast and is dumping rain. That’s means people flocked to movie theaters so bigger-than-expected grosses. Insiders say Universal‘s small miscreant horror pic The Purge (in wide release in 2,536 theaters) is opening $15M Friday. This includes $3.4 million at Thursday 10 PM late shows and Friday midnights from 1,751 theaters which tops The Hangover Part III ($3.1M) and even Star Trek Into Darkness ($3.3M). That’s a huge number, even more so considering the R-rated crime spree thriller’s budget was only $3M. Estimates now are to reach $32.5M this weekend – a completely unexpected welcome. It’s the first movie in Universal’s overall deal with Paranormal Activity franchise producer Jason Blum. One reason for the rush to see it was the huge social media response to its creative and digital marketing campaign. It stars Ethan Hawke and Game Of Thrones Lena Headey, and was both written and directed by James DeMonaco (The Negotiator), and produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes. It’s DeMonaco’s original spec script that he developed with producer Sebastien Lemercier and second feature as a director. On Thursday, Fandango said The Purge comprised 54% of online ticket sales, and Movieline 60%, as the #1 horror seller of the year. Fandango called it “a true phenomenon”.

And in #2 is the other wide release movie opening today, Twentieth Century Fox/New Regency’s PG-13 buddy comedy The Internship (3,365 theaters) which also is exceeding expectations. My sources say it made $7M Friday and $20M for the weekend for a budget pegged at $58M. Those grosses include $800K in Thursday late shows and Friday midnights which beat The Campaign’s $625K which also was a laugher starring two big but older stars ”so things are looking up,” an insider tells me. Reviews were awful for the Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson starrer from director Shawn Levy with every critic complaining it’s a 2-hour commercial for Google. How high grosses go may depend on the CinemaScore to see if moviegoers like the execution of an intriguing high-concept. The studio sneaked the film in 300 theaters around the country for 7 PM shows last Saturday night to help word of mouth. But pre-sales have been soft: pic was passed for the #2 spot in online ticket sales Thursday by last week’s holdover, Lionsgate/Summit’s Now You See Me which right now looks like #4. Hollywood wasn’t expecting The Internship to make $20M – which is the minimum that stars should open a pic – and more like $15M. Hard to believe it’s been 8 years since these actors first teamed up for Wedding Crashers. Even harder to understand why New Line never did a sequel for that. Fox grabbed the June 7th date last October, or 3 weeks earlier than The Internship was supposed to release. Now it’s the first original comedy of the summer.

Here’s the Top Ten based on Friday estimates:

 

Read More »

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Jackie Robinson Biopic ’42′ Homers $27.3M But ‘Scary Movie 5′ Bombs With $15.1M

By | Sunday April 14, 2013 @ 12:51pm PDT

Weekend Box OfficeSUNDAY, 5TH UPDATE Exit polling for Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros’ 42 showed the audience composition was males 48%/females 52%; under age 25 was 17%, age 25 and up 83% (with a predominantly older audience), and the main reason for attending the movie was subject matter 84%. A Warner Bros exec tells me: “While we do not poll race breakdown, I can tell you we performed extremely well in all the large urban markets. But the highest grossing theaters were the country’s most commercial screens.” Pic’s $9.1M Friday opening received an impressive +25% Saturday bump to $11.3M for what should be a greatly overperforming $27.3M weekend and #1. Dimension Films’ Scary Movie 5 for The Weinstein Company went up slightly (+9%) from Friday’s weak $5.5M debut to Saturday’s $6.0M for a $15.1M weekend that’s not even 38% of what the franchise’s fourquel opening grossed. Now that schoolkids and colleges are back in class, the domestic box office has understandably cooled – and the weekend looks on par with last year’s. Top Ten list below.

The Jackie Robinson biopic 42 (3,003 theaters) nicely overperformed tracking which was in the mid-teens for an original movie about race and baseball with no hot stars. (Granted Harrison Ford is a legend but not box office nowadays.) The opening number is a record for a baseball flick in terms of straight dollars, topping the $19.5M debut of 2011′s Moneyball. Even factoring in higher ticket prices and inflation, the $13.7M debut of 1992′s A League Of Their Own would have been on par with 42. The moderately budgeted film ($38M) received an ‘A+’ CinemaScore which will help word of mouth. Grosses on MLB’s Jackie Robinson Day – which is April 15 - when every player wears Robinson’s #42, could even stay level because of the attention. In addition to the $38M marketing spend, the film has generated a ton of national media and awareness that didn’t cost any money. “Just watching the film’s box office growing at a rapid pace all day,” a Warner Bros exec gushed on Friday. “Great news for Thomas Tull and his team at Legendary.” (Question still remains whether financier/filmmaker Tull’s Legendary will exit Warner Bros, or vice versa. But Sue Kroll’s marketing did well by him.)  Still, I wondered whether Academy Award winning writer-director Brian Helgeland’s soft-focus storyline would turn off moviegoers to Thomas Tull‘s passion project, especially without the street cred of African-American filmmakers involved. But no. ‘All you can do is put these things together in the way you think is best,” Tull told me Thursday. Instead he relied on Rachel Robinson. ”Her voice helped us with authenticity. That was the person who lived it,” Tull said. “And that was a really important story for us to tell.” Tull does admit that, had Rachel herself not been so involved, there may have been more focus on the tough stuff. The filmmakers wound up with the highest testing movie that Legendary has ever had. Rachel Robinson had been promised over the last two decades that Hollywood would make this movie – and never did. Then, at 90 years old, she was approached by Tull two years ago. ”She looked me in the eye and asked, ‘Are you going to make this movie?’ and I said we’d make it happen,’” Tull recalled.

Far, far, far behind in #2 was Scary Movie 5 (3,402 theaters) which bombed badly considering that 2006′s Scary Movie 4 opened to $40.2M from 3,202 theaters. This franchise has run out of steam. For one thing, there’s no Anna Faris or Regina Hall who both starred in all four earlier installments. But it does have the nauseating casting of Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen playing themselves. (Audible groan…) Once again, Dimension just isn’t bringing the box office heat to Weinstein Co grosses like it did to the old Miramax. Bringing back the Scream and Spy Kids franchises produced only 1/2 and 1/3 of the originals’ openings. This fifth Scary Movie installment which cost $19.5M is directed by Malcolm D. Lee and written by/produced by David Zucker who also directed 3 and 4. Dimension really needs to get off its butt and incubate new low-budget genre storylines.

Here’s the Top Ten list based on weekend estimates:

1. 42 (Legendary/Warner Bros) NEW [Runs 3,003] PG13
Friday $9.1M, Saturday $11.3M, Weekend $27.3M

2. Scary Movie 5 (Dimension/Weinstein) NEW [Runs 3,402] PG13
Friday $5.5M, Saturday $6.0M, Weekend $15.1M
Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: December 2-4

Specialty Box Office:

Shame (Fox Searchlight) NEW [10 Theaters]
Friday $110K, Saturday $139K, Weekend $361K, Per Screen $36,118

The Dirty Picture (FLM) NEW [48 Theaters]
Friday $76K, Saturday $120K, Weekend $268K, Per Screen $5,583, Cume $268K

Pastorela (Lionsgate) NEW [55 Theaters]
Friday $23K, Saturday $24K, Weekend $65K, Per Screen $1,191, Cume $65K

I Am Singh (Reliance Big … Read More »

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2011′s Second-Worst Weekend: ‘Breaking Dawn’ Threepeats For #1, ‘Muppets’ #2, Oscar-Buzzed ‘Hugo’, ‘Shame’, ‘The Artist’, ‘The Descendants’, ‘Marilyn’ All Strong

Specialty Box Office: December 2-4

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM : No major studio movies opened. Interesting that 6 of the Top 10 highest-grossing films are PG. But this weekend is looking like $82M, which is neck-and-neck for the  lowest weekend of 2011 (September 9th’s $81M). Deadline begins its closer look at the specialty market. Fox Searchlight’s Shame played in 10 theatres in 6 cities and grossed $361K with a theatre average of $36,118. In a dismal down weekend, the film delivered the highest per-screen average this post-holiday period even with an NC-17 rating. The studio is hoping this Steve McQueen-directed film is receiving enough buzz for a long run through the awards season. Fox Searchlight’s The Descendants sticks the Top 10 despite a low theater count and became the first limited-platform film ever to hit $10M in the first 12 days of release. This Oscar-touted Alexander Payne/George Clooney dramedy expands next Friday into 850 theaters to keep up with continuing demand. The Weinstein Co’s My Week With Marilyn didn’t add theaters but held up well, down only 43% on Friday and 26% on Saturday. Already TWC’s badmouthing of the Oscar competition has begun: “This compares to Descendants which, while down 47% and 24% overall, added 33% more locations (141) theaters, and their actual drop in the existing theaters was down 56% and 37%. Paramount’s Hugo added 44% more theaters (563) and, while their overall drop was down 57% and 24%, their actual drop in the existing theaters was down 62% and 34% for Friday and Saturday. What all this says is that Marilyn is holding in better than the competition and that we have good word of mouth.” [UPDATE: The Weinstein Co's David Glasser called me strenuously denying that this was 'badmouthing' and said this was merely normal box office comping.] The Weinstein Co’s Academy Award Best Picture-heralded The Artist had its best day yet on Saturday in both NY houses. “And while LA took a hit on Friday, it was only down slightly from last week on Saturday with drops of 21% in Hollywood and 11% at the Landmark,” the indie said. “Obviously, we have fantastic WOM on this.” The European Film Awards just wrapped in Berlin, where Magnolia’s Melancholia from the looney Lars von Trier won top prize.

Top 10 highest grossing films:

1. Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Summit) Week 3 [4,046 Theaters]
Friday $5.5M, Saturday $7.2M, Weekend $16.9M (-60%), Cume $247.3M

2. The Muppets (Disney) Week 2 [3,440 Theaters]
Friday $2.7M, Saturday $5.2M, Weekend $11.2M (-63%), Cume $56.1M

3. Hugo 3D (Paramount) Week 2 [1,840 Theaters]
Friday $2M, Saturday $3.4M, Weekend $7.5M (-36%), Cume $25.1M
Read More »

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‘Breaking Dawn’ Breaks Box Office Slump: $139.5M Domestic Weekend & $283.5M Global Total; ‘Happy Feet 2′ Disappoints

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 8TH UPDATE: Oh sure, you’re too cool (or too male) for the Twilight Saga global phenom. But Summit Entertainment’s Breaking Dawn Part 1 is shattering the four-month-old North American box office slump and shooting the overall moviegoing weekend of $222 million up +14% from last year’s total. Hollywood should be grateful to females young and old for keeping the business buoyed this weekend now that young males have abandoned indiscriminate moviegoing. (Seriously, give thanks early.)
Here is the Top 10 rundown. Full analysis later:

1. Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Summit) NEW [4,061 Theaters]
Friday $72M, Saturday $40.7M, Weekend $139.5M

Yowza! Summit Entertainment was cautiously optimistic that this fourth Twilight Saga installment Breaking Dawn Part 1 could break records. It recorded the 5th best opening weekend of all time, the 3rd best-ever Single Day and Friday opening, and the 2nd best midnight debut. Despite director Bill Condon receiving the worst reviews of the franchise, audiences gave it a ‘B+’ CinemaScore, with females bestowing an ‘A-’. Also, the penultimate pic based on Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance novels soared internationally as it rolled out in 54 markets around the globe with $144M from Wednesday through Sunday screenings. The global total is now $283.5M. This installment had a budget of $110M budget, the buggest of the franchise. The fact that Breaking Dawn couldn’t exceed New Moon‘s numbers ($142.8M domestic, $296.6M global) isn’t dampening Summit’s relief one bit. Given the dismal state of box office for the past four months, the studio saw that its Twilight Saga is as popular as ever, grossing over $1 billion in international alone to date.

2. Happy Feet Two (Warner Bros) NEW [3,606 Theaters]
Friday $5.9M, Saturday $9.3M, Weekend $22M

Given how well family fare is doing at the North American box office these days, the real test for this 3D sequel to George Miller’s beloved 2D toon will be over Thanksgiving weekend. But for now Happy Feet Two is grossing only half of the 2006 original, which opened to a $41.5 weekend. “One word: disaster. Despite being in 3D,” a rival studio exec snarked to me. But another noted, “No doubt all the families are waiting until next week to go to the movies.” Pic released on the anniversary of the original and received a ‘B+’ CinemaScore from audiences. Hollywood expected an opening in the high $30sM. Nope. Not even close. And next week The Muppets movie debuts so more competition for the tots and their parents. On the other hand, singing and dancing CGI penguins are hard to resist.

3. Immortals (Relativity) Week 2 [3,120 Theaters]
Friday $3.8M, Saturday $5.1M, Weekend $12.2M (-62%), Cume $52.9M

That’s an unfortunate drop for a 300-clone that underperformed last Friday. Immortals is not the Hail Mary that Relativity hoped it would be.

4. Jack And Jill (Sony) Week 2 [3,438 Theaters]
Friday $3.5M, Saturday $5.2M, Weekend $12M (-52%), Cume $41M

This Jack And Jill won’t have the usual gazillion multiple of most of Adam Sandler/Happy Madison comedies.

5. Puss In Boots (DreamWorks Animation/Par) Week 4 [3,415 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Saturday $5M, Weekend $10.7M, Cume $122.3M

This toon cat Puss In Boots still has a few more than nine lives left.

6. Tower Heist (Universal) Week 3 [2,942 Theaters]
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $3.2M, Weekend $6.9M, Cume $53.3M

7. J. Edgar (Warner Bros) Week 2 [1,947 Theaters]
Friday $1.8M (-57%), Saturday $2.6M, Weekend $5.9M (-47%), Cume $20.6M

8. Harold & Kumar 3D Xmas (NL/Warner Bros) Week 3 [1,808 Theaters]
Friday $915K, Saturday $1.2M, Estimated Weekend $2.9M, Cume $28.3M

9. In Time (Fox) Week 3 [2,591 Theaters]
Friday $520K, Saturday $750K, Estimated Weekend $1.6M, Estimated Cume $33.4M

10. The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) NEW (opened Wed) [29 Theaters]
Friday $318K, Saturday $493K, Weekend $1.2M, Cume $1.3M

Alexander Payne’s dramedy starring George Clooney had good momentum heading into its opening weekend expansion into 11 additional markets (including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, San Diego, Denver, Minneapolis, and Toronto). Fox Searchlight’s The Descendants had made $79K from Wednesday and Thursday grosses at 5 theaters (2 in NY and 3 in LA) and this weekend scored an outstanding $42,150 per screen average. The production budget was $20 million with tax rebates and the Academy Awards talk should help the film perform through March. “This comedy/drama is attracting the over-30 upscale audience who is aware of the terrific reviews we have received,” a Fox Searchlight exec tells me. “And exhibition is very excited about the film after seeing it at the Show East Convention in late October.” On Wednesday before Thanksgiving, The Descendants increases to over 60 markets and about 425 theaters. “We feel the Thanksgiving Holiday is an excellent time to be playing wider as it is counter programming to the 3 wide kids films opening on this date. At Searchlight, we fell it really is a marathon and not a race with our releases.”

The initial marketing campaign was launched virally in early May with a web teaser called “Who is he?” which consisted only of a scene from the film with George Clooney goofily running to his neighbor’s house to ask – you guessed it – “Who is he?” Then, at the end of May, Searchlight launched The Descendants trailer on The Tree Of Life linking auteur filmmakers Alexander Payne and Terrence Malick and continued through the summer and into the fall. The film was an audience and critical favorite when it premiered at the 2011 Telluride Film Festival, and the buzz carried over into The Toronto Film Festival. The film went on to play over 15 more festivals including New York and London. Searchlight is now working with various museums and film societies across the county to set Alexander Payne retrospectives and to target urban art house cinefiles initially and eventually upscale suburbanites over Thanksgiving and through December. Read More »

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VA VROOM! ‘Cars 2′ Revs $68M Weekend; ‘Bad Teacher’ More Than Good For $31M

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 5TH UPDATE: After last weekend’s disappointing outcome for Green Lantern, Summer 2011 returns with big-time North American grosses. But both Disney’s Cars 2 and Sony’s Bad Teacher cooled off Saturday after a hot Friday. Expect an overall moviegoing total of $176M, up +6% from last year. Here’s the Top 10.

1. Cars 2 3D (Pixar/Disney) NEW [4,115 Theaters]
Friday $25.7M, Saturday $23.3M, Weekend $68M

Wow, even Pixar’s clunker exceeded expectations, becoming Pixar’s 12th straight No. 1 toon. Strange that the special studio parent/kids’ tracking was only showing a $50M weekend for Cars 2 even with 3D’s higher ticket prices and a very wide U.S. and Canadian release. (Its 4,115 theaters comprise 2,508 3D locations, including 120 IMAX venues.) Other studios at first thought the toon could zoom between $71.5M-$75M for the weekend, but Disney was right to stay conservative with projections of “just” $68M. Surprising that gross was -10% from Friday despite those Saturday kiddie matinees, indicating that word of mouth wasn’t good. It’s still a big bump up from the original’s $60.1M despite far less favorable reviews. Audiences gave Cars 2 a ‘A-’ CinemaScore vs ‘A’ for the first Cars back in 2006 but critics called the sequel a lemon and Pixar’s worst movie ever because of the lame espionage story and over-use of Larry The Cable Guy (a little of him goes a loooong way). No doubt his good ol’ boy tow truck voiceover will go down well in flyover country. But critics expected better of Pixar CEO John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and principal creative adviser of Walt Disney Imagineering, who is returning to the director’s chair for the first time since Cars. Still, the moolah puts the sequel #5 on the Pixar food chain.

But the real platinum lining here is all that Cars-branded merchandise parents are going to buy for their kids. Disney has put 300 or so products on the market – Cars Kleenex, anyone? — and Wall Street expects those licensed retail sales to total $10 billion, making it the biggest movie merchandising ever. (Toy Story 3 made about $2.8 billion.) It’s a supremely cynical move — lousy movie, great crap – that includes a video game releasing Tuesday, ice and stage shows, and a 12-acre Cars Land expected to rejuvenate California Adventure next year. On the other hand, the Pixar brand may wind up hurt by its first bout of bad PR for a company whose first 11 feature-length animated films have earned $6.5 billion at the global box office and 29 Academy Awards. ”Families (flyover or not) are deciding for themselves and disregarding reviews,” an unconcerned Disney exec replies to me. “Critics not liking a movie doesn’t seem like it will hurt the Pixar brand in my opinion. It will be their 12th #1 film in a row and will rank near the top for opening weekends. Should I send you a Larry the Cable Guy DVD?”

Besides its licensing bonanza, Cars 2 builds on the original’s brand overseas. Cars 1 made “only” 47.2% of its $462M internationally, so Pixar/Disney decided to rev up the sequel’s foreign appeal by sending its vehicles on a race to Tokyo, Italy, London and Paris after the studio found that the tow truck resonated with kids around the world. (The Japanese washlet toilet scene is sight to behold.) Cars 2 is opening in 18 international markets including Italy, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and Australia. Already Russia scored the biggest opening day of all time for a Disney animated film (but there also are more theaters there now than before), while Australia is pitting Cars 2 against Kung Fu Panda 2, and the Pixar film has pulled a little ahead. Even the music is global, with a score by American composer Michael Giacchino, plus alternative rock legend Weezer, country music hitmaker Brad Paisley, best-selling British singer-songwriter Robbie Williams, French superstar Bénabar, and the power pop Japanese girl band Perfume.

2. Bad Teacher (Sony) NEW [3,049 Theaters]
Friday $12.1M, Saturday $10.9M, Weekend $31M

Welcome to the brave new moviemaking world of Bad Gals and raunchy ‘R-rated’ movies starring women. (Hard to believe feminists fought for this kind of film equality, huh?) Exit polling showed the pic attracted 63% female/37% male audiences, while 57% were over age 25/43% under age 25. Given the mega-success of Bridesmaids and now Bad Teacher, expect a lot of clones coming to the megaplex near you. Even though audiences gave foul-mouthed Cameron Diaz et al a ‘C+’ CinemaScore, this sleeper overperformed with Sony expecting a $20+M result. I’m told this under-$20M budgeted comedy was championed internally by Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad, and, like so many other films that Sony has successfully released of late, he was able to put the film together with the producers for the right $20M-$40M price. (If you look at the last several years, Sony still overspends on tentpoles but also has developed a solid portfolio of modestly produced films like The Social Network, Superbad, Pineapple Express, Bounty Hunter, Karate Kid, Julie and Julia, Easy A, Vantage Point, The Ugly Truth, etc. These titles, when done right, allow for decent upside…)

Once again, Sony had pitch-perfect marketing thanks to Marc Weinstock, Tommy Gargotta, and of course Jeff Blake. The buzz began developing weeks ago thanks to an irreverent outdoor campaign with Cameron and her desk continuing through the trailers and TV ads that shouted the subversive concept of the film. “We had a lot to work with on this title. From the movie itself to the cast, we used all our assets to build heat and awareness for the film while having fun with the campaign,” a Sony exec tells me. For example, on National Teacher Appreciation Day, the studio sent apples with Post-it notes that read “Eat Me” to top radio DJs in key markets to get a lot of air chatter going. Online, there were initiatives like the Worst Teachers In History Collection on collegehumor.com. Of course, Cameron, Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel all worked the talk-show circuit. On TV, spots aired on many of the more mouthbreather-targeted season finales and premieres, while the two-minute trailer ran during MTV’s Jersey Shore in March to gain early awareness. Sony also had a strong footprint throughout the recent NBA playoffs and finals.

Bad Teacher opened first in the UK where it has done very well, taking in nearly $4M in its first week of play there and holding to a strong -41% Friday. It opens day and date in 25 smaller countries this weekend, including Germany, Holland, New Zealand and Sweden. Read More »

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Adam Fogelson Grants Box Office Reprieve

As I revealed last weekend, I was so convinced that R-rated comedy Bridesmaids featuring women burping and farting for our female amusement wouldn’t make over $13M, even $15M tops, that I promised Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson that I would leave Hollywood box office reporting forever if his pic opened … Read More »

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‘FAST FIVE’ SPEEDS TO $165M Cume! Record Breaking $83.6M North American Weekend; Newbies ‘Prom’ & ‘Hoodwinked Too’ Bomb

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE: Here’s the latest news about the start of the Summer Box Office with its first official weekend totalling $145 million, +52% from last year. The 2011 box office slump is now officially history. North America’s #1 movie is Universal’s Fast Five whose weekend of $83.6M blew away the $71M opening weekend of fourquel Fast & Furious. Now, this 5th installment in the street racing franchise breaks the studio’s non-toon losing streak in recent years with a global cume of $165M in just 10 days of release internationally. But two other pics debuting this weekend — Disney’s Prom and The Weinstein Co’s Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil 3D – failed to connect with audiences. Here’s the Top 10:

1. Fast Five (Universal) NEW [3,644 Theaters]
Friday $34.4M, Saturday $30.2M, Weekend $83.6M

Even with a -13% drop on Saturday, which would be normal because its Friday’s grosses expanded by midnight showings, that’s still a bigger North American weekend cume for Fast Five than the top 2 openings this year combined (Rio $39M/Rango $38M). The film received an “A” CinemaScore and an “A+” from moviegoers under age 18. In terms of records, Universal is claiming: the biggest opening in Universal history (besting Lost World: Jurassic Park‘s $72.1M), the biggest opening of 2011 (besting Rio‘s $39.2M), the biggest Universal opening for 2011 (besting Hop‘s $37.5M), the highest opening for an April Release (besting Fast & Furious‘ $71M), the highest opening for the last weekend in April (besting A Nightmare On Elm Street‘s $39M), the highest opening for stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, and producer Neil Moritz, and director Justin Lin. A lot of Uni execs are breathing easier today now that they’ve delivered a nice fat hit to their new Comcast overlords who must have been wondering if they’d bought a bomb factory instead of a movie studio. Fast Five opened first overseas 10 days ago and this weekend grossed a huge $45.3M at 3,211 dates in just 14 territories. That raised its early international tally to $81.4M. So now the worldwide total stands at a whopping $165M. The pic opened No. 1 in each of the 10 new markets. The openings are bigger than all the previous Fast franchise films. (Paramount opened Marvel/Disney’s Thor head-to-head against Fast Five in more than a dozen markets but not in the U.S. and Canada until next Friday. Of course, sequels do better overseas than in this country.) But even rival studios say Fast Five is on track for a $300M foreign and $500M worldwide finish. “Here’s what I’m most proud of: there is nothing obvious about what happened. No one can say of course every single decision how it was going to be made, how it was going to be cast, when it was going to be dated, how it was going to be sold, was very startegically thought out. There is no reason for the 5th movie in a franchise to have pulled off what this pulled off,” Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson told me this morning.

2. Rio (Blue Sky/Fox) Week 3 [3,708 Theaters]
Friday $3.6M, Saturday $6.5M, Weekend $14.4M, Cume $103.6M

3. Madea’s Big Happy Family (Tyler Perry/Lionsgate) Week 2 [2,288 Theaters]
Friday $3.1M, Saturday $4.5M, Weekend $10M (-60%), Cume $41M

4. Water For Elephants (Fox 2000/Fox) Week 2 [2,820 Theaters]
Friday $2.9M, Saturday $4M, Weekend $9.1M (-45%), Estimated Cume $32.1M

5. Prom (Disney) NEW [2,730 Theaters]
Friday $2M, Saturday $1.8M, Weekend $5M

Usually, studios large and small boast about releasing $9 million budget movies because the upside can be huge even if majors spend at least $30M to market any film. But when it’s the first greenlit movie from Rich Ross as chief of Walt Disney Pictures, then the Prom bomb has the potential to humiliate. Disney expected a weekend opening of around $8M-$9M, and Hollywood about $10M. Nope. It was half that. Prom is one of four movies that was greenlit around the same time last year along with Pirates Of The Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides, The Muppets reboot, and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Only Prom didn’t have a box office pedigree, and I was bewildered why Ross wouldn’t make this little movie into a clone of the wildly successful High School Musical which Ross did at Disney Channel — complete with singing and dancing. (The sequel could have been Homecoming…) Nope. The Prom soundtrack featuring new and original songs by in-house Hollywood Records’ Allstar Weekend, Travie McCoy, and Neon Trees didn’t attract moviegoers. Nor did a young up-and-coming multicultural cast including Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights) and Thomas McDonell who’s cast in the upcoming Dark Shadows but couldn’t match Zac Efron as a draw. Naturally, Prom‘s target audience was young female tweens/teens and its late April release was timed to U.S. prom-planning season. The Disney marketing machine leveraged third-party promotional support. But the pic, directed by Joe Nussbaum and written by Katie Welch, left the kids cold. ”We are going after a very specific market, and, if we can get that market and get films like this right, the upside represents an incredible opportunity,” a Disney exec told me before the movie opened. “When you have big budget tentpoles like Pirates, Oz, all the Marvel films, we need to have other types of films in the portfolio that have potential to make money with less risk attached.” Unfortunately for them, the ”Promb” puts more stress on the slate coming together now from Ross and his president of production Sean Bailey. 

6. Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil 3D (Weinstein Co) NEW [2,505 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Saturday $1.7M, Weekend $4.1M

Of the locations where this fractured fairy tale toon based on Red Riding Hood is playing, 75% are 3D. But even those higher ticket prices couldn’t help The Weinstein Co save this sequel. The indie studio was expecting mid- to high single digits for the weekend, and it’s underperforming. As a source in film financing emailed me, “A huge turkey.” P&A was estimated at $36M, but Weinstein Conow  tells me now that since Hoodwinked Too was a service deal for Kanbar just like it did on the first one, “we did not put up one dime of P&A on the movie”. How embarrassing for The Weinstein Co that this piece of crap is what it’s playing at the Tribeca Film Festival. Then again, it’s appropriate since that fest is crap, too — merely an excuse for Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal to phony up a film fest and sucker American Express. Read More »

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‘Sucker Punch’-ed By ‘Wimpy Kid 2′ For #1

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: This has been a topsy-turvy box office as North American grosses come in for Friday Saturday, and the weekend (which will be another down one overall compared to last year). Friday night, it appeared that Fox’s Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules sequel opened as a surprise No. 1, but then Warner … Read More »

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