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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Estimates by Little Gulliver Klady

Little Fockers is off, 5 days in, about 32% from Meet The Fockers. Size does matter.

Meanwhile, True Grit opened about 34% better than any other Coen Bros 3-day before and could well be past $75 million domestic by the end of next weekend which would mean a new domestic box office record for the brothers in 12 days or less. (No Country is at $74.3m domestic.) This pretty much guarantees a domestic total of over $100 million, probably before Oscar nominations are even announced.

It’s worth noting that for all the shrying about Westerns as a dead genre, the last two unironic westerns that grossed over $100 million – actually, there are only two – both won Best Picture. It’s been 18 years. Hmmm…

Tron Legacy is kicking along and will have passed $100 million at some point next weekend, if not on Thursday. $130m-$150m is looking like a viable domestic total for the film. Looking back at Tron‘s 1982 gross, it was #22 for the year with $34 million. This year, #22 is at $103 million as of right now… may end up being $110m or $115m. So Tron Legacy with be, on paper, an improvement on the success level of the first film. International numbers are a different conversation, in which Tron Legacy will surely beat Tron by a whole lot… a very different box office field overseas 28 years later.

Narnia: Dawn Trader’s Christmas Day dream of Christians audiences coming to the film’s rescue didn’t happen. There was a bump, but not a jump. Walden Media started the campaign to blame Fox for even the existence of the film via willing web sites on opening day. I can’t say that I know what the deal between the two companies really is on this movie and who will lose what amount of money. All I do know is that Fox Marketing didn’t turn the trick here at all – and it does make Oren Aviv’s campaigns for the first and second film look rather good – AND Walden Media is successful about 20% of the time as a production company. They are smartly retreating to the Benji-level of the business, where they can make profit on most titles and may even hit on out of the park by surprise now and again.

Speaking of a Fox flop, Gulliver’s Travels is a classic car wreck, which the studio saw coming month ago and just had to go through the paces to release. Greatness is getting some extra mustard on that hot dog. Not here.

As ever, the conversation is “Wither Fox?” And 2011 looks more like 2009 than 2010, with 5 strong-looking sequels/prequels (X-Men, Wimpy Kid, Big Momma, Apes & Chipmunks), what should be two strong family films (Rio, Popper’s Penguins), a couple of silly comedies, a trio of chick flicks, and returns from Andrew Niccol and Cameron Crowe. The only big ticket items are the sequels. Obviously, there is no Avatar or any hope of Avatar there. But neither do there seem to be fatty A-Team/Knight & Day/Wall Street 2 kinds of titles that bring massive expectations and tough profitability pictures if they don’t work just right.

But I digress…

The Fighter came back stronger over the weekend, but it is a second wide weekend and even throwing another $1 million on top of the gross to make up for Christmas Eve day, the drop was still about 21%, which would be solid, but not especially strong for this grouping of films. Expect $45m-$50m by the end of the holiday. Looking for a comparable number, the one from Wahlberg’s history that jumps out at me is Three Kings. Go figure. Similar release, similar 2nd weekend drop. I like the film to do slightly better business and much better at the Academy Awards… but interesting to consider (and debate) the O. Russell reflection.

Tangled passed Megamind as the #5 animated title at the domestic box office released this year. The next tier is HTTYDragon’s $217m… which isn’t at all likely.

But let’s take a look at the remarkable year in animation. I would say it was a little overcrowded, but still.. four $200m domestic grossing animated films in one year. And if you want to look at the one area where 3D really is working for the box office, it’s here. All four $200m domestic grossers were in 3D, as were all four of the other wide-release animated films this year (no counting Yogi Bear). It’s ironic that the place where price point would seem most significantly altered – increases on kids tickets and more group movie visits with kids – is the place with the least price resistance. Even with too many films in that marketplace, it is a closed eco-system.

Speaking of 3D, as we go into the year of the most titles scheduled in 3D and the year I have predicted will kill off the trend for live-action 3D releases, Gulliver’s Travels will be the first true 3D disaster for a major… the first to not cover the cost of a relatively cheap conversion with the 3D bump to ticket sales. More on this in another entry.

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36 Responses to “Weekend Estimates by Little Gulliver Klady”

  1. Proman says:

    I really need to see ‘Somewhere’.

  2. Proman says:

    “How Do You Know” – another great film that requires a bit of patience. Really enjoyed it.

  3. movieman says:

    Pro- Are you really comparing “How” (“…another great film that requires a bit of patience”) with “Somewhere”?
    Coppola’s film was my favorite of 2010. The Brooks was awarded “Movie I Most Wanted to Like More Than I Did” in my annual litany of “Dubious Achievement” awards.
    Kind of surprised “Gulliver” opened so dismally, but I’m sure it’ll make up some lost of that traction at midweek matinees during school vacation. (Fox should know that quality has nothing to do with b.o. success when it comes to year-end kidflicks: after all, they released the “Chipmunks” flicks.)
    Wow. “Rabbit Hole” looks as dead as “Tempest,” doesn’t it?
    I wonder just how wide Lionsgate is planning to take it now. (Wasn’t “RH” originally slated to go “wide” January 14th?) Why they didn’t wait to go beyond last weekend’s exclusive NY/LA “awards consideration” runs until after the holidays is mystifying, though. Aren’t you just sort of asking for trouble by opening a movie about a dead kid on Xmas Day?
    The “Barney’s Version” figures are skewed because they’re Toronto grosses (and Canucks love supporting one of their own, regardless of whether it’s any good or not). With its tepid reviews, I don’t expect “BV” to perform nearly as well domestically once it (officially) opens next month.
    Glad to see “Fighter” finally picking up some steam.
    And the better-than-anticipated (if hardly blockbuster, but still) grosses for “The Tourist” continue to surprise/amuse. Guess w.o.m. wasn’t nearly as brutal as most of the reviews.
    “How” should be happy they opened in December when grosses are traditionally inflated by holiday traffic. I’ve got a feeling that if they’d opened at any other time of the year that 10-day b.o. cume would have been its final tally.

  4. movieman says:

    meant to say:

    I’m sure it’ll make up some of that lost of traction….

  5. movieman says:

    what I really, really meant to say was:

    I’m sure it’ll make up some of that lost traction…

  6. Proman says:

    I stopped reading after the first few words. I am not comparing “Somewhere” to “How You Know” directly. I wouldn’t go there. I was just making a point that both were found boring by some, and I found the latter rewarding. I haven’t seen somewhere but I’ve seen Coppola’s other films and uniformly loved them so I know that even if it is slow, I am likely to also find a reward there.

    And everything I’ve said about “True Grit” before is true – biggest Coen debut and the biggest western in many years.

  7. movieman says:

    “Grit” should officially become the Coens’ top all-time grosser by next weekend.
    And I still think “Fighter” will ultimately outgross “Three Kings” (altho maybe not in 1999 dollars). It’s just going to take awhile.
    Even if “Swan” stalls out at $50-million, it’s still going to be Aronofsky’s biggest commercial success ever.

  8. IOv3 says:

    So we are going with the supposition that True Grit is going to make over 50m in the next week? Really?

  9. EthanG says:

    Fox has to be considered 5th in terms of 2010 releases…..(look at Yogi & Gulliver’s….on top of 90% of their releases this year)..just as they were 5th or 6th in 2007 and 2008. Cameron & the Chipmunks are the only thing that kept them from being Universalx2 the last few years. They looked like they were turning a corner last year…but everywhere you look there is smoking wreckage surrounding their releases this year.

    It’s been a bizarre year for most studios. Disney was perhaps more wildly hit or miss than any studio ever this year. WB saturated the market to the point that while they’ll end up tops in revenue it’s difficult to determine whether they actually made more profit than Fox.

    Sony’s bigger movies misfired but they made a killing on movies with lower budgets…again. It seems like Universal’s disastrous year was the most normal for studios.

    Paramount continues to be the most consistent studio solely because of its distribution model. I’d be shocked if the other majors didn’t transition into a similar model in the coming years.

  10. chris says:

    No, IOv3. But this is not the first time movieman has underestimated/misremembered the Coens’ gross or potential gross.

  11. movieman says:

    Wasn’t “NCFOM”‘s final gross something like $71-million?
    With $36-million and change in the bank after just 5 days (with two of
    them–Xmas Eve and Day–being “compromised”), how could “Grit” not
    surpass that figure by the end of next weekend?

  12. IOv3 says:

    Okay Chris because seriously, I would give ridiculous amount of dap to the movie-going public for that bit of business.

  13. movieman says:

    Just checked IMDB for the actual figure:

    OK, “NCFOM” completed its U.S. run at $74-million (not $71-million; shoot me).
    Unless “Grit” suddenly drops dead–which ain’t gonna happen, sorry–
    it should have no trouble beating “NCFOM”‘s cume by the start of 2011.
    That is, the end of next weekend.

  14. IOv3 says:

    Sorry movie but this is a Coens brothers film. It will drop. It still may beat 74 million but this weekend is the high point. Now, it would be cool to think things have changed with the Coens, but this seems a bit more logical at this point in their box office history.

    It would be cool if, of all things, a western made them the most money domestically.

  15. movieman says:

    And it will, IO.
    It will most surely will.
    Anyone who doesn’t think “Grit” is going to be the leggiest Xmas movie (sorry “Fockers 3,” you stink; and w.o.m. is gonna get you post-January 1st) is just whistling Dixie at this point.

  16. Jason S says:

    I’m not sure Black Swan will even make it to $50 mil, Movieman. Of course, if Portman wins the Oscar she clearly deserves, more people may be inclined to check it out — on DVD.

  17. IOv3 says:

    Movieman, I do not think it’s going to be the biggest Xmas movie because it’s a Western and a Coens film. The people who saw it went and saw it this weekend. Again it would be cool if it breaks out but I doubt it given that all of those films up there seem to be on a slog this next week.

    ETA: Why in the blue blazes is Black Swan not wider at this moment? Seriously, what is up with that? It’s like FOX searchlight had a hard time pulling the trigger on this film and now, the Swan, might be suck wind until the Oscar announcement.

  18. mutinyco says:

    The industry really needs to study the way the Coens produce their movies. I’m hearing True Grit cost about $40m. If any other major filmmaker had done this movie, aside from maybe Soderbergh, it probably would’ve cost around 3x to produce.

    This is why they’ve been able to continue working all these years without having many breakout hits — they’re responsible and keep their budgets down.

  19. Wow, the one place where 3D is generally worth the extra money and/or never sullies the actual film is the one area where it’s having most success… imagine that. I think its beyond fitting that a year where studios looked at Avatar and screamed ‘Everything must be 3D!’ ended with a massive flop that wasn’t helped one iota by 3D. Not only will 2011 kill 3D, but it very may well do serious damage to moviegoing in general. If the populace is weaning off of 3D (and in films where plentiful 2D is offered, it’s about a 50/50 split) and they find they have no 2D options due to overcrowding of 3D franchise films, well, it makes it all the easier to just wait for the DVD.

  20. Geoff says:

    Black Swan is going to do more than $50 million (Searchlight is playing it just right, sorry there is a definite ceiling on this kind of film, no matter the buzz) and True Grit will do more than $100 million. I think even The Fighter is going to hang in there and probably do $60 to $70 million – I was just singing Par’s praises on the last blog and wow, did they pull off True Grit! But I have a feeling they took away some dollars from The Fighter in the process.

    This is really strange, but it seems that most of the smaller, prestige movies are actually overperforming – The Weinstein’s will work their magic to bring King’s Speech over $60 million – and the big movies are all underperforming. Hell, Potter is going to stall well below $300 million and it had a wide open field – who would have predicted that?

    It’s a shitty year for Fox, no matter how you spin – they left so much money on the table domestically with Knight & Day, The A Team, Unstoppable, and even Wall Street. Wall Street could have cleared $70 to $80 million if they didn’t keep fucking around with its release date and end up opening it smack between The Town and The Social Network.

    Next year could be strong, but there will be some real tests – can an X Men movie gross well without Wolverine? Is there any real audience left for an ‘Apes movie?

    Wimpy Kid is not a property to count on – the first one burned out after one week, didn’t even the legs of a typical kid movie, we’re talking a Cody Banks-type franchise that dies before it really kicks in.

    You look at the schedule for winter/spring and it makes no sense – you have a complete traffic jam of geek/sci fi properties opening in succession for about six weeks: I Am Number Four, Drive Angry, Apollo 18, Battle Los Angeles, Sucker Punch, and Source Code between 2/18 and 4/1!

    Not all of these movies are cheap, right??? I want to see some of these movies, but damn….space them out a bit.

  21. SciFiNerd says:

    “You look at the schedule for winter/spring and it makes no sense – you have a complete traffic jam of geek/sci fi properties opening in succession for about six weeks: I Am Number Four, Drive Angry, Apollo 18, Battle Los Angeles, Sucker Punch, and Source Code between 2/18 and 4/1!”

    Actually the streak is even longer than that:

    2/18 – I Am Number 4
    2/25 – Drive Angry
    3/4 – Apollo 18
    3/11 – Battle Los Angeles
    3/18 – Paul
    3/25 – Sucker Punch
    4/1 – Source Code
    4/8 – Your Highness
    4/15 – Scream 4

    I’ve never seen a Spring like that before.

  22. movieman says:

    IO: I didn’t say Grit” would be the top-grossing holiday release (hello, “Tron”); only that it would be the “leggiest,” i.e. comfortably ride its late-December heat into January with relative ease because people genuinely liked it, and told friends/family members how satisfying the experience was. (What an out-moded concept, huh?)

  23. IOv3 says:

    Double-M, going back through the thread, I see what your interpretation of leggiest meant. I took it as you stating Grit would be the highest grossing Xmas flick. Sorry for the misinterpretation but no need for snarkiness man! NO NEED!

    Mutiny: that’s an interesting point but here’s the counter to it. If they are giving you all that money, what not use it? I am not justifying these budgets because everything can be cheaper for sure, but there seems to be a price point out there for certain films, and the people making them have decided they want to use all of that cash. Which is obviously not beneficial to industry.

    And Sci-Fi Nerd, that’s what we call a JAMES CAMERON REBUTTAL! I believe 1999 was stacked like that as well in the Winter to prevent a possible late 1998 film from breaking out. Why they never use the REBUTTAL against CAMERON is beyond me. Seriously, when Avatar Deuces comes out in 2014. Every fucking studio better go after that film’s grosses with chainsaws because the man obviously has a streak going on and it needs to be stopped.

  24. movieman says:

    No snarkiness intended, IO.
    “Tron” WILL be the de facto top-grossing holiday release (especially since “Fockers” is proving to be less of a b.o. threat than expected).
    And you’ll be pleased to know that “Inception” made my 2010 10-best list.
    You can see for yourself when/if Dave ever gets around to posting it (my top 10, that is).
    Jason: “Swan” is perched at the $30-precipice as of today. Even if it only takes in an add’l $10-million between now and New Year’s Day (and that’s a modest estimate), it’ll be at $40-million. Factor in the forthcoming Oscar nominations, Portman’s probable win, etc., and $50-million is looking not only inevitable, but on the short end of the b.o. stick.

  25. anghus says:

    boy im glad Gulliver tanked. Just the worst kind of movie, the worst kind of brainless studio thinking. These movies need to be put to death mercilessly and quickly.

    Little Fockers can’t help but make some money based of residual goodwill. Hopefully it will die quickly as well. Hope for 50 million dollars plus for Fighter and Black Swan, give the 25 million dollar indies reasons to exist.

  26. IOv3 says:

    MM: thanks for the dap to Inception. I really have no idea how so many critic groups are throwing it under a bus or forgetting it. Seriously. The Social Network compared to the scope and grandeur of Inception, is like a West Wing episode. I love the West wing. I have watched it three times all the way through, so that’s not a slam, but TSN is not Inception. None of these movies in the supposed lead for Best Picture are even close to touching what Inception is as a film so unless Toy Story 3 gets Pixar the statue they deserve, that award show is just hokey as hell this year.

  27. Joe Leydon says:

    Please don’t take this as a slam of The Kids Are All Right — a movie I enjoyed very much — but while watching it again tonight, I couldn’t help wondering: What if the filmmakers had borrowed a page from Pasolini’s Teorema, and the Mark Ruffalo character would have wound up seducing everyone in the family?

  28. cadavra says:

    I hate repeating myself, but it’s late, so what the hell: Has anyone stopped to consider that one reason GRIT is doing so well is that people are starved for westerns, especially well-made ones, and the studios keep failing to learn this lesson?

  29. IOv3 says:

    Cad, old people are starved for westerns and they have a lot of time free from work this time of year. I love westerns but someone needs to gussy them a bit up more to really get the kids into them.

    That aside; Joe that’s too god damn Italian :D!

  30. David Poland says:

    Cad… I think people are starved for high quality, not for kids, PG-13 entertainment. And IO, you’re right. Older people.

    The problem with Westerns is that they come with built-in cliches that must be overcome and like period war movies (see: Four Feathers), the morality of the period is like an elephant in the room… either the movie is about breaking that code or it seems brutally racist or ignorant of the reality or both.

    The same people who are seeing True Grit are the people who saw The Social Network and The Town. And some percentage of them will see The Fighter. I don’t think it’s a genre distinction. Smart and meant for adults.

    And ironically, with my smack at Brooks Barnes dumb piece, that is a piece you could write this year… that you can now project more on smaller dramas for adults than you could last year. The problem is, the media is still all tied up selling the bullshit story that dramas don’t do business. The real story was always that the failed dramas cost too much, not that they made too little. And this fall, they are doing even better.

  31. cadavra says:

    True, but fart comedies, slasher films and superhero movies are also laden with cliches, and most of them seem to do just fine. (Within five minutes, Kevin James will bump into or trip over something and break it. And people laugh every single time.) Westerns by their very nature tend to be violent; is it so hard to believe that the people who line up for contemporary violent films would not respond to an oater as well if it featured a comparable level of shooting and fighting? THE TOWN is just a western (holding up the bank; shooting it out with the law) set in contemporary Boston. The differences should not be that big a dealbreaker.

  32. LexG says:

    I’m gonna ask on every blog until SOMEONE ANSWERS THIS DAMN QUESTION:

    Does PETER WEIR’S “THE WAY BACK” really COME OUT TOMORROW anywhere in the free world? IMDB lists one theater in America: THE AMC in COVINA, CALIFORNIA, which I HIGHLY fucking doubt.

    Did they COMPLETELY give up on this movie? Why does the “trailer” look a Hallmark movie? IS THIS REALLY COMING OUT TOMORROW OR WHAT?


  33. movieman says:

    Box Office Mojo lists a wide release of “The Way Back” for January 21st:
    no mention of a limited December release any longer.
    Another film originally slated for a late December NY/LA bow that’s now apparently opening later instead (January 28th in limited release) is “Biutiful.”

  34. LexG says:

    Thing about BIUTIFUL, though… Bardem’s been on all the shows pimping it, it’s trending on Yahoo like crazy, and it’s been screening a lot ( BECAUSE I AM THE MOST IMPORTANT FILM VOICE IN LOS ANGELES, I saw it last week at a guild screening )… the online info for that is INDEED a trainwreck too, but I am all but positive it HAS to be opening somewhere this Wednesday or Friday, given all that hype…

    But WAY BACK is a total oddity… What would be the point of opening it in late January? IMDB lists a sole theater in HAWAII and now one dubious claim that it’s opening in the deepest, Filipino-est reaches of the San Gabriel Valley where surely no AMPAS members would go to see it…


  35. movieman says:

    I find the idea of “The Way Back” getting a wide, nat’l release January 21st pretty unbelievable myself. (Does Newmarket still have “Passion” bucks to throw away on 1,000+ prints?) It’s a good (if not great) Weir film, but it’s probably not going to do jack shit at the domestic b.o. Europe is another story.
    I’m guessing Roadside pulled the plug on a late December “Biutiful” opening after Bardem didn’t place in any of the year-end crix/GG awards/nominations. It’ll probably look better to most reviewers seen outside the cluster-fuck of December releases anyway. I thought it was just fine, although closer to “21 Grams” than “Amores Perros” (or, yes, “Babel”) in Inarritu’s ouevre. Will it do business in any season, though?
    Not bloody likely. “Rabbit Hole,” another major downer, is having
    difficulty attracting audiences in “smart” cities–and it’s 50 minutes shorter (AND in English).

  36. movieman says:

    Apparently B.O. Mojo was wrong, Lex.
    “Biutiful” does open according to plan in NYC and–I’m assuming–LA on the 29th.
    I’m guessing that January 28th date is for “limited expansion” (as they say in the trades). That is, if it ever makes it any farther domestically than the two coasts.

Leonard Klady's Friday Estimates
Friday Screens % Chg Cume
Title Gross Thtr % Chgn Cume
Venom 33 4250 NEW 33
A Star is Born 15.7 3686 NEW 15.7
Smallfoot 3.5 4131 -46% 31.3
Night School 3.5 3019 -63% 37.9
The House Wirh a Clock in its Walls 1.8 3463 -43% 49.5
A Simple Favor 1 2408 -50% 46.6
The Nun 0.75 2264 -52% 111.5
Hell Fest 0.6 2297 -70% 7.4
Crazy Rich Asians 0.6 1466 -51% 167.6
The Predator 0.25 1643 -77% 49.3
Also Debuting
The Hate U Give 0.17 36
Shine 85,600 609
Exes Baggage 75,900 62
NOTA 71,300 138
96 61,600 62
Andhadhun 55,000 54
Afsar 45,400 33
Project Gutenberg 36,000 17
Love Yatri 22,300 41
Hello, Mrs. Money 22,200 37
Studio 54 5,300 1
Loving Pablo 4,200 15
3-Day Estimates Weekend % Chg Cume
No Good Dead 24.4 (11,230) NEW 24.4
Dolphin Tale 2 16.6 (4,540) NEW 16.6
Guardians of the Galaxy 7.9 (2,550) -23% 305.8
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4.8 (1,630) -26% 181.1
The Drop 4.4 (5,480) NEW 4.4
Let's Be Cops 4.3 (1,570) -22% 73
If I Stay 4.0 (1,320) -28% 44.9
The November Man 2.8 (1,030) -36% 22.5
The Giver 2.5 (1,120) -26% 41.2
The Hundred-Foot Journey 2.5 (1,270) -21% 49.4