Box Office

Weeeknd Estimate Leftovers by Klady

(Apologies… the chart that was up before 11:45a was a workbook draft that was posted in error. These estimates are now the correct ones. The last graph of my analysis column has also been adjusted. DP)

How bad were the four openings this weekend? Bad enough that they can barely be considered part of the summer. Only Glee 3D, Judy Moody, Monte Carlo and Winnie opened wide as pooh-ly as three of these films and One Day is, by estimate, the worst wide opening of the summer.

But we can’t just blame late August. The higher grossing trio of openers this weekend grossed, together, about $500k more than Inglorious Basterds grossed in the same slot two Augusts ago. The 2007 Halloween reboot opened to $26.4m. Even the unknown element that was The 40-Year-Old Virgin opened to $21.4m in 2005.

With four titles getting smushed, there is plenty of blame to be deflected.

On the other hand, there are two clear August winners. The Help is more than $20 million ahead of either of its “summer ladies pictures” predecessors, Eat Pray Love and Julie & Julia and the second weekend, specifically, is estimated at about 65% more than either of those two films.

Others may argue otherwise, but I would say that Unforgiven is the highest grossing drama ever released in August, with $101 million. There are 25 films that have grossed more, domestically, in August, including two Shyamalan films. But removing action/thrillers, kids movies, and comedies, I’d say it’s Unforgiven. But The Help is likely to pass both EPL and J&J by the end of next weekend and Unforgiven in the middle of the weekend after. And then the question is just how high the film can get. $115m? $120m? More?

Meanwhile, Apes are rising. Currently at #11 of all August openers, it will pass Rush Hour 3 and XxX to take the #9 slot during this week. Next weekend, it looks like it goes to #6, passing American Pie 2, Talladega Nights, and GI Joe. It may stall out in that slot. The next landmark is The Fugitive at $184m domestic and that might just be a rope swing too far. But at least $170m domestic seems quite likely.

That also would put it right behind Thor and ahead of Bridesmaids for this summer, three “first-films” (can’t call 2 of the 3 original, can we?), all behind the top 5 films of the summer… all sequels.

The Smurfs are still kicking along here. But even more so overseas. Over $200 million and counting. Looks like it will be Top 10 worldwide through the summer, behind only Thor in the comic book arena, when the numbers are all counted up.

Final D5 is about half way to the gross of the last film in the franchise and will given the sharply downward trajectory that these films have always taken (aside from the first of the series, which was leggy) end up being the lowest grossing of the lot ($47m is the low bar, domestically).

Senna was the arthouse star this weekend with a $11.6k per-screen on 14 screens. Decent per-screen of The Whistleblower too… $3350-per on 44. Also finding winners on a smaller scale, Neo Classics with The Hedgehog and Music Box with Mozart’s Sister.


Friday Estimate by MuthaSmurfin’ Klady

The perceived surprise success of The Smurfs and the perceived mediocre number for Cowboys & Aliens is a little silly.

One really has nothing to do with the other… except that we have all become idiot monkeys, obsessing on what’s first… a stat that is nothing but a bragging rights thing.

Smurfs, which should have a much stronger Saturday than Cowboys, should win the weekend easily. Sometimes funny things happen. But historically, if the kids film wins Friday, the toughest day of the weekend for kids movies, it’s a lock to win the weekend. Could be anywhere from $40m – $50m.

Cowboys & Aliens created its own stench. It’s classic movie advertising… find something and stick with it. The problem here is, that same 2 minutes we have been seeing for 7 months now was never that exciting. Elements are Daniel Craig with an alien shooter on his hand, a pretty girl, some spaceships, and a cranky Harrison Ford. The only notion of story offered is that Craig doesn’t know who he is and that the town will be attacked by aliens.

No sell.

It’s funny… because it all feels like Super 8 without the kids… and it will open right above Super 8, not quite the smallest big movie of the summer… but close. The difference is that Par sold 8 as being cheap and the critics rallied behind the film to spin it into seeming like less of a box office disappointment. C&A will be piled on, unless somehow it wins the weekend, and people get distracted by the “who’s #1?” discussion.

Crazy. Stupid. Love. is opening okay. Good reviews suggest it could have legs with adults. But it will likely be under $20m for the weekend and under $70m total, making it the #5 comedy of the summer so far.

Potter passes $300m and is now in a race with Transformers 3 for the summer box office crown. Neither film is likely to pass $350m domestic, much less $400m. Both Potter is still likely heading over $1b, while Tr3 may come up just short of that magic figure, while still being the biggest of the series.


4 Day Estimates by Vehicular Klady

So… Transformers 3 will be either the #2 or #3 best domestic July 4 weekend in history, depending on how it does today. The fly in the ointment, so to speak, would be Spider-Man 2, which is within a million dollars or so of Trannies 3 in the estimates. But either way – it only matters because the media has made simplicity into a primary mode of reporting – it was a very happy weekend. Internationally, Paramount is estimating $217m to AP right now, putting it at just under $400m worldwide at the end of our holiday weekend. Half-Blood Potter was the leader in worldwide openings with $394 million.

Once again, the issue of the 3D bump rises up. Two things. First, the “percentage of venues vs the percentage of revenue” thing remains very misleading because the actually number of showtimes in 3D vs 2D tends to be much lower than the venue percentage. Second, this means fuck all when it comes to the issue of whether 3D is viable for as wide a swath of titles each year as the industry is currently geared up for. This is a massive franchise, it actually offers the possibility of a superior 3D experience, and the must-see is mighty. Same will be true of Potter. But these are the exceptions that mean little to the rule.

As noted last week, Summit just pushed away from 3D for The Three Musketeers as its big selling point. Way away. Others will follow. I would suggest to the studios that they either try to impose a consistent flat rate of $2 for regular 3D and $3 for IMAX 3D and market that… and if that doesn’t work financially, it’s time to stop the 3D experiment en masse. Jim Cameron’s dream and Jeffrey Katzenberg’s passion may be viable in concept, but not when the first things about it that strikes most consumers on most films is the cost, not the benefit.

As for the Cars 2 numbers, I am going to do a halfway-mark piece at some point this week, but I don’t think it’s very complex… too short a DVD window, too much 3D gouging (3D also dissuades under 5s from going to these movies), and too much product generating animated brand blur. Yet, I still see a final worldwide number that is perfectly Pixarian.

And the comic book movies… all three are $100 million domestic films… not one is (or will be) $200 million domestic films. Thor‘s ass was saved by unexpected international strength. X-Men: First Class also benefited from international, though not as much… but didn’t have as much of a budget either. And Green Lantern seems sure to be the weak sister in the end, though they haven’t been nearly as wide overseas yet. Thor was the strongest of the two movies that went for 3D and may have benefited greatly in this regard from being early in the 3D season.

And yes… R-rated comedies. 3 more coming this month. 2 of the first 3 this summer are already over $100m domestic and Bad Teacher has an outside shot at getting there. How much harder does that make it for the next 3?

Larry Crowne, which C. Nikki has made her “Gotta Kill It” movie of the week (does Ron Meyer want to ever be in business with Playtone again?) did fine, really. As noted before, the two stars of the movie are both more than 5 years out of the “major openers” business. This movie out-opened their last joint effort, which was much higher profile, much closer to their career heat, and in the launch of an Oscar race with Mike Nichols behind the camera. To be screeching about this being a bomb opening 3.5 years later is stupid at best, malicious at worst.

Here’s a “did ya know.” Tom Hanks has had NO openings a the male lead of a live-action film, aside from the Da Vinci Code movies (whose pans were worse than this film’s) over $31 million. And Julia Roberts has had ONE. Hanks has a long history of leggy films. Why? Because his audience, since the early days, has been adults.

This is not a mega-hit. But it will make a decent profit.

And by the way… Jim Carrey’s last live-action opening to do better than Popper’s Penguins? 2004.

Can we please try to live in the present, folks?

Trannies 3 will be the 5th film this year to gross more than $500 million worldwide. This includes Kung Fu Panda 2 and The Hangover: Part 2 The record remains 8 in a year (the last two years). I would expect Cars 2 to make it 6 before it runs out of gas.

TR3 also looks to be the second billion dollar ww film this year, matching last year’s record of 2 in a year before the year is 7 months over.


Friday Estimates by Green Klady

The Green Lantern problem is not a revenue problem, it’s a spending problem.

Yeah… that’s the Republican talking point on the insanity of not raising taxes on the rich. But this has never been more true in Hollywood. Green Lantern is a dinosaur of sorts, not heavily hedged by outside money, and way too expensive. WB is admitting $200 million and $150m marketing… but that is said to be about $50m short by insiders who like to gossip.

The opening is likely to land in third place amongst the three big comic book movies to date, with an outside shot at being bigger than X-Men: First Class. It’s not catching Thor‘s opening. But it’s certainly a decent opening for a 2nd tier comic book character with a lot of (overly) nasty buzz that’s been around for months.

With 13 wide-release summer movies so far, it will be #4 or #5 in opening, perhaps behind only the two big sequels and the summer opener. Give WB Marketing credit for that.

But then realize that the film needs to “pull a Thor” to get to breakeven, which is to say, even if it ends up in the range of $150m domestic, it needs to double that internationally to… well, still be on the cusp on red/black ink.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins will likely open somewhere between Jumping The Broom and Bridesmaids… not a thrill for a Jim Carrey movie with animals. The opening will probably improve slightly on Yes Man, which is not thrill either.

Super 8‘s hold is fine… not especially strong or weak. It’s actually the same hold as Grown-Ups last year, which ended up doing 4x opening weekend. So that would be nice. For Super 8, that would be a $142m domestic gross. Seems about right, unless it gets swamped by Trannies 3.

And as I noted last week, the very successful Midnight in Paris is now in its downward trajectory, as happens over and over with films that expand carefully. There is a place – which the distributor fully knows, which is why this is Woody’s widest release – and after that, the cost of expansion does not match the returns. Once you expand and your box office gross drops, expansion is over and it’s time to manage for a leggy run in the places you’re playing strong. Based on previous weekends, MiP should be at $22.2m by the end of this weekend. And even with screens dropping, $40m domestic is not out of the question.


4 Day Estimates by Wolfpack Klady


Fallacy first… the idea that this is some kind of bad number for Kung Fu Panda is silly. It’s the biggest Memorial Day opening for an animated film, about a million over Madagascar. Were you hoping it would break that record AND show a 25% 3D bump? Okay. But that isn’t really reasonable. Memorial Day Weekend is not a great animation weekend, which is why so many of the big summer animated openings are the week AFTER Memorial Day.

Animated grosses are about the multiple. Panda has 3 more weekends until Cars 2.

Hangover 2 shows the power of a well loved original, whip smart marketing, and sequels. ‘Nuff said. Let the record show that this idiot estimated a $110 million launch before it came on tracking.

Pirates 4’s drop was… not good… not hideous. International saves Disney’s bacon.

Another strong hold for Bridesmaids, even against The Hangover. Remember when movies got roll over business from sell outs? Not so much anymore. Bridesmaids deserves credit for strong word of mouth.

And Thor is still swinging, so far the 3D success story of the domestic summer.


Weekend Estimates by Screaming Rio Klady

The top 3 openings of 2011 are animated films. Why? Because that’s what the studios have offered so far.

Sony has had the best non-animated showing, owning opening slots #4 – #6 with Battle: LA, which they did a nice job opening with little box office star power in front of or behind the camera (and which won’t do 3x opening), the resurrected Green Hornet (which may even break even… and could spawn a cheaper sequel, now that they know the formula for a $200m+ worldwide), and Sandler.

After that, only WB has really shown any big ambitions for the pre-summer season, even if failing to launch Sucker Punch, Arthur, or the virtual Taken sequel, Unknown. (Don’t feel too bad on that last one. Pierre Morel”s actual next film after Taken, From Paris With Love, opened even worse, even with Travolta as a wild baddie.)

Disney’s only non-animated release was the first DreamWorks release via Disney, I Am Number Four, which may have wanted to be a Shia LeBeouff movie, but didn’t have any remotely familiar movie name to help it get out there.

Universal has taken fiver shots, aside from their animated Hop. The Dilemma felt like it leaked out, defeated spiritually by the “so gay” controversy. The Adjustment Bureau did okay, considering how hard they had to work to not make it look like what it was… a long Twilight Zone episode. Paul is a mixed bag. It’s easily the best opening and best gross from the Pegg/Frost pairing. But it was also the most expensive. Mostly, however, it was not the launching pad to big things that the core of fans keeps anticipating. Sanctum was a throwaway. Your Highness, like Paul, seems to be an effort to turn a small niche into a mainstream comedy base. It seems we have gone from The Apatow Comedy School making $100m movies to $60m movies and the spin-offs doing half of that or less.

Paramount kept a somewhat low profile. The threw that Bieber concoction into the marketplace and did well, considering. But not a muscular effort for the studio. They released the spawn of Up In The Air, the Montecito film, No Strings Attached, which did a decent, if not thrilling number. And there is the #2 animated opening of the year, Rango. But only Rango was really shooting for the stars.

Fox threw two sequels into the market. Wimpy Kid 2 did almost exactly what it was expected to do on paper. And Big Mommas didn’t revive the franchise. (Should have paid for that Tyler Perry cameo as Madea.) Their only really ambitious push out was, again, the animated film, Rio.

Looks to me like Q1 has been the grand old dumping ground that it always was. (Did the studios meet and agree to tank the quarter to make the excuse for “having” to launch Premium VOD? Hmmm…) Kudos to WB for at least trying to steal the market, in terms of anyone over 12.

Scream 4 is a tricky argument. You can’t say it’s a happy number, as it is well off of both sequels. On the other hand, like Big Momma 3, is there really any nostalgia out there for this group of actors or the series at this point? If they reinvented the idea, great… but that’s not what was sold to the public. Really, not a lot was sold to the public, as TWC didn’t spend a ton on marketing. I feel like the return of Scream kinda needed a return of horror/slasher films to prominence for at least a moment before satire on the genre was needed. All that is left right now is a 15 year old franchise that beat us to death with the first 2 sequels and a lonely ghostface, who has no slashed pals in the market. Had they somehow converted it all into a commentary on horror porn, maybe it would have worked better. But that’s played out as a genre too.

Right now, 2011 is a milder extension of December 2010… the only thing to really cheer about is the strength of the middle class… though right now, that means “$40m – $60m domestic,” in December it meant closer to $100m domestic, and what is missing now as it was then are the couple of blockbusters that make the numbers go up each year. Forget just comparing this year to the Avatar/Alice year… just a single $200m grosser would make everyone clam down a lot.

Note: How many $100 million domestic grossers were there before summer two years ago? Answer: Three. Watchmen, Fast & Furious, Monsters Vs. Aliens.
The year before that? Answer: One. Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!
Before that? Three. Ghost Rider, Wild Hogs, 300.
This year? Two so far. Hop, Rio and Fast Five likely to come. I believe that will be the best ever in that category.


Friday Estimates by Rio de JaKlady

Well, the Rio opening is a little scary. I’m still not ready to jump on the idiot train of screaming, ‘Slump” every time I start a box office story. (Maybe I just did. Yipes!)

This is a perfect example of how studios get in their own way and use it as an excuse for terrible, potentially destructive ideas like Premium VOD.

2010: First Wide Animated Release – 3/26 – How To Train Your Dragon
Second Wide Animated Release – 5/21 – Shrek Forever After

After that, there was a typical summer pile up. But even then, it was four weeks until Toy Story 3 and 5 weeks after that until Despicable Me.

2011: First Wide Animated Release – 2/11 – Gnomeo & Juliet
Second Wide Animated Release – 3/4 – Rango
Third Wide Animated Release – 3/11 – Mars Needs Moms
Fourth Wide Animated Release – 4/1 – Hop
Fifth Wide Animated Release – 4/15 – Rio
Sixth Wide Animated Release – 4/29 – Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil

And then, we get a full month’s break until Kung Fu Panda 2 for Memorial Day.

Last year, alone in the category for months on either side, Dragon opened to $44 million. This year, in a pile-up of five titles. so far, none of the films has opened to as much as $40 million… none of them have been as leggy as Dragon… and only Mars Needs Moms has opened to less than $25 million.

In the end, the first five animated movies of 2011 will gross, domestically, $425m – $450m, about double what Dragon did last year. So is that encouraging or discouraging? Is anything more really possible when you shoehorn five movies from the same niche into the market space of one quality film from that niche the year before? And does anyone actually question whether a single animated franchise title, whether by itself or in the midst of the animation chaos of this first five months, would blow all the others out of the water and do the business we expect of it (ice Age 4, for example)?

Box office is math. But it is also much more complicated than just the math. For instance, even though Chris Meledandri isn’t working with Blue Sky anymore, isn’t opening two Chris Meledandri movies in three weeks kinda stupid? Cause you can’t really think that the Easter Bunny and comedy birds, live-action involved or not, isn’t all blending in about now. It’s almost worse than opening two movies starring the same actor in the same 3 weeks (which almost never happens, as the big actors have it prohibited in their contracts… for a reason).

I submit to you that if any 2 of the Rio, Hop, and Rango films were the only 2 widely released animated films released between Jan – May, each would have opened closer to $50 million and either hit $200m domestic or come close. But that was not an option because the market was flooded with reasonably high quality product and a market that expanded, but was never going to expand to 5x previous years.

(Add 12:16p)
The Scream 4 opening is another “we thought maybe it would be big” moment for this spring. Seriously, kids, who is coming out to see Courtney Cox and David Arquette and Neve Campbell unless they are having a 3-way and even then, it would be on the web soon enough. And how do they pad the celebrity level? A bunch of kids who are seen more often on the red carpet than doing movies or even much television that anyone cares to remember for more than a day or two.

The idea for the Scream series is what drove the Scream series. Drew Barrymore was a boost the first time around. But in a franchise that is about mocking the gag, how many times can you repeat the gag?

The DVD will rent well. But getting people to rush to a theater to see this… in 2009 or 2010 or 2011… not so much. So hopefully the budget is as low as they claim and the movie will do slightly better overseas. But wait… Scream has never done better overseas than here. Oh well.

Insidious and Source Code are the “happy at $40m domestic” movies of the season.

A couple of million for Ayn Rand… non-story… but we’ll be hearing about it… endlessly… the movie won’t ever crack $10m.

Arthur is well on its way to covering 70% of its domestic marketing costs. Your Highness, not so lucky.


Weekend Estimates by Soul Klady

And this is why weekend-to-weekend looks so crappy. Last year on “this” weekend, there were $27m in openers. This weekend, $46m. But the weekend is still well behind last year because Sucker Punch was WB’s entry, not Clash of the Titans, and there was no DWA film (last year, it was a leggy Dragon) doing $25m in a third weekend while Hop, which is a success story (but a mild one), did $21m in Weekend Two. Those two holdovers and one $25m opener (Date Night) overpower nearly $20m in more opening firepower this year than last.

If you simply flipped last year’s WB entry for this year’s, “this year’s weekend” would be ahead of “last year’s weekend” by over $15 million. And if wishes were fishes… But you get the point, no? It’s about the movies, not the market. Until there is a much longer lasting set of data that involves a more muscular set of movies being off by similar amounts, I’m not taking any “slump” seriously. Of course, if you want to believe that somehow Clash of the Titans would have done half the business it did if it opened this year or that Sucker Punch would have done more than double what it’s doing opening last year, please, feel free to make the argument.

One genre that may be nearing its end in this cycle as an industry cash cow is the stoned comedy. Since the Superbad/Knocked Up back-to-back smashes, Team Apatow has racked up just one $100m movie (Step Brothers) in 8 attempts. And while Apatow had nothing to do with the two movies gently opening this weekend (Arthur/Your Highness), they are both bastard children of his camp. Like many niche genres in Hollywood, no reason that this one can’t go on. But costs have to be contained and then these are the kinds of legged-out doubles that studios can use to keep the balance sheet positive build library, an occasionally get a surprise big hit. But right now, they are a little expensive and aren’t delivering on the expectations that the studios have when greenlighting them. (Expectations from tracking come long after the horse is out of the barn.)

Hanna is a really nice opening for Focus. They picked up the film in most of the world (Sony has some territories), extending their relationship with Joe Wright, and this opening is better than any two weekends of Atonement domestic grosses combined. Given some strong word-of-mouth (and a soft market for good movies), it could even end up passing Atonement‘s $50m gross.

Bob Berney is back in business. Soul Surfer is a Sony release, but Film District marketed it for Sony, and the results are strong for what could well have been a much smaller feel-good film. And Insidious had a 26% hold, which is almost unheard of for any film in this front-loaded market, much less a horror film. This is one of this year’s real success stories already, likely heading to more than $50m domestic.

Source Code didn’t hold quite as well, but it does seem that we are in the first stretch of commercial movies this year that anyone is happy to recommend.


Friday Estimates by Klady

Seek and you shall receive.

In this week, this refers to four majors (one, a division of a major) splitting up the audience into four niches and getting four films opening within an estimated $800k of one another. And while there are distinct segments one could argue each fits into, it is interesting that there is a lot of estrogen being crammed into one weekend and having its potential robbed, on some level.

Hanna and Soul Surfer may be the Angel/Devil combo, but young actresses front both and while one may be betting on the Christian audience to turn up and the other may be expecting arthouse urbanites to show up at the multiplex, they both should be appealing to the teen girl segment that has delivered a lot of $50m+ domestic hits in recent years. Meanwhile, for all the ass ogling of the geek boys, re: Your Highness, the toughest person in the film seems to be Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, who should also draw those grrrrls.

Arthur is really the wanna-be 4 quadrant film, though three strong women surround Katy Perry’s Dream Date. But they have bit of a problem there, as the only one whose character is really accessible has been pushed into the background – fairly, the least known name, though with a lot of upside, I believe – Helen Mirren isn’t funny enough, and Jen Garner is playing a parody of herself, mostly seen in ads in her lingerie. (Honestly, I don’t blame WB marketing on this. They have done all they can do with what they have here. The weakness in the marketing storytelling is a better version of the murkiness of the film.)

One could also see 3 of the 4 newcomers as boy movies. Brand, a killing machine, and a stoner comedy. And that’s there too. But those guys who are going to these movies for those elements are going anyway. They aren’t the challenge. And there aren’t enough of them to generate the bigger numbers.

Much of a mess as this weekend seems, the two best regarded films are the two hardest sells (dead-eyed girl killer and one-armed surfer), and the other two are high anticipation films that seem to have disappointed a lot of people already. So maybe the weekend of lost movies is no surprise at all.


Weekend Estimates by Source Klady (Analysis by Poland)

So… it was a hoppy start for Hop or another 2011 disappointing start, depending on your perspective.

First off, this movie was, it seems, a live action/animation combination. I say, “it seems,” because I don’t have any recall of this movie being sold as a live action/animation combination. There is a faint notion of James Marsden’s head showing up. But my experience with the marketing was very Despicable Me… all chicks and bunny. Mea culpa.

Second perspective, as I wrote with Rango when it came out, $38 million to open an original idea for families outside of the two big brand names, is a good number.

Third perspective, if the film is actually has an $80m price tag, as a reader indicated yesterday, this will be a solid commercial winner for Universal. $250m seems like a solid low number for a worldwide gross – who knows what international might turn into? – and it could be recurring character, in spite of the reviews.

Fourth perspective, for four the last five years, we had $40m+ opening animated films in March. The one year that the opening wasn’t $40m was Robots year… and that was seen as coming up short. This year we have two $35m+ openers in March and the cusp of April. It’s probably a good idea for box office followers to start recalibrating to this as the new reality. Yes, there will still be breakout numbers now and again. But solid doubles that make a profit are what the studios are aiming for. And we can’t be getting our panties in a bunch over the studios not making overly expensive films AND complain when they don’t and don’t deliver mega-numbers.

This is an adjustment. And that may be the lesson of this first four months of 2011. For me, too. But The Green Hornet, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, No Strings Attached, Unknown, Gnomeo & Juliet, Just Go With It, The Adjustment Bureau, Battle: Los Angeles, Rango, Wimpy Kid 2, and Limitless have all been success stories, if not all at the bottom line, then vs expectations. And now, Hop and Source Code.

We’ve also seen some unmitigated flops. But we always do. I guess my point is that the Alice in Wonderlands and The Passion Of the Christs are lovely anomalies that we, as media, tend to think then are the norm. Hop & Rango together will gross as much as, if not more, than How to Train Your Dragon, at around the same cost. Is that really a problem?

The film that seems to be the most analogous to Sucker Punch is Year One, which also opened on over 3000 screens and also dropped 69% in its second weekend, and also involved extreme costumes that showed off a lot of flesh but got a PG-13. You could roll out Wolverine, Hulk, and The Wolfman as analogies, but all three started with significantly more than Sucker.

And the reason that this is news is that WB is handing Superman to a guy whose last 3 films for the studio look to have a total gross of less than $400m worldwide combined. And this is not The Wachowskis or Bryan Singer, changing speeds from drama to big action. This is a director who has gone for it and tried to deliver massive hits… and one must admit, failed three times in a row. Will there be an announcement about John Malkovich or Zach Galifianakis playing Lex Luthor this afternoon? Who knows?


Weekend Estimates by Klady

It’s the biggest opening of 2011. It would have been the fourth best opening to this time last year, behind Alice in Wonderland, Valentine’s Day, and Shutter Island. 5 animated films have out-opened it in the months before summer: Ice Age, Ice Age 3, Monsters vs Aliens, Horton Hears A Who, and How To Train Your Dragon. All of those animated movies did over $150m at the box office. No one knows what Rango‘s legs will be like.

As I said yesterday, not a sensational opening. But hardly a bad one. $50 million, a number hyped by competitors, would have made it the best opening for an animated film opening before March 27 in history. But I would still say a little more than “Johnny is Rango” might have pushed the number up a bit. Remember that the big sell on Ice Age was the “squirrel” with the nut, not Ray Romano.

The Adjustment Bureau is not a box office car wreck. It’s no superstar either. God bless Matt Damon.

Beastly is now the perfect center of CBS Films’ box office opening prowess… #3 of 5 openers.

Kind of a boring movie weekend… just after everyone seemed to get hyped up on the idea of it being a big weekend. Rango ain’t Alice… but even at $60 million, no one was getting close to Alice this weekend. Listen to the box office boo birds if you like, but prepare to fell stupid in 6 months.


Weekend Estimates by “And The Box Office Goes To” Klady

Last year on Oscar weekend, there were no Best Picture nominees in the Top 10 and the only movie with a major contender in the Top 1o was Crazy Heart, which Searchlight expanded that weekend to 1274 screens and rode all the talk about Bridges locked win for Best Actor.

This year, The King’s Speech and True Grit are still in the Top 10, heading to $300m domestic between them. If you eliminate the high end of these two 10-nominee years and Lord of the Rings from the equation, you have to go back to Gladiator and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to match this kind of domestic box office success in the race.

In that year, 2000, four of the five nominees were $100m domestic grossers. This year, there are five, but again, there are 10 nominees. So that 2000 year is still, in my eye, the most remarkable box office year ever for Oscar. And it even included one spring and one early summer release.

Drive Angry 3D is the box office story of most interest this weekend. The opening is in the bottom half of Summit’s 23 film history as a distributor, less than an estimated $100k better than Sorority Row… or as it will surely be known in Nic Cage’s world, “Sorority F***ing Row.” With the back-to-back vampire-free success of Letters to Juliet and Red, Summit seemed ready to move up the ladder. This is a setback.

Of course, WB can’t be too thrilled with Hall Pass either. The opening is right around where The Farrellys have been stuck with their last two films, neither of which is seen as a hit. It seems that much of the gross-out humor of the film was not advertised. A redband trailer – which is much better at establishing characters and would have made me consider seeing the film – went out Wednesday. Too late.

Paramount’s Justin Beiber “more footage”s stunt seemed to work and the film held unusually well.


Friday Estimates by Drive Klady in 3D


Klady’s 4-Day Estimates

Okay… let’s start with the stupid overreaction at the LA Times to the possible non-reoccurrence of an event that happened once in the history of the movie business, now being posited as a change in the overall movie business. (Can you hear my eyes rolling?)

In 2009, two January releases grossed over $100 million domestic. It has never happened before. It didn’t happen last year. In fact, in the entire history of movies, these were the ONLY two films ever to launch in January – there are a bunch of Oscar holdovers from the year before that went wide in January and went on to $100m grosses – that EVER grossed $100m… period. And The Green Hornet may join them as the 3rd such film EVER.

So the trend piece must be that box office is up this January, right? No. OF course not.

Perhaps we need to have a broader perspective. 2009 was one of four times in movie history when two films, released in either/or January or February grossed as much as $100m domestic. It looks like 2011 will be the fifth such occurrence with both The Green Hornet and Just Go With It heading to that mark, both from Sony btw. So things must be okay, right? No. Of course not. Oh… and Gnomeo & Juliet could well crack $100m too, which would be the first time in history we had three Jan/Feb releases hit that mark. Still, not good enough not to launch a negative trend piece.

The illogical of suggesting that comparing one film from by an actor and the next one and claiming it is even close to scientific is obvious. It’s like saying something is wrong with the box office because Sam Worthington did $760 million in Avatar and then just $164 million in Clash of the Titans. People must be sick of effects movies… right… WRONG.

Box office inspires some of the most moronic trend stories of all. Why did the box office look like it did this December? The movies, stupid. No blockbuster leaves a lot more room for mid-range films to do even better. Why didn’t The Dilemma do as well as Paul Blart: Mall Cop? The movies, stupid. To start with, Paul Blart was well positioned as a broad family comedy. The Dilemma was an adult comedy set around issues of cheating on your spouse. Obviously, with Ron Howard and Vince Vaughn, they were hoping for a lot more money. But people could tell you from the “gay” controversy on, the film never got real traction.

WB opens a Liam Neeson action movie in February that doesn’t quite match the opening of what was, by far, the best Liam Neeson opening or gross with him as the leading man and we’re supposed to be discussing what’s wrong with the box office? It’s the movie marketing, stupid. “I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.” Great sell.

Meanwhile, Justin Bieber’s concert film is already the #3 concert film of all time and may pass Miley Cyrus, given the surprising hold Par managed this weekend.

Trend stories suck.



Friday Estimates by Unknown Klady #4

Well. They got that out of their system.

I am Number Four is the first release from DreamwWorks 3.0. (Or maybe, DW sees this as 4.0, thus the title of their first film… hmmmm…) Thirteen and a half years ago, DreamWorks SKG launched with The Peacemaker, grossing $4 million on opening day. This time, it’s a similarly mediocre, but not disastrous $6.1 million. The difference between this film’s open and Eagle Eye‘s $9.8m launch day may well be Shia LaBeouf. Both films were directed by DJ Caruso. Both films feature a lot of flashy-looking stuff. But Shia playing against type here might have been a home run instead of a single hoping to leg out a double.

Welcome back into the pool, DW.

Of course, if Number Five is alive and Number Four is a bore, it’s Liam Neeson looking for someone (himself) in the #1 slot for the day with Unknown. It’s Jaume Collet-Serra’s third picture for Warner Bros and Liam Neeson is doing for him what Paris Hilton (House of Wax) and a creepy girl (Orphan) couldn’t… breaking him out of the $12m opening weekend groove.

Warners smartly did a marketing campaign that felt as much like Taken as possible. They haven’t disappeared Diane Kruger and January Jones, but they aren’t emphasizing them either. Taken opened to $9.4m. All-in-all, WB did well for themselves here. Though $100m isn’t realistic here, there should be enough of a gross to make the movie fairly profitable.

Fox brings us the third new release this weekend, which is also the third in its Big Momma series… the one where Martin Lawrence hands the keys to the series over to a new kid. But you would never know it from the ads. Regardless, it hasn’t taken. The first film opened to $7.7m, the second to $8.4m… and now this one to an estimated $4.7m. Maybe Brendan T. Jackson isn’t very funny in drag. I don’t know. But you would think they would have a better shot at a young audience with some new energy. Instead, it’s Martin Lawrence getting caught naked in his fat suit… again. Sigh.

Sandler had a decent hold, Gnomeo had a good hold, and Justin Bieber dropped a spectacular 70% by Len’s Friday-to-Friday estimate.

The King’s Speech is the only Oscar Best Picture still in the Top 10, holding strong and on course to pass $100 million this weekend. TKS passed The Social Network on Thursday, as expected. That makes TSN the #6 grosser amongst BP nominees. The only good news for the film is that unless there is a major upset, it looks like the domestic gross for The Fighter will remain behind TSN in the battle of the two sides of the Massachusetts tracks.

Come Monday, this will be the second year in a row with five of the ten nominees grossing over $100 million domestic.


Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon