Box Office Archive for November, 2009

Weekend Estimates by Klady – 11/29/09

Twilight: New Moon is at about double the 2 weekend gross of the first film. And here is where it starts getting interesting, box-office-wise. On either side of its massive opening, Pirates added 60% of its two weekend domestic gross, which would put T:NM at about $370m in the end. Spidey 3 did about 40% more than its two weekend domestic gross, which would put T:NM at about $325m domestic. The percentage of opening weekend vs final domestic gross amongst the Top 10 openers of all time ranges from 25% to 45% (that’s Spidey 3), so who knows?
After a 15 year movie star career with just 3 $100 million domestic grossers, Sandra Bullock now has 2 in one year. Both will outgross her previous high, her first $100m grossser, Speed and its $122m gross. Both have already outgrossed any female-led film this year except for T:NM. Yes, Virginia, Sandra Bullock is the biggest female star in the world… again. Magic Meryl is a solid #2, with Julie & Julia grossing about $93m domestic and It’s Complicated likely to gross more than $60 million domestic as well… and don’t forget Mamma Mia!‘s amazing $610m worldwide gross just last year.
Some will quibble about what a Drama is… but The Blind Side is, to my eye, the first $100 million drama of the year and seems sure to outgross – domestically – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, last year’s only $100m grossing drama.
2012 has done okay in the US, but as is often the case with Roland Emmerich, the story is overseas, where it has already grosssed over $450 million and looks like it will end up over $550m, which would make its international gross alone more than the worldwide total for The Day after Tomorrow. Emmerich’s career-best gross, ID4, is safe, but 2012 will be #2. (Insert Joke Here.)
The return to the Wild Hogs well, Old Dogs, opened to about 40% of the progenitor… or about what people thought Hogs would open to when it showed up. The bottom line for me remains that when you have two movie stars and your key marketing element is Seth Green singing to a monkey, you are in trouble.
A Christmas Carol is running about 30% ahead of where The Polar Express was at this point in its run. If that continues, you’re looking at a $200 million domestic gross. I would guess it will come up short of that, especially with Avatar coming to eat every IMAX screen that IMAX can find for it. But if it ends up in the year’s Top 10, will it still be the crushing commercial disappointment that it was portrayed as a few weeks ago?
Ninja Assassin reminds us that when a movie is treated like it deserves to be dumped by a studio, audience will smell that.
Unless it finds a way to turn the history of such things, Precious hit its box office wall this weekend. Once a film start losing box office in an under-1000 screen release, it rarely recovers in terms of weekend grosses, no matter how many screens are added.
It seems pretty clear that the template that Lionsgate was working with on the film was a combination of No Country For Old Men and a slightly accelerated Brokeback Mountain a month earlier on the release schedule. Brokeback maxed in its last positive % change in Weekend 7 with $7.4m and a $41.7m total domestic gross. The total was about double that.
No Country had a more exciting run, from Lionsgate perspective. Like Precious, the film started negative % changes in its second weekend over 200 screens. But it went on to do about 3.3x the gross it had hit that weekend. The next weekend, it dropped to a $4.1m weekend and would see only one weekend over $3 million after that… after winning Best Picture. But the film played for 14 more weeks of over $1m at the box office.
So $65 or $100 million domestic… it could go either way… or, of course, somewhere else altogether.


Friday Estimates by Klady (Thanks)

Corrected Klady chart
There is a real opportunity for this to be the first Thanksgiving 5-day to have more than four $20 million grossers… and it could be six such titles.
Twilight: New Moon is already at $41.4m for the 5-day with 2 days to go.
The Blind Side is already at $33.2m for the 5-day with 2 days to go.
2012 – $14.7m in 3/5
Old Dogs – $14.1m in 3/5
Ninja Assassin – $$13.5m in 3/5
A Christmas Carol – $13m in 3/5


Weekend Box Office by Klady (Vampire)

An estimated $258.8 million worldwide – we can discuss how absurd it is for the LAT or any other journalistic organization to be sending out corrections for an estimate 4% different than the first published estimate later – is very impressive. A summer number for a top franchise in mid-November.
I don’t know what else to say about this that I haven’t already said. It will fascinating to see how well the movie holds… or doesn’t. But I don’t have any strong feelings about it. When you get these kinds of numbers, history can be more distracting than insightful.
Just last weekend, 2012 did $225 million worldwide. And the studio’s estimates for the end of this weekend have it at $450m worldwide. It’s Team Who The Hell Is In The Movie vs Team I Don’t Really Care About This Film, But That Sarah Palin 2012 Gag Was Pretty Funny.

Yes, because 2012 is a lot more expensive, it will not be nearly as profitable as New Moon. But it will probably gross more… which is also irrelevant on some level… but reminds us that so much of the “excitement” is coming from the media and what movies seem to sell more magazines and not based on what are actually the most popular films.
The Blind Side, a movie I quite like – one of those cases where an embargo kept me from writing about it until I was distracted by other things and never did – may have actually benefited from the New Moon hysteria. I thought there would be a critical wave against the Bullock starrer, for reasons I will explain in my review, and a real effort to make people feel silly for loving this movie. I also thought that people would find the movie in increasing numbers of the weeks to come as word-of-mouth built.
I think this film can play, given the rest of the release schedule, through Christmas. They have just started tapping that various audiences for this film, which include religious groups who choose to see the film – which doesn’t push the issue hard – as a triumph of faith and well as the aforementioned football crowd. I mentioned the lack of push for me before and someone commented that they had seen plenty of ads on sports shows. I have watched football on four days of the week, plus plenty of ESPN in recent weeks and there have some ads. But even as I sit right now watching Michael Oher staring as a rookie for the Ravens, there has not been an ad or a single mention by the announcers (at least since the 2nd quarter) of the guy who is the center of a $33 million movie opening.
On the flip side, Precious continues to grow strongly. $11 million on 657 screens is exceptional and Oprah’s announcement just happened to be on an episode with Gabby Sidibe. Smart.
Vince Vaughn has quietly continued his great run of having $100 million-plus movies in 5 of the last 6 years with Couples Retreat crossing the line in the last week. (The exception was Fred Claus coming up short in 2007.) It’s not quite Tom Cruise’s run of 7 straight years with a $100 million movie and it’s not quite Tom Hanks, who did 5 years in a row twice. Vaughn is not quite the guarantee they were. But it’s pretty damned impressive.


Friday Estimates by Klady (Werewolf)

Klady’s Friday estimate for New Moon is a few million lower than others, but still a new record. The number is about double the Friday for the first film.
That said, the big question here will be the multiple. The box office is getting more and more front-loaded. Twilight did 2.9x opening. You have to figure that this one is looking at around $130m for the 3-day. At the first multiple,that would be about $375 million domestic. But I am thinking more a 2.2x multiple and $286m domestic. That would put it in the realm of other 2009 movies Watchmen, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fast and Furious, and Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail. This is not a doubt of the quality of the film itself, though it seems to be – to others, I wasn’t invited to see it – a less thrilling experience than the first film of the series. It is the nature of having such intense must-see response to a film that is niche… albeit a big niche.
New Moon so skews everything this weekend that it is hard to read the opening for The Blind Side… except to note that this will be Sandra Bullock’s #2 opening of all time, right after The Proposal. What confuses me about opening opposite “the girl movie of the year” is that even though Blind Side has a giant football player at its core, I haven’t seen a very hard push for the film with men, who would seem to be a key demo, especially this weekend. Still, a good start, even if it is in the shadow of the vamps.
This is less true of Sony’s Planet 51. Thing is, even though this number is crap when compared to the big studio animated releases, it’s pretty good for a group of films that now needs a name… say, B-Animation. This is made of up films that majors acquire but which are not up to the standards that audiences expect from in-house, more expensively produced product. In this case, Sony picked up domestic theatrical only for this film made with UK financing.
By that standard, an opening of $7m – $9m is not so bad. TWC’s Hoodwinked is the king of this genre. Here’s a list…
As you can plainly see, the holdovers all got slammed yesterday by New Moon‘s opening, though that should ease up over the weekend, in part because of less tickets sold for the vamps and in part because many of these films probably lost screening times to multiplexes stealing every screen they could for the big opening of the month.
It looks like 2012 will come up well short of The Day After Tomorrow, but $450 million still seems inevitable as a worldwide number, which is about enough for this one to break even.


Weekend Estimates by Klady – 11/15/2012

(NOTE: “Weee” is a typo… the film is Richard Kelly’s The Box.
So a few stats from the folk at Sony:
With $160 million worldwide, 2012 is the biggest international opening of all-time for a non-sequel and the #5 international opening of all-time.
1) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 236m
2) Spider-Man, 3 231m
3 )Pirates of Caribbean:At World


Friday Estimates by Klady – Oh Those Mayans

The Day After Tomorrow numbers for Emmerich. Not shocking. Not even interesting. living testament to marketing and people’s willingness to rush out to see the world destroyed by CG.
A Christmas Carol‘s hold is, like many Fri-to-Fri numbers, a little exaggerated, this time for the better. The film played a lot stronger on Saturday that on hysteria Friday (the day the film was tagged, unfairly, as a disappointment forever), so a 37% hold, which is great these days, really won’t be clear until Saturday’s drop is known… late tonight. the film will likely pass the second weekend number on The Santa Clause 2, which went on to to $140m domestic. #4 Christmas-themed movie of all-time is well within range.
Precious is heading to a $35k per number on 174 screens. Still very impressive. The film seems to be using a variation of No Country… a little faster… a little hotter…


What's A Thriller?

The remarkable success of Paranormal Activity is good reason for Paramount and the company that found the movie, DreamWorks, to crow… but is the claim sold to their resident flack/blogger that it is now the highest grossing R-rated thriller of the last decade fair to other films?
Inglourious Basterds $119,973,810
District 9 $115,646,235
Watchmen $107,509,799
Paranormal Activity $100,000,000
Wanted $134,508,551
300 $210,614,939
American Gangster $130,164,645
The Departed $132,384,315
The Matrix Reloaded $281,576,461
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines $150,371,112
The Matrix Revolutions $139,313,948
Bad Boys II $138,608,444
Road to Perdition $104,454,762
Hannibal $165,092,268
Black Hawk Down $108,638,745
Traffic $124,115,725
It is, however, the clear top grosser amongst the R-rate horror films…


Defining Success & Failure

I was writing a response to a comment in another thread and I realized that the issue was bigger than one person’s idea of what is an accurate analysis of box office success and failure.
This is how I see it…
Expectations are a minor issue. I don’t care what the spin is. I care what is realistic based on the history of films. Obviously, there are spectacular outliers, like The Dark Knight or All About Steve. And there is the issue of budget. And there is the issue of future income streams as well.
So on a weekend in which A Christmas Carol to an estimated $30.7 million, how do you determine whether that it “disappointing” or not?
What you do not do… what you should be fired for doing… is to lead a story on the gross, “‘It just might be a little too early for the Christmas stuff,’ lamented a distribution executive at a rival studio, who had predicted a $40 million-$45 million opening for ‘Disney


Weekend Estimates by Klady – Carolling, Goating & Precious, Oh My

So A Christmas Carol becomes the second target of “it’s soft” b.s. b.o. chatter in two weeks with an opening right in range with the best Christmas film openings ever, save only The Grinch That Stole Christmas, which opened to $55m the week before Thanksgiving in 2000. The hold over the weekend was good and the minimum for the film, domestically, now looks like $120 million… it’s high about $160 million… with Avatar in the way of any real chance to become all-time #3 for the genre, beating Elf and behind The Polar Express and Grinch, as most of the the 3D screens will be gone two weekends before Christmas.
#2 at the box office, by estimate, is last weekend’s false whipping boy, This Is It, which held much stronger on Saturday than on Friday. Domestically, the film will be the #1 concert film of all-time domestically and the film already has that honor overseas, where Sony estimates this weekend to take it to $128.6m over there. That puts this “disappointment” at more than 2.5x the Miley Cyrus concert film worldwide, the previous record holder and well past Woodstock, whose numbers seem to be a bit blurry, appropriately.
No new notions on The Men Who Stare At Goats. It’s a solid opening for a Clooney film without mega-marketing or a superstar ensemble.
The hold on Paranormal Activity, at 49% this week, is impressive to me. For the film to be doing $8.4 million at this point, it needs to be drawing in people who are still curious enough to pass on the big new titles, including The Fourth Kind, which did a little better in its opening than this week of PA, but to me, PA is more impressive.
Some may see $7.7m for The Box as a disaster, but not I. Warners was fairly conservative in budgeting the marketing… which might have been a misstep. But for Richard Kelly, this is a big number… a mainstream number. And regardless of what the movie is, the broad concept of this film was, to my eye, marketable. Truth is, Warners shouldn’t be doing movies like this. It’s just not a strength.
The Precious number, per-screen, is truly unique. The comparable numbers, beyond the animated films that have been opened exclusively just before massive wide releases, are Dreamgirls and Brokeback Mountain… but those screen counts were 2 and 5, respectively. And even the animated openings were all 6 screens or less. So to do over $100k per-screen on 18 screens is a singular event.
What does it mean? Well, obviously, the heavy publicity push via Oprah and a willing media corps has reached the core audience and made this a must-go this weekend. But what is also unusual about this film is that they rolled it out so early in the season… that is, the holiday season. Both of those other giant per-screen openers opened in December and went on to get strong results over the MLK weekend holiday and then again, with Oscar noms, extending those runs. The timing of the Precious release puts a bit more pressure on the film to perform and maintain in a crowded field going into Thanksgiving.
Slumdog opened a weekend later last season – presumably, the template for Lionsgate on this – stayed under 100 screens until December, then under 1000 screens until nominations. The film did 68% of its business after those nominations. But Precious has already busted out of that paradigm, grossing more this weekend than Slumdog did in its first 14 days. So that comparison doesn’t seem likely to hold either.
Bottom Line: I don’t know. No one knows. The history of heated openings like this zig zags between box office smashes and box office not-bads, Oscar nominees and the Oscar forgotten. The good news, commercially, is that no film with a per-screen over $75k on opening weekend has grossed less than $40 million domestic.
The less thrilling news is that when you look at American Beauty, No Country For Old Men, and Dances With Wolves, the three Oscar winners with the biggest per-screens at opening, they also opened on more than 10 screens (16, 28, 14, respectively) and all opened to less than half the Precious per-screen. How can it be bad to do better than those films, you ask, especially when No Country and Wolves both opened in early November? Well, the answer is that this kind of overwhelming launch can suggest a well-sold, hard core of interest, but not necessarily the kind of wide popularity that wins Oscars.
But again… I don’t know. These numbers are singular and only time will turn speculation into even a well-educated guess.


Klady's Friday Estimates – Scrooged

Elf opened on November 7, 2003 to $8.96m and grossed $31.3m for the 3-day… and $173 million for the run. Does this mean that Disney’s A Christmas Carol will match that remarkable run? No. But we don’t really know. $150 million domestic off of this opening would not be surprising. Anything less than $110m domestic would be surprising.
Precious is going “exclusive” wider than Brokeback Mountain, but the results for the weekend are quite similar. BM did $38,309 on each of 5 screens on its first day. According to Klady, Precious is looking at $32,222 on each of 18. Given the wider berth, the Precious number is slightly more impressive to me. It is also opening a month earlier than BM, which is an interesting strategy, given that Brokeback waited all the way until nominations to go as wide as 1000 screens. It’s hard to imagine Lionsgate waiting so long.
Anyone who is surprised by the number on The Men Who Stare At Goats just isn’t looking at Clooney history. Aside from the Oceans movies and a slight uptick on the Pitt-led Burn After Reading, this is actually his best opening since The Perfect Storm in Summer 2000. It’s right where Leatherheads ($4.6m opening Friday) and Intolerable Cruelty ($4.1m opening Friday) opened.
This Is It is slowing, but it is still surprisingly strong and with the extension is not a bad bet to pass the Hannah/Miley Best of Both Worlds Concert’s domestic record of $65.3m after it is will end this weekend in the mid-50s.
(Edit, 2:47p – for Elf year error)


The Numbers On Ho Ho Dough

Only 14 Christmas movies in history have grossed more than $50 million domestic. Only one (Christmas Vacation) opened in December… and that was December 1. One other, The Nightmare Before Christmas, opened in October, presumably selling “nightmare” before “Christmas.”
The first film to successfully break the “open it the week before Thanksgiving” rule to great success was Disney’s The Santa Clause, which opened on November 11 to $19.3 million and did 7.5 times that number ($144.8m) by the time it died shortly after New Years, as all these movies do. That result had a lot to do with how well-liked that particular movie was… but there was also an understanding that Christmas titles could start early than previously traditional.
Santa Clause 2 opened on November 1, push this even further, and did 4.8x opening. Santa Clause 3 opened Nov 3 and did 4.33x opening. Elf opened on Nov 7 and did 5.57x opening. The Polar Express opened Nov 10 and did 7.75x opening.
There are still some success stories opening later. Bad Santa, Christmas With The Cranks, and last year’s Four Christmases all opened right on top of Thanksgiving and did well. But all three films also skewed a bit older than most other X-mas films.
Interestingly, the worst multiple for a Christmas film that would gross over $50 million domestic was Four Christmases‘ 3.87x… maybe they would have liked to have opened earlier, in retrospect.
So whatever does happen with A Christmas Carol this weekend, it’s not too early to open it. And you can bet on the final domestic gross being somewhere between 4x opening and 6x opening.


Weekend Estimates by Klady – 11/01/09

Okay… more drama…
In the first 5 days, This Is It blew Hannah/Miley off the map to be the biggest concert film of all time worldwide. Finkebaugh and the others who foolishly bit deeply on the hype around this film – as though this hype was any different than the hype for every other film out there – are still busy trying to sell this as a disappointment.
Do people understand this… because it is not the first time I have brought it up. We are now responding to hype as though it is news and then attacking the news because “we” bought into the hype.
This Is It is now a lock to be the #2 documentary of all time, as it will pass March of The Penguins‘ $127m worldwide in the next few days. Only Fahrenheit 9/11 will stand in the way of it becoming the biggest documentary of all-time, with the $223 million cume likely too big a hurdle to overcome. Even so, when you start looking at DVD sales, much less record sales, this film is pretty much guaranteed to create more revenue than any documentary in history, probably tripling F/911’s DVD sales at minimum.
How very disappointing!
Finkebaugh and others who have given themselves whiplash switching between ecstasy and mockery over the numbers for this film are still trying to cover their own asses. “CON ARTISTS!,” is NIkki’s headline, even though she and everyone else who covers this stuff had to know that an extension was inevitable… just as it was with the Miley Cyrus movie… and in that case, not very successfully. The domestic box office grew only 18.5% from the extension past the first 10 days.
“But it’s not the biggest opening of all-time worldwide!” Waaaaa! “But the concert promoter selling this thing told us that it would have a $250m worldwide first weekend!” Waaaaaaa!
(ADDED 11:27a – A blog commenter smartly pointed out another hypocrisy. Isn’t this a close relation to the winning scam that Paramount ran on Paranormal Activity… claiming that audience demand expanded the release when the theaters were booked months in advance? The big difference… the media felt like they were part of the win there and this time, they feel like suckers for having bought into AIG hype.)
And this is not just a single case. Bruno did about $140m worldwide… which was a lot less than Borat‘s $265m worldwide… but it still covered the $45 million that the movie was purchased for and put $32 million towards the publicity-heavy marketing campaign. A profitable film.
Does anyone talk about The Proposal grossing more and costing significantly less than Inglourious Basterds or Angels & Demons being the #5 worldwide film of the year or Up being touted as the movie that would mark the end of Pixar’s hot run or that Confessions of a Shopaholic outgrossed Julie& julia worldwide?
The media isn’t doing its job covering the box office, even if they are fighting like dogs in heat to get to the numbers FIRST.
And sadly, this is the canary in the media coal mine.
Anyone still pushing the idea of This Is It as a disappointment should be publicly ridiculed. Aggressively. You know, every movie gets greenlit with the hopes of it being a huge success. If studio executives took every producer/salesman on face value, then 99.9% of all movie are a disappointment. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen hoped to get to the billion dollar mark. Disappointing. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is the highest grossing animated film in history internationally, but didn’t even get to $200 million in America. Disappointing. X-Men Origins: Wolverine grossed $86 million less worldwide than X-Men: The Last Stand and cost about $70 million less. Still… disappointing. And of course, Harry Potter VI started a about 15% faster than any other Potter film but ended up being just the #3 grosser in the series. So very disappointing.
It is still true… hyping up the media sets studios up for harsh press if numbers are not as hyped. But the idea that the media is giving up responsibility for its reporting to publicists… not just accepting information, but choosing not to process the obviously-skewed information with any effort more aggressive than a rewrite of the facts or a little semantic pushback when we are somehow personally disappointed… it’s horrible.
And let’s not pretend it’s innocent. “Projections by the studio were not met” is reporting a fact. “Disappointment” is claiming an emotion that reflects the intent to slap back at the feeling of having been set up for more. Plus, reporting what other studios are saying as though they are impartial observers is another remarkable break in trust with readers.
It is time for journalists – especially on the web, but hardly only online – to stop acting like publicists, so anxious about building audience that we don’t act on our responsibility to readers to report and instead, try to serve them what we think they want. More hype.


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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