Posts Tagged ‘unstoppable’


Wednesday, February 16th, 2011


Unstoppable (Three and a Half Stars)
U.S.: Tony Scott, 2010 (20th Century Fox)

Unstoppable, a blow-you-out-of-your seat thriller about a runaway train — by Tony Scott, who knows how to make action movies, but doesn’t always make them this well — starts strong, hits the tracks fast, tears out the brakes, takes off like a shot, and then just keeps racing and accelerating, ratcheting up the action and raising the stakes, barreling through Pennsylvania and all of writer Mark Bomback’s plot twists and character cues with costars Denzel Washington (the grumpy old engineer) and Chris Pine (the slick young conductor), blasting along with a lung-clutching velocity “Die Hard“ could only dream of, until it leaves you breathless (Phewww!) at the last stop.

If you watch this movie and say you weren’t excited, then you probably weren’t paying much attention. If you think it’s the same old Tony Scott — remembering that last silly runaway remake subway train movie he made — you’re partly right, though this is the funnier, jazzier Tony Scott of Spy Game or True Romance, not the scriptless flash of The Fan and The (Mis)Taking of Pelham One Two Three.

And if you complain about all that talk and babbling backstory between Washington’s Frank Barnes and Pine’s Will Colson, or between Rosario Dawson’s traffic manager Connie Hopper and Kevin Dunn’s greed-crazed creep of a Veep of Operations Galvin, or between Connie and the guys, Galvin and his bosses, and all those TV news people (Fox, local and otherwise) and the nation, all trying to keep up with the action, you’re actually attacking a lot of what makes this movie work so well, move so fast — and what’s more, something that most other action movies should have in their bags of tricks too.

But they mostly don’t. A lot of the new actioners have hollow, unambitious, phony-baloney scripts: plenty of action, but not much room for acting, even the economical emoting we see here. How can you get excited about a riderless train, if it’s being pursued, in a way, by other riderless trains and pilotless helicopters and copless cop cars, and formula heroes and heroines just along for the ride?

The General needed Buster Keaton. But Runaway Train also needed Jon Voight and Eric Roberts. And Unstoppable needs, and has, Washington as Barnes, the crusty old 28-year vet about to be put out to trackless pasture by the corporate cruds of his world — and Pine as Will, the twenty-something, well-connected railroad rookie, who represents everything blue-collar Frank despises, justly, while Frank represents something whiter-collar Will resents and misunderstands, not too wisely or well.

The movie and the actors swiftly sketch these two, and their families (a Hooters scene) and their class backgrounds, their conflict, and the mutual competence and feistiness that both will bring to the tasks soon at hand — and the picture and the guys give that speed-portrait just the right, more relaxed but steady opening style and rhythms, churning under the slowly mounting tension of catastrophe to come.

What goes wrong with the train here, comes partly from the real-life story of the driverless CSX train with a cargo of toxic chemicals that really went racing though Ohio in 2001. And though this story is an exaggerated version of that event, re-set in Pennsylvania, it’s cleverly overdrawn, retaining just enough real-lifey touches and semi-veracity, and just enough heavily-detailed railroad and police rescue backgrounds to keep us from going “Give me a break” at every rest stop. We’ll do it anyway, some of us, but probably with more affection than exasperation.

We’re off on the wild ride we expect: a constantly frantic, slam-bang but neatly
controlled race though a familiar but still wickedly exciting thriller-landscape, replete at times with another trainful of all-too-vulnerable schoolchildren, a heroic but futile attempted train-snatch on the tracks, and a gutsy Marine dangling precariously and heart-stoppingly from a helicopter, trying to set himself down on the roof of a train by now, by God, going 70 m.p.h. or more.

If you think about it for a while, it does begin to seem a little implausible — all those cliff-hangers on one train, and all those Fox cameras trained on all that action for so long, without anyone shoving Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich into the frame. (Maybe it’s still 2001.) But the movie never gives you time to think. If you mull over what could possibly happen, and what did happen (some of which is on the screen, exaggerated), you might go “Hey, whoa….”

But Unstoppable doesn’t give you time to mull. It’s always two stops ahead of you, thirty seconds before the track-switch, one helicopter-dangle above us, and three cars in front of your caboose. You barely have time for anything but a laugh or a “wow.” The movie, like Hitchcock, makes us accept and enjoy the implausible (a slice of life that becomes a slice of cake), not least because Washington, Pine, and Dawson are such good company, and Dunn is the right kind of bad company.

Washington is one of those actors who, like the great noir leading men of the ‘40s — Bogart, Mitchum, Cagney, Ryan, Garfield, Douglas, Lancaster, Widmark — is equally good as hero or villain. (He got his leading man Oscar as a bad guy in Training Day, and his breakthrough part was as another baddie in A Soldier’s Story. That dual good-and-evil gift materializes because Washington isn’t afraid to show an edge or an attitude in his roles, which is why Frank is a believable old cuss, even when he’s hopping on those roofs.

I love trains (wish I could take them more often) and I love a lot of train movies, though usually the more leisurely ones, like Keaton’s The General, and Hitchcock‘s The Lady Vanishes, or the train sections in Hitch’s North by Northwest and Strangers on a Train, in Billy Wilder‘s Some Like It Hot and John Hughes’ Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Sidney Lumet’s film of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. But I also like Konchalovsky’s hectic, hell-on-the-tracks Runaway Train; I only wish I could have seen a version of that movie directed by the original writer Akira Kurosawa. (It’s the sensei’s story, after all.)

Train movies tend to be more visually interesting than plane pictures, simply because trains have more space to stage stuff, besides which, all that landscape rushing by outside can become almost another character. “Unstoppable” is so good on one level, because Scott so fully exploits almost everything you can do with a train on screen, except drop it off the Bridge over the River Kwai. (Well, maybe not quite everything. There are no North by Northwest-style upper berth double entendres.)

But movies like Unstoppable also work because of the way they‘re able to mix glamour and sarcasm, reality and fantasy, action and reactions, speed and smarts.  Scott has made some half-dumb or illogical (but sometimes exciting) movies, including Beverly Hills Cop 2, The Last Boy Scout and his and Denzel’s ruination of “Pelham.” And have you seen Top Gun lately? (Or better yet, actor Quentin Tarantino‘s comic-phallic deconstruction of  Top Gun, in Sleep With Me?)

The younger Scott sometimes seems like the actor who brags he can make an audience cry with anything, including the phone book. True maybe, but why keep sticking yourself with wrong numbers like The Fan? The point is that T-Scott can make even a mess of a script pretty exciting, sometimes hellishly exciting. But with a good script, or a decent one, or with very good actors enjoying themselves, he’s that much better. (Anyone is, of course.)

Man, can he keep the speed up. Man, can he shoot (with cinematographer Ben Seresin.) Man, can he cut (with editors Robert Duffy and Chris Lebenzon). Man, can he score those action sequence knockouts. And man, can he stage one hell of a train chase. This is as good as Tony Scott can do, maybe as good as he’ll ever do.

Of course, Kurosawa could have done it better.
Extras: Commentary with Scott; Featurettes; Digital copy.


You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger (Three and a Half Stars)

U.S.-U.K.; Woody Allen, 2010 (Sony)

Here’s Woody Allen with a classy example from his current British period: an ensemble romantic-comedy-drama about writers, infidelity, the occult and big moral questions.

It’s quite good, it’s quite smart, and, as usual with Allen, it offers us those delights of language, wit and canny social observation that most romantic comedies these days ignore.

The direction is light and impeccably balanced. The cast is excellent. Josh Brolin plays a novelist who’s begun to suspect he has only ordinary gifts. (Decades ago, Woody would have played this part.) Naomi Watts — sort of sitting in for the Diane Keaton or Mia Farrow of happier days — is the writer’s wife, who develops the hots for her seductive employer (Antonio Banderas, very good in what might have been a “tall dark stranger” role slated for Javier Bardem).

Meanwhile, novelist Brodin finds an unusual solution for creative block and also falls for the exotic girl next door (Freida Pinto). And Naomi‘s (temporarily) well-off father (Anthony Hopkins in the role Allen might have well played today) takes up with a bouncy, not-too-bright hooker (Lucy Punch, stepping into some old Mira Sorvino shoes).

Is there someone we can honestly like in all of this? Yes indeed. Gemma Jones plays Naomi‘s dotty but lovable mother, a kindly but unhip matriarch who’s developed a passion in old age for séances, psychics and the supernatural — and even a fling of her own.

Sadly, Woody himself seems to have disappeared from his movie (as a player) almost entirely.  He didn’t write himself a misanthropic old codger role (even one that he could have handed off to Larry David), and he doesn‘t play the Hopkins part, with a New York Jewish rather than Welsh/British accent. He doesn’t even narrate this one, and he definitely should have. But at least he wrote and directed it, and without pitching any parts to Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis or Vince Vaughn. Bet they’d have played them.
No extras.


Thelma and Louise (Blu-ray) (20th Anniversary Edition) (Four Stars)
U.S.: Ridley Scott, 1990 (MGM)

Thelma is the bossed and bullied trophy-wife of a middle class Arkansas doofus business guy. Louise is her best friend, a streetwise, countrywise waitress . The two take off for a road trip without their guys: Thelma’s neurotic district manager husband (Chris McDonald), and Louise’s  good-hearted. good ol’ boy boyfriend Jimmy (Michael Madsen). It looks like fun — and director Ridley Scott and writer Callie Khouri give their knockout star pair some drop-dead gorgeous backdrops (the fires lit by Adrian Biddle) and a bubbly, irresistible  comic rhythm and tone — until the gals run into good music and bad men at a loud and rowdy Country & Western bar.

There, things go wrong. The fun-loving but too often repressed Thelma is lured outside by a local Lothario (Timothy Carhart), and then slammed against an engine hood, with rape commencing. Gun-packing Louise comes to her pal’s rescue, puts a gun to his ear. But the Lothario (Timothy Carhart) makes one fatal sexist wisecrack too many, Louise blows her cool (partly due, we later learn, to an ugly past), and she shoots and kills the attacker almost by reflex. Now, the ladies, not thinking clearly, are on the run, in the kind of road movie they made so well in the ‘70s, and so often badly afterwards.

As T. & L. race across the desert roads (made up mostly of California locations and a bit of Utah, masquerading as the great American Southwest), they are occasionally harassed by gross truckers, while being pursued by protective Harvey Keitel, as a cop who wants to save them, and Stephen Tobolowski, as a creepy FBI man we suspect probably won’t.

They also meet up with a sexy hitchhiker, a cowboy-hatted, blue-jeaned convenience store robber named J.D. who really rings Thelma‘s bell, played with loopy relish and realism by Brad Pitt. It’s a role that probably should have gotten Pitt an Oscar nomination (matching the ones for  both Geena’s Thelma and Susan’s Louise and the actual Oscar that Callie Khouri’s script won). J.D.  probably made him a movie star instead.`

But though we may dig bad boy Pitt (who turns the screws expertly and makes us dislike J. D. mightily in his last scene), we tend to fall in love with Thelma and Louise. They’re two of the sexiest gal roles Davis and Sarandon (or anybody) ever had. But they’re also characters with whom we sympathize and for whom we root, even though their road movie race to Mexico, to avoid a cop who actually wants to help them, is somewhat ill-advised and senseless. (Then again, much of life is ill-advised and senseless.)

The lead actresses still look and act great. Davis’s Thelma is a beaten-down belle who suddenly finds the inner femme fatale in herself, and David makes that part sing. Sarandon’s Louise is a spunky but wounded woman who tries to be a good person, but keeps getting smacked — and, like most of the best Sarandon roles, she‘s earthy and real and heartbreakingly gorgeous. Together the two of them are magic. The leave-taking scene in the diner between Louise and Madsen’s hard-case but loving Jimmy is one of the most beautiful goodbyes in any American movie — and the last radiantly smiling farewell of Thelma and Louise is even better.

People really loved or hated this movie back in 1991 — and I’m with the latter group. It’s a slightly preachy show, and since both Scott and Khouri intended it as a feminist statement, the script could actually have gone either way, been a dog or a phony as well as a gem. If Thelma and Louise” hadn’t been cast so superlatively well, or if it had been drenched in doom, gloom and messages — instead of getting the seductive, funny, exhilarating treatment Scott gives it, the movie might have worn us out. We wouldn’t have loved the characters as much, and we wouldn’t have felt what we finally do at that rousing cliff’s edge climax.

Along with Chinatown, Point Blank The Godfather movies, Mikey and Nicky, Altman’s The Long Goodbye and Bonnie and Clyde — and another Ridley Scott movie, Blade RunnerThelma and Louise is one of the great neo-noirs. The bright, colorful comedy plays counterpoint to the violence and sadness; darkness and anguish underscore the sunny landscapes through which the unintentional outlaws flee.

It’s the ‘90s equivalent of love-on-the-run noir classics like Nick Ray‘s tender They Live By Night and Fritz Lang’s icy You Only Live OnceRidley Scott, in a very fine and illuminating commentary (Khouri and the stars are also available on an alternative sound track) says he had the most fun on Thelma and Louise of any movie he ever directed. It shows.

Extras: Commentary by Scott, and by Davis, Sarandon and Khouri; Featurettes; Extended ending with Scott commentary; Deleted and extended scenes; Storyboards; Glenn Frey video.


Turner Classic Movies, Greatest Classic Legends: Errol Flynn (Four Stars)
U.S.: Various Directors, 1935-48 (TCM/Warner Bros.)

Errol Flynn was a rascal, a seducer and a dissolute rogue — and, according to his biographer Charles Higham (whom I don’t believe), he may, have been far, far worse. But one look at three of the movies in this box set — the swashbuckling masterpieces Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk — and you tend to forgive him everything. I do, any way.

What does it matter how reckless and selfish a life Flynn led, as long as we can see him, as Irish doctor, rebel and pirate Peter Blood, cross swords with Basil Rathbone‘s villainous Captain Levasseur in  one of the two greatest of all movie swordfights? (The other is also between Flynn and Rathbone, in Robin Hood.)

Or  as long as we can watch Flynn as Robin of Locksley, stride so confidently and stylishly and impudently into the huge castle banquet of Prince John (Claude Rains, with his rotting smile) and heave a dead dear onto the table under the noses of John  and Guy of Gisbourne (Rathbone), lounge lazily in his Sherwood green outfit before the lords of the realm, casually insulting everybody — and then outwit and out-fight and out-race all the guards to the moat, to his horse, and to his waiting merry men?

Or see him topple the masts and shred the sails of the Spanish ship in that first great Sea Hawk battle — men, muskets and swords in a turbulent mass of bodies and weapons — and then board the ship with the rest of his cutlass-wielding crew while the third of Erich Wolfgang Korngold‘s magnificent scores on this set, erupts in choral yells  and trumpet blasts?

I’ve seen these three movies, all directed by the maestro of costume adventure and a dozen other genres, Michael Curtiz, over and over again, I watched them again to write this column, and I’ll watch them happily again some time, if I can find an excuse. Or even if I can’t.

So what if Flynn was kind of a jerk at times? (“In like Flynn,” the whole country used to say, sniggering about his alleged erotic prowess.) So what if he once abandoned his best friend David Niven to the sharks? So what if Basil Rathbone was the better swordsman? So what if Humphrey Bogart disliked him? So what if Flynn acted like a cad to Olivia de Havilland, who’d rejected him, and her boyfriend John Huston beat him up one night? (The two combatants later became friends.) So what if Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. was the nicer, more inspiring movie swashbuckler/idol, and more of an artist than Flynn?  So what if…? Well, we can’t go on like this forever. As Niven once said, “The (marvelous) thing about Errol was that you always knew where you stood with him. He always let you down.“

Who cares today? When we watch these great, rousing, brilliantly crafted Errol Flynn/Michael Curtz film adventures, we can experience the magic of movies as we were meant to. And Flynn and Curtiz (who disliked each other) become our ideal guides to that excitement, that wizardry.

I’ll make a confession. I would forgive Errol Flynn all his Wicked, Wicked Ways (part of the title of his autobiography) for even the weakest movie in this set, the tongue- in-cheek The Adventures of Don Juan, directed in 1948, after Flynn‘s heyday, by Vincent Sherman (who does a commentary here).

“Don Juan” was made after the war, when the European market for Hollywood period epics had opened again. So Flynn once more strapped on his sword, buckled his swash, leapt on a horse, and looked hither and yon for a lady, a ship, a battle, or Basil Rathbone. The man who had his brains almost beaten in by Olivia‘s lover (and almost beat Huston‘s brains in  as well) was a little older, wiser, more dissolute. But he was still ready for any kind of action, on screen or off.  In like Flynn? It’s all fantasy, of course.

But so what?

Includes: Captain Blood (U.S; Michael Curtiz, 1935) Four Stars. Adapted from one of Rafael Sabatini’s thrilling literary period adventures: along with Alexander Dumas’, Sabatini’s adventure books were the best of their kind. (My favorite is Scaramouche, which Flynn and Curtiz didn’t make.) The then-unknown Flynn, cast because Robert Donat and others turned the part down, plays a doctor turned slave turned pirate of the Caribbean. Olivia de Havilland, in the first of her many Flynn match-ups, is his ideal, noble ladylove. Rathbone and Lionel Atwill are the villains, Guy Kibbee and Ross Alexander are among Captain Blood‘s hearty crew. Blessed also with the first of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s wondrous swashbuckling scores, three in this set. Of its kind, Captain Blood is nearly perfect.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (U. S.: Curtiz & William Keighley (and, uncredited, William Dieterle), 1938) Four Stars. Flynn‘s finest hour. Ever. This is the Robin Hood legend turned pure Hollywood, pure Warner Brothers. De Havilland is Maid Marian, attended by feisty little Una O’Connor. Rathbone, Rains and Melville Cooper (as the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham) ooze villainy. The Sherwood Forest stalwarts include Patric Knowles as Will Scarlet (a role meant for Niven), Eugene Pallette as Friar Tuck and — just as he once played him for Doug Fairbanks’ 1922 Robin Hood — Alan Hale as Little John. More Korngold. More swordfights! Archery tournaments, where one arrow splits another! If you’ve ever watched this movie and didn’t yearn, for a minute or two, to be Flynn as Robin Hood (or de Havilland as Maid Marian), then I just don’t trust you.
The Sea Hawk (U.S.: Curtiz, 1940)  Four Stars. Another Sabatini novel, this time considerably altered by the pre-Casablanca Howard Koch, into an obvious symbolic saga about the impending war with the Nazis. Flynn is the dashing privateer and scourge of seagoing Spain, Geoffrey Thorpe; Brenda Marshall sits in uneasily for de Havilland (even with O’Connor to help her). The villainy is dispensed by Rains, Gilbert Roland and Henry Daniell. with Hale and J. M. Kerrigan (of The Informer) to buck Flynn up, and Flora Robson flirting with Geoffrey as Queen Elizabeth. Not as good as Captain Blood, but still one of the great sea movies.

The Adventures of Don Juan (U.S.; Vincent Sherman, 1948) Three Stars. Flynn returns to swashbuckling, after his World War II hiatus. And he’s typecast as Don Juan, lover and fighter —  aided by the faithful Leporello (Hale, natch) — who breaks hearts and skulls all across Spain. For a Don Giovanni, he’s an oddly noble fellow, but there’s a twinkle in Flynn, all the same. The Queen (Viveca Lindfors) is one of his fans; Robert Douglas and Raymond Burr are two of his enemies. This has the sometimes reputation of being tired and derivative, Flynn past his prime. Maybe that‘s true but Adventures of Don Juan is still fast, colorful, fun. And what a prime it was!

Great special features in this low-priced TCM set, whose contents are also mostly available in the previous Warners Errol Flynn costume adventure box.

Extras: Commentaries by director Sherman (on “Don Juan”) and historian/critic Rudy Behlmer (on “Robin Hood“ and “Don Juan“); Documentaries on Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk; Leonard Maltin hosting four “Warner Night at the Movies” packages, including original trailers, vintage newsreels, vintage drama, comedy, travelogue and musical shorts (with, among others, Johnny Green) and classic Looney Tunes (with, among others, Porky Pig).

DP/30: Unstoppable, sound editor Mark P. Stoeckinger

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

The Oscar nominee talks about the film and his work.

Weekend Box Office Report –January 2

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Haply New Year

True Grit closed the gap with Little Fockers but couldn’t quite overtake the seasonal gag fest. Fockers emerged at the top of the charts with an estimated $26.2 million with Grit a trot behind at $24.5 million.

The closing frame of 2010 provided no new national releases and just two additions to the last gasp of the awards season. The searing drama Blue Valentine provided an opening weekend of $174,000 from four screens while the acclaimed Brit import Another Year bowed on six screens with $117,000.

Estimates for the year peg domestic box office at $10.52 billion, which translates into a 1.5% downturn from 2009. Admissions declined by a more sizable 7% drop largely as a result of premium pricing for 3D and large format movies. Eight of the top 10 top grossing movies of the year fell into that category and 2011 promises even more stereoscopic offerings.

Theater owners are scrambling to convert screens to digital 3D to capitalize in what no one can yet proclaim as either a temporary craze or the future of film going. The enhancements have been a finger in the dike of the eroding audience but with the arrival of 3D home entertainment this year that nagging recession may not abate. And there’s little doubt that the “windows” issue — the time between theatrical and ancillary release — will intensify with exhibition making grudging concessions that can only ramp up bad blood with major suppliers.

This year’s New Year weekend box office experienced a 13% uptick from the Christmas holiday session. However, it was 29% less fulsome than the same period last year when weekend three of Avatar grossed $68.5 million with Sherlock Holmes and Alvin: The Squeakquel adding $36.6 million and $35.2 million respectively.

Adult/awards fare, which includes The Fighter, Black Swan and The King’s Speech — all likely Oscar contenders — held their own with the holiday frivolity. That still leaves seven slots for films as diverse as Toy Story 3 and Blue Valentine in year that most film reviewers have characterized as overall sub-par.

True Grit has already become The Coen Brothers biggest grossing domestic release and actor Jeff Bridges can claim the rare distinction of having two holiday films (Grit, TRON: Legacy) that will gross in excess of $100 million. He’s easily the comeback kid in a year where seemingly more audience-friendly performers (and filmmakers) have taken it on the chin.


Weekend Estimates – December 31-January 1, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Little Fockers Uni 26.2 (7,380) -15% 3554 103.1
True Grit Par 24.5 (7,960) -1% 3083 86.7
Tron: Legacy BV 18.4 (5,480) -4% 3365 131
Yogi Bear WB 12.6 (3,580) 62% 3515 65.7
Chronicles of Narnia: Dawn Treader Fox 10.3 (3,500) 9% 2948 87
The Fighter Par/Alliance 10.0 (3,960) 32% 2534 46.4
Tangled BV 9.9 (3,820) 53% 2582 167.9
Gulliver’s Travels Fox 9.0 (2,910) 42% 3089 27.1
Black Swan Fox Searchlight 8.4 (5,420) 35% 1553 47.3
The King’s Speech Weinstein Co. 7.5 (10,760) 67% 700 22.7
The Tourist Sony 6.7 (2,420) 25% 2756 54.7
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows, Part 1* WB 4.5 (2,580) 32% 1732 283.4
How Do You Know Sony 4.5 (1,800) 28% 2483 24.9
Megamind Par .57 (750) 56% 764 144.1
Unstoppable Fox .53 (1,180) 61% 450 79.5
The Social Network Sony .47 (1,890) 71% 249 93.2
Burlesque Sony .42 (1,270) 19% 330 37.8
Due Date WB .31 (770) 10% 404 98.8
127 Hours Fox Searchlight .27 (2,620) 42% 103 10.4
Red Summit .26 (860) 44% 303 89.5
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $153.60
% Change (Last Year) -29%
% Change (Last Week) 13%
Also debuting/expanding
Blue Valentine Weinstein Co. .17 (43,500) 4 0.27
Another Year Sony Classics .12 (19,550) 6 0.17
Somewhere Focus .14 (17,870) 20% 8 0.44
Rabbit Hole Lionsgate .13 (3,850) 52% 34 0.42
Casino Jack IDP 79,700 (4,430) 63% 18 0.23
The Illusionist Sony Classics 50,200 (16,730) 30% 3 0.13
Country Strong Sony 42,600 (21,300) 40% 2 0.12

Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – Dec. 23, 2010)

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (30) 1900.7 18.30%
Paramount (20) 1684.9 16.20%
Fox (20) 1470.5 14.10%
Buena Vista (17) 1408.5 13.50%
Sony (26) 1258.5 12.10%
Universal (19) 844.2 8.10%
Summit (11) 522.8 5.00%
Lionsgate (16) 519.6 5.00%
Fox Searchlight (8) 119.5 1.20%
Overture (8) 87.5 0.80%
Focus (8) 75.3 0.70%
CBS (3) 72.7 0.70%
Weinstein Co. (9) 72 0.70%
Sony Classics (22) 59.7 0.60%
MGM (1) 50.4 0.50%
Other * (324) 257.5 2.50%
10404.3 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Wilmington: The Ten Best of 2010

Friday, December 31st, 2010

So here’s my list of The Ten Best Movies of 2010, plus Honorable Mentions and a separate list of documentaries. I know it’s customary at this time to write about how awful a year it was, and how I had to struggle to find ten movies worthy of recognition, and how Hollywood is so bankrupt artistically and so bereft intellectually that the mere act of compiling a ten best list has become supremely dubious and morally questionable. But actually, I thought the moves were one of the few good things about 2010. (They’re certainly better than the last election.) And if you couldn’t find ten good ones, you weren’t trying.

Weekend Box Office Report — December 26

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Grit and Bear It

Little Fockers and True Grit led the Christmas charge with respective opening debuts estimated at $34 million and $25.5 million that topped weekend movie going. The session also featured a Christmas day bow for the animated Gulliver’s Travels, which netted a two-day gross of $6.9 million.

Bollywood’s seasonal offering Tees Maar Khann rang up an impressive $700,000. However, several other Hindi, Telegu and Tamil releases were non-starters. China’s If You Are the One 2 opened up day-and-date (a first) with its Mainland release and chimed in with a potent $208,000 launch.

The frame also featured a clutch of last-minute releases for award season consideration. Best of the bunch was Venice-prized Somewhere with $148,000 from seven venues. The animated The Illusionist displayed comparable strength with a two-day tally of $52,600 on two screens and a four screen push for Barney’s Version in Canada proved effective with $64,400 (a single U.S. Oscar qualifying run was unreported). Lastly, Country Strong lilted $33,800 from two sneak peeks.

Overall the Christmas session got clobbered with calendar positioning that landed the eve on Friday (expect something similar with New Years). And while an estimated $155 million weekend provided an 11% boost from the prior weekend it translated into a pounding 45% drop from 2009. As the door quickly closes on the year, box office gross has slipped behind the prior year and admissions are approaching close to double digit erosion. A year ago Avatar’s second weekend grossed $75.6 million and debuts of Sherlock Holmes and The Alvin Squeakquel added $62.4 million and $48.9 million respectively.

All that said, tracking wasn’t exactly on target for new entries and holdovers. The third in the Fockers series was expected to render a first weekend of between $40 million and $45 million while the sophomore edition of TRON: Legacy was pegged at $25 million. Conversely True Grit outperformed pundits soothsaying that had it shy of $20 million.

Holiday crowds clearly voted for The Fighter, Black Swan and The King’s Speech as their Oscar favorites. Still there are seven additional slots to fill and the campaigning is apt to intensify in the upcoming weeks.

Weekend Estimates – December 24-26, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Little Fockers Uni 34.0 (9,610) NEW 3536 48.2
True Grit Par 25.5 (8,360) NEW 3047 36.6
Tron: Legacy BV 20.6 (5,960) -53% 3451 88.7
Chronicles of Narnia: Dawn Treader Fox 10.9 (3,240) -12% 3350 63.9
The Fighter Par/Alliance 8.6 (3,430) -29% 2511 27.7
Yogi Bear WB 8.4 (2,380) -55% 3515 36.3
Gulliver’s Travels * Fox 6.9 (2,700) NEW 2546 6.9
Tangled BV 6.7 (2,590) -24% 2582 143.8
Fox Searchlight 6.4 (4,390) -23% 1466 28.9
The Tourist Sony 5.6 (2,020) -35% 2756 41.1
The King’s Speech Weinstein Co. 4.6 (6,530) 317% 700 8.4
How Do You Know Sony 3.7 (1,480) -51% 2483 15.1
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 1* WB 3.3 (1,920) -34% 1732 273.1
Tees Maar Khan UTV .70 (6,780) NEW 103 0.7
Due Date WB .37 (910) -71% 404 98.3
Unstoppable Fox .36 (920) -80% 393 78.5
Megamind Par .35 (460) -49% 764 142.6
Burlesque Sony .33 (660) -77% 501 36.7
The Social Network Sony .31 (1,230) 9% 249 92.3
If You Are the One 2 China Lion .21 (9,040) NEW 23 0.21
127 Hours Fox Searchlight .20 (1,720) -64% 115 9.8
* Christmas Day opening
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $145.90
% Change (Last Year) -45%
% Change (Last Week) 11%
Also debuting/expanding
Somewhere Focus .15 (21,140) 7 0.2
Rabbit Hole Lionsgate 88,700 (2,610) 65% 34 0.16
Barney’s Version eOne 64,400 (16,100) 4 0.06
Casino Jack IDP 60,500 (4,030) 75% 15 0.11
The Illusionist * Sony Classics 52,600 (26,300) 2 0.05
Country Strong Sony 33,800 (16,900) 2 0.05
The Tempest Miramax/Maple 32,700 (2,520) -44% 13 0.19
Toonpur Ka Superhero Eros 9,600 (400) 24 0.01
Isi Life Mein Rajshri 4,500 (250) 18 0.01

Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – Dec. 23, 2010)

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (30) 1861 18.40%
Paramount (19) 1634.7 16.10%
Fox (19) 1442.4 14.20%
Buena Vista (17) 1349.1 13.30%
Sony (26) 1239.1 12.20%
Universal (18) 798.7 7.90%
Summit (11) 522.2 5.20%
Lionsgate (16) 519.3 5.10%
Fox Searchlight (8) 105 1.00%
Overture (8) 87.4 0.90%
Focus (7) 75.2 0.70%
CBS (3) 72.5 0.70%
Weinstein Co. (9) 65.5 0.60%
Sony Classics (22) 59.5 0.60%
MGM (1) 50.4 0.50%
Other * (317) 253.5 2.50%
10135.5 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Top Limited Releases * (Jan. 1 – Dec. 23, 2010)

Title Distributor Gross
Hubble 3D WB 19,359,509
The Ghost Writer Summit 15,569,712
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box/Alliance 11,287,817
The Young Victoria * Apparition/Alliance 11,131,232
127 Hours Fox Searchlight 9,321,571
Get Low Sony Classics 9,106,802
Fair Game Summit 8,650,388
A Single Man * Weinstein Co. 7,935,872
The Girl Who Played with Fire Music Box/Alliance 7,848,496
Cyrus Fox Searchlight 7,461,082
Babies Focus 7,444,272
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus E1/Sony Classics 7,394,171
Conviction Fox Searchlight 6,768,063
City Island Anchor Bay 6,671,036
The Last Station Sony Classics 6,617,867
Waiting for “Superman” Par Vantage 6,410,257
The Secret in Their Eyes Sony Classics 6,391,436
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Focus 6,362,514
Winter’s Bone Roadside Attraction 6,237,371
Under the Sea 3D * WB 5,732,362
* does not include 2009 box office

Weekend Box Office Report — December 19

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Da Doo Tron Tron

TRON: Legacy commanded the multiplex with an opening salvo estimated at $43.4 million. The movie stocking was stuffed with two other new releases plus a couple of platform films that went wide to significant response.

Yogi Bear filched $16.6 million to rank second in the marketplace while the star-laden romantic comedy How Do You Know struggled to position eight with $7.5 million.

The Fighter proved itself a contender with a $12.1 gross and Black Swan spread its wings with an impressive $7.9 million. Meanwhile there were two freshmen titles tossing their hat into the ring for award season. The starkly dramatic Rabbit Hole had an encouraging $51,700 from five venues while Casino Jack failed to beat bank with $32,100 at seven tables. In Quebec, local action comedy L’Appat had a soft debut of close to $170,000.

Overall weekend revenues saw a significant boost from the early December doldrums, but couldn’t quite overtake 2009 box office when Avatar arrived at the multiplex. Friday domestic box office inched past $10 billion (4 days faster than last year) and through the weekend it stands just 1% better than at this point last year.

The current session promised an even better result than transpired with new entries appealing to different demographics. Only TRON: Legacy conformed to tracking that predicted a result between $40 million and $45 million. The 28-year hiatus from the original has allowed the 1982 movie to accrue a cult status and brought out an avid young male audience. Stereoscopic engagements accounted for an unusually strong 80% plus, though their numbers accounted for 55% of its screen count. Its ultimate potency will be determined by building a wider audience.

The animated-live action Yogi Bear was expected to gross in the low $20 million but came up short several pic-a-nic baskets. It won’t expand beyond the family market and should limp through the holiday season. How Do You Know is already hobbled and while there were low expectations of $10 million to $12 million it failed to meet an already low bar.

The session generated roughly $135 million for a 47% bump from the prior weekend but dipped 4% from 2009. Last year’s Avatar bow of $77 million led the frame with The Princess and the Frog trailing behind with $12.2 million and Did You Hear About the Morgans? limping into theaters with $6.6 million.

Black Swan shows early signs of becoming the season’s adult hit. Though the film has divided critics and the public, it has generated fierce debate that’s translated into sales … an asset in short supply for the likes of such films as 127 Hours and Fair Game. The Fighter, while not a knockout, looks likely to get traction from awards season recognition in a race that seems — despite already announced critics awards and the Golden Globe announcement — a bit amorphous.


Weekend Estimates – December 17-19, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Tron: Legacy BV 43.4 (12,580) NEW 3451 43.4
Yogi Bear WB 16.6 (4,710) NEW 3515 16.6
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader Fox 12.5 (3,530) -48% 3555 42.9
The Fighter Par 12.1 (4,850) 2503 12.6
Tangled BV 8.7 (2,720) -39% 3201 127.9
The Tourist Sony 8.4 (3,040) -49% 2756 30.5
Black Swan Fox Searchlight 7.9 (8,260) 140% 959 15.3
How Do You Know Sony 7.5 (3,030) NEW 2483 7.5
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 1* WB 4.8 (1,690) -43% 2860 265.5
Unstoppable Fox 1.8 (980) -51% 1874 77.4
Burlesque Sony 1.3 (880) -58% 1510 35.4
Due Date WB 1.2 (1,060) -52% 1157 97.3
Love and Other Drugs Fox 1.1 (970) -64% 1093 30.2
The King’s Speech Weinstein Co. 1.1 (24,880) 81% 43 2.9
Megamind Par .69 (680) -73% 1025 141.6
127 Hours Fox Searchlight .51 (1,660) -49% 307 9.3
Faster CBS .41 (620) -76% 660 22.5
Red Summit .31 (710) -28% 439 88.4
The Social Network Sony .29 (1,270) 2% 228 91.9
Fair Game Summit .23 (860) -59% 268 8.7
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $129.60
% Change (Last Year) -4%
% Change (Last Week) 47%
Also debuting/expanding
L’Appat Alliance .17 (2,350) 72 0.17
I Love You Phillip Morris Roadside .14 (2,830) -10% 49 0.51
The Tempest Miramax/Maple 52,400 (2,490) 22% 21 0.12
Rabbit Hole Lionsgate 51,700 (10,320) 5 0.05
Casino Jack IDP 32,100 (4,440) 7 0.03
La Rafle Seville 28,200 (2,170) 13 0.03

Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – Dec. 16, 2010)

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (29) 1837.8 18.40%
Paramount (19) 1622.6 16.20%
Fox (19) 1427.1 14.30%
Buena Vista (16) 1296.2 13.00%
Sony (25) 1221.2 12.20%
Universal (18) 798.5 8.00%
Summit (11) 521.7 5.20%
Lionsgate (15) 518.9 5.20%
Fox Searchlight (8) 96.1 1.00%
Overture (8) 87.3 0.90%
Focus (7) 75.2 0.70%
CBS (3) 72.1 0.70%
Weinstein Co. (9) 64.5 0.60%
Sony Classics (22) 59.4 0.60%
MGM (1) 50.4 0.50%
Other * (315) 251.4 2.50%
10000.4 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Top Domestic Grossers * (Jan. 1 – Dec. 16, 2010)

Title Distributor Gross
Avatar * Fox 476,899,300
Toy Story 3 BV 415,071,937
Alice in Wonderland BV 334,191,110
Iron Man 2 Par 312,445,596
Twilight: Eclipse Summit 300,551,386
Inception WB 292,485,544
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 WB 260,701,257
Despicable Me Uni 250,322,315
Shrek Forever After Par 238,667,087
How to Train Your Dragon Par 218,685,707
The Karate Kid Sony 176,797,997
Clash of the Titans WB 163,214,888
Grown Ups Sony 162,171,789
Megamind Par 140,950,962
The Last Airbender Par 131,733,601
Shutter Island Par 128,051,522
The Other Guy Sony 119,534,389
Tangled BV 119,142,932
Salt Sony 118,485,665
Jackass 3D Par 116,857,736
* does not include 2009 box office

Weekend Estimates — December 19

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

TRON: Legacy|43.4|NEW|43.4
Yogi Bear|16.6|NEW|16.6
Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader|12.5|-48%|42.9
The Fighter|12.1|NEW |12.6
The Tourist|8.4|-49%|30.5
Black Swan|7.9|140%|15.3
How Do You Know|7.5|NEW|7.5
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 1|8.6|-50%|257.8

Friday Estimates — December 18

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

TRON: Legacy|17.1|3451|NEW|17.1
Yogi Bear|4.6|3515|NEW|4.6
The Fighter |3.8|2503|3748%|4.2
Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader|3.5|3555|-57%|33.9
How Do You Know|2.5|2483|NEW|2.5
The Tourist |2.5|2756|-59%|24.6
Black Swan|2.4|959|142%|9.8
Tangled |2.1|3201|-38%|121.3
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 1 |1.3|2860|-47%|261.2
Also Debuting
Rabbit Hole|15,300|5||15,300
Casino Jack|8,300|7||8,300
La Rafle|5,700|13||5,700
* in millions

Weekend Box Office Report — December 12

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Weekend Estimates – December 10-12, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Chronicles of Narnia: Dawn Treader Fox 24.3 (6,840) NEW 3555 24.3
The Tourist Sony 16.8 (6,110) NEW 2756 16.8
Tangled BV 14.4 (4,040) -33% 3565 115.5
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 1* WB 8.6 (2,400) -50% 3577 257.8
Unstoppable Fox 3.7 (1,260) -37% 2967 74.3
Black Swan Fox Searchlight 3.4 (37,778) 134% 90 5.7
Burlesque Sony 3.2 (1,120) -48% 2876 32.6
Love and Other Drugs Fox 3.0 (1,330) -48% 2240 27.6
Due Date WB 2.5 (1,260) -39% 1990 94.9
Megamind Par 2.5 (1,020) -50% 2425 140.2
Faster CBS 1.7 (820) -56% 2106 21.3
The Next Three Days Lionsgate 1.0 (720) -60% 1426 20.3
127 Hours Fox Searchlight 1.0 (2,360) -39% 416 8.2
The Warrior’s Way Relativity .91 (560) -70% 1622 4.9
The King’s Speech Weinstein Co. .58 (30,530) 78% 19 1.5
Fair Game Summit .55 (1,260) -43% 436 8.2
Morning Glory Par .51 (510) -70% 1004 30.2
Red Summit .41 (730) -45% 564 87.9
The Fighter Par .33 (81,850) NEW 4 0.33
The Social Network Sony .27 (1,190) -35% 227 91.4
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $88.65
% Change (Last Year) -5%
% Change (Last Week) 9%
Also debuting/expanding
No Problem Eros .20 (2,400) 84 0.2
I Love You Phillip Morris Roadside .16 (4,490) 39% 35 0.31
The Tempest Miramax 44,700 (8,940) 5 0.04
Band Baaja Baaraat Yash Raj 43,700 (1,370) 32 0.04
Hemingway’s Garden of Eden Roadside 11,600 (830) 14 0.01
And Everything is Doing Fine IFC 6,400 (6,400) 1 0.01
You Won’t Miss Me Factory 25 4,200 (4,200) 1 0.01
Love, In Between CJ Entertainment 2,600 (2,600) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – Dec. 9, 2010)

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (28) 1821.5 18.40%
Paramount (18) 1617.9 16.40%
Fox (18) 1387.3 14.10%
Buena Vista (16) 1277.9 12.90%
Sony (24) 1193.7 12.10%
Universal (18) 798.1 8.10%
Summit (11) 520.3 5.30%
Lionsgate (15) 517.1 5.20%
Fox Searchlight (8) 89.3 0.90%
Overture (8) 85.9 0.90%
Focus (7) 75.2 0.80%
CBS (3) 69.6 0.70%
Weinstein Co. (8) 63.6 0.60%
Sony Classics (22) 59.1 0.60%
MGM (1) 50.4 0.50%
Other * (306) 249.5 2.50%
9876.4 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Weekend Estimates — December 12

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader|24.3|NEW|24.3
The Tourist|16.8|NEW |16.8
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 1|8.6|-50%|257.8
Black Swan|3.4|134%|5.7
Love and Other Drugs|3.0|-48%|27.6
Due Date|2.5|-39%|94.9

Friday Estimates — December 11

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader|8.1|3555|NEW|8.1
The Tourist |6.1|2756|NEW|6.1
Tangled |3.3|3565|-35%|104.4
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 1 |2.4|3577|-50%|251.6
Love and Other Drugs|1|2240|-49%|25.7
Black Swan|1|90|137%|3.3
Due Date |0.85|1990|-39%|93.2
Also Debuting
The Fighter |98,500|4||98,500
No Problem|56,700|84||56,700
The Tempest|15,400|5||15,400
Band Baaja Baaraat|10,600|32||10,600
Hemingway’s Garden of Eden|3,500|14||3,500
And Everything is Doing Fine|1,900|1||1,900
You Won’t Miss Me|1,500|1||1,500
* in millions

Box Office Hell — December 9

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader|41.8|43.5|36|n/a|35
The Tourist|26.4|26.8|18|n/a|25
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 1|8.2|9.6|8.5|n/a|8.5
Unstoppable |3.3|4.2|n/a|n/a|3.6

Weekend Box Office Report — December 5

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

The Warrior’s Weigh

The first weekend of December has the ignominious tradition of being one of the lowest moviegoing periods of the year. This year is no exception with but a single new wide release and holdover titles generally experiencing declines of more than 50%.

The newcomer arrived from the re-constituted Relativity Media with the martial arts actioner The Warrior’s Way. It barely squeaked into the top 10 with an estimated $3 million. Industry trackers hadn’t expected much for the picture but even their estimates were pegged significantly higher at roughly $5 million.

The frame leader was the animated Tangled with an estimated $21.5 million with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 taking the consolation prize with $16.9 million. The rest of the holdovers were indeed the deathly hallows.

However, there were a couple of spectacular exclusive debuts. The controversial and intense drama Black Swan bowed to $1.4 million, which translated into a jaw dropping per engagement average of $76,670. And the left-for-dead black comedy I Love You Phillip Morris hit the target with $109,000 from six locations and an $18,200 average. Also encouraging was the two-screen bow of the ironically titled All Good Things with $37,500.

The rest of the new niche crowd ranged from fair to poor including several new films on the Indian circuit, the independent Night Catches Us and the documentary Bhutto.

All added up, revenues amounted to about $86 million and a 54% drop from the weekend slice of Thanksgiving. It was also off 15% from the 2009 edition when the top new entry was third-ranked Brothers with $9.5 million. The 2009 leader with $20 million was The Blind Side.

Domestic box office should push past $10 billion next weekend and register a slight gain for the year when the dust settles in 26 days. It also unquestionably marks another year of theatrical admission declines; likely between 5% and 7%.

As to award’s contenders, it remains anyone’s game and last week’s announcement of honors from the National Board of Review provided scant indication of what’s to follow from major critical groups or the Hollywood Foreign Press. Apart from James L. Brooks’ How Do You Know, the anticipated upcoming releases have been seen and left prognosticators fumbling to identify leaders in any of the talent categories.


Weekend Estimates – December 3-5, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Tangled BV 21.5 (5,970) -56% 3603 96.5
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows, Part 1* WB 16.9 (4,090) -66% 4125 244.4
Burlesque Sony 6.1 (2,020) -49% 3037 27
Unstoppable Fox 6.1 (1,930) -47% 3152 68.9
Love and Other Drugs Fox 5.7 (2,310) -42% 2458 22.6
Megamind Par 4.9 (1,550) -61% 3173 136.6
Due Date WB 4.2 (1,720) -41% 2450 91
Faster CBS 3.8 (1,550) -55% 2470 18.1
The Warrior’s Way Relativity 3.0 (1,870) NEW 1622 3
The Next Three Days Lionsgate 2.6 (1,150) -45% 2236 18.3
Morning Glory Par 1.7 (760) -56% 2263 29.1
127 Hours Fox Searchlight 1.6 (3,790) -4% 433 6.6
Black Swan Fox Searchlight 1.4 (76,670) NEW 18 1.4
Fair Game Summit 1.0 (2,320) -27% 436 7.3
Red Summit .75 (960) -45% 779 87.2
For Colored Girls … Lionsgate .45 (930) -67% 485 37.3
Lance et compte Seville .43 (4,480) -31% 96 1.3
Skyline Uni/Alliance .42 (730) -63% 578 20.9
The Social Network Sony .41 (1,580) -42% 260 91
The King’s Speech Weinstein Co. .32 (53,000) -10% 6 0.8
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $81.25
% Change (Last Year) -15%
% Change (Last Week) -54%
Also debuting/expanding
I Love You Phillip Morris Roadside .11 (18,200) 6 0.11
Raktacharitra 2 Viva/Happy 94,200 (4,100) 23 0.09
Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey Viva 65,300 (960) 68 0.07
Nutcracker 3D FreeStyle 45,700 (1,040) -31% 44 0.14
Made in Dagenham Sony Classics 39,600 (3,600) -37% 11 0.18
All Good Things Magnolia 37,500 (18,750) 2 0.04
Dead Awake New Film 31,400 (570) 55 0.03
Mar Jawan Gur Khake Punjabi 18,800 (6,270) 3 0.02
Night Catches Us Magnolia 12,100 (3,020) 4 0.01
Bhutto First Run 7,800 (3,900) 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – Dec. 2, 2010)

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (27) 1792.9 18.40%
Paramount (18) 1609.2 16.50%
Fox (18) 1371.7 14.00%
Buena Vista (16) 1252.3 12.80%
Sony (24) 1185.4 12.10%
Universal (18) 797.2 8.20%
Summit (11) 517.9 5.30%
Lionsgate (15) 512.4 5.20%
Fox Searchlight (7) 84.7 0.90%
Overture (7) 81.9 0.80%
Focus (7) 75.2 0.80%
CBS (3) 64.2 0.70%
Weinstein Co. (8) 63.1 0.70%
Sony Classics (22) 58.7 0.60%
MGM (1) 50.4 0.50%
Other * (301) 246.6 2.50%
9763.8 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Top Global Grossers * (Jan. 1 – Dec. 2, 2010)

Title Distributor Gross
Avatar * Fox 1,955,694,414
Toy Story 3 BV 1,065,128,004
Alice in Wonderland BV 1,024,537,295
Inception WB 840,550,911
Shrek Forever After Par 738,351,966
Twilight: Eclipse Summit 699,325,617
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 WB 634,033,738
Iron Man 2 Par 622,718,600
Despicable Me Uni 534,415,944
How to Train Your Dragon Par 495,921,283
Clash of the Titans WB 489,778,913
Sherlock Holmes * WB 367,796,599
The Karate Kid Sony 359,429,551
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time BV 335,816,141
The Last Airbender Par 319,062,129
Robin Hood Uni 312,207,159
Shutter Island Par 301,977,955
Sex and the City 2 WB 301,158,934
Salt Sony 293,955,694
Resident Evil: Afterlife Sony/Alliance 292,972,689
The Expendables Lionsgate 272,550,235
Grown Ups Sony 271,417,359
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Fox 264,341,533
Knight and Day Fox 261,206,060
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Fox 226,497,298
* does not include 2009 box office

Weekend Estimates — December 5

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 1|16.9|-66%|244.4
Love and Other Drugs|5.7|-42%|22.6
Due Date|4.2|-41%|91
The Warrior’s Way|3.0|NEW |3.0
The Next Three Days|2.6|-45%|18.3

Friday Estimates — December 4

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1|4.8|4125|-77%|232.3
Love and Other Drugs|1.9|2458|-49%|18.9
Due Date |1.4|2450|-52%|88.1
The Warrior’s Way |1.1|1622|NEW|1.1
The Next Three Days |0.8|2564|-57%|16.5
Also Debuting
Black Swan|0.42|18||0.42
Raktacharitra 2|35,700|23||35,700
I Love You Phillip Morris|30,400|6||30,400
Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey|19,900|68||19,900
All Good Things|11,100|2||11,100
Dead Awake|10,700|55||10,700
Mar Jawan Gur Khake|5,300|3||5,300
Night Catches Us|3,900|4||3,900
* in millions

Box Office Hell — December 2

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 1|19.1|22.5|17|18|18
Unstoppable |5.5|5.2|n/a|6.0|5.7
The Warrior’s Way|5.3|4.6|7|5.5|4.0

Weekend Box Office Report — November 28

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Tangled Up in Blues … and Reds

A quartet of new releases for Thanksgiving failed to topple Harry Potter from the top of the charts during the gobble, gobble fest. The first part of the Potter finale — Deathly Hallows — grossed an estimated $51.2 million for the weekend portion of the holiday frame. Just a cluck behind was the animated Rapunzel of Tangled with $49.2 million ($69.1 million for the 5-days).

The other three wide release freshmen clustered in positions five to seven with indifferent results. The glitzy musical Burlesque crooned $11.4 million, rom-com Love and Other Drugs ingested $9.6 million and Faster added a tortoise-paced $8.2 million.

The big noise of the session proved to be the well positioned awards contender The King’s Speech that amassed a heady $86,000 screen average from just four venues. There was also an impressive $610,000 for local hockey comedy Lance et compte in Quebec, but a dull $212,000 for Bollywood entry Break Ke Baad. And a new seasonal Nutcracker in 3D was virtually D.O.A. with a $62,700 tally from 42 screens.

Adding it all up, Thanksgiving box office was a smidgen less than last year’s result.

Industry trackers generally predicted that Deathly Hallows would prevail at the box office but few anticipated that Tangled would be truly competitive with the Hogwart’s grad. They also generally over estimated the strengths of the remaining trio of new entries; especially Faster, which was given the edge over Love and Other Drugs.

Overall weekend numbers added up to roughly $187 million that translated into a 6% decline from the immediate prior session. It was also a slight 1% decline from Thanksgiving weekend 2009 when The Twilight Saga: New Moon and The Blind Side led with respectively $42.9 million and $40.1 million. The top new entry, Old Dogs, ranked fourth with $16.9 million.

The current session also saw expansions for 127 Hours and Fair Game that were encouraging but nonetheless displayed signs of fatigue. Still with critics groups just weeks away from announcements both films could well experience second winds. The potent arrival of The King’s Speech however has put that film in the forefront and its now vying with a real royal wedding as well as a smattering of pictures yet to be seen for late year honors.


Weekend Estimates – November 26-28, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows, Part 1* WB 51.2 (12,420) -59% 4125 221.2
Tangled BV 49.2 (13,660) NEW 3603 69.1
Megamind Par 12.9 (3,770) -20% 3411 130.5
Unstoppable Fox 11.7 (3,670) -10% 3183 60.6
Burlesque Sony 11.4 (3,740) NEW 3037 16.8
Love and Other Drugs Fox 9.6 (3,920) NEW 2455 13.8
Faster CBS 8.2 (3,360) NEW 2451 11.8
Due Date WB 7.2 (2,830) -19% 2555 84.9
The Next Three Days Lionsgate 4.8 (1,860) -27% 2564 14.5
Morning Glory Par 4.0 (1,630) -24% 2441 26.4
127 Hours Searchlight 1.7 (5,900) 89% 293 4.4
Fair Game Summit 1.6 (3,960) 8% 396 6
For Colored Girls … Lionsgate 1.4 (2,360) -38% 605 36.6
Red Summit 1.4 (1,540) -43% 914 86.2
Skyline Uni/Alliance 1.1 (900) -70% 1189 20.1
The Social Network Sony .73 (2,510) -22% 291 90.4
Secretariat BV .66 (1.310) -32% 502 57.6
Lance et compte Seville .61 (6,930) NEW 88 0.61
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Music Box/Alliance .36 (1,970) -10% 184 4.2
Despicable Me Uni .35 (1,320) 31% 266 249.7
The King’s Speech Weinstein Co. .34 (86,030) NEW 4 0.34
Inside Job Sony Classics .31 (2,330) -9% 132 2.6
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $179.40
% Change (Last Year) -1%
% Change (Last Week) -6%
Also debuting/expanding
Break Ke Baad Reliance .21 (2,500) 85 0.33
Nutcracker 3D FreeStyle 62,700 (1,490) 42 0.09
Made in Dagenham Sony Classics 62.500 (5,680) 64% 11 0.12
The Legend of Pale Male Balcony 11,400 (11,400) 1 0.01
The Unjust CJ 7,200 (7,200) 1 0.01
Tere Ishq Nachaye Eros 4,200 (200) 21 0.01

Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – Nov. 21, 2010)

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Warner Bros. (27) 1674.1 17.80%
Paramount (18) 1578.1 16.70%
Fox (17) 1333.8 14.10%
Buena Vista (15) 1174.6 12.50%
Sony (23) 1161.6 12.30%
Universal (18) 793.9 8.40%
Summit (11) 512.7 5.40%
Lionsgate (15) 500.4 5.30%
Overture (7) 81.8 0.90%
Fox Searchlight (7) 81.4 0.90%
Focus (7) 75.2 0.80%
Weinstein Co. (7) 62.6 0.70%
Sony Classics (21) 57.8 0.60%
MGM (1) 51.2 0.50%
CBS (2) 50 0.50%
Other * (296) 242.7 2.60%
9431.9 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Top Limited Releases * (Jan. 1 – Nov. 21, 2010)

Title Distributor Gross
Hubble 3D WB 18,355,494
The Ghost Writer Summit 15,569,712
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Music Box/Alliance 11,282,938
The Young Victoria * Apparition/Alliance 11,131,232
Get Low Sony Classics 9,080,285
A Single Man * Weinstein Co. 7,935,872
The Girl Who Played with Fire Music Box/Alliance 7,837,823
Cyrus Fox Searchlight 7,461,082
Babies Focus 7,444,272
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnasus * E1/Sony Classics 7,394,171
City Island Anchor Bay 6,671,036
The Last Station Sony Classics 6,617,867
The Secret in Their Eyes Sony Classics 6,391,436
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Focus 6,350,058
Winter’s Bone Roadside Attraction 6,225,414
Waiting for “Superman” Par Vantage 6,130,466
Under the Sea 3D * WB 5,504,062
Precious Lions Gate 5,085,319
I Am Love Magnolia 5,002,411
An Education * Sony Classics 4,963,224
* does not include 2009 box office

Weekend Estimates — November 28

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 1|51.2|-59%|221.2
Love and Other Drugs|9.6|New|13.8
Due Date|7.2|-19%|84.9
The Next Three Days|4.8|-27%|14.5
Morning Glory|4.0|-24% |26.4

Friday Estimates – November 27

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1|20.8|4125|-45%|190.8
Love and Other Drugs|3.7|2455|New|7.9
Due Date |2.8|2555|-3%|77.7
The Next Three Days |1.9|2564|-15%|11.7
Morning Glory |1.6|2441|-1%|24
Also Debuting
Lance et compte|0.25|88||0.25
The King’s Speech|0.12|4||0.12
Break Ke Baad|70,400|85||70,400
Nutcracker 3D|25,100|44||25,100
The Legend of Pale Male|3,300|1||3,300
The Unjust|1,900|1||1,900

Weekend Box Office Report — November 21

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Harry and the Deathly Swallows … Gulp!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 ascended to an estimated $126.2 million and corralled more than 60% of weekend ticket sales. Comparatively speaking the remaining films in the multiplex had to settle for chump change, including the bow of the thriller The Next Three Days which slotted fifth with $6.7 million.

The session also included the new Bollywood release Guzaarish, which garnered a better than respectable $423,000 at 108 venues. Among the few exclusive bows both the British import Made in Dagenham and France’s White Material were just OK with respective openings of $39,300 and $35,800, each playing on three screens.

It was the biggest opening yet for a Harry Potter film but while the juggernaut provided a big box office boost from last weekend it was insufficient to stave off a decline from 2009.

Expectations were high for the first installment of the last chapter of the Potter franchise. Advance sales and online tracking anticipated a $100 million debut and that number expanded following word of advance Thursday midnight screenings estimated at $24 million. Large format engagements were estimated at $12.4 million and if that number holds up it will be a record.

Internationally the early estimates are roughly $205 million from 54 markets. It includes all-time records in the U.K. and Russia and otherwise just sensational debuts elsewhere. The final, final Potter putter is schedule for July 2011.

On a decidedly downbeat note, The Next Three Days came in well below tracking that suggested a $10 million launch. The film also received a drubbing from critics.

Weekend revenues lurched toward $200 million, which translated into a 64% hike from seven days back. It was however 25% behind the 2009 slate led by the second installment of Twilight (New Moon), which bowed bitingly to $142.8 million with the unexpectedly $34.1 million potency of The Blind Side right behind it.

The contender’s roster failed to see any additional dynamos this weekend and the titles already in the marketplace were finding the Darwinian aspect of the exercise unrelenting. Both Fair Game and 127 Hours added a significant number of playdates with the latter continuing to maintain a hefty $8,330 engagement average. The other surprise in the mix is the continuing stamina of the non-fiction Inside Job that’s racked up $2.2 million to date.


Weekend Estimates – November 19-21, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 1* WB 126.2 (30,600) NEW 4125 126.2
Megamind Par 16.2 (4,280) -45% 3779 109.5
Unstoppable Fox 13.0 (4,060) -43% 3207 41.9
Due Date WB 8.9 (2,760) -42% 3229 72.4
The Next Three Days Lionsgate 6.7 (2,590) NEW 2564 6.7
Morning Glory Par 5.2 (2,050) -43% 2544 19.8
Skyline Uni/Alliance 3.4 (1,170) -71% 2883 17.6
Summit 2.4 (1,190) -51% 2034 83.5
For Colored Girls … Lionsgate 2.3 (1,920) -64% 1216 34.5
Fair Game Summit 1.4 (3,730) 41% 386 3.7
Secretariat BV 1.0 (970) -56% 1010 56.4
Paranormal Activity 2 Par .93 (840) -69% 1101 83.6
The Social Network Sony .91 (1,590) -49% 571 89.2
127 Hours Searchlight .90 (8,330) 104% 108 1.9
Saw 3D Lionsgate .82 (1,020) -71% 806 45.3
Jackass 3D Par .72 (1,050) -68% 687 116.1
Life As We Know It WB .52 (930) -50% 558 51.6
Guzaarish UTV .42 (3,910) NEW 108 0.42
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Music Box/Alliance .41 (2,180) -22% 188 3.5
Inside Job Sony Classics .37 (1,770) -22% 211 2.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $191.50
% Change (Last Year) -25%
% Change (Last Week) 64%
Also debuting/expanding
Today’s Special Reliance 88,400 (1,670) 53 0.09
Made in Dagenham Sony Classics 39,300 (13,100) 3 0.04
White Material IFC 35,800 (11,930) 3 0.04
Queen of the Lot Rainbow 16,400 (2,730) 6 0.02
Copacabana Seville 14,100 (2,010) 7 0.01

Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – Nov. 18, 2010)

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (18) 1555.1 16.80%
Warner Bros. (26) 1538.8 16.70%
Fox (17) 1320.7 14.30%
Buena Vista (15) 1173.4 12.70%
Sony (23) 1160.3 12.60%
Universal (18) 790.4 8.60%
Summit (11) 508.5 5.50%
Lionsgate (14) 490.6 5.30%
Overture (7) 81.7 0.90%
Fox Searchlight (7) 80.3 0.90%
Focus (7) 75.1 0.80%
Weinstein Co. (7) 62.5 0.70%
Sony Classics (21) 57.3 0.60%
MGM (1) 51.2 0.50%
CBS (2) 50 0.50%
Other * (288) 240.7 2.60%
9236.6 100.00%
* none greater than .04%

Top Domestic Grossers * (Jan. 1 – Nov. 18, 2010)

Title Distributor Gross
Avatar * Fox 476,883,415
Toy Story 3 BV 414,681,777
Alice in Wonderland BV 334,191,110
Iron Man 2 Par 312,445,596
Twilight: Eclipse Summit 300,551,386
Inception WB 291,914,445
Despicable Me Uni 248,900,040
Shrek Forever After Par 238,667,087
How to Train Your Dragon Par 218,685,707
The Karate Kid Sony 176,797,997
Clash of the Titans WB 163,214,888
Grown Ups Sony 162,147,232
The Last Airbender Par 131,733,601
Shutter Island Par 128,051,522
The Other Guy Sony 119,256,755
Salt Sony 118,485,665
Jackass 3D Par 115,357,091
Valentine’s Day WB 110,509,442
Sherlock Holmes * WB 106,967,985
Robin Hood Uni 105,425,146
* does not include 2009 box office