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Weekend Box-offce Analysis (Mar 30-Apr 1, 2012)

After last weekend’s gigantic opening courtesy of The Hunger Games there was no way for the box-office to go, but down. However, two super-wide openers softened the blow and the Top 12 decreased just 31.1% to $140.4 million, meaning that the weekend was still up a terrific 23.1% up from the same weekend last year when Hop opened at the top spot. The winning streak of 2012 continues. On the other hand, it must be noted that the two openers did decent numbers, but none opened above expectations. Moreover, due to just a small number of wide openers in recent weeks, there is a stark contrast between the bigger and the smaller movies in the Top 12. While the top movie of the weekend made over $60 million, only seven other movies actually reached the $1 million mark over the three-day period. The huge disparity can also be seen by looking at theatre counts. Five movies are still playing in more than 3,000 theatres, bit only one more film is in more than 2,000 theatres and two other films are shown in just above 1,000 locations. There is still some sort of a void in the marketplace that the April openers hope to fill over the next few weeks.


The breakout success The Hunger Games remained the unchallenged #1 movie of the weekend with a $58.6 million weekend for a 2nd weekend drop of 61.6%. That out its running total at an incredible $248.5 million after just ten days. Its second weekend alone would already make The Hunger Games the 10th-biggest film ever for Lionsgate Films, the movie’s distributor. The behemoth managed the 8th-biggest second weekend of all-time, just ahead of Spider-Man 3. However, 2009’s March box-office giant Alice in Wonderland actually managed an even higher second weekend despite a significantly smaller opening. The Tim Burton film took in $62.7 million in its second frame. On the other hand, thanks to great weekdays, The Hunger Games’ 10-day total is actually the 5th highest ever, just behind The Dark Knight, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. It is tracking around $17.5 million ahead of The Twilight Saga: New Moon and should have much better legs over the upcoming weeks, while also coming off a bigger weekend.

Nevertheless, The Hunger Games is still showing clear signs of frontloading more akin to a sequel than to a franchise starter. The immense popularity of the books coupled with huge hype stirred for the movie prior to its release led to an opening weekend far beyond the most optimistic expectations. The second weekend hold, however, is very much in line with blockbuster sequels like Spider-Man 3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Fast Five. Even the “A” CinemaScore couldn’t prevent a steep drop. The question is now, whether the movie will be able to overcome the initial frontloading and rebound throughout April. A major advantage that The Hunger Games has s that it is still the must-see movie currently playing and will probably remain so until The Avengers will open in May. Its huge box-office numbers are just helping its exposure and the publicity, driving the hype even higher. With some luck, the movie might cross the magical $300 million barrier by the end of the next weekend. Either way, it will almost certainly end up as one of the ten fastest-to-$300 million movies, easily cruising past the mark that only one single Twilight movie so far has barely crawled past. At this point, it doesn’t appear like $350 million will pose a difficulty for it either, though in order to regain any chances at $400 million it will need to significantly improve its holds and many of the upcoming new movies will need to disappoint. Right now, it looks like a $370-385 million finish is in store for The Hunger Games, quite possibly making it the highest-grossing pre-summer release ever.


Coming in at #2, the weekend’s biggest opener, Wrath of the Titans, made an unimpressive $33.5 million from 3,545 venues for a per-theatre-average of $9,438. The 3D/IMAX release is a sequel to the 2010 release Clash of the Titans. Riding on Avatar’s 3D coattails and starring Avatar’s action hero Sam Worthington, the remake made $61.2 million in its March 2010 opening on its way to a solid $163.2 million total. However, the rushed 3D conversion and the film’s muddled plot left a bitter aftertaste in the audiences’ mouths, putting Wrath of the Titans in the sequels-no-one-really-wished-for department. After Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Wrath of the Titans is the second sequel this year to vastly decrease from its predecessor. In contrast to Ghost Rider, however, Wrath can at least count on formidable overseas returns as the first movie made well over $300 million in international markets alone. Wrath of the Titans scored a “B+” CinemaScore, slightly better than the first film’s “B” grade. I wouldn’t expect better legs, though. Natural frontloading should hit the film as well as Titanic 3D not only getting some of its 3D screens, but also opening in around 150 IMAX theatres nationwide, taking a toll on Wrath’s IMAX showings. Overall, it is rather disappointing for the film that even last year’s Jonathan Liebesman’s March release Battle: Los Angeles actually had a higher opening weekend. I expect slightly better legs for Wrath, but the best thing it can hope for is outgrossing last year’s R-rated fantasy epic Immortals ($83.5 million). I see Wrath of the Titans winding up with $83-88 million in the bank.


Meanwhile, Relativity’s Mirror Mirror, directed by Immortals’ helmer Tarsem Singh, opened at #3 with $18.1 million from 3,603 theatres (PTA of $5,032). This is the 4th-biggest opening for a Relativity movie. However, given that it is their widest release to date, the amount of marketing that went into it and the movie being the first family-oriented release since The Lorax four weeks ago the number is a bit of a letdown. The first of the two Snow White-themed flicks this year carries a production budget of $85 million and will now have to hope for good overseas numbers to turn into profit. On the other hand, it is the second-biggest opening for Julia Roberts in a leading role over the past ten years (only Eat Pray Love came in higher). The movie’s main demographics are very young with 37% of the audiences comprised of kids under 12. With a generous “B+” CinemaScore and absolutely no competition whatsoever until Pirates! Band of Misfits in four weeks, nothing stands in Mirror Mirror’s way to good legs and longevity at the box-office. It will find its way to a $65-70 million total before leaving the theatres.


21 Jump Street was the big winner among the holdovers. Even though he R-rated comedy slid two spots to #4, it also managed by far the best hold among non-expanding films in the Top 12. Being the only film to drop less than 40%, the adaptation of a popular TV series decreased just 27.6% to $14.8 million and $92.9 million after just 17 days. The movie is now $3.5 million ahead of Superbad at the same point of its run. At he same time, it is trailing Channing Tatum’s other big breakout this year, The Vow, by just $10 million with the gap closing very fast. Next weekend, 21 Jump Street will most likely experience a severe blow due to American Reunion snatching its audiences, but I fully expect it to rebound and play well throughout April. It is still a toss-up between this film and Superbad for the highest total. Whereas this movie has better general holds, it has no summer weekdays to benefit from unlike Superbad. Right now, I’m giving 21 Jump Street the edge and expect it to end up with $125-130 million in the bank.


Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax claimed the fifth spot of the box-office this weekend with a $7.8 million (down 40.9%) cume and a $189.3 million total after five weeks. The film’s legs haven’t been anything to write home about (it dropped in the 40-45% range on each of the last four weekends), but thanks to its tremendous opening it will still end up as one of the year’s most impressive hits and will certainly be the animated movie to beat this year. With Mirror Mirror skewing very young, The Lorax was obviously hit this weekend. Now, with no more family-oriented movies ahead until the end of April, there is finally some hope for it to catch a break and develop some legs worthy of its “A”

CinemaScore. It should be able to collect $209 million before leaving the theatres.

Disney’s financial disaster John Carter dropped yet another 60% to $2 million, settling for the 6th spot of the box-office. Its current total stands at $66.2 million and there is obviously not much left in the tank. The opening was already underwhelming for the $250 million investment, but the legs have been disastrous since then. It dropped 59.2% on average over the past three weeks and with Titanic 3D taking away its remaining IMAX and 3D screens, the movie will very soon disappear from all screens. It is more than embarrassing that the film won’t even reach an opening-to-total multiplier of 2.5. It will struggle to $70 million.


Lasse Hallström’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen added 359 theatres in its fourth weekend, bringing its total theatre count to 483. The increase was enough for the movie to jump 81.1% to $1.3 million which was enough for #7 this weekend. The film’s total gross stands at $3.2 million. The per-theatre-average of $2,635 is less than encouraging and with several new releases over the upcoming weeks the movie will almost certainly get lost in the shuffle. It will go on to finish with $6-7 million.


Relativity’s Act of Valor spent its 6th weekend in the Top 10 as it dropped 50.9% to $1 million. The weekend’s #8 movie brought its running total to $67.7 million. I expect it to hang around for a while below the Top 12 and eventually make it to $71 million.


The Eddie Murphy starrer A Thousand Words lost three spots and dropped down to #9 this weekend. The comedy added another $0.9 million (down 53.7%) to its total bringing the running cume to $16.5 million. The movie will disappear from most theatres over the next two weeks and should wind up with $18 million in the bank.


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island continued to show some stability despite Mirror Mirror targeting its audiences and Wrath of the Titans eating away at its 3D screens. The family sequel could hold on to #10 as it dropped just 40.3% to $0.8 million. Its running cum is now at $98.5 million, making $100 million an absolute lock. The movie is still tracking $4 million ahead of Journey to the Center of the Earth, though the gap will soon disappear. I project Journey 2 to make $101 million before all is said and done.


Project X lost 58.2% of its audiences and dropped to #11 of the box-office this weekend. Its $0.8 million weekend take out its running gross at $53.4 million. Similar to most movies with the “found footage” angle, it displayed mediocre legs at best and should fall slightly short of $55 million.


After eight weeks on release, the Denzel Washington/Ryan Reynolds vehicle Safe House collected $0.8 million (down 44.4%) over the 3-day period for a running cume of $123.9 million. The film finally surpassed The Vow’s total and is now the highest-grossing February 2012 release. I see it finishing with $126 million.

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