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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (Apr 27-29, 2012)

The 2012 box-office success train came across another bump on the road as all four new wide releases opened to disappointing numbers leaving last weekend’s #1, Think Like a Man as the unchallenged champion of the box-office. Only for the third time this year, the Top 12 cume was below that of last year. However, given the fact that the last weekend of April in 2011 had Fast Five opening to tremendous numbers it could have never been expected to challenge it. Nevertheless, it is disappointing to see the box-office dipping below $100 million for the first time since the March 16-18 weekend when only one wide opener hit the screens. This weekend four new movies opened in a combined 10,000+ theatres and yet grossed less than $40 million altogether. What’s remarkable this weekend is that with the estimates, is that the movies in the #2-#5 spots all ended up within less than $250,000 of one another. The Top 12 cume came in at $99.6 million, 21.1% less than last weekend and down 31.3% from the same weekend last year when Fast Five alone delivered over $86 million to movie theatres across the country. Expect the box-office to rebound greatly next weekend when The Avengers’ opening weekend alone might top last year’s Top 12 cume.


In a very surprising move Think Like a Man remained a strong #1 this weekend, losing just 46.5% of its audiences. An $18 million three-day gross put its running total at §60.9 million – a great number for the $12 million comedy. This might just be the highest second-weekend gross ever for a movie strongly oriented at urban audiences. Moreover, it is the first movie strongly oriented at African-American moviegoers since Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail that remained on top for two weekends. It goes on to show that the potential of urban-oriented movies is usually underestimated as no one has expected such a success for Think Like a Man. In fact, after ten days only, it has already surpassed all Tyler Perry movies except for two. One of the reasons for that might be that while it has great urban appeal, its themes are still Universal and it can easily reach crossover audiences through its great word-of-mouth (it garnered an “A” CinemaScore last weekend. This way it doesn’t seem to be as frontloaded as the Tyler Perry movies and being the #1 movie of the North American box-office gives it a lot of additional press and ignites more interest. It might also be one of the few movies not to be affected as much by next weekend’s four-quadrant opener The Avengers. ScreenGems is on a huge roll this year. After having had their biggest hit by far with The Vow ($124.6 million) as well as the highest grossing entry of their Underworld franchise, Underworld Awakening ($62.3 million) Think Like a Man is well on track to become their second-biggest film ever domestically. It only needs to pass Dear John’s $80 million. After its hold this weekend that should be a non-issue. Right now Think Like a Man is firmly on track towards a $95-100 million finish making it one of the biggest urban-oriented films ever.


Thanks to a strong Saturday, The Pirates! Band of Misfits edged out the competition for the second spot of the box-office with $11.4 million from 3,358 locations for a per-theatre-average of $3,395.  Despite its good position in the Top 10, the $55 million film represents a new low for Aardman Animations. Last year’s Thanksgiving release Arthur Christmas disappointed with just $16.3 million over the five-day period before going on to finish with $46.5 million. The Pirates! (which is enjoying decent success overseas) came in at even less than that. It looks like stop motion clay animation is just not an easy sell nowadays even with terrific reviews and the 3D boost. Keep in mind that Chicken Run made over $100 million 12 years ago. The times have changed apparently. Even with almost no family-oriented competition in the market and no animated movies since Dr. Suess’ The Lorax, The Pirates! Band of Misfits still couldn’t break out. Next weekend, it should suffer under The Avengers’ kids appeal and might lose a lot of its 3D showtimes to it. The “B” CinemaScore doesn’t look promising either. It should wind up with $35-38 million in the bank before leaving the theatres.



The Lucky One remained at the #2 spot on Friday, but lost it to The Pirates! Band of Misfits for the overall weekend, settling for #3. An $11.3 million (down 49.7%) gross brought its total gross to $39.9 million after ten days in release. The Zac Efron starrer which is based on a popular Nicholas Sparks novel just goes on to show that with the right cast, the Nicholas Sparks adaptations are about as much of a sure thing financially as a Tyler Perry film. The Lucky One is currently tracking ahead of all Sparks adaptations except for Dear John. The strong male appeal of The Avengers next weekend might help t a bit, though the superhero ensemble movie is still a four-quadrant event, meaning that all films will get hurt in its wake. After that, Dark Shadows and What to Expect When You’re Expecting should both take a toll on its female demographics. It will go on to finish with $60-65 million, giving Efron his biggest hit since 17 Again three years ago and re-establishing him as a box-office draw.



The Hunger Games was the clear winner of the weekend. Even though the estimates have it barely losing the #3 spot to The Lucky One, its $11.3 million weekend cume is only 23.3% down from its last weekend bringing its running total to $372.5 million. This is by far the best hold for a movie in the Top 12 this weekend and the best hold The Hunger Games has achieved to date. After its unbelievable opening and a fairly disappointing second-weekend drop, The Hunger Games rebounded and has shown legs that are simply incredible. Obviously this weekend’s gross was strongly boosted by the film’s return to over 100 IMAX screens nationwide. Either way, its longevity is astounding, especially after its initial harsh drop which indicated strong frontloading. It looks like the hype surrounding the film’s success actually lured some people into movie theatres who haven’t been fans of the books before. Moreover the strong WoM probably ensured many repeat viewings. The Hunger Games’ sixth weekend is the 14th-biggest ever. What is more curious is that it is also the biggest 6th weekend ever for any movie that opened to more than $100 million, putting it ahead of Shrek 2 and The Dark Knight. Despite a smaller opening weekend and completely lacking the large summer weekdays, The Hunger Games is already tracking $6.5 million ahead of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 which went on to finish with $381 million. With The Hunger Games coming off a weekend that is more than twice as big as Harry Potter’s sixth weekend was, a $390+ million finish is absolutely locked up at this point, even with The Avengers hurting it big time next weekend as it won’t just take a chunk out of its audiences, but will also take away the IMAX screens it got back this weekend. It is fair to expect a harsh drop, but I think it should again rebound well afterwards. Right now The Hunger Games sits at the #17 spot of the all-time biggest movies in North America and should pass Spider-Man 2 for the 16th spot before next Friday. More impressively, it is the 7th-biggest non-sequel ever on the all-time domestic chart. It probably won’t improve that position as it would need to pass Spider-Man’s $403.7 million for that. However, I now see The Hunger Games actually hitting $400 million domestically even if barely. It should make it past $395 million without any problems and after that Lionsgate Films will certainly push it beyond the barrier to become the 8th studio in history to have a $400 million grosser.



The most disappointing opener this weekend was, without a doubt, The Five-Year Engagement. Nick Stoller’s follow-up to Forgetting Sarah Marshall ($63.2 million) and its spin-off Get Him to the Greek ($61 million) made just $11.2 million from 2,936 venues for a per-theatre-average of just $3,800. Universal certainly hoped for a success more akin to Bridesmaids which with its female appeal and despite the R-rating managed to open to over $26 million last year. It is also a severe disappointing for the film’s male star Jason Segel who is coming off the great last year with The Muppets ($88.6 million) and Bad Teacher ($100.3 million) both having become big hits. It looks like he isn’t a big draw by himself yet, whereas his co-star Emily Blunt still can’t quite find a hit of her own with Gulliver’s Travels and The Wolfman also disappointing in recent years. Unlike Bridesmaids, The Five-Year Engagement wasn’t able to garner much critical acclaim and was awarded mediocre “B-“ CinemaScore. With 64% of its audiences being female, it might not suffer as much under The Avengers next weekend as some other films, but don’t expect WoM to carry it anywhere. At latest the arrival of What to Expect When You’re Expecting should kill the film. It should end up with $30-35 million. After a great start this year with Contraband ($66.5 million), Safe House ($125.7 million) and Dr. Suess’ the Lorax ($207.6 million) Universal had its first big disappointment with American Reunion which is now followed by The Five-Year Engagement. A lot of pressure is now on the domestic performance of their $200 million production Battleship which has already grossed $170 million overseas. It hasn’t been a good year for Judd Apatow either with Wanderlust first and now this.


The 6th slot of the box-office went to the newest Jason Statham action flick Safe which made $7.7 million and averaged $3,407 per theatres in 2,266 locations. The opening for the Lionsgate film is low even by Statham’s standards whose last five movies (excluding The Expendables) opened to $10.5 million on average. Safe scored a slid “B+” grade from CinemaScore, but Statham’s films could almost never boast great legs and The Avengers next weekend won’t help either. I expect the $30 million film to make just $18-20 million domestically before hopefully breaking even overseas. It is surprising that after the huge success for Remember the Titans ($115.7 million), its director Boaz Yakin, who also helmed Safe, could never land another big hit.


Even worse off was the #7 movie this weekend, Relativity’s The Raven. The period horror thriller starring John Cusack opened to horrendous reviews and grossed just $7.3 million from 2,203 locations (PTA of $3,291). Relativity has been having a solid year so far with Act of Valor ($69.7 million) and Mirror Mirror ($58.9 million) delivering solid results. The Raven (which was rated a “B” in the CinemaScore poll) won’t lose them much money given the $26 million budget, but its likely $17 million final cume is certainly disappointing.



Disneynature’s successful documentary Chimpanzee dropped four slots to #8 as it decreased 48.8% to $5.5 million. Its current total stands at $19.2 million. That already makes it the 9th-biggest documentary ever after just ten days on release. Moreover, it has already passed Disneynature’s last release, African Cats ($15.4 million) and is less than $0.5 million away from passing Oceans. Considering that it had the Earth Day boost last weekend and faced family-oriented competition from The Pirates! Band of Misfits this frame, its hold is outstanding. It is absolutely set to enter the all-time Top 5 for documentary features. With a little luck, it will be able to hit $30 million by the end of its run.


The Three Stooges settled for #9 this weekend. It added $5.4 million (down 44.7%) to its gross, bringing it to $37.1 million. Considering its terrible PTA and upcoming competition, it will soon vanish from most theatres. I project a $44 million final gross for it.


Despite its ghastly CinemaScore, The Cabin in the Woods is still hanging in there. A 43.9% drop led to a $4.5 million weekend in the 10th spot of the box-office. That pushed its running total to $34.7 million after 17 days, making it a solid hit for Lionsgate already. While it will start losing screens and theatres quickly over the next few weeks, it is now set to pass $40 million which is already more than many thought it would make after it came out. I see it making $42 million in total.


In its 7th week on release, 21 Jump Street dropped out of the Top 10, but still delivered an amazing 34.8% hold. A $3.1 million weekend put the Sony comedy’s running cume at $132 million. It is tracking a bit over $6 million behind Knocked Up now and has no shot at catching up anymore. Nevertheless, its run has been nothing short of amazing and it should wind up with $140 million in the bank.


American Reunion rounded up the Top 12 with a $3 million (down 45.1%) frame which brought its running total to $53.6 million. It has become the 9th R-rated movie this year to pass $50 million domestically. However, overall its performance has been a disappointment. Despite a lot of hype, marketing and nine years of inflation, it is still tracking $37 million behind 2003’s American Wedding. It also looks to end up as the only film in the franchise not to hit an opening-to-total multiplier of 3. It will top out with around $59 million. More than generous overseas numbers should more than make up for the domestic disappointment, though.

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Total Comments: 1
Crux    May 1 2012 2:41pm
The calm before the storm.