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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (July 6-8, 2012)

After the box-office reached one of its all-time highs last weekend it was just natural that this weekend decreased. However thanks to a very potent opening by a reboot that many deemed unnecessary after its announcement the Top 12 still amassed a strong $182.7 million catapulting it into the all-time Top 25 and making it the fourth-biggest weekend of the year. The Top 12 was down 7.2% from last weekend, but at the same time it was 25.4% above last year’s Top 12 cume on the same weekend when Transformers: Dark of the Moon ruled the charts in its second weekend.


Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man topped the box-office with a $62 million weekend from 4,318 theatres (9th-widest opening release ever) and averaged $14,360 per theatre. Since its unusual Tuesday start, the picture has grossed a total of $137 million. Its biggest day was its opening day, Tuesday, on which it made $35 million, finally beating the first Transformers’ five years old record and becoming the biggest Tuesday gross ever. Transformers is another example of a Tuesday opener, something that is a rare release strategy. In the case of these two films it was used to take full advantage of the July 4th holiday week. Michael Bay’s blockbuster was released on exactly the same date as The Amazing Spider-Man five years ago, though it also made $8.8 million in nationwide 10 PM screenings on Monday. However, the movies’ daily patterns are very different. Whereas Transformers actually increased on Wednesday, July 4th over its opening day, The Amazing Spider-Man plunged 33.4% to $23.3 million. Both dropped harshly on Thursday, but The Amazing Spider-Man recovered somewhat better over the weekend. Overall, however, Transformers came out on top in this battle of July 4th blockbusters. Including the Monday screenings gross it made $155.4 million by Sunday, $70.5 million of which came from the Friday-Sunday period. Obviously, in The Amazing Spider-Man’s case sequel frontloading played a big part.

There is no doubt that the Spider-Man movie franchise, launched by Sony in 2002, is one of the biggest movie series at the North American box-office. When a Raimi/Maguire-less reboot was announced by Sony in 2010, many fans and box-office followers shook their heads. This was not the case of rebooting a Hulk movie which wasn’t very popular or successful to begin with. They were talking about rebooting a series just ten years after the first film, a series in which every installment to date easily hit $300 million and in which two movies set all-time opening weekend records. It was an established franchise and messing with it (and thus the audiences) seemed unreasonable. Let me take a quick look a how it all started. Back in 2002, the early favorites to win the yearly box-office crown were Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Of course, following X-Men’s $150+ million success, everyone expected big numbers from Spider-Man as well. However, nothing could prepare audiences for what happened on the first weekend of May 2002, essentially starting a new era of summer überblockbusters. After a then-huge $39.4 million opening day, the unbelievable followed - the movie increased to over $43 million on Saturday! What resulted from it was a $114.8 million three-day opening weekend, demolishing the previous all-time record set by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ($90.3 million), set just six months earlier. With great word-of-mouth the movie made it to $403.7 million, easily claiming the top spot of 2002. Two years later, an even more acclaimed sequel followed. In June 2004 Spider-Man 2 set a new opening day record with $40.4 million on Wednesday (!) and became the fastest movie in history to cross the $200 million barrier, making it there in just eight days. It finished with $373.6 million domestically and at #2 of 2004. Three years later, Spider-Man 3 set an opening weekend record once again, grossing $151.1 million in its first three days and delivering a record Saturday number that stood until The Avengers broke the record this year. It went on to make $336.5 million domestically, making it #1 of its year.

It is quite a legacy that The Amazing Spider-Man followed and one could judge its performance a letdown given how the three preceding Spider-Man films have performed. Afterall, its six-day gross is below the three-day opening weekend of Spider-Man 3 and that not accounting for inflation and the 3D bonus. A different way to look at it, though, is that the expectations towards the reboot have been low. It is no secret that Spider-Man 3 wasn’t well-liked by most audiences, finishing with an opening-to-total multiplier below 2.5. That alone ensured that the next Spider-Man movie would gross less. Then the idea of a reboot with an entirely different cast and basically retelling the origins story just ten years after the very successful first try just never sat well with most audiences. So the fact that The Amazing Spider-Man still delivered a $137 million gross in six days is nothing short of impressive and goes on to show how strong the Spider-Man brand name is. There will be no end to this franchise anytime soon, no matter how often Sony wants to reboot it. Now this is not Batman Begins which opened to slightly underwhelming numbers, but ended up having tremendous WoM and legs. The Amazing Spider-Man is doing well with critics and audiences alike and it is obviously a four-quadrant crowd pleaser,  but its reception is not extraordinary or on the same level as with reboots like Casino Royale, Star Trek, or Batman Begins. The movie earned a very good “A-“ CinemaScore with those under 25 awarding it an “A” and skewed primarily male (58% of its opening weekend audiences). The 3D share was, once again, not particularly impressive, with 44% of the movie’s opening gross made from 3D showings.

All in all, things are looking bright for the new Spider-Man franchise (which is now planned as a trilogy). Including its Monday showings, Transformers made 48.7% of its total gross during its first six days in theatres. That number would put The Amazing Spider-Man in the vicinity of $280 million. Sequel frontloading and slightly worse reception are not in Spider-Man’s favor, but Transformers did face more competition throughout the month with The Simpsons Movie and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix released in the weeks following its opening. The Amazing Spider-Man will basically have to compete with one (admittedly huge) movie this month – The Dark Knight Rises. That might offset the disadvantages mentioned before. We are looking at a very respectable $270-285 million finish here, with the sequel quite possibly breaking $300 million again.


As impressive as The Amazing Spider-Man’s start was, one also has to admire this weekend’s #2 film. Seth MacFarlane’s Ted, an R-rated comedy about a slacker and his foul-mouthed teddy bear, delivered $32.2 million in its sophomore fame, decreasing just 40.8% from its huge opening. With $119.8 million in the bank after just ten days, Ted is already the 4h-biggest R-rated movie of the year and should become #1 by the end of the next weekend, surpassing 21 Jump Street ($138.4 million). In terms of summer-released R-rated comedies, Ted has already passed the total grosses of such hits as Tropic Thunder ($110.5 million), Horrible Bosses ($117.5 million) and The 40-Year Old Virgin ($109.4 million). These movies are already considered big success stories, making Ted’s achievements even more incredible and quite possibly putting it among the Top 3 most impressive performances of the year this far (behind The Avengers and The Hunger Games). Ted is also tracking $15 million ahead of 2009’s breakout hit The Hangover, while coming off an almost identical second weekend. The Hangover went on to gross another $173 million after that, something that Ted almost certainly won’t achieve. However, with the strong weekdays it has displayed thus far and virtually no direct competition over the next two weeks, I expect to even survive The Dark Knight Rises’ onslaught and still easily make it to a $200 million total. In fact, it should get close to passing the coveted $200 million mark by the end of the month when it will face the only direct competitor in July, The Watch. After this terrific second weekend hold, there is little doubt left that Ted will make it to the ten biggest R-rated movies of all time domestically. The question is just how high on the list will it end up. Right now, it is on course towards an amazing $210-225 million finish which would put it somewhere around #7-#8 on the list and make it the third-biggest straight-forward R-rated comedy after the two Hangover movies. The inevitable sequel should be announced any moment.


Undeniably hit by the family appeal of the four-quadrant hit The Amazing Spider-Man, Pixar’s newest offering Brave lost 42.5% of its audiences and dipped to #3. A $19.6 million third-weekend take put its running total at $174 million after 17 days on release. It’s a great number without a doubt, however even in the face of competition, the third weekend hold is weaker than one expect from a well-received Pixar film. Either way, Brave is still tracking $11 million ahead of WALL-E and $17.5 million ahead of Cars. On top of that, thanks to extremely strong summer weekdays, it is also $15.5 million ahead of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, despite losing all weekend battles so far to it. Next weekend will be the deciding point for Brave in whether it has got it in itself to crawl to $250 million and finish around the Pixar average or fall short of the number. Ice Age: Continental Drift will provide the most direct competition of its run so far. On the other hand, with Ice Age being the only opener next weekend, Brave should be able to retain the majority of its 3D screens. Right now it looks like a toss-up with the movie being locked for a $230 million at least, but anything above being a matter of luck concerning competition. I project a final cume in the $235-245 million range, certainly more than most anticipated prior to the film’s release and enough to end up in the Top 5 of the summer.


Opening in the 4th spot, Oliver Stone’s Savages made $16 million over three days from 2,628 theatres for a per-theatre-average of $6,095. The Blake Lively/Taylor Kitsch starrer received mixed reviews from movie critics and the audience’s reception was no different as the moviegoers awarded it an average “C+” CinemaScore which bodes badly for its longevity. On the other hand, the movie skewed decisively older with 61% of the audience being above the age of 30. Oliver Stone hasn’t delivered a big hit in over 20 years and Savages with its $45 million budget won’t change this. Ironically, for this year’s king of box-office bombs Taylor Kitsch (John Carter and Battleship), Savages marks the first somewhat successful opening. Kitsch is this year’s polar opposite of Channing Tatum who was able to land here bona fide hits this year. While its adult appeal and the lack of adult-oriented fare in the upcoming weeks might help Savages overcome its mixed WoM, I still don’t expect it to go far with a $43-48 million finish looking likely at this point. Universal executives certainly won’t be too sad given the overperformance of Ted which should more than cover any eventual losses.


Having shown signs of frontloadness last weekend, it is no surprise that Magic Mike dropped like a rock in its second frame. After a 60% decline, a $15.6 million weekend put it at #5 of the weekend (a number that is well below its opening day). After ten days, the male striptease-themed movie has amassed $72.8 million in total. Given the $7 million that Warner Bros. spent on the acquisition of the film’s distribution rights, it is already a humongous success. While it may or may not recover over the upcoming weeks (it will depend on how well it can hold n to its screens and theatres), strong summer weekdays should still allow for a $100+ million finish, giving its director Soderbergh his sixth $100+ million movie, an incredibly impressive feat for a director who rarely dabbles in overly commercial projects. Magic Mike will also mean the third $100+ million hit for its star Channing Tatum within one single calendar year, a feat not accomplished by any other star to date. Magic Mike looks set to end up with a $105-115 million total, making it the fifth $100 million-grossing R-rated movie this year, once again showcasing the current strength of R-rated movies, but also the importance of appealing to female audiences.


Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection surprised with a somewhat “decent” hold (for the given franchise. Dropping 59.9%, the urban-oriented movie made $10.2 million over three days, bringing its running total to $45.8 million. It is tracking $5 million ahead of Madea’s Big Happy Family which went on to finish with $53.3 million last year and that coming off a bigger weekend and a better drop. Clearly the summer release date has paid off for Tyler Perry and Lionsgate. It is the first Perry movie to be released during the summer season and strong weekdays and pushing its gross above the usual given its opening weekend. Madeas Witness Protection should become Tyler Perry’s third movie to pass $60 million and finish with $63 million, making it one of Lionsgate’s ten biggest films ever in the process.


The 7th slot of the box-office went to Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted which, once again, stunned with a great hold. Dipping just 36.5% the animated threequel added $7.5 million to its total gross, bringing its running cume to $195.9 million. That made it officially the highest-grossing entry in the Madagascar franchise. Despite also grossing less than The Lorax each weekend, it is still tracking almost $7 million ahead of it and thanks to summer weekdays looks likely to finish ahead of it when all is said and done. Right now anything below a $215 million is extremely unlikely. I project a $221 million finish, making it the highest-grossing non-Shrek DreamWorks animated film ever and paving the way for many more Madagascar sequels to come.


The newest in the series of 3D concert films, Katy Perry: Part of Me opened at #8 to $7.1 million over the weekend and $10.2 million since its Thursday opening. It averaged just a meager $2,615 from 2,730 venues over three days. This opening is a far cry from last year’s Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’s $29.5 million, a number which the Katy Perry film won’t even reach in total. Word-of-mouth among its target audience seems glowing as the film received an “A” CinemaScore. Unsurpsiringly 81% of its weekend audience were female and 72% under the age of 25. However, even with good WoM, concert movies rarely display good legs. We’re looking at around $19-21 million here.


The weekend’s big winner was Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. The #9 movie of the weekend dipped just a minuscule 8.3% while adding only 30 theatres. After another $4.5 million, its total gross stands at $26.8 million, making it Anderson’s second-biggest film ever domestically after The Royal Tenenbaums ($52.4 million). Right now it looks entirely possible that it will become his highest-grossing film. Kingdom’s WoM is terrific and it is currently tracking similarly to last year’s Midnight in Paris, last summer’s runaway sleeper hit. It should wind up with a terrific $55-60 million total by the end of its run.


Speaking of Midnight in Paris – hot on the heels of his highest-grossing film ever and his recent Best Picture nominee, Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love went wide, as it added 777 venues for a total theatre count of 806. A decent PTA of 4,345 followed, giving the film a $3.5 million weekend and a running total of $5.6 million. It is following the typical trajectory of a mediocre Woody Allen film that opened right after his big hit. Whenever an Allen movie outperforms (by his standards and is well-liked by audiences, his next (typically mediocre) films perform better than his middle-of-the-road films usually do. This has happened to Scoop following Match Point and to Whatever Works following Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Now To Rome with Love is following Midnight in Paris and that alone looks to ensure that it will end up with $12-15 million.


Last weekend’s unfortunate flop People Like Us didn’t get a break this weekend. While it did manage to hang on to the 11th spot of the box-office, it still decreased 48.4% to $2.2 million giving it a $9.2 million total. It will end up with $15 million in the bank.


At last, The Avengers spent its 10th week in the Top 12, dropping to #12 with $2.2 million (down 51%) as it suffered the worst decline of its run so far. With $611.1 million in the bank already, there is nothing to complain about, though, Obviously The Amazing Spider-Man provided the most direct competition ever since The Avengers has been released so the drop was to be anticipated. I see it ending up with $618 million in the bank.

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