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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (July 13-15, 2012)

With only one new wide opener last weekend, the state of the box-office can be described as a prime example of the calm before a storm with the storm being next weekend’s arrival of what is undeniably the summer’s most hyped film, The Dark Knight Rises. Nevertheless, even though the Top 12 cume dipped 17% compared to the previous frame, it still amounted to $151.4 million, making this the fourth $150+ million cumulative gross for the Top 12 in a row.  The number was still down a hefty 39.8% from the similar weekend last year, though that shouldn’t come as a surprise given that last year’s July 15-17 weekend saw the record opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 which propelled the Top 12 cume to the 3rd-highest ever. With The Dark Knight Rises looking at a humongous start in a few days, we might be looking at another record-breaking weekend cume very soon.


Being the sole opener of the weekend, Ice Age: Continental Drift easily captured the top spot with a very solid, if unremarkable, $46.6 million opening. It averaged $12,015 from 3,881 venues. By now the Ice Age franchise has become rather predictable at the box-office with three of the four movies opening in the $40-50 million range and the first three films total grosses being in the $176-197 million range. Ice Age: Continental Drift opened slightly better than its immediate predecessor Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs which bowed to $41.7 million three years ago. However, it must be noted that the third Ice Age film opened on Wednesday, leading to less demand over the weekend and a five day total of $66.7 million. Moreover, its first Saturday fell on July 4th, naturally deflating its opening weekend gross. However, even taking these circumstances into account, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs’ opening was widely considered a disappointment when it came out, especially being the first 3D movie in the franchise coming out at the height of the post-Avatar 3D-craze. However, defying all expectations and the precedence set by the second Ice Age film, Dawn of the Dinosaurs developed enormous legs, even facing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in its third weekend and G-Force in its fourth. It went on to gross $196.6 million domestically, slightly outdoing Ice Age: The Meltdown and becoming the franchise’s biggest film. However, even though the first two Ice Age films already have shown that, it was Ice Age 3 that finally solidified the fact that the international markets are where the true fortune lies for these films. It went on to make more than 75% of its worldwide gross outside of USA/Canada, finishing above $690 million there.

Things are not looking much different for the fourth film either as it has already taken in $339 million overseas. Looking at its domestic performance so far, the reason why it seems even moreso unimpressive than it would have otherwise is because we have already seen three animated movies open to more than $60 million this year (Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Brave, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted). All three of them will end up above $200 million in total too. Basically, Madagascar 3, which is also looking at a very healthy overseas number, managed to pull off what Ice Age: Continental Drift doesn’t seem to be able to – it regained the animated franchise’s domestic strength. On top of that, even though over 70% of its theatres were screening the film in 3D, the movie made only 35% of its weekend cume from 3D screens, further emphasizing the weakness of 3D, in particular for family-oriented films.

Looking on the bright side, however, Continental Drift earned a very nice “A-“ CinemaScore from its audiences (compared to the “B” scored by the predecessor in the franchise). It is also the last animated film to be released until Paranorman in mid-August (and that being a Focus Features release won’t make a big splash). The next family-oriented competition won’t arrive until Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days in three weeks and Continental Drift might serve as nice counterprogramming for families against the overly dark and very long The Dark Knight Rises next weekend. That could make the animated sequel one of the few movies to survive the behemoth’s upcoming onslaught, leaving it with a decent $155-170 million total when all is said and done. That’s not too shabby for a third sequel in a franchise that never seemed particularly beloved in the USA after the first installment.


The Amazing Spider-Man relinquished its crown and settled for #2 last weekend. That was hardly surprising. What was surprising, though, was that the film held very well for the genre standards and the fact that it is part of a known franchise, even if it is a reboot. A 44.2% drop left the film with a $34.6 million weekend and a $200.5 million total after 13 days. It seems as if The Amazing Spider-Man burned off a lot of its demand during its first couple of days with the opening Friday-Sunday frame coming in slightly lower than expected, but in turn leading to a better weekdays pattern and a better second weekend hold. Even Spider-Man 2, which opened on Wednesday and burned off some demand prior to the weekend, still had a worse 2nd-weekend hold with a 48.7% drop. After 13 days, The Amazing Spider-Man is tracking $36.5 million behind the first film, almost $62 million behind the second and $50 million behind the third. Don’t expect it to catch up with those in any way either as The Dark Knight Rises will have a gigantic audiences’ overlap with it, leading to a very sharp decline ext weekend. The only thing Spider-Man can hope for is being the second choice for moviegoers that won’t get into sold out Batman showings. Other than that, one just needs to take a quick look at the weekend when The Dark Knight got out of the gate to that record-breaking opening. Hellboy II: The Golden Army dropped an awful 70.7% and Hancock, in its third weekend, eased 56.2%. Not a single Top 12 movie managed a decline better than 41%. Of all films out there in the marketplace right now, few will be hit as hard as The Amazing Spider-Man.

And yet, Sony has nothing to complain about regarding their controversial quick reboot. With over $200 million in the bank already, The Amazing Spider-Man has effectively proven the strength of the comic book brand names. The studios need to make a film based on a popular character, market it well and no matter how unnecessary, superfluous or redundant it might seem, the fans and the general audiences that have liked the previous films will come out and see it. Of course The Dark Knight Rises will cost it any shot it could have ever had at $300 million, but even if it settles in its projected $270-280 million range, it can still be called a tremendous re-launch of a franchise for Sony.


The weekend’s big winner was Ted. Seth MacFarlane’s R-rated comedy managed the second-best drop in the entire Top 10, dipping just 30.4% to #3 and $22.4 million. Its running total is currently at $159.3 million, already making it the 19th-biggest R-rated movie ever after just 17 days in theatres. Even though the gap is quickly closing, Ted is still tracking over $6 million ahead of The Hangover which went on to finish with $277.3 million. On the other hand, it is over $43 million ahead of Wedding Crashers after the same amount of time and is unlikely to fall behind it. At this point, there is no scenario in which Ted misses the $200 million mark. In fact it should be within less than $10 million of it by the end of this month. The Dark Knight Rises will certainly take a bite out of its young adult audiences and The Watch will hurt it directly the weekend after. Nevertheless, I expect it to rebound well throughout August and play all the way to the Labor Day weekend. There is a small chance at this point that Ted will end up ahead of Brave and thus become the highest-grossing non-sequel of the summer. Either way, it will certainly become the highest-grossing live action non-sequel of the summer and most definitely the biggest R-rated grosser of this year. With The Lorax, Safe House and now Ted under its belt, Universal’s year is going extremely well with the only major dark spot being Battleship which at least redeemed itself overseas a bit. Universal is currently less than $150 million behind their total gross achieved last year and should pass that after The Bourne Legacy’s release next month. As for Ted, it is heading towards a $215-225 million finish, firmly placing itself among the ten biggest R-rated flicks ever.


Brave was the weekend’s 4th-biggest film with an $11.2 million (down 43.1%) take for a running cume of $196.1 million. Obviously, Brave and Madagascar 3 were the movies hit hardest last weekend by Ice Age’s arrival, but considering this competition it still held rather well. Nonetheless, I can’t deny the slight disappointment in the fact that Brave has yet to drop less than 40% during its run. At the same time, Brave and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted are the prime showcases of how important strong summer weekdays are for a movie’s run. Even though each of these films has lost its respective weekend battles to Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, they are still both tracking ahead of Universal’s films solely thanks to strong weekdays. Brave is currently almost $19 million ahead of it. It might sound like a broken record by now, but I still fully expect Brave to rebound and deliver some strong legs late in its run. It might not be the big Pixar breakout hit as indicated by its opening, but there is nothing to complain about when you’ve got yourself a domestic total gross of $230-240 million and most likely the title of the year’s biggest animated film.


Universal’s other Top 10 movie, the weekend’s #5 Savages, is not doing nearly as well as Ted, but considering its weak “C+” CinemaScore things could be looking worse. Oliver Stone’s film decreased 41.4% in its sophomore frame to $9.4 million, bringing its total gross to $32.1 million after ten days. It’s a decent number, nothing more, nothing less. The Dark Knight Rises will likely cut into its audiences as well and it should soon start shedding screens and theatres like crazy cutting any potential legs short. I still expect a $45-50 million finish.


Dropping a slot to #6, Magic Mike rebounded extremely well after its huge, but expected 60% decline the weekend before. Stephen Soderbergh’s third film within less than 12 months is certainly looking to become of his most successful works. A 42.3% drop ensured a $9 million weekend and a $91.8 million total. Where the film’s real strength lies are its weekdays, not its weekends. Next weekend will be interesting to look at for the film. Normally, a behemoth like The Dark Knight Rises will break onto the scene taking everything else down with it. However, Magic Mike has two major things going in its favor. First of all, the audiences’ overlap between the two should be fairly small. Second (and more important) is the fact that both are Warner Bros. films and as such Magic Mike could receive a major studio-related bump, softening its drop. Either way, after initial frontloading, Magic Mike seems to have found its footing and should actually not land far away from an opening-to-total multiplier of 3. It is currently looking at a $115-120 million total, possibly giving Soderbergh his biggest film since Ocean’s Twelve ($125.5 million) in 2004 and Tatum his third $115+ million hit this year.


Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection is doing just fine as well. Defying the frontloading that is typical of most Tyler Perry-directed films, it dropped just 45.1% in its third weekend finding itself at #7 with $5.6 million accumulated over the weekend. Its $55.6 million running total makes it Lionsgate’s 12th-biggest film ever already and the fourth-biggest for Tyler Perry. Even though it opened significantly lower, Madea’s Witness Protection is tracking on par with Madea’s Family Reunion and should almost certainly finish ahead of it with $65 million. That will make it Lionsgate’s 7th-biggest film and the 2nd-biggest grosser ever for Tyler Perry. This slightly unexpected success should probably make sure that we’ll see more Perry-directed releases coming out during the summer season.


In another surprising turn of events, the 3D concert documentary Katy Perry: Part of Me didn’t crash and burn in its second weekend. Instead it held on to the 8th spot of the box-office with $3.8 million (down 46.8%) for a $18.7 million total after just 11 days. It is already the 5th-biggest concert movie ever and should overtake the Jonas Brothers film within the next couple of days. With its $12 million production budget, Katy Perry’s film won’t be a bust afterall, looking to end up with $27 million in the bank.


Moonrise Kingdom also stayed where it had been before – at #9. Losing just 18% of its previous weekend’s audiences, the Wes Anderson-directed film is still benefitting from little arthouse competition and good WoM. After a $3.7 million weekend it stands at $32.5 million with its aim still firmly set at $55-60 million. This can be safely called this summer’s Midnight in Paris in terms of success. It is almost shocking that the film hasn’t even played in 1,000 theatres yet.


Suffering the most under Ice Age’s competition, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted had the worst drop in the Top 12. It tumbled 51.2% to $3.7 million and brought its total to 203.9 million, becoming the 22nd animated film in history to pass the coveted $200 million barrier. It should rebound well next month and play well into fall, settling for a $216 million total when all is said and done.


Despite what seemed to be a decidedly mediocre reception, Woody Allen’s newest endeavor, To Rome with Love, dropped just 20.6% to $2.5 million and #11 with its current gross being $8.6 million. It is now looking to become Allen’s biggest grosser in the last ten years outside of his acclaimed Match Point/Vicky Cristina Barcelona/Midnight in Paris trio. It looks like setting his films in Europe really pays off.  There is no denying the fact that To Rome with Love’s success can mostly be attributed to Midnight in Paris which became one of last year’s most beloved films. It should wrap up its run with around $16-18 million.


Spending its last weekend in the Top 12, The Avengers dropped 35.5% as it stayed in #12. A $1.4 million weekend led to a $613.7 million total. The Dark Knight Rises will completely demolish it next weekend, though I won’t be surprised if The Avengers gets a small re-issue, especially if The Dark Knight Rises will have a similar total as it. Right now, a $618 million total looks likely, but I certainly wouldn’t rule out more.

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