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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (August 10-12, 2012)

This weekend, for the first time since The Dark Knight Rises’ opening, the Top 12 cume went up. Amounting to $138.3 million, the Top 12 increased 21.5% over the previous frame thanks to three potent openers. On the other hand, the three new movies thanks to their wide range of appeal and the toll they took on screen counts of other films, led to harsh drops for most holdovers. Still, the Top 12 is also up 7% from the same weekend last year when Rise of the Planet of the Apes narrowly stayed on top in its second weekend. The box-office is now looking at one last boost this summer with the impending opening of The Expendables 2 next weekend.


Ending The Dark Knight Rises’ three-week reign at the top of the box-office, The Bourne Legacy took over with a very good, if not outstanding opening. The Bourne-less sequel-of-sorts got out of the gate with $40.3 million from 3,745 locations, averaging a potent $10,752 per theatre. The opening represents Universal’s fourth-widest opening ever. It must be noted that Universal is still the only major studio in Hollywood that has yet to open a  movie at more than 3,800 theatres, let alone 4,000 that has become standard for most blockbuster releases nowadays. The Bourne Legacy is a new approach to sequels by Universal. After Paul Greengrass effused to return to the franchise after The Bourne Ultimatum and Matt Damon declared he wouldn’t either unless Greengrass was on board, the studio went ahead with a sequel that would be set in the same universe as the other three Bourne movies (actually taking place at the same time as Ultimatum), but feature a different main character – in this case Aaron Cross, portrayed by Jeremy Renner. Tony Gilroy who has scripted all three Bourne movies prior to this took over the director’s chair on this spin-off/sequel. It looks like the gamble paid off. Sure, the opening is a far cry from The Bourne Ultimatum’s $69.3 million opening five years ago and adjusted for inflation barely above The Bourne Identity's start ten years ago. However, considering the series lost its main star, a $40 million opening is nothing to scoff at.

The Bourne Legacy’s success is a good sign for other franchises that might attempt such an approach to keeping the series alive. It is obvious that Universal’s marketing that strongly suggested a direct connection to Matt Damon’s Bourne movies as well as the tremendous goodwill for the first three films played a large role here. One should not underestimate how well-liked the Matt Damon movies were. The Bourne Identity burst onto the scene back in 2002 when no one expected much of it. After a surprising $27.1 million opening, the film went on to get a multiplier of almost 4.5 and finished with $121.7 million domestically. Just two years later the sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, exploded with $52.5 million and finished with $176.2 million. The Bourne Ultimatum which arrived three years after Supremacy, managed yet another increase over its predecessor. After making almost $70 million during its first three days, it went on to gross $227.5 million in North America alone. It is simply terrific for a blockbuster franchise to increase in gross from one installment to another over the course of three films. One can only imagine how well another Matt Damon/Paul Greengrass outing would have performed. But as it is, The Bourne Legacy reaped the benefits from the franchise’s terrific word-of-mouth and gave its star Jeremy Renner his fourth hit in a row (after The Town, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Avengers). The Bourne Legacy is also yet another hit for Universal this year. Thanks to the breakouts of Safe House, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and Ted Universal has crossed the $1 billion mark domestically this year faster than in any year before. It is well on track to deliver its biggest year ever. With a $125 million budget to boot, The Bourne Legacy still has a way to go to recoup the investment for Universal, but at latest with overseas grosses counted in, it will manage to do so. The Bourne Legacy’s WoM doesn’t look to be on par with that of the previous three films. It earned a “B” CinemaScore from audiences and became the worst-reviewed entry in the franchise at On the other hand, the movie skewed mostly older with 69% of the audience being above 30. That should help the legs. It’ll be interesting to see how The Expendables 2 will affect it next weekend, though. Even though it is rated R, it should also skew older like The Bourne Legacy. S.W.A.T. (which ironically co-starred Jeremy Renner) is a good comparison as it opened on the similar weekend back in 2003 to similar numbers and went on to make $116.9 million. Frontloading is a bigger thing now and this being a sequel, the legs shouldn’t be as good. On the other hand, a $100+ million finish still seems like a sure thing. It should wind up making $105-115 million in North America. Together with good overseas returns, it should be enough to pave the way for another sequel.


The second spot went to the R-rated political comedy The Campaign. The Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis-starrer yielded $27.4 million from 3,205 venues for a solid $8,562 PTA. After the R-rated disaster that was The Watch this opening appears even better than it would have otherwise.  Afterall, the film had a lot of comedian star power going for it. The film came in lower than Will Ferrell’s last widely released comedy, The Other Guys, which bowed to $35.5 million two years ago in a similar release spot. One might argue that that film was rated PG-13, but the truth is, as seen with the success fo Ted, Bridesmaids and The Hangover, the R-rating is hardly a hindrance for comedies nowadays. Much rather it seems to be a seal of approval. The reviews for Jay Roach’s comedies were good, but the audiences didn’t take much of a liking to the film as it scored a “B-“ CinemaScore. Like The Bourne Legacy, the movie also skewed older with 64% of its audiences being above 25. Being the last major R-rated comedy for months to come should have a good effect on its legs, though. I wouldn’t quite rule out $100 million yet, though it would be a long way there. Right now, this looks good for a $85-100 million finish. Given the modest budget of less than $60 million, it will be another bona fide hit for Warner Bros. which had a shaky start into the summer box-office season with Dark Shadows ($79.7 million), but rebounded with Magic Mike ($112.3 million) and The Dark Knight Rises ($390.1 million)


The Dark Knight Rises was hit hard by more than $80 million worth of new movies and its loss of over 500 venues. It dropped two spots down to #3, losing 45.3% of its audiences in the process. A $19.5 million brought its running total to $390.1 million after four weeks in theatres. The weekend gross is significantly lower than the fourth weekend number of The Avengers ($36.7 million) or The Dark Knight ($26.1 million). It is currently tracking $123 million behind the former and $51.5 million behind the latter, falling more and more behind. It is still almost $32 million ahead of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest after the same amount of time, but it is also coming off a lower fourth weekend than that. Of course its numbers are still beyond tremendous and it just passed the all-time totals of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (despite a smaller opening to position itself at the all-time #15, but it simply pales compared to the two big movies everyone rightfully compares it to: The Avengers and its own predecessor The Dark Knight. This weekend number also indicates that it doesn’t have enough gas left in its tank to hit $475 million and enter the all-time Top 5. Its best bet now is to beat Shrek 2’s $441.2 million and finish at #7 all-time. Certainly not too shabby, yet somehow undeniably less than many have expected, especially after The Avengers’ performance. The film’s fourth weekend barely made the all-time Top 20 of the biggest 4th weekend, coming in lower than this year’s The Hunger Games ($21.1 million) as well. I do think that the worst has passed though and from this point on it should stabilize and have a smooth run into September. It should end up with around $450-455 million when all is said and done.


Meryl Streep continued to show her box-office drawing power as her newest comedy Hope Springs, which reunited her with The Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel, bowed at #4 to $15.6 million from 2,361 theatres over the weekend (PTA of $6,607). Since its Wednesday opening, the movie has collected $20.1 million. Meryl Streep is undoubtedly one of the biggest female box-office draws in Hollywood. She has a great track record with summer-released comedies. The Devil Wears Prada started her great streak in 2006 with a $27.5 million opening and a terrific $127.4 million total. Two years later, the musical Mamma Mia! opened against The Dark Knight to $27.8 million and finished with $144.1 million. The year after that, Julie & Julia (like Hope Springs, a Sony release) opened to $20 million and made $94.1 million in total. The very same year Streep had another big hit with It’s Complicated ($112.7 million). She is a very strong draw among older women and unlike most actresses she doesn’t even name a big male actor next to her name for her movie to become a success. As expected, Hope Springs skewed mostly female (66%) and quite old (69% above 40). The audiences awarded it a decent “B” CinemaScore. That might not look great, but I firmly believe that this will be yet another leggy hit for Streep. A total gross in the $70-80 million range seems almost guaranteed at this point.


Its opening might have been a letdown, but Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days rebounded very well. In its sophomore weekend it dropped just 43.9% to $8.2 million and the 5th spot of the box-office, bringing its total gross to $30.6 million after just ten days on release. Sure, it is still tracking 5 million behind the first film and around $7.5 million behind the second, but the good news is that it became the first film in the Wimpy Kid series that did not drop more than 50% in its second frame. Moreover, strong summer weekdays allow it to narrow the gap between it and the first two films which both had significantly higher opening weekends. In the end, it might still end up as the franchise’s lowest-grossing film, but it won’t be by as much as some have expected and with its $22 million price tag, it’ll still be a very worthy investment for Fox. At this point, I believe that the film wll crawl to $50 million before the end of its run. That should be more than enough to have the cameras rolling for the fourth installment soon.


The combination of bad WoM (“C+” CinemaScore) and tremendous direct competition courtesy of The Bourne Legacy, Total Recall plunged four spots and 68.3% to $8.1 million. Its running total stands at $44.2 million after ten days and there is unlikely much more to come from now on. Its PTA is incredibly weak at this point and four new releases next weekend mean that it’ll likely lose a bunch of theatres and many screens. By the end of the month it’ll probably be dropped by the vast majority of theatres. At this point, I see it barely crossing the opening-to-total multiplier of 2, settling for a $57 million total. That is less than half of the original Total Recall’s unadjusted total cume. It’s a simply embarrassing performance and should hopefully have studio heads rethink the strategy to remake well-known hits of the past. It probably won’t, but it should. Either way, if there actually needed to be further proof that Colin Farrell is not a draw – this is it.


The weekend’s big winner was Ice Age: Continental Drift. The third sequel in the successful animated franchise managed by far the best hold in the entire Top 12, dropping just 21.6% to $6.8 million. It still dropped all the way down to #7, but this hold pretty much locked up a $155+ million total for the movie. Right now, its running cume is at $144.1 million, tracking around $34 million behind the third movie. The great hold this weekend can be attributed to the fact that it had absolutely no new direct competition this weekend, while also managing to retain most of its theatres (the latter can’t be said of Brave). It will suffer under the arrival of The Odd Life of Timothy Green and Paranorman next weekend, but it should recover well (along with other family-oriented films) over the Labor Day weekend which should be its last hurrah. It will wind up with $164 million in the bag.


Settling for #8, Ted dipped 41.7% because of direct competition from The Campaign and brought in another $3.3 million this weekend for a running total of $209.9 million. It has surpassed Wedding Crashers to become the 9th-biggest R-.rated movie ever and the 4th-biggest R-rated comedy behind The Hangover, The Hangover Part II and Beverly Hills Cop. Those remain out of reach, but it should climb up the all-time R-rated movies chart to #7 over the next few weeks. I expect it to play well into September (there are no more R-rated comedies ahead) and finish with $222 million in its pockets.


The 9th spot of the weekend went to Step Up Revolution which made $2.9 million over the three-day period (down 51.9%) and boasts a $30.2 million total after 17 days. It’s not a terrific number, but its holds so far have been better than those of Step Up 3D, even though it is still tracking $5.5 million behind it. It should finish with far better legs and good early overseas numbers indicate that we haven’t seen the last of this franchise yet. Domestically, it should benefit from the fact that there won’t be any new 3D releases aside from Paranorman next weekend until mid-September, meaning that it’ll be able to keep most of its 3D screens for a while. It should leave the theatres with around $38 million.


The Amazing Spider-Man settled for #10 this weekend with a $2.2 million gross (down 50%) for a $255.5 million total. With the film’s success, the four biggest movies ever for Sony are now Spider-Man flicks. The Amazing Spider-Man is heading for a $262 million total.


Hit hard by the loss of over 700 theatres and direct competition by The Campaign, The Watch continued its pathetic run with a 66.3% drop to $2.2 million, tying The Amazing Spider-Man for #10. Its current total is $31.4 million and it won’t go much further from now on. Similar to Total Recall, it will soon be dropped by most theatres, leading to it vanishing from the charts with around $36 million total.


At last, Brave rounded off the Top 12 with a $1.9 million gross in its 8th weekend. It dipped just 37.4% which is good considering it lost about 40% of its theatres. Its total is now at $227.3 million, making Brave the 14th-biggest animated film of all-time in North America. It should end up with around $235 million.

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