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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (August 24-26, 2012)

The dog days of the summer are here and the box-office hit a new low this year. With only $83.4 million accumulated by the Top 12, it was the first time since the April 27-29 weekend that the Top 12 cume dipped below $100 million. While this is not unusual for a late August weekend, it is still remarkable that not a single other weekend in 2012 saw the Top 12 cume smaller than $90 million. One would have to go back to the December 9-11 weekend in 2011 to find a lower Top 12 total. All three wide releases this weekend failed to impress and yet none of the holdovers achieved a particularly remarkable hold despite the utter lack of competition. None of the new movies managed to crack the weekend’s Top 5, while the top four spots actually remained in the same order as the weekend before. This led to a 34.5% decline for the Top 12 number. Looking at the bright side, however, the weekend was up 11.5% from the comparable frame last year when The Help stayed on top in its third week, while none of the new releases managed to particularly impress as well.


The Expendables 2 repeated at the top spot as the weekend’s only film to gross more than $10 million over the weekend. A $13.5 million weekend cume (down 52.8%) brought the ensemble actioner’s running total to $52.3 million after ten days. The hold is comparable to the first film’s 51.3% drop in its sophomore weekend. However, The Expendables 2 is now trailing its predecessor by almost exactly $13 million with the gap likely to increase over the upcoming weeks. At least good word-of-mouth (as indicated by its “A-“ CinemaScore) seems to prevent harsher drops. One would expect a sequel to a niche-movie like this one to have a much weaker hold in its second weekend. The combination of good reception by the audiences, the film being a general crowd-pleaser and the utter lack of competition softened the blow. It will face more competition next weekend, however, going up against the R-rated Lawless which will also cater to older audiences as does The Expendables 2. The Expendables 2 has two good weekends ahead with the Labor Day weekend providing it wit a boost and the post-Labor Day weekend being devoid of any competition. However, after that the onslaught of R-rated action competition (Resident Evil: Retribution, Dredd 3D) will make sure that The Expendables 2 will experience a freefall from the charts. In the best-case scenario the film will reach an $80-85 million total which should suffice to produce another sequel given that Lionsgate paid $35 million for the US/UK distribution rights. However, the makers of the film would need to step up their game if they don’t want a further decrease for the third film.


The Bourne Legacy remained firmly in the second spot of the box-office. The sort-of-kind-of sequel to the popular Jason Bourne-franchise dipped 45.5% in its third weekend to $9.3 million and an $85.5 million total after 17 days. The fact that the movie is not holding better despite the utter lack of competition is a statement to the film’s mixed WoM. The movie’s third-weekend hold is significantly worse than the respective third-weekend holds of the three Damon/Bourne movies. In fact, the film’s third weekend is already way below the third-weekend grosses of the other three films. While the movie has a $100 million total locked up now, it won’t go much beyond that and certainly won’t surpass the unadjusted totals of any previous Bourne film. With overseas numbers added in, Universal still has a winner on its hands, but it isn’t sue if the profit is large enough to justify another attempt, especially considering that it’d likely perform worse. The film certainly can’t boast the same degree of popularity as the other Bourne films. What might help the latest installment in the Bourne franchise is the lack of major PG-13-rated movies in September. Right now The Bourne Legacy looks to wrap up its run with around $105-110 million.


ParaNorman lost 39.3% of its previous weekend’s audiences in its sophomore frame and bagged another $8.5 million for a $28.3 million total after ten days. That already makes the film Focus Features’ 2nd-biggest grosser this year so far, with its sight set firmly at surpassing Moonrise Kingdom’s total (currently at $43.5 million) for the top spot of the year for Focus. On the studio’s all-time chart it is already sitting comfortably at #16, however tracking $7 million behind Focus’ last animated release, Coraline after the same period of time. ParaNorman wll get a decent-sized boost next weekend thanks to Labor Day on Monday which usually provides a healthy bump for all family-oriented releases. Even though next weekend will see a new wide release for kids, Oogieloves In The BIG Balloon Adventure, I doubt it will figure much. In September it will mainly have to contend with Finding Nemo 3D, until Hotel Transylvania will destroy it not only by providing direct 3D-animated competition, but also featuring a horror theme of sorts. Until then, a solid run should be ensured for it with a likely finish above $50 million. I project a $52 million finish, putting it slightly above Atonement ($50.9 million) at #4 of all time for Focus Features. However, given the films purported $50-60 million budget, it is still not a major winner for the studio.


The Campaign held on to the 4th spot of the box-office, even though barely. It dipped 43.3% to $7.4 million, ultimately destroying any chance the film had left at a $100+ million total. The comedy’s 17-day cume amounts to $64.5 million which looks better, given the recent failure of The Watch ($33.2 million). However, if you look at the names involved (Jay Roach, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis) and the fact that it barely faced any competition this weekend, you’ll see why the film still feels like a slight letdown. Next weekend should give it a nice boost before it’ll settle for a mid-range run throughout September, heaving for a decent, if unremarkable $86 million total.


In its sixth weekend The Dark Knight Rises returned to the Top 5 with one of the weekend’s best holds. The comic book adaptation sequel delivered its second sub-40% drop in a row, declining just 35.1% to $7.2 million and pushing its total gross to $422.2 million. It now sits at the all-time #11 domestically, mere $600,000 away from passing The Lion King’s lifetime domestic total and entering the Top 10 of all-time. Another good hold next weekend will ensure that The Dark Knight Rises breezes past Shrek 2’s $441.2 million cume and settles for the all-time #7 spot. In fact, if it manages to hold on to enough theatres for the res of September, the film could still have a shot at a finish above $450 million. Maybe Warner Bros. will actually end up giving it a small push to get there. It certainly won’t require much. Its predecessor, The Dark Knight, made another $21 million after a weekend gross of $5.5 million in its 8th frame – and that without having a holiday weekend ahead. At this point, I see a $448 million total for it, but as said above, a slightly higher number wouldn’t surprise me either.


Also climbing one spot up the weekend charts to #6, The Odd Life of Timothy Green almost managed the weekend’s best hold with a drop of just 34.2%. A $7.1 million weekend brought its running cume to $27.1 million after 12 days. With not much competition ahead and obviously enjoying very good WoM, the family flick starring Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton will end up making $47 million before all is said and done.


The weekend’s biggest new movie was the bicycle-actioner Premium Rush with the The Dark Knight Rises-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead. The $35 million-expensive Sony feature collected just $6.3 million over the weekend from 2,255 locations for a per-theatre-average of $2,794. It looks like the huge success stories of Inception and The Dark Knight Rises didn’t help boosting Gordon-Levitt’s popularity among general moviegoers. With a “B”-CinemasScore to boot, outstanding legs are unlikely as well. The film has a long way to go to break even for Sony now, with the most likely domestic outcome for it hovering somewhere in the $20-23 million range.


The weekend’s big winner was undoubtedly the Republican documentary 2016 Obama’s America. In its 7th weekend the film went wide, adding 922 theatres and bringing its theatre count to 1,091. This resulted in an impressive 401.2% jump to $6.2 million as he movie secured the 8th spot at the weekend’s box-office. The most impressive feat, however, was the film’s $5,718 per-theatre-average, the highest for any movie in the Top 12 this weekend. Even though its theatre count went up by over 545%, its PTA dropped by just around 22%. That by itself is already amazing. Also impressive, however, is the fact that with its $9.1 million total it is already the biggest Republican-leaning documentary ever, surpassing the same studio’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed ($7.7 million). After this resounding success, one can only expect more buzz in the media for the film and further expansions down the road. His will stick around for a while and almost certainly become the 2nd-biggest political documentary ever, only behind Michael Moore’s phenomenon Fahrenheit 9/11 ($119.2 million). Right now the film’s a total wild card as it has defied all expectations so far. I expect a $28-35 million total for it, but at this point anything can really happen and a $50 million finish frankly wouldn’t shock me anymore.


The Meryl Streep-starrer Hope Springs dropped a slot to #9, but achieved the weekend’s best hold as it decreased just 34.1% to $6 million. Its running total stands at $45 million now. While it is a far cry from success stories like The Devil Wears Prada, It’s Complicated or even Julie & Julia, it’s still a reasonably solid number for a low-key film, like this. It will enjoy a good run throughout September and wind up with a $69 million tally by the end of its run.


The Open Road Films’ R-rated action-comedy Hit and Run bowed to just $4.7 million from 2,870 venues for a pathetic PTA of $1,629. The Dax Shepard/Kristen Bell match-up has collected a total of §5.9 million since its Wednesday release. Given bad reviews and the mediocre “C+” CinemaScore, the movie won’t hang around for long. With an average as bad as it got, most theatres will drop it quickly. Watch out for this one to disappear soon with around $13-14 million in total. This looks bad, but considering the $1.3 million spent on te film, it won’t even be a financial failure for the studio.


The weekend’s biggest loser was Sparkle. The movie featuring Whitney Houston’s final role, plunged 63.9% to $4.2 million and the 11th spot of the box-office. Its running cume stands at $18.9 million with not much gas left in the tank. It should finish with around $25 million in its pockets.


At last Warner Bros. long-delayed The Apparition opened in just 810 theatres to incredibly terrible reviews. Nonetheless thanks to the utter lack of horror movies in the marketplace, the critically lambasted film made almost $3 million over the weekend for a PTA of $3,648, better than the weekend’s other two openers. The upcoming The Possession will quickly kill it, though. I wouldn’t expect more than $7 million from it. One has got to wonder, however, how much would have been possible had it been given a wider release right off the bat.

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