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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (January 25-27, 2013)

For the first time this year the box-office was down from 2012. The studios messed up the scheduling big time and now the movies have to pay the price. Out of three new openers, two disappointed, just like the weekend before. Coming off the long holiday weekend, the Top 12 box-office cume went down 25.1% to $88 million which is also down 10.3% from the similar weekend last year when The Grey conquered the top spot with surprisingly good numbers. Once again, the theatres were overcrowded with R-rated releases and the family audiences are still being incredibly underserved. The marketplace is ripe for a family-oriented breakout, from which the otherwise very unappealing-looking animated flick Escape from Planet Earth might benefit. This weekend, eight of the Top 10 movies were rated R, in fact, of the Top 9 grosses, only one film was PG-13. On top of that, most of the R-rated movies are also targeting the same demographics – adult men (Hansel and Gretel, Parker, Zero Dark Thirty, Gangster Squad, Broken City). There is very little for female audiences in the marketplace. On the other hand, this circumstance allowed the few PG-13 movies and the female-oriented flicks to thrive. In particular the Oscar-nominated films are still doing very well in this marketplace.


The top spot went to Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. After having been delayed for almost 10 months and plagued with terrible reviews, its $19 million opening from 3,372 venues cannot be considered anything other than good. It averaged a solid $5,635 for the best per-theatre-average among all wide releases. The opening was boosted by the 3D premium (3D screens accounted for 66% of the weekend business) and IMAX showings (IMAX 3D made up 11% of the weekend’s gross). This is a good sign for the 3D trend, considering that recently 3D hasn’t made up more than half of a film’s weekend take in most cases. Looking at its $50 million production budget, one might be inclined to be less satisfied with the outcome, however under the given circumstances the film has performed really well. One has to consider that the marketplace is just packed with R-rated movies aiming at the same kind of audiences. Hansel and Gretel skewed older (57% 25 years or older) and male (55% male audiences). This is just the kind of demographics that Parker, Gangster Squad, The Last Stand, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty and Broken City are going for. The film also opened better than the seemingly more high-profile Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter last summer ($16.3 million) and the similar-looking The Brothers Grimm ($15.1 million), despite the latter film’s more accessible PG-13-rating.  Whole the movie critics haven’t been generous towards the film; the audiences seem to enjoy it, awarding it a decent “B”-CinemaScore. It also held very well over the weekend, reaching $19 million after a $6 million opening day, indicating very little frontloading. One of the reasons that the film has performed as well as it did, might be Jeremy Renner who has broken big onto the scene after his Oscar nominations for The Hurt Locker and The Town and his following roles in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy. He’s a certified action star now and his face and name are more known to general moviegoers. Moreover, unlike most other adult-oriented films this January, Hansel and Gretel looks like the one being most “fun”. All that and the decent WoM still probably won’t help its legs that much, as it will face even ore R-rated competition over the upcoming weeks. However, at least IMAX should allow for somewhat better legs than otherwise. It should wind up with $45-50 million, possibly becoming this month’s biggest R-rated release.


Last weekend’s big winner, Mama, went down an expected 54.7% to #2 of the charts and $12.9 million over the weekend. The Guillermo del Toro-produced supernatural PG-13 horror flick has accumulated $48.6 million in ten days and is currently the only non-R-rated movie among the nine biggest films this weekend. Given the film’s small $15 million price tag, it is already a major success story for Universal. It won’t take long for it to pass The Woman in Black’s $54.3 million and thus become the biggest horror film released since Paranormal Activity 3 back in 2011. Mama can clearly benefit from the overabundance of R-rated films and despite coming off an inflated weekend and scoring a mediocre “B-“-CinemaScore, it still held better than a movie like this otherwise would have. Next weekend, it will contend with Warm Bodies, another PG-13 release also appealing to female audiences. However, the weekend after will see just two more wide openers – both rated R. Therefore, Mama should continue with decent legs at least until the Presidents day weekend. After that I expect it to drop off quickly, but it will still stick around long enough to reach a total of $65-70 million. This is also god news for Jessica Chastain, who’s also in another hit right now, Zero Dark Thirty. Chastain has waited long for her big break and after having impressed the critics in 2011, now she seems to be breaking more into mainstream and making herself known to general moviegoers.


Silver Linings Playbook held on to the 3rd spot of the charts and delivered a fabulous 7% drop to $10 million, even though it has just added 118 more theatres. What is also impressive is that, in its 11th weekend, the film was still able to average $3,786 per theatre. That is just around 21% less than what the film averaged in its 6th weekend from mere 371 theatres! This speaks a lot of the film’s amazing word-of-mouth and its terrific stability. Obviously, right now it is able to greatly benefit from being female-oriented and thus the R-rating doesn’t hurt it in the way it does hurt most of the other films on release. With Oscar buzz still building and eight Academy Awards nominations to boot, Silver Linings Playbook will almost certainly stick around in the weekly Top 10 all the way until the actual ceremony. Valentine’s Day should give it a great boost too. By the time of the ceremony Siler Linings Playbook will be well past $90 million and might even have reached $100 million, for which it is already a lock. Its further performance will, of course, depend on the way the Oscars will turnout. It most likely won’t go home empty-handed and even a Best Actress prize would give it a slight boost. Without winning Best Picture, it should still land somewhere around $110-115 million. If it does, however, win big, it should make it all the way to $125-135 million.


Facing way more competition than Silver Linings Playbook and being less accessible to mainstream audiences, Zero Dark Thirty faced a significantly worse drop and eased 38% to $9.8 million and brought its running total to a great $69.9 million after 17 days in wide release. For a 2.5-hours long procedural film with fairly little action, it is a terrific number, easily making it Kathryn Bigelow’s highest-grossing film as well as the highest-grossing film dealing with the War on Terror. The movie will keep facing stiff competition over the next weeks, courtesy of Side Effects, Bullet to the Head and A Good Day to Die Hard, but Oscar buzz will keep it afloat. Unlike Silver Linings Playbook, $100 million is not a lock yet in its case, but it keeps getting more and more likely. Right now, it is looking at a finish around $95-105 million, though a Best Actress win for Jessica Chastain could push it even higher.


Parker, the newest Jason Statham-vehicle, opened to a disappointing $7 million at #5 this weekend. From 2,214 venues, it averaged $3,147 per location. It is yet another in the series of underwhelming openings for Statham outside of The Expendables franchise. Last year, Safe opened to $7.9 million, showed terrible legs and finished with $17.1 million. Despite the support from Robert De Niro and Clive Owen, Killer Elite bowed to $9.4 million en route to a $25.1 million total the year before. The Mechanic fared slightly better in 2011 with an $11.4 million opening and a $29.1 million finish. None of these films broke even domestically and neither will Parker, which is budgeted at $30 million. The presence of Jennifer Lopez as his female co-lead didn’t help much either. Lopez herself hasn’t had a major hit since Monster in Law ($82.9 million) back in 2005. Even though Parker was welcomed by audiences with a “B+”-CinemaScore, expect it to still be demolished by R-rated action-oriented competition courtesy of Bullet to the Head and A Good Day to Die Hard. It won’t go further than $15-17 million by the end of its run.


Rising one spot to #6, Django Unchained decreased just 35.5% despite heavy R-rated competition. Over the weekend it brought in an additional $5 million for a running total of $146.3 million. The Quentin Tarantino-directed western is just $1 million away from entering the all-time Top 30 of the highest-grossing R-rated films ever. It is also currently still tracking $8 million ahead of True Grit in the same time frame, though the former is slowly but gradually catching up. One can only imagine how much better Django Unchained with its splendid WoM would be doing, if it wasn’t facing immense competition from all sides. Oscar buzz is helping it somewhat, though it is unlikely to win anything major and will drop off the charts quickly after the Oscars ceremony in February. I still expect it to finish with around $163 million by the end of its run.


Even the star-studded cast couldn’t help the critically-bashed comedy Movie 43 to post solid numbers. The film bowed to $5 million at #7, averaging $2,472 per location from its unimpressive 2,023 venues. The move opened with fairly little marketing and word about the film’s quality got out when the premiere was attended just by very few of the film’s numerous big-name stars. Despite starring the likes of Kate Winslet, Johnny Knoxville, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Kristen Bell, Justin Long and Naomi Watts, the Relativity release’s budget is still just $6 million, meaning that the studio won’t really lose money on it. At the same time, the film’s terrible reviews, its frontloadness over the weekend and its horrendous “D”-CinemaScore all point towards a very quick run with a total gross not exceeding $10 million.


Yet another R-rated movie occupied the 8th slot of the box-office, as Gangster Squad dipped 51.4% to $4.2 million, bringing its running cume to $39.6 million. Even though the film’s WoM seems to be solid, it won’t get a chance to recover and stabilize due to relentless competition it will receive over the upcoming weeks. It’ll start losing screens quickly and the new release will cut into its target audiences. With some luck the R-rated pulp flick will wind up with $48 million. This weekend’s harsh drop ruined its last chances at reaching $50 million.


Last weekend’s big disappointment Broken City crumbled in its sophomore frame and decreased 51.6% to $4 million. It dropped four spots in the process and landed at #9 of the box-office with $15.3 million in ten days. The number is still well below Contraband’s $24.3 million opening last January, a number that Broken City won’t reach by the end of its run. For Wahlberg, Broken City is his worst flop since Rock Star almost 12 years ago. Like Gangster Squad, it won’t recover and will soon leave the theatres with $21 million in the bank.


Les Misérables rounded off the Top 10 as the only other PG-13 movie among the weekend’s top performers. In its 5th weekend, the Oscar-nominated musical dropped 47.8% to $3.9 million and pushed its current total to an amazing $137.2 million. It is now less than $7 million away from passing Mamma Mia! as Universal’s highest-grossing musical and the third-biggest musical of all-time at the domestic box-office – a feat it should accomplish before the Oscars ceremony. Barring some surprising major wins, aside from Anne Hathaway’s nearly guaranteed Oscar, the film will fail to reach $150 million, but a $148 million finish is nothing to complain about for the 158-minutes long, grim musical.


Outside the Top 10, Lincoln remained in 11th spot with $3.9 million (down 29.2%). The film currently stands at $167.1 million and while it is losing steam in the Oscar race with Argo taking the frontrunner position, it is still considered as one of the biggest contenders by the general moviegoing public. That will ensure great legs all the way until the ceremony. Even if it loses Best Picture, it should still probably wind up with several major wins, including Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis.  Right now, I see it fin ding its way to a terrific $185 million total, making it one of the 20 highest-grossing Best Picture nominees of all-time and Steven Spielberg’s 10th-biggest film.


The 12th spot went to A Haunted House, which suffered under Movie 43’s and Hansel and Gretel’s arrival and dipped 59% to $3.4 million for a $35.5 million total after 17 days on release. It looks like the film will crawl to $40 million and thus finish ahead of spoofs such as Vampire Sucks, Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans.


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey dropped out of the Top 12, down to #14, losing 46.4% of its audiences. A $3.3 million weekend brought its total to $293.2 million after seven weeks. By now it looks like the race for the winter 2012 box-office crown is over with Skyfall declared a close, but clear winner. The Hobbit is still a lock to pass $300 million, but it won’t go far beyond that, likely wrapping its run with $302 million, whereas Skyfall is looking at around $303 million at least.


As for the remaining Oscar contenders, Life of Pi dropped mere 20.9% to $2.7 million and elevated its total gross to $103.5 million. The movie certainly managed to avoid the box-office disappointment of last year’s effects-heavy family-oriented Oscars contender Hugo. I doubt that Life of Pi will wind up with any major Oscar wins, however, the lack of family-oriented films in the marketplace is currently helping it a lot. It should stick around until the Oscars and eventually find its way to $114 million. The Impossible, while only nominated for Best Actress, is also enjoying very healthy legs in theatres. The movie lost 104 theatres this weekend and dipped 20% to $2 million with its PTA barely decreasing from the previous frame. Thus far, the tsunami-drama has accumulated $13.3 million and set its sights firmly at $18-20 million. At last, Argo is enjoying its late awards boost and having won several guild awards as well as the two main Golden Globes, the film is the talk of the town. Down 19.4% to $1.8 million in its 16th (!) weekend, the political thriller brought its running cume to $117.6 million. With the home video release not far ahead, it will soon lose some steam, but at the very least it should make it to $123 million. Should it, however, win Best Picture at the Oscars, then, I believe, $130 million will happen. That is amazing for a movie that opened to less than $20 million.

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Total Comments: 1
David    Jan 29 2013 7:42am
Go Hansel & Gretel! ;-)