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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (March 8-10, 2013)

One major opener was all it took for 2013 to pull ahead of 2012 for at least one weekend. Even though no other movie topped $10 million over the Friday-Sunday frame, Oz The Great and Powerful opened so strongly that it single-handedly led to a 38.3% increase of the Top 12 cume compared to last weekend. The Top 12 amassed $128.3 million over the weekend, representing a 6% increase over the similar weekend last year when Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax defended the pole position in its second outing. It was the first time since the Martin-Luther-king weekend that the Top 12 managed an increase over the previous year. In the big picture, though, 2013 is still trailing 2012 by 13.4% and considering that’s before The Hunger Games’ $400 million is accounted for, we’re in for a much bigger gap soon. The May blockbusters better deliver big time or otherwise 2012 will still be well behind last year even by the end of the summer.


Everyone knew that Oz The Great and Powerful would open well, the question was just how well. Turns out: pretty damn well! Capturing the top spot on Friday with $24.1 million it went on to increase by 37% on Saturday on its way to a humongous $79.1 million over its first three days. From its 3,912 theatres (widest release of 2013 so far), the fantasy epic averaged $20,223. That opening weekend alone sufficed to become this year’s second-biggest movie already. Around 53% of the film’s weekend gross came from 3D-showings (including 10% from IMAX), meaning that it has fallen into the standard range for major 3D-blockbusters nowadays. The times in which a huge blockbuster could open with a 70% 3D-share (like Alice in Wonderland) are over now. The 3D-buzz died down a bit because for each spectacular 3D-release like Life of Pi or, as a matter of fact, Oz there are five mediocre ones not worth the premium. Either way, Oz’ delivered a fantastic opening, though not exactly in the same heights as Alice in Wonderland. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. First of all, Alice in Wonderland could hugely benefit from the “Golden Age” of the 3D craze, hot off Avatar’s success. On top of that, Alice was directed by Tim Burton, one of the most well-known directors in business and starred Johnny Depp, one of the biggest working stars nowadays. That combination propelled Alice in Wonderland to a $116.1 million opening, then the biggest opening weekend ever for a non-sequel and led to a stunning $334.2 million total gross. However, not all viewers were satisfied with that film and despite being a family-oriented film, it didn’t manage an opening-to-total multiplier of 3. With Oz The Great and Powerful’s colorful CGI landscapes, it might have looked like more of the same to many and turned off some of its potential audiences. In that way, Alice in Wonderland might have actually slightly hurt Oz.

That said, its number is absolutely nothing to scoff at. Even though, the movie in a way tells the back-story to The Wizard of Oz, it is generally seen as an “original” movie and not a prequel. Its opening is thus the 7th-biggest of all-time for a non-sequel and also the 7th-biggest in Disney’s studio history, coming in ahead of Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. Many factors contributed to Oz becoming such a huge opener. It hit the marketplace at the perfect moment. For one, it is only the second movie with a rating lower than PG-13 to open this year (after Escape from Planet Earth). For another, the film might not have a major star such as Johnny Depp in the lead, but Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and James Franco are all known actors, with Franco and Kunis in particular having been a lot in the spotlight over the recent few years. On top of that, The Wizard of Oz is obviously one of the most beloved US-American films of all-time in the USA and this movie if the first silver screen journey back to this world in a very long time. With the average CinemaScore being a “B+”, it is obviously well-received too, though it surprisingly appealed to families (41%) as much as it did to couples (43%). In the upcoming weeks, The Croods will be the only direct competition the movie will face all the way until the end of April. Aside from The Croods, no other movies with a PG- or G-rating will be released until Epic on May 24h. In the worst-case scenario Oz should wind up with Alice’s legs, which would lead to a $228 million domestic total. However, with what I expect to be less frontloading, a slightly better reception and a better marketplace, I expect at least The Lorax’ legs, which should ensure a finish above $240 million. It will all depend on whether The Croods will overperform or underwhelm. Depending on that, Oz The Great and Powerful could end up anywhere in the $235-250 million range – enough to become one of Disney’s 20 biggest domestic performers ever and ensure a sequel within the next couple of years.


In what can only be seen as a monumental error in judgment (or sheer incompetence), Jack the Giant Slayer, Warner Bros.’ mid-level fantasy effort (despite its $195 million budget which suggest tentpole-status) was scheduled to be released just a week before Oz The Great and Powerful. As the result, Jack dropped like a rock in its sophomore weekend, suffering the worst decline in the Top 12. Down 63.8% to $9.8 million and the second spot at the box-office, Bryan Singer’s fantasy flop wound up with $43.6 million in ten days. That is almost $10 million less than last March’s big budget bomb John Carter, while coming off a worse second weekend. With a showing like this, the movie will soon experience severe drops in its screen and theatre counts, with G.I. Joe: Retaliation taking away its remaining IMAX screens at the end of the month. Even good word-of-mouth cannot save Jack now, there is no recovery from the hole it has fallen into thanks to Warner Bros. decision to release it just before what always appeared to be spring’s biggest movie.  At this point, Jack the Giant Slayer will be lucky to crawl past $60 million by the end of its run. I expect it to wind up somewhere around $60-65 million, a number so low that even big overseas grosses won’t save it in the long run.


Identity Thief continued to impress, snatching the 3rd slot of the charts in its 5th weekend on release with $6.3 million (down 34.7%).The Universal release stands at $116.5 million, around $11.5 million ahead of where Horrible Bosses stood by the end of its fifth Sunday and only $1 million away from passing that film’s total gross. It also needs a little more than $3.5 million to pass Four Christmases ($120.1 million) and become director Seth Gordon’s highest-grossing release to date – a feat it will accomplish by the end of the upcoming weekend.  It remains to be seen how well it can keep performing in the face of comedy competition courtesy of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone this upcoming weekend and Admission next week. It is looking at a $135 million total, finishing in the same range as last year’s 21 Jump Street and with a multiplier close to 4. It’s no surprise that sequel talks are underway.


Dead Man Down, which bowed to $5.3 million from 2,188 venues ($2,443 PTA) at #4, is yet another one in the long row of unsuccessful R-rated action movies to be released this year so far. The three-day cume is slightly ahead of that for Bullet to the Head, but behind those for The Last Stand and Parker. For its studio FilmDistrict it is their 2nd-worst opening for a wide release ever, only ahead of The Rum Diary. It appears like there really is no place in the market for adult-oriented action-thrillers at the moment, unless they are starring Liam Neeson. Unsurprisingly the movie’s opening weekend audience skewed older (75% 25 or above) and male (60%). With a “B-“-CinemaScore, the movie doesn’t seem to be able to rely on its WoM in the upcoming weeks and next weekend Olympus Has Fallen will deliver it a fatal bow anyway. The film will find its way to $12-13 million and vanish from most theatres within the next four weeks. It has been proven over and over that Colin Farrell is simply not a draw by any means and Dead Man Down certainly doesn’t change this perception.


Down a spot to #5, Snitch surprised by holding better than any other movie in the Top 10. The Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s vehicle eased just 34.4% in its third weekend and brought in another $5.1 million for a running cume of $31.9 million after 17 days on release. The film’s legs have been great thus far and at last this upcoming weekend it won’t face any new direct competition. In the following weeks, Olympus Has Fallen and G.I. Joe: Retaliation will take their toll on the film, but it should still easily cruise past $40 million on its way to a great $44 million total. It might not seem like anything special, but for such a low-key movie like this, relying solely on The Rock’s drawing power, it is a great outcome. It’s also the best performance for a non-family-movie that he has carried on his own since Walking Tall ($46.4 million) nine years ago.


21 and Over lost three spots and dropped to #6, but held surprisingly well as it dipped just 41.8% to $5.1 million in its second weekend. In ten days the movie has collected $16.9 million. By comparison, Project X was at $39.7 million by the end of its second weekend, but it dropped 47.1%. Never mind the good hold, 21 and Over will still start shedding screens and theatres like crazy over the next few weeks as its PTA is simply not all that good. Still, with a $13 million production budget to boot, it will end up as a profitable investment for the studio and it looks like its total domestic gross won’t be completely embarrassing either as it should wind up with $27 million in the bank before leaving the theatres.


Safe Haven held on to the 7th spot of the box-office in its fourth weekend and declined 40.2% for a weekend cume of $3.8 million. The film has so far amassed a running total gross of $62.8 million. As far as Nicholas Sparks-adaptations go, it has already topped last year’s The Lucky One and is currently less than $0.2 million away from passing The Last Song. It won’t reach $80 million like Dear John and The Notebook did, but a $71 million total (that it is likely to end up with now) is also a splendid outcome for the $28 million flick.


Silver Linings Playbook spent yet another weekend in the Top 10, again sticking to #8 with $3.6 million (down 36.8%). The movie finally passed $120 million (after 17 weeks, no less) and its current total amounts to $120.6 million. If it manages to spend another weekend in the Top 10 (and that should be considered a given), it’ll be the first movie since The Hunger Games to spend ten consecutive weekends in the Top 10. Ironically, both films star Jennifer Lawrence. Silver Linings Playbook continues to ride on the film’s terrific WoM and the relative lack of alternatives for couples to see. It is still well on track to pass $130 million an should finish its theatrical run with $131 million.


The 9th spot of the box-office went to Escape from Planet Earth. Facing heavy competition from Oz The Great and Powerful, it fell 51.4% to $3.2 million, bringing its total to $47.8 million. Spring Break boost should help its run, but I doubt it will ever stabilize again. The Croods will hit it very hard next weekend, being direct animated competition from DreamWorks. That said, Escape from Planet Earth will still hit $56 million, which means a very healthy run.


The Last Exorcism Part II rounded off the Top 10 with $3.2 million, representing a 59% decrease from last weekend. In 10 days the horror sequel has accumulated $12.1 million, I don’t expect it to go much further, though. It will very soon lose most of its theatres and wind up with $16 million.


A Good Day to Die Hard is nearing the end of its embarrassing domestic box-office performance as it dropped out of the Top 10 in its fourth frame. At #11 it made $2.1 million (down 53.6%) and reached a total gross of $63.4 million after four weeks. It will end up with $67 million, around half of what the last film did.


Finally, in its 17th round, Life of Pi spent another weekend at #12 as the studio added 45 theatres to the film’s theatre count after the terrific post-Oscars performance in the previous week. The movie dropped just 33.5% to $1.6 million. Its total gross now stands at a terrific $119.4 million. It looks like six out of nine of this year’s Best Picture-nominees will reach a domestic total above $120 million. It should end up with $123 million in its pockets before leaving the theatres.

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