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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (March 15-17, 2013)

The success didn’t last long. After finally having a box-office weekend again that pulled ahead of 2012, this weekend’s two wide openers didn’t create enough business to repeat the feat. Despite a strong movie at #1, the Top 12 cume fell below $100 million again to just around $96.2 million, down 25% from last weekend. The number was also 1.6% lower than the Top 12 cume on the same weekend last year when 21 Jump Street posted great numbers in its opening. Even though last year’s #1 film grossed less over the weekend than this year’s #1 flick, the holdovers were overall a tad stronger. Nevertheless, thanks to a strong mid-week performance by most films, in particular by Oz The Great and Powerful, the gap between the 2012 box-office and the 2013 box-office was narrowed down to 12%. Expect the gap to widen immensely next weekend, though, as last year it was the $150+ million bow of The Hunger Games.


Repeating at the top of the heap, Oz The Great and Powerful declined a slightly harsh 47.9% for $41.3 million during the three-day portion. With $144.1 million in the bag after just ten days in theatres, Sam Raimi’s 3D-spectacle has handily become the year’s top grosser thus far and only the second film of 2013 to cross the $100 million milestone. The drop is very much in line with Alice in Wonderland’s 46% decline. However due to Alice’s bigger opening weekend and Tim Burton’s fanbase, it was assumed that Oz the Great and Powerful should be able to hold better, especially as it didn’t face any direct competition in its second round. As it is, its second weekend gross is still the third-best ever delivered by a film in March (behind Alice and The Hunger Games). However, the real test will be next weekend, when Oz will face direct competition courtesy of DreamWorks’ newest effort The Croods which will vie for the family audiences and should cut deeply into Oz The Great and Powerful’s demographics. Ironically, Alice in Wonderland had to compete with a DreamWorks animated flick in its fourth weekend – How to Train Your Dragon – and it dropped 48.2% facing it. Any hold better than this should be considered very good for Oz. It might be helped by the fact that this year so far has seen only two movies aimed at family audiences (Escape from Planet Earth and Oz), so that the marketplace starving for family entertainment might just be able to accommodate the demand for both movies. If Oz the Great and Powerful follow Alice in Wonderland’s trajectory from now on, it should finish somewhere around $230 million, which looks like a good mark for the film. It could, however, start holding better due to superior WoM and, most of all, very little competition throughout April. As of now, there are only seven movies scheduled for wide release in April, with none of them having a lower MPAA rating than PG-13, meaning that the marketplace will remain wide open for The Croods and Oz. If Sam Raimi’s film is able to reap the benefits of this unfortunate scheduling, it could end up anywhere in the $230-245 million range. It is a great domestic total, but it should also be held against the film’s excessive $215 million production budget.


In the year so cluttered with R-rated releases that most of them simply cannibalized each other and saturated the market to the point that audiences simply lost interest, it is very intriguing to see a movie like The Call perform as well as it did last weekend. Capturing the #2 spot of the box-office, the R-rated thriller starring Halle Berry bowed to $7.1 million from just 2,507 theatres, averaging a very respectable $6,828 per venue. Halle Berry hasn’t been considered a box-office draw for a long time. Her last starring role in a wide release was back in 2007, in the drama Things We Lost in the Fire, which opened outside of the Top 12 and topped out with $3.3 million. In the same year, she starred in the flop Perfect Stranger ($24 million). In fact, one has to go back ten years to Gothika ($59.7 million), the last Berry-led film that was a hit. Also interesting: despite directing movies for 15 years now, The Call is Brad Anderson’s (The Machinist) first wide release. Its opening weekend alone is already more than twice as big as the cumulative total of the six films Anderson has directed prior to it. The Call’s effective marketing campaign by Sony, but even more importantly its appeal to adult women (as opposed to the majority of R-rated movies this year which appeal to the aduld male demographics) resulted in this small breakout success. The Call’s opening weekend audiences were 60% female and 53% over the age of 30. On top of that, audiences seem to enjoy the film as they awarded it a “B+”-CinemaScore on average. The film is a good candidate ton finish in the $45-50 million range as it won’t face much direct competition at least over the next two weeks.


Opening at #3, Warner Bros.’ The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was an incredible disappointment with just $10.2 million from 3,160 theatres for a PTA of $3,221. With Jim Carrey and Steve Carell being the film’s stars, it was expected to open at least 50% higher than that. For Carell this is by far the worst opening weekend for a major comedy that he has ever starred in. In fact, his last three leading-role-comedies, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Dinner for Schmucks and Date Night opened to $19.1 million, $23.5 million and $25.2 million respectively. Even though Jim Carrey is far from his box-office heyday, his last three live-action comedies opened to $17 million on average. Therefore, Burt Wonderstone’s opening cannot be described as anything other than a bitter disappointment. Additionally to all the other sad stats, the film also achieved the worst opening weekend for a movie playing in more than 3,000 theatres since last October’s Fun Size.  Burt Wonderstone’s lackluster performance goes on to show that just having famous names in a film simply doesn’t cut it anymore. The movie itself needs to be appealing and for a comedy, Burt Wonderstone’s marketing was just too short on real laughs. Moreover, the time for safe PG-13-comedies like this seems to have passed as audiences clearly prefer more outrageous R-rated films right now. The movie’s only saving grace is its surprisingly small budget. Despite numerous major names in its cast, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was produced for just $30 million. With a “C+”-CinemaScore and mediocre reviews to boot and facing Admission, a comedy starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, next weekend, Burt Wonderstone will wind up with $25-30 million at the North American box-office. Not exactly anything to boast about. Given the budget, at least it won’t be a major bomb for anyone involved. It should, however, be a wake-up call for Carrey and Carell.


Dropping two spots down to #4, Jack the Giant Slayer, on the other hand, is a major financial flop for Warner Bros. In its third weekend, the fantasy adventure brought in another $6.3 million (down 35.8%) for a 17-days-total of $54 million. It made up some ground on last year’s April-released flop John Carter, now tracking $8.5 million, while coming off a bigger third weekend. Obviously not facing a humongous opener targeting the similar kind of audiences helped this time around, but at this point all hopes to recover its $195 million budget has been lost for Jack. Next weekend it will lose many of its 3D screens to The Croods and will suffer under direct competition again. The weekend after G.I. Joe: Retaliation will snatch away its remaining IMAX screens. Even the empty April schedule won’t help it much as it will simply lose its screens and theatres too fast to be able to recover at some point. It is currently tracking to finish in the $65-70 million range.


No other movie made more than $5 million last weekend. Identity Thief placed 5th in its sixth weekend with a terrific 30.2% hold. A $4.4 million weekend brought the film’s running total to $123.6 million. It has now become director Seth Gordon’s highest-grossing flick, beating Horrible Bosses and Four Christmases and is currently tracking more than $13.5 million ahead of Horrible Bosses in the same time frame. That alone means a $130+ million finish for Identity Thief. However, with far better legs so far, very little competition in April and coming off a significantly bigger 6th weekend, Identity Thief is destined to go quite a bit further than that. It is even more impressive that the film had its best hold to date, facing another major comedy release. Identity Thief looks to wind up with $136 million, a gross very similar to last spring’s R-rated comedy breakout 21 Jump Street ($138.4 million). It is a remarkable feat that despite scathing reviews and an unimpressive “B”-CinemaScore, Identity Thief will still wind up with an opening-to-total multiplier close to 4!


At #6 Snitch delivered yet another extraordinary hold for the genre, dipping just 31.3% to $3.5 million and bringing its total to $37.3 million after four weeks. Produced on a $20-22 million budget, Snitch is a bona fide success for its star Dwayne Johnson and Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment. Olympus Has Fallen and G.I. Joe: Retaliation will provide direct competition over the next two weeks, but solid WoM might carry the film all the way into April to domestic total of $45 million when all is said and done. The film’s a very quiet success, but a definite success nonetheless.


21 and Over took the 7th slot at the box-office in its third round and dove 47.6% to $2.7 million. After 17 days in theatres, the film’s total gross stands at $21.9 million – just a little more than what the similarly-themed Project X opened to in its first three days last March. However, it held much better than Project X so far. That comedy faced 21 Jump Street in its third round and went down a horrible 63.7%. it no such direct competition at any near point ahead, 21 and Over should enjoy much better legs overall and leave the theatres with $27 million in the bank – more than double its price tag.


Last year's Oscar candidate Silver Linings Playbook spent its third weekend in a row at #8, dropping 30.2% in the process and making $2.5 million over the weekend. The movie has been on release for 18 weeks now, spending 12 out of these in the Top 10 (non-consecutively). It is the first film since Avatar to spend 12 weekends in the Top 10. To emphasize how impressive this feat is: 2000 only eight other movies have spent 12 weekends or more (consecutively or non-consecutively) in the Top 12: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Traffic, A Beautiful Mind, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Chicago, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Slumdog Millionaire and Avatar. Silver Linings Playbook is therefore in extremely good company. Silver Linings Playbook has thus far accumulated $124.6 million and shows hardly any signs of slowing down. In those 18 weeks it has yet to drop 40% or more on a single weekend. The movie will end up with around $132 million in the bank.


Thanks to the lack of competition, Safe Haven dropped just 34.6% in its fifth weekend, sliding two spots down to #9. It added $2.5 million from Friday to Sunday and brought its running total to $66.9 million, passing A Good Day to Die Hard’s running cume in what must be one of this year’s biggest box-office upsets so far. Safe Haven had a great run for a romance without major stars in the leading roles and its success is almost entirely thanks to a good release date and the popularity of the Nicholas-Sparks-brand. It will wind up with $72 million.


Escape from Planet Earth dropped one slot to #10 and delivered the best hold in the entire Top 12, decreasing mere 27.2% to $2.3 million. It passed the $50 million mark on Friday and currently stands at $52.2 million, making it The Weinstein Company’s 6th-biggest film ever and their biggest animated release. Next weekend it will inevitably take a hard hit from The Croods and will disappear from most theatres soon thereafter, leaving them with about $55 million in its pockets.


Dropping a terrible 60.2% in its sophomore frame, the R-rated action-thriller Dead Man Down fell from #4 last weekend all the way down to #11. The Film District-release added $2.1 million to its gross and brought it to $9.4 million after ten days. The film will certainly lose the majority of its theatres next weekend and will barely be found anywhere in 2-3 weeks. It will finish its run with $12 million, making it the lowest-grossing wide release ever for the relatively young studio.


The Last Exorcism Part II rounded off the Top 12 with $1.3 million (down 59.7%). It has made $14.4 million so far and won’t go much further than $16 million.


A noteworthy limited release this weekend was Spring Breakers. The much-hyped film starring James Franco, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens opened to $262,000 from just three theatres for a terrific average of $87,667 per theatre.  

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