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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (March 29-31, 2013)

The 2012 box-office is still on a rise. Thanks to two potent newcomers, the Top 12 cume over the Easter weekend amounted to $139.7 million, up 7.5% from last weekend and delivering yet another highest-grossing weekend of the year so far. Despite lacking a behemoth such as The Hunger Games, the box-office was almost dead even with the same weekend last year. On top of that, the aggregated weekend total was 19.9% higher than the Easter weekend of 2012 and 15.2% higher than the Easter weekend in 2011. Nevertheless, with all these positive news, 2013 is still lagging 12.4% behind 2012.


G.I. Joe: Retaliation bowed to a solid $40.5 million at #1 and averaged $10,891 per theatre from its 3,719 locations. The studio took advantage of Good Friday by releasing the action blockbuster on Thursday. It paid off as the flick did $10.5 million opening day and its four-day total amounts to $51 million. On the surface the number is hardly anything to scoff at, but comparing it to its predecessor, the sequel’s gross certainly pales. Three years ago, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra opened to $54.7 million, making more in its first three days without the advantage of 3D than Retaliation did in its first four. Retaliation also had inflation working for it as the first film’s opening adjusts to just over $59 million now. However, The Rise of Cobra has always seemed like a bigger project. Released in the heat of the summer and directed by Stephen Sommers (who has made huge hits such as The Mummy and its sequel) the first film could also benefit from the novelty of being the first big-screen adaptation of the popular HASBRO toy-line. Though given a generous “B+”-CinemaScore and blessed with decent legs, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is not considered a good G.I. Joe-flick among the fans. Thus a decline for the follow-up was to be expected. Paramount was clearly aware of that and made sure that the film would be produced on a smaller budget than the first one. It is rare that a sequel to an action blockbuster is made with a smaller price tag than its predecessor, but in G.I. Joe’s case the production budget went down from $175 million for The Rise of Cobra to $130 million for Retaliation.

Slated to open last June, Paramount dramatically delayed Retaliation less than two months away from its original release date all the way to this year’s March, citing 3D-conversion as the primary reason (though rumor has it, some additional reshoots took place to expand Channing Tatum’s part as Tatum landed some great hits last year). While the delay and the 3D-conversion certainly look to pay off in the international markets (where the film made more than half of the first flick’s total gross just this opening weekend alone), it is hard to tell whether the move really helped G.I. Joe: Retaliation. It must be noted that the delay certainly cost Paramount a lot in marketing that was in full effect last year already. Either way, the $51 million 4-day-gross pretty much ensures that Retaliation will pass the $100 million barrier. What’s really promising is that the film was awarded an “A-“-CinemaScore by its opening weekend audiences (comprised of 68% men). The movie also skewed older (probably due to the enduring popularity of the G.I. Joe brand). Around 59% of its audiences were 25 years or older. The 3D-share of 45% was typical of your token blockbuster. This included a 9% IMAX-share, another unremarkable number. Next weekend G.I. Joe: Retaliation should hold well as its main competition will be the 3D-re-release of Jurassic Park. Two weeks later, however, it will face a major obstacle as Oblivion will not just vie for its audiences, but should also take away many of its IMAX screens. If it can survive Oblivion, though, G.I. Joe will cruise on its great word-of-mouth through April. A total in the vicinity of the first film ($150.2 million) can be ruled out, but it should settle for a still-good $115-130 million by the end of its run.


Last weekend’s winner The Croods went down 38.8% to #2, grossing $26.7 million from Friday to Sunday. Its 10-day total amounts to $88.9 million, less than $15 million away from passing DreamWorks’ last animated feature, Rise of the Guardians. Looking at more comparable films, The Croods is tracking around $3 million behind How to Train Your Dragon, which also had Easter in its second weekend, but held slightly better, dipping just 33.7%. Back in 2011, Rio also held better over Easter (down 32.9%), but The Croods is still $9 million ahead of it at the same point of its run. Nevertheless, The Croods’ drop this weekend is indicative of good WoM and bodes well for the rest of its run. Facing no competition whatsoever until May, The Croods should develop terrific legs throughout all of April. In fact, no other movie with a rating lower than PG-13 will be released before May 24 when Epic opens. How to Train Your Dragon was in a very similar position back in 2010 and the combination of terrific reception by its audiences and the lack of competition led to an opening-to-total multiplier of 5. While I don’t quite expect The Croods to go there, this weekend’s hold pretty much assures that the latest DreamWorks Animation output will a the very least reach $160 million. Not being part of the Madagascar-, Kung-Fu Panda- or Shrek-franchise makes it all the more impressive. The circumstances during the upcoming weeks could even push it beyond the $200 million mark, though it is too early to tell. At this point, a conservative projection puts The Croods down for a $175-190 million total by the end of its run, thus making it one of DreamWorks’ ten highest-grossing animated films domestically.


Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor defied its awfully long title and opened to an expected, yet great $21.6 million from 2,047 theatres for a sturdy PTA of $10,572. Tyler Perry thus remains a cash cow for Lionsgate as his movies are usually produced on a small budget and have a very loyal and fairly sizeable fanbase. For director Tyler Perry it is the 7th-biggest opening ever and his 9th movie to open above $20 million. Only Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis can match this feat. This goes on to show the incredible and enduring draw that Perry has over his target audiences as long as he keeps making movies that appeal to them. His venture outside of his brand, Alex Cross, failed with just $25.9 million in total, showing that his fans are not willing to follow him everywhere. Temptation is Perry’s fourth film to open over the Easter weekend. Each of them opened above $20 million, showing that this might just be the perfect release date for Tyler Perry’s flicks. In fact, Perry has yet to direct a real flop. His lowest-grossing film, Daddy’s Little Girls, still brought in $31.4 million on a budget below $25 million. None of Perry’s previous Easter openers could even reach a multiplier of 2.2 and there is no reason to think that Temptation will achieve that feat. Even though the film’s audiences loved it (awarding it an “A-“-CinemaScore), that won’t matter as his films are frontloaded without an exception. Tenptation will go on to finish with $45-47 million, putting it right in the mid-field of movies that he has directed. With two more Tyler Perry-related flicks scheduled for this year (Tyler Perry Presents Peeples which he didn’t direct and Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas) the Perry/Lionsgate partnership is unlikely to end anytime soon.


Hit hard by the action-heavy and adult-male-skewing G.I. Joe: Retaliation, last weekend’s breakout success Olympus Has Fallen declined 53.4% to $14.1 million, bringing the film’s running total to $54.9 million. Given the direct competitor that made more than $40 million this weekend, Olympus certainly could have fared worse and it is a testament to its strong WoM (as well as its R-rating, I’d say) that it didn’t drop even more. After just ten days, the Antoine-Fuqua-directed Die Hard rip-off is already FilmDistrict’s most successful release ever, topping Insidious. It is also Gerard Butler’s biggest live-action film since The Bounty Hunter ($67.1 million) three years ago and will outgross that flick by the end of the next weekend. There is actually still a chance that Olympus Has Fallen will become his second-biggest hit ever, just behind his massive breakthrough 300 ($210.6 million). This is good news for Butler, whose previous two wide releases (Playing for Keeps and Chasing Mavericks) grossed $13.1 million and $6 million respectively. Next weekend Olympus Has Fallen will not get a chance to stabilize as neither the Jurassic Park 3D-re-issue nor the Evil Dead-remake will target its audiences directly. It’s not until Oblivion in two weeks that it will suffer from direct competition again. It will take Olympus Has Fallen less than one full week from now on to top A Good Day to Die Hard’s running total. That’s ironic given that Die Hard 5 was clearly a much higher-profile release and Olympus is essentially ripping off the Die Hard-formula. At this point, a finish above $80 million appears to be given and the likely final outcome will be somewhere around $85-95 million.


Oz The Great and Powerful was hit hard by losing many of its IMAX screens to G.I. Joe this weekend, dropping two spots and 45.7% to #5 and $11.7 million over the three-day period. On the upside, the fantasy adventure brought its running total to an amazing $198.4 million after just four weeks, making it already Disney’s 13th-biggest live-action release ever. It held significantly better than Alice in Wonderland did over the Easter weekend (that film dropped 53.6%), but it is still tracking $95 million behind Alice. The empty April marketplace with not a single family-oriented film will play to its huge advantage and it might even receive a studio boost from Iron Man 3’s certain huge opening on the first weekend of May. The only thing that will hurt it before that, will be Oblivion taking away its remaining IMAX screens. Other than that, it should now have at least five good weeks ahead. It should be able to squeeze past $230 million afterall and finish with $230-235 million in the bank.


This year has seen many pathetic opening weekends, but the crown for the most embarrassing one might go to this frame’s The Host. Open Road Films, which kicked off the year quite well with A Haunted House ($40 million) and Side Effects ($31.3 million), hoped that the adaptation of the Stephenie Meyer-bestseller would tap into a similar kind of young adult success as Twilight did. What really happened was that The Host launched with $10.6 million at #6 from 3,202 theatres, averaging a poor $3,310 per theatre. That means in its opening weekend The Host made about one third of what the final Twilight flick made in midnight showings alone! However, in one aspect it performed similar to the Twilight-films. The Host turned out to be very frontloaded over the weekend, opening to $5.3 million on Friday and then dropping a whopping 34.7% on Saturday for an internal weekend multiplier of just below 2! As expected, the film appealed heavily towards young women, as 78% of its opening weekend audiences were female and 61% below the age of 25. With Beautiful Creatures ($19.4 million) failing earlier this year, this certainly doesn’t spell good news for all the upcoming adaptations of young adult novels, hoping to ride on Twilight’s and The Hunger Games’ wave of success. At least Warm Bodies did fine with just over $65 million so far. With a mediocre “B-“-CinemaScore to boot and extreme frontloadness that it has displayed so far, The Host will vanish from theatres quickly and end up with no more than $21-23 million.


The Call dipped 44.7% to $.9 million in its third round and occupied the 7th slot of the box-office this weekend. With $39.6 million in the bag after 17 days, the movie has grossed three times its production budget already and is a bona fide hit for its leading actress Halle Berry. While it might be affected by Evil Dead next weekend, I expect it to rebound later in April as it enjoys solid WoM. A total above $50 million seems likely and the film should wind up with about $51 million.


Last weekend’s disappointment, Admission, dropped three spots to #8, decreasing 47.4% in the process. A second-weekend gross of $3.2 million pushed its running cume to $11.7 million. It will soon start losing theatres very quickly and thus will hardly be able to benefit from the relatively empty month that is ahead. It should finish with $20 million.


One of the bigger surprises among the holdovers was Spring Breakers. Despite what many assumed to be toxic WoM, the film dropped mere 42.9% to$2.8 million after adding 275 new theatres. So far this weekend’s #9-film made $10.1 million and will probably add a few more locations next weekend. After that I expect sharp drops, though, en route to a $16 million total.


The Incredible Burt Wonderstone lost more than half of its theatres this weekend and suffered a terribly harsh 68.9% decline. With $1.3 million from Friday to Sunday, it brought its running tally to $20.6 million, hardly a worthy gross for a high-profile comedy starring Jim Carrey and Steve Carell. It should keep losing many theatres and will succumb to that over the next two weeks. A total no higher than $23 million is to be expected when all is said and done.


Identity Thief dropped out of the Top 10 in its 8th weekend and after a formidable run it posted its worst drop thus far. Having lost half of its venues as well, the R-rated comedy starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy declined 57.6% to $1.1 million and pushed its total gross to $129.9 million. It won’t go much further from now on, but $133 million is a splendid final gross for this film and a bit higher than most have expected.


Jack the Giant Slayer rounded off the Top 12 with $1 million (down 65.4%). It currently stands at $61.4 million, now tracking around $6.5 million behind John Carter in the same time frame. It will go on to finish with $64 million – a terrible performance.


The Place beyond the Pines debuted with a terrific $279,000 from just four theatres, averaging $69,864 per venue. Director Derekn Cianfrance’s previous feature Blue Valentine grossed $9.7 million at the North American box-office and chances are high that his newest flick will top that.

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