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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (May 31-June 2, 2013)

Coming off a record-setting Memorial Day weekend, which saw the Top 12 grossing almost $250 million over the three-day-period, it comes as no surprise that the weekend after experienced a harsh drop, in particular as none of the opener could crack $30 million. Down 35.5% to $160.8 million, it was still the biggest Top 12 cume over the post-Memorial Day weekend since 2009, with a total of six movies making more than $16 million each from Friday to Sunday. Compared to the same weekend last year, when Snow White and the Huntsman conquered the top spot, the numbers were up 19.3%. This way the 2013 box-office keeps catching up on 2012, now trailing it by just 6.8%. With Monsters University, Man of Steel and World War Z due for a release this month, I expect 2013 to get ahead of last year by the beginning of July, though it will fall behind after with July 2013 lacking a huge hit such as last year’s The Dark Knight Rises.


Despite competition from two wide openers, Fast & Furious 6 retained its top spot of the charts with a 63.9% decline from its three-day opening to $35.2 million. Even though it was the worst decline in the entire Top 12, the number can be considered impressive given the huge opening, inflated by the holiday weekend. Fast & Furious 6 also became the first entry in the action franchise to remain #1 for more than one week. Needless to say, its second weekend gross was the best in the series too, though at the same time it suffered the worst 2nd-weekend-drop, beating 2 Fast 2 Furious’ 63%-decline. It doesn’t come as a surprise, though, considering that it is the sixth installment of the franchise and its opening was inflated by a holiday on Monday. Ten days into its run, Fast & Furious 6 stands at $171 million, having outgrossed all other entries in the series except for Fast Five and placing it 5th for 2013 so far. It is tracking around $31 million ahead of the fifth film, which went on to finish with $209.8 million back in 2011. That puts Fast & Furious 6 on track to outgross its predecessor within the next two weeks with a $240+ million finish firmly in sight. While I doubt it will have holds as good as Fast Five’s later in its run (which has dropped more than 50% only once between its 3rd and its 14th weekend), it will have stronger weekdays due to summer that will more than make up for that. Right now, I see it finishing with $240-250 million, which is a highly impressive number given that we’re dealing with a fifth sequel here that does not rely on IMAX or 3D to boost its domestic gross.


The weekend’s biggest surprise was achieved by Now You See Me, the magician caper starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson. It started out as the weekend’s underdog, going up against Will Smith’s new vehicle, but it wound up winning the frame with $29.4 million from 2,925 venues, averaging $10,034 per location. Budgeted at $75 million, the film delivered the highest opening weekend ever for Summit Entertainment, excluding Twilight and its sequels. The high investment was a gamble. While the film does feature a strong cast, none of the players can be considered a solid box-office draw on their own. However, Summit’s marketing, promising a fun caper that will leave the viewers guessing until the very end, laced with enough action and humor, worked wonders. It also appealed to all kinds of audiences with 51% being female and 52% under the age of 30. The reviews are mediocre, but the audiences loved the film, awarding it an “A-“-CinemaScore. Original movies like Now You See Me usually tend to have leggy runs in the summer if the concept is well-received by audiences and it definitely was. Christopher Nolan’s magicians-themed The Prestige had an opening-to-total multiplier of almost 3.6 back in 2006 and that even outside of the summer. Now You See Me might not fare that well, but I still see it holding its own against the large-scale blockbusters over the upcoming weeks. Late May/early June have given us some leggy crowd pleasers in the past with some of the best examples being The Italian Job ($106.1 million), Knocked Up ($148.8 million), The Hangover ($277.3 million) and Super 8 ($127 million). I wouldn’t claim that Now You See Me is on the same level of reception with those films, but it shows that it can co-exist with bigger summer fare and develop good legs throughout this month and the next. It’s not a lock to pass $100 million yet, but I consider it very likely that it will. Right now, I project it to finish with $95-110 million, making it a small surprise. I wouldn’t be surprised to read a sequel announcement some time soon.


After Earth, Will Smith’s first original effort since his 2008 drama Seven Pounds, made a very disappointing $27.5 million over the three-day-weekend, averaging $8,092 from 3,401 theatres. Supposed to be one of Sony’s tentpoles this summer, After Earth is a domestic bomb, given its $130 million budget and yet another in the string of underperformers for its director M. Night Shyamalan. After The Sixth Sense’s enormous success back in 1999 ($293.5 million) Shyamalan became one of the very few directors who could draw in audiences based on their name alone. He became even bigger once he confirmed his status as a draw with Signs ($228 million) three years later, culminating in The Village being marketed more or less solely on Shyamalan and opening to $50.7 million. However, audiences disliked the film and his next movie, The Lady in the Water, grossed a pitiful $42.3 million two years later. His first R-rated feature, The Happening, fared a little better with $64.5 million. It was also, however, greeted with terrible reviews and heavy dislike by the audiences, leading to awful legs despite a summer release. The Last Airbender grossed a decent $131.8 million on a $150 million budget, but it was also helped by the pre-existing fanbase and the 3D, which was still a big factor back in 2010. It has become clear that Shyamalan’s name is at best a non-factor and, at worst, a deterrent from seeing the film. Thus it is not surprising that After Earth’s marketing did its best to hide the fact that he directed it.

Instead, it was marketed as a major Will Smith/Jaden Smith vehicle. Jaden, Will Smith’s son, has had a hit of his own in the past with The Karate Kid ($176.6 million). In 2006 he starred together with his father in The Pursuit of Happyness, which was released at the peak of Smith’s drawing power and finished with $163.6 million stateside – a terrific number for a drama.  After Earth was clearly Will Smith’s attempt to push his son’s career further, by helping out a bit and attraction more attention to the film. Once audiences find out that the older Smith is taking the backseat for most of the film and it’s his son who is the main character, it might affect legs. However, there is still little excuse to the film’s low opening weekend. Even Wild Wild West, widely considered to be Will Smith’s biggest disappointment to date, opened higher 14 years ago! In fact, Wild Wild West’s opening weekend adjusts to more than $43 million nowadays and his total gross to more than $178 million – a number that After Earth can only dream of. Though the decline of Smith’s drawing abilities is severe, it does not come as a major surprise. While Men in Black 3 did well last year, it was also helped by being part of an established franchise. Smith’s previous original film, Seven Pounds, let down with a $70 million total as well, foreshadowing the current situation. Combined with unexciting marketing, lousy reviews and allegations that the movie might have hidden Scientology agenda in it, the audiences were not enticed to see After Earth in theatres. The “B”-CinemaScore is better than the reviews imply, but not good enough to suggest solid legs. With a likely gross in the $65-75 million range, After Earth is looking to join the ranks of John Carter, Battleship and Oblivion as a high-profile sci-fi disappointment.


After a surprisingly good hold last weekend, Star Trek into Darkness dived 55% to $16.8 million, losing one spot and landing at #4 in its third round. The sci-fi sequel pushed its running total to $181.5 million after 18 days in theatres, a formidable total, but clearly behind the expectations set for the sequel to the beloved 2009 hit. The $190 million film is already tracking $9.5 million behind its predecessor and the gap will widen quickly over the next weeks. In two weeks Star Trek into Darkness will lose the majority of its IMAX screens to Man of Steel and while Father’s Day might soften the blow, I still expect Star Trek to be in for a harsh drop. The flick will cross the $200 million barrier some time next week, becoming the fourth movie to do so this year (assuming that Fast & Furious 6 will get there before), but that still doesn’t guarantee it a spot in the yearly Top 10 given how competitive this year is shaping up to be. At this point, a $225-230 million total is realistic, leaving it behind Oz The Great and Powerful and Fast & Furious 6, as well as at least $25 million behind the 2009 film, which did not have the help of 3D. In all likelihood, Star Trek into Darkness will end u with around 20% less admissions than the reboot had, which is disappointing given that film’s good word-of-mouth.


Also surprising was Epic’s 50.4% decline to $16.6 million. While it is normal for all movies to suffer stronger drops than usual on the weekend following Memorial Day, one could have expected Epic to hold better given the lack of family-oriented competition in the marketplace. Maybe the WoM is not as strong as the “A”-CinemaScore suggested afterall. So far Epic has accumulated a total of $65.4 million and looks to finish with no more than $110-115 million by the end of its run. It will stabilize next weekend, but Monsters University will finish it off later this month and between that and Despicable Me 2 here really will be no room for another animated film. So, even though it slightly surprised last weekend, Epic looks to end up a mild letdown given the state of (non-existent) competition in the marketplace. One could have rightfully expected at least $130 million from it.


The Hangover Part III showed effects of frontloading and bad WoM this weekend, dropping all the way from #2 to #6 and losing 60.7% of its audiences in the process. It grossed $16.4 million over the weekend, bringing its running cume to $88.5 million after 11 days on release. Though it did hold better than Part II (which declined 63.5% in its sophomore weekend), it is not tracking more than $97 million behind it already and will finish more than $130 million behind when all is said and done. Like all R-rated comedies, The Hangover Part III will benefit from very strong summer weekdays, even though I expect the weekend holds to be ghastly. It should still finish with around $115-120 million, but a decline of more than 50% from the last installment is still hard to show in a positive light. Obviously, thanks t a very strong overseas performance, it will be a hit in the end, but the domestic gross will ensure that Part II stays the last one, just as planned.


Iron Man 3 faced direct competition from the two openers this weekend and lost another 529 theatres, which resulted in a 56.3% decline from last weekend and a $8.4 million weekend take at the 7th spot of the chart. The movie’s running cume stands at $385.2 million after seven weeks, making it the 17th-biggest film ever domestically (unadjusted for inflation). While there is no denying that it is a tremendous gross and well above many expectations, one has to admit that legs have been lacking. The fact that Iron Man 3 will finish with a multiplier worse than that for Iron Man 2 (despite better reviews and seemingly better WoM) is disappointing. It is still a lock to pass $400 million, but it will take it much longer than initially anticipated. It is the 5th-fastest film to have passed $350 million, but it might not even be among the seven fastest to hit $400 million. Right now, Iron Man 3 is looking at a $406 million finish, which gives it a weak 2.33 multiplier and the #14 spot at the all-time chart, behind last year’s The Hunger Games.


Right behind it, The Great Gatsby dropped two spots as well, down to #8. The period drama, starring Leonardo DiCaprio lost 51.9% and took in $6.5 million in its fourth weekend, pushing its total to $128.5 million. The film passed Shutter Island to become DiCaprio’s 6th-biggest domestic hit and should top The Departed on Friday at latest. The film’s success it admirable and shows how well counter-programming to summer blockbusters can work. Thanks to strong summer weekdays for female-oriented films such as Gatsby, Baz Luhrman’s film remains well on track towards $150+ million, still looking at a $155 million final cume.


Thanks to weak holdovers outside of the Top 10, the Indian specialty release Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani made it to the 9th spot with around $1.6 million from 161 theatres, for a PTA of $9,753. It is an impressive opening, though not an unusual one for Indian films. These are also remarkable for their lacking longevity meaning that even after this strong start, the film won’t make more than $3-4 million in total.


The indie success story Mud rounded off the Top 10 with $1.2 million after a 37.7% decline. Its total stands at $16.8 million and the film is looking to end up in the vicinity of $22 million when all is said and done.


The Croods left the Top 10 in its 11th weekend and settled at #11 with $0.7 million (down 45.4%) and a $180.6 million. It should wrap up its run with $183 million in the bag. At last, Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha more than doubled its theatre count by adding 72 locations and bringing the total theatre count to 132. It decreased mere 3.5% to $0.5 million and currently stands at $1.6 million. Given the film’s solid $4,000+ PTA, I expect another theatre count increase and a total gross around $4 million – in line with Baumbach’s last film, Greenberg.

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