*Note: These grosses were recorded on 1/1/2012.
What is a Multiplier?
A multiplier, in box office terms, is simply the Gross divided by the Opening Weekend. This tells us a bit about a movie's Legs and it's overall success past the opening weekend. Multipliers range from the 2s (low) up to 10+ (very high).
What Happened in 2011?
The movies listed above are the top 20 grossing movies of 2011 along with their multiplier. 2011 was a pretty typical to low year for multipliers. Most of the movies ended up in the 2 to 3 range which is about average for high grossing movies. There were a few winners though. The Help and Bridesmaids had very good long runs in the box office. Part of there long term success was due to the quality of the movie itself but also in part to the mediocre OW number. Movies like Harry Potter and Twilight are too front loaded to ever end up with a huge multiplier....that's just the way it goes.
Another observation is that kids movies often end up with better than average multipliers. After The Help and Bridesmaids in order of multiplier comes Puss in Boots, The Smurfs and Rio. The overhyped and underperforming King Fu Panda 2 also had a decent multipier. No question that good kids movies have good longevity in the box office.
Lastly, some of you might be saying "What about Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol?" it has a 10+ multiplier. Well because it opened to only 425 theaters it had a low (albeit high for the number of theaters) OW and the algorithm used to calculate the multiplier score is drastically skewed. That being said, I believe even if MI:4 had opened in less of a limited capacity it's multiplier would be right up there with the higher multipliers as it has won the past 2 weekends and has a chance again at winning again this weekend.