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Hong Kong: January 19 Recap

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island led the way from start to finish and ended the Chinese New Year flavored movies' 3 year winning streak by capturing more than 125,000 admissions, almost doubling its nearest competitor. It didn't have to do much as this year's holidays pushed studios to release their films on different days, allowing the Thursday release of Journey to fly away with the weekend with ease. It made a gigantic impression on Thursday as it racked up 22,023 admissions, tripling its 2nd place competitor. Thursday actuals would widen the gap and with 3D prices factored in, it ended up quadrupling the 2nd place finisher.  IMAX played well and showtimes were about 70-80% full at peak showtimes. The short running time also allowed theaters to add 2 more shows in the day and like The Darkest Hour last week, it took advantage. Families played a huge role putting this on top as it was the only Hollywood live-action release that appealed to the whole family and not just to little kids. The goodwill from the first film definitely brought patrons back even with the leading role change. Back to the numbers, Friday saw it break through the 25k admissions barrier and it jumped 23% from Thursday. The weekend played to its strengths as the combination of being a family film and its proximity to the holidays saw Saturday and Sunday admissions to jump through the roof. Saturday increased 37% but Sunday was its best day of the 4, gaining another 14% to win Chinese New Year's Eve with 42,044 admissions. It was the only film to crack 100,000 admissions for the weekend and it is already well on its way to 4m. The holidays will see it at least match its weekend gross and it will lead to a first week of over 2.2m. Though Journey 2 is off to a good start, it still has a lot of work to do if it wants to beat its predecessor's surprising 4.5m total. While the 3-day Chinese New Year holidays will boost its total immensely, what happens after the holidays will be key in determining whether or not it defeats Journey 1's gross. Journey 2 will blast off with a 1.1m weekend and the 3 day holiday will double its total to 2.2m. Barring a major collapse, it will make 4m. If Journey 2 can exhibit passable holds in the next couple of weeks, that will be enough for it to squeak past Journey to the Center of the Earth's gross.

Finishing at a distant but very good 2nd place, The Viral Factor beat out all 2D releases to claim 2nd overall for the weekend. It was officially released on Saturday which meant it had no chance of ever winning this weekend. Being the only local action release of the weekend, this relied on Nicholas Tse and Jay Chou to bring people in but the effective trailer with all the explosions conveyed one message in that it was clearly an action film for the masses. The marketing paid off and scores of people thronged to the theater to catch it. It was given previews Wednesday through Friday to amp up its opening weekend but a lot of people did not know or realize that theaters were having special screenings which contributed to the fairly low ticket sales on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Good signs, however, permeated its daily admissions as it increased every day of the week. Its most telling admissions day was Thursday when it added 300 more admissions from Wednesday and increased 4% from its unofficial opening day. Friday saw it pass through the 10,000 mark before exploding on Saturday. With its official opening day on hand, Saturday doubled its Friday admissions but it ended its best day on Sunday, up another 20% to squeeze past the 25k barrier. It capped off a good weekend for the flick and it'll remain a hot seller during the holidays. It will come in at $500,000 for the 5-day unofficial weekend and will pass 1m after Wednesday. Next weekend is fairly light so its 2nd weekend should only decline slightly. It'll pass 2m although not much further is expected at this point.

The Flowers of War entered this weekend having 4 weekends of special screenings. EDKO boldly gave Flowers special screenings starting on Christmas Eve to spread word-of-mouth and hopefully boost traffic during the Chinese New Year holidays but it didn't exactly pay off. Instead, the periodic drama had steady increases Friday and Saturday but it fell on Chinese New Year's Eve, a sign that this movie could have been released another time. The slip on Sunday means that families are not willing to watch a heavy drama such as this but rather comedies or a straight up action film. No doubt, scheduling this on a big weekend like CNY is understandable but I think it could have played better having a February or March release date, somewhere that is far away from the holidays and during a low period of the box office. It started off Thursday with 7,625 admissions. Friday notched up 18% to 9,005 before climbing another 31% on Saturday. The Christian Bale vehicle will come in with $350,000 including previews and will add another $200,000 or so to come in with a $550,000 first week. Dramas typically have the best drops after a holiday weekend so it'll hit 1m before the end of its run. 1.2m could be its final resting place.

Studio Ghilbi hoped that Japanese anime would be revived this weekend with its 18th feature film on deck. While Japanese anime still has a place in Hong Kong, it clearly has been fading as the Hayao Miyazaki-less movies haven't seen the same grosses like its founding father has achieved. Ponyo swam its way to 3m but The Borrower Arrietty went away with only 1.7m and Kokuriko Hill is poised to do the same as the latter. Kokuriko Hill was given advanced screenings to spread good word of mouth and it paid off. It started off nicely on Thursday coming in just behind The Flowers of War and Friday saw it increased 9%. It dropped out of the top 5 on Saturday and Sunday with the emergence of I Love Hong Kong 2012 and the debut of Puss in Boots. While one could argue that both children's films played a role in minimizing the other's gross, Kokuriko Hill will only begin with about $350,000 including previews, only matching Arrietty's 2-day OW gross. It's a far cry from what we've used to see from anime films here and competition can't be blamed for such a below average start. First week total could come in with $700,000 as kids are off from school. It will pass Tales from Earthsea but 1m is not guaranteed.

I Love Hong Kong 2012 and All's Well Ends Well 2012 are sequels in name to the hits from last year. The strong competition from Hollywood this year had a huge impact on its grosses as the Friday openers didn't generate a lot of ticket sales this year. Only I Love Hong Kong managed a top 5 finish on Friday in admissions but it went up another 44% on Saturday before skyrocketing 90% on Sunday due to it being Chinese New Year's Eve. All's Well Ends Well, meanwhile, only managed a top 5 showing on Sunday. This weekend, I Love Hong Kong will cash in with $330,000 while All's Well will only debut with $200,000. Strong Hollywood competition and the holidays falling on weekdays were the main reasons for the steep 76% and 84% drops from the previous installments. I Love Hong Kong could see a 3-day holiday total of about $500,000 while All's Well could grab another $250,000 which would see its total improve to $830,000 for Love Hong Kong and $450,000 for All's Well.

Paramount/Dreamworks opted for a Saturday release for Puss in Boots to take advantage of virtually a 5-day holiday for kids. Ever since Toy Story 3, however, animation has been falling quite rapidly. Dreamworks last animation flick, Kung Fu Panda 2, even disappointed with 5m taken in. The reasons that Kung Fu Panda 2 failed to meet expectations are partially the same reasons that Puss in Boots did poorly this weekend. The late release for Puss in Boots in Hong Kong compared to the rest of Asia is a major contributor to the declining grosses for Puss in Boots and animation films in general. This lessens the box office for animation films here as people will go to neighbouring countries and watch it there. It entered the top 5 on its opening day but failed to place on Sunday. Puss in Boots will debut with $200,000 for the 2-day and will double its opening weekend on the 3-day holiday for a first week total of $600,000. It will increase next weekend and we'll see a total of about 2m before all is said and done for the cat.

The Muppets got overshadowed this weekend with the release of the two higher profile animation pics. It had to scrounge up as much as it could with it opening against Kokuriko Hill on Thursday and Puss in Boots on Saturday. It will only debut with $80,000 for the weekend for the 4-day weekend and add an extra $100,000 for the 3-day holiday. Great reviews could not save the film as the majority of kids directed their attention towards an anime movie or Puss in Boots.

A Happy Event played in 3 theaters but didn't do so great so a $15,000 4-day is expected. It will tack on another $10,000 for the 3-day holiday to come away with a $25,000 opening week.

January 19 Weekend Admissions
Rank Title LW TW % chg
1 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island   128,021  
2 The Viral Factor   65,076  
3 The Flowers of War   39,899  
4 I Love Hong Kong 2012   38,955  
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