While fantasy action blockbusters dominated headlines and the 2011 summer box office, another genre wasn't so lucky. Animation throughout the year did modest business at best and not one animated film appeared in the top 5 for the year. It snapped a 3 year streak of an animated movie finishing in the top 5.
Let's start right at the top with Kung Fu Panda 2. Kung Fu Panda 2 had the ingredients of a blockbuster: multi-quadrant movie, successful first film, great sequel reviews, 3D prices, but most importantly, huge WOM from the first film. Scheduled to open on July 21, Kung Fu Panda 2 was delayed almost 2 months to accommodate the summer holidays. On opening weekend, Kung Fu Panda 2 out-muscled Harry Potter 7-2 for 1st place and marched into theaters with $1.736m from 89 screens. That doubled the opening of Kung Fu Panda. Its 2nd weekend cruised to another 1.1m, bringing up its total to 3.5m in 11 days. It faced off with The Smurfs in its 3rd weekend but held well, declining 48% to push its total past 4.5m. Unfortunately, it had to deal with another animated franchise in Cars 2 in its 4th weekend. It got thwacked 72% and never really recovered from there. It made just $200,000 the rest of its run and finished with a sizable 5.07m. The total wasn't bad by any means but it probably would have fared better had they released this day-and-date with US in May. Instead, this ranked ahead of India, Taiwan, Thailand and Philippines in terms of Asian markets while it finished behind Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. With Mr. Popper's Penguins turning out to be a surprise hit, Kung Fu Panda 2 was affected negatively on its opening weekend and got double punched by the 1-2 combo of Smurfs and Cars 2 in its 3rd and 4th weekends.
Doraemon: Nobita And The New Steel Troops opened 1 weekend after Kung Fu Panda 2 but didn't do much. It was the follow-up to the 30th Doraemon film the previous year which produced a $353,000 finish. On its opening weekend, New Steel Troops collected $106,749 on its way to a $220,481 finish. It was decent by Doraemon benchmarks but in the grand scheme of things, this is a write-off.
The Smurfs was up next. It opened alongside Captain America on the August 4 weekend and started off with a mediocre debut. It posted a $678,084 total in its first 4 days for a PSA of $17,387. It would show off its mettle in its sophomore weekend, taking on Cars 2 and Crayon Shin-chan and delivering a 38% drop. That small decline meant that it would go past 1.5m and it did so on its 18th day of release. 3rd weekend saw the release of local crime thriller Overheard 2, horror movie Final Destination 5 and romcom Larry Crowne and The Smurfs held on tight. It dumped half its 2nd weekend earnings but it managed to come away with a $209,000 weekend. It passed 2m on its 4th weekend. With kids off to school, its 5th and 6th weekend saw very weak holds but by then, it had already banked 2.245m after its 6th weekend. It went on to a $2.274m ending. Its run was reminiscent of Rio's back in the spring. That animated film opened to average numbers but was pretty leggy, boasting a multiplier over 3.
Cars 2 continued the animated onslaught opening right after The Smurfs. At least, officially. Unofficially, it opened on the July 28 weekend with sneaks. This continued over into the August 4 weekend leading up to its release. Altogether, it completed its first weekend with a $1.2m total (including sneak previews). Its total was unspectacular as it had accumulated that total with the traditional 4 day weekend and an additional 2 weekends of special screenings. It had a mediocre fall in its 2nd weekend, squeezing a $436,000 weekend and upped its total to 1.9m. It broke through 2m in the next 3 days. The money dried up, however, as it experienced engine failure in its 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th weekends with decreases more than 60% each weekend. It raced toward a 2.446m finish, not nearly enough given Pixar's sparkling record. It was passed at the finish line by Mr. Popper's Penguins, a CGI live action children's comedy and it was the only film from the Pixar brand that did not land inside the top 20 on any given year with a Pixar release. Its total is made even more disappointing considering it was coming off the #1 film of 2010: Toy Story 3. It did only 21.27% of Toy Story 3's business (11.5m TS3 total). To add further insult to injury, it was almost passed by The Smurfs which came on very strong.
Crayon Shin-Chan 2011 did horrible with it up against Cars 2 on opening weekend. It only made $63,000, less than the previous Shin-chan installment's opening weekend.
Love is in the Air...or everywhere
A record number of romance releases flooded Hong Kong theaters in the summer of 2011. The list includes:
Water for Elephants
A Beautiful Life
The Other Woman (Love and Other Impossible Pursuits)
Fireworks from the Heart
Love for Life
Love is the Only Answer
Summer Love Love
With the exceptions of A Beautiful Life and Love is the Only Answer, all others disappointed in some way. Beach Spike and Summer Love Love in particular are infamous as they bombed. Both proved to be skippers with the crowd as each film could not crack a $4,000 PSA on their opening weekends respectively.
Turning towards the overachievers, Love is the Only Answer was the only romantic film to succeed at the box office. It turned a bleak outlook on its prospects into a winner with an opening of $237,289 against Kung Fu Panda 2 head on, good enough for a PSA of over $9,000. With little competition, it slid 30% in its 2nd weekend and passed $500,000. It fell harder in its 3rd weekend, this time 50%, but it still achieved an $82,000 weekend. It proceeded to nosedive in its 4th weekend, a whopping 84%, but by then, it had already made most of its money. It trickled on to a $791,781, a very good number for a romance movie in the summer.
Meanwhile, A Beautiful Life got its start on the last weekend of May. It drew against The Other Woman but it carved out its own audience, notching $194,000 in its first 4 days. Its 2nd weekend proved that there was staying power, decreasing 52% in the face of the X-Men and Hangover 2 combo. It was the 2nd best drop for a wide release that weekend and enabled it to cross $500,000. It fell another 50% in its 3rd weekend and passed half a million before its 4th weekend. It dropped a fairly solid 59% on its 5th weekend with 2 romance films on tap that week and eased another 48% to pass $550,000. It proved no match for Transformers and was quickly ushered out of theaters after that. Its run, while nothing out of this world, was decent. It had a decent opening followed by acceptable legs which is all a romantic film can ask for in the summertime.
Sequels boasts better legs
Make no mistake, sequels had a huge hand in the uptick at the box office this summer and some of it was due to legs. Fast Five did it with a modest opening lodged at $533,559. That opening weekend beat 3/4 previous installment totals in the franchise. The last one fell on day 5 as Fast Five used the inflated Monday sales via the Tuesday holiday to become the highest grossing Fast movie. It glided down 29% its 2nd weekend and pulled in 1.28m up until that point. It didn't crumble under Pirates and came out with an exceptional 57% drop. It had the 2nd best drop of that weekend and lapped 1.5m on its 3rd weekend. With weaker competition, it scored another drop below 50% and pushed its cume up to 1.736m. It crashed 80% in its 5th weekend as 2 male driven films knocked down everything in its path and comprised 72% of the business that weekend. It not only tripled the 2nd highest movie in the series but was the only film to achieve a 3 multiplier.
Final Destination 5 proved that sometimes you don't have to start strong to end up with an acceptable gross. It cut its way into theaters with only a $451,688 opening. That translated to a PSA of $9,819, far less than the PSA Final Destination 3 got in its first full week as well as the first four days for The Final Destination. With the amount of competition though from Overheard 2 and Larry Crowne, which combined for 1.1m amongst themselves, it wasn't going to outgross the 4th Final Destination in its opening weekend. Instead, it backed its way to a good gross starting with its 53% decline its 2nd weekend. It was much better than the 65% pounding that The Final Destination took in its 2nd weekend. It cleaned The Final Destination's clock with a 57% slashing compared with the disgusting 87% freefall for The Final Destination. Off 67% in its 4th weekend, it moved past 1.15m. Ultimately, it ended with $1.18m, fairly good for a horror movie, even better for a sequel that started with a weaker beginning.
Foreign comedies roar
There was only two Hollywood comedies released this summer but that was plenty. The Hangover 2 came back for another serving of laughing fits set this time in Thailand. While the premise was largely unoriginal, it attracted the target audience enough to lead it toward a $506,488 opening weekend against X-Men: First Class. It is one of only a handful of Hollywood comedies that made more than half a million dollars on its opening weekend. While other films mix two genres together (Action+comedy, dramedy, romantic comedy), a straight up foreign comedy grossing that much is almost unheard of. The only other Hollywood comedy films that made more than Hangover 2 are Little Fockers, Yes Man, Fun with Dick and Jane and Evan Almighty. All of them did not make more than $560,000 which might represent itself as a genre to avoid releasing in Hong Kong but Hangover 2 countered that by opening alongside X-Men and still managing to grab $500,000. It built from the goodwill of the first film and reaped the rewards from it. Moving along, it looked mighty stable even with Super 8 debuting in its 2nd weekend, slipping 38%. It passed 1m and outgunned the original Hangover. It looked no worse for wear with Green Lantern coming to town on weekend #3. It had the best drop out of all the wide releases that week, down only 43%. Its cume stood at a balmy 1.358m at this point. No competition in its 4th weekend allowed Hangover 2 to achieve another weekend drop below 50% and with that, it passed 1.5m. Its run of good holds would end there as Transformers stormed away and left everything else reeling. Hangover 2 was no exception as it tumbled 79%. It spent the next 4 weekends below $10,000 but sneaked past 1.6m on its last weekend in release. Between it and the other four comedies mentioned, The Hangover 2 outlasted the rest by over $100,000. It also more than doubled the original's gross. If the third one comes out, it will definitely be making more than $600,000 on opening weekend.
Riding on the wave from Hangover 2, Horrible Bosses locked and loaded up the laughs with a $243,723 opening gross on the last weekend of summer. It was in tough since it was debuting against Cowboys & Aliens which was hyped up a lot before its release. The success of Hangover 2 was two-fold. It not only brought itself to new heights but others as well. Horrible Bosses' 2nd weekend delivered not just a great hold but it did so against a movie aimed at its target audience. Bad Teacher was hoping to capitalize on the Hangover/Horrible Bosses train but moviegoers left Teacher in the classroom alone while Bosses enjoyed a small 18% stumble. It cracked on its 3rd weekend, however, as 3 romance films and a sci-fi movie stole a ton of screens leaving Horrible Bosses with a 55% hole. It stayed on for another 2 weeks before taking away $870,667, more than three times its opening weekend.
Local releases fly high
Local films weren't missing out on the party either. They might not have entered until August but they made quite a punch. The Fortune Buddies got us going on August 11. The TVB star-studded release went up against Cars 2 and Rise of the Planet of the Apes but it carved out its own audience with a solid $330,000 opening. It held on against the release of Overheard 2, down a not-too-shabby 54%. That sent its total up past $675,000. Its resolve weakened by its 3rd weekend, dipping 77% and its total stood at $791,637. It enjoyed its best drop on its 4th weekend when it lost 53.6%. $831,000 was in the bank now and it left theaters after its 5th weekend, amassing $836,762.
Overheard 2 was the other local release in August and did it ever soar. With the same trio from the first film and an entirely new story, Overheard 2 pushed into theaters with a excellent $889,778. It bested the original's opening weekend gross by $200,000 and doubled the 2nd highest opening weekend of a local release for the summer of 2011. Benefiting from excellent WOM, it eased only 28% in its 2nd weekend. With that, it passed the original as well as 2m by the end of week 2. School didn't stop Overheard 2 from continuing to pour in the money, it landed on top the next weekend for the 3rd weekend in a row and dropped 35% to eavesdrop its way to 2.6m. It stalled in its 4th weekend, however, and got hit hard by the new openers. It got flattened 65% for a $145,000 weekend. It didn't do much better in its 5th weekend with another 59% fall, but it did pass 3m. 6th weekend saw another 60% decline and it left theaters with 3.07m, good enough for 6th place of the 2011 summer and 12 for the year overall.