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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (Mar 16-18, 2012)

The box-office is still going strong this year, but for the second weekend in a row, the Top 12 cume declined over 20%. This weekend was affected by the double combo of St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday which is a huge partying event for the young adults and March Madness which affected the entire weekend. The Top 12 accumulated $96.5 million for a 20.2% decline from the previous frame. The number was also down 6.6% from the same weekend last year when Limitless opened on top. Therefore, this marks the first time this year that the box-office was actually down from last year. Even though this weekend’s #1 movie, 21 Jump Street, had a much higher start than Limitless, it was also the only wide release this weekend. Nevertheless; most other movies still couldn’t benefit from that as the double whammy of St. Patty’s Day and the NCAA tournament drew people away from movie theatres. Only three movies made more than $5 million over the weekend.


As mentioned above, 21 Jump Street, the R-rated adaptation of a popular TV series from the 1980s which made Johnny Depp a star, easily captured the top spot with a $35 million opening from 3,121 venues for an average of $11,214 per theatre. This weekend and its #1 film showcased two things at once. First, it showed the strength of R-rated movies at the moment. Despite this year having a great number of R-rated movies released close to each other, barely one of them disappointed. In fact, 21 Jump Street marks the 7th R-rated movie this year that went on to open to $20+ million. It is very impressive if you consider that we’re just three months into the year and that last year we had only six R-rated $20+ million openers altogether. 21 Jumps Street managed the highest opening weekend for an R-rated comedy since last year’s The Hangover Part II and that despite the fact that there was no real lack of R-rated comedies in the marketplace as Project X was released just two weeks ago. The second thing showcased by this weekend is, once again, the misguided scheduling by the studios. Sure, 21 Jump Street broke out quite well, but there was more than enough room for a non-R-rated movie this weekend. If you look at the Top 12, you’ll find six R-rated movies in it. There are just not enough movies catering to very broad audiences, especially since John Carter disappointed big time. The year has done really well so far box-office-wise, but I believe it could have been even better if some scheduling had been re-arranged as some of the upcoming months look way too stuffed whereas March was really empty. There is no reason for a movie like 21 Jump Street to be the sole wide release on any weekend.

That said, let’s turn our eyes to the film’s great box-office achievements. The movie delivered the 7th-biggest opening weekend ever for a buddy cop comedy, just behind The Other Guys ($35.5 million) and the 10th-bigest start for a TV series adaptation. It’s also great news for everyone involved. Sony could land their third #1 movie of 2012 (after The Vow and Underworld: Awakening, both distributed by a Sony subsidiary ScreenGems) and that should definitely help over the expected box-office disappointment of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord were able to land their second consecutive hit for Sony after the surprise hit Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ($124.9 million). For Channing Tatum it is the second major hit of 2012 after his romance The Vow which still resides in the Top 12. With G.I. Joe: Retaliation coming later this year, he looks very likely to end up with three $100+ million hits headlined by him this year, a feat rarely managed by an actor. One has to also keep in mind that of all movies, 21 Jump Street was one of those affected the most by St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness as its main demographics are young males under the age of 25 which were distracted by the two aforementioned events. This might mean better holds in the future and less frontloading. The “B” CinemaScore is just decent, but great reviews and the “A” CinemaScore in the segment of under-25-year-old’s should mean more for the future run. Next weekend, the four-quadrants behemoth The Hunger Games should affect it (and every other movie), but it won’t face any direct competition until American Wedding in three weeks. That should give it enough time to develop some legs and finish with around $105-115 million making it yet another R-rated winner for 2012.


The second spot of the box-office went to Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax which had to relinquish the top spot after its two-week reign. The animated blockbuster brought in $22.8 million (down 41.3%) for a running total of $158.4 million after 17 days. The current #1 movie of 2012 will most likely soon be overtaken by The Hunger Games for this glory, but it is still a hugely impressive performance that not many have seen coming. In hindsight, it is not hard to explain, but it was still unexpected. With two back-to-back 40+% drops the holds haven’t been as good as one might have hoped for given the “A” CinemaScore and the lack of competition for family audiences. The movie is still clearly outpacing another March-released Dr. Seuss adaptation, Horton Hears a Who! by almost $41 million. At the same time, it has fallen behind Despicable Me which was also directed by Chris Renaud and was Universal’s last big animated film. It is currently tracking almost$3 million behind Despicable Me, coming off a slightly smaller weekend. Given that it lacks the strong summer weekdays that Despicable Me had, the gap should widen over the next weeks. It is somewhat surprising that, despite the lack of direct competition, The Lorax still didn’t hold better than it did. Most likely, there was some kind of frontloading involved to a degree as it arrived during the time when the marketplace was just starving for a big family-oriented film. The good news for it is that it won’t have any direct competition other than Mirror Mirror in two weeks until the end of April. On the other hand, it will lose most of its IMAX screens over the next three weeks to The Hunger Games, Wrath of the Titans and the re-issue of Titanic in 3D. The latter two will also take a toll on its 3D screens. That should deflate the grosses a bit. I currently see it on course to a $215-225 million finish when all is said and done. Right now, this is the animated film to beat this year.


Coming off an already disappointing opening, Disney’s overpriced sci-fi fantasy tale John Carter declined 55.2% to #3 and made $13.5 million in its sophomore weekend. Its running total now stands at $53.2 million after ten days on release. Normally this is a somewhat decent gross for a March-released sci-fi movie that also makes respectable numbers overseas. In the case of John Carter, however, it is an outright flop. The movie carries a price tag of around $250 million, making it one of the most expensive movies ever made. Considering how long the development of the film has taken, its director Andrew Stanton who has delivered two $200+ million movies in the past with WALL-E ($223.8 million) and Finding Nemo ($339.7 million), the fact that John Carter was released with a PG-13 rating amidst a ton of R-rated movies and was given 3D and IMAX screens, the 10-days cume is beyond disappointing. It will lose its IMAX screens very quickly from now on as the next three weekends will all see new IMAX releases. To make matters even worse, The Hunger Games, as a major PG-13 property, will bite heavily into its audiences. The theatres won’t keep John Carter playing for long from now on and apparently it does not enjoy good word-of-mouth either judging by this weekend’s drop. Even in the best-case scenario, it will wind up with just $80-85 million in the bank, a major disappointment for such a tentpole. However, if The Hunger Games and Wrath of the Titans overperform, it might go even lower.


Project X was the distant fourth this weekend as it dropped a horrifying 64.1% in its third weekend for a weekend cume of $4 million, bringing its running total to a respectable $48.1 million. The movie is already a great success for Warner Bros. and there is little surprise that a follow-up is being planned. However, it was hit very hard by 21 Jump Street this weekend as it directly targeted its audiences. With The Hunger Games next weekend that will target almost all demographics and American Reunion two weeks later, there isn’t much gas left in the tank for Project X. It will leave the theatres with roughly $55 million in its pockets.


In a rather surprising turn of events, the Eddie Murphy-starrer A Thousand Words could benefit from the lack of direct competition and the only opened being rated R. It climbed one spot at the box-office, up to #5, dropping just 39.3% in the process. That gave it a $3.8 million weekend and a total of $12.1 million after tend days. With its $40 million budget and limited potential overseas, it is still a flop. However given that this movie has been shelved for several years(it was shot in 2008) and received horrendous reviews (it still stands at 0% at, it is still quite remarkable that it is handily outperforming two other recent Eddie Murphy flops  - Imagine That ($16.1 million) and Meet Dave ($11.8 million). It should finish with about $19 million in the bag.


Still performing much stronger legs-wise than originally expected, Act of Valor dropped two spots and 47.4% to #6 and a $3.7 million weekend. Its current total stands at $62.4 million. It is incredible that this film has already passed the multiplier of 2.5 and should eventually get close to a multiplier of 3. It won’t face any direct competition either until mid-April, thus allowing it to crawl past $70 million on is way to a $71 million finish.


Holding on to #7, Universal’s other huge 2012 hit Safe House lost 41.7% of its audiences and added $2.8 million to its total over the weekend, bringing it to $120.2 million after just six weeks. The movie is now officially Denzel Washington’s 2nd-biggest film ever domestically, trailing behind American Gangster by a bit over $45 million. It started to catch up in weekend grosses, though. It is terrific how well the film has performed given the amount of –rated competition it faced throughout its run (Act of Valor, 21 Jump Street, Project X). At the end, it will probably still fall short of American Gangster’s $130.2 million total, but it won’t be by much as I project a $129 million finish. It should be able to get ahead of The Vow, though which opened slightly higher than Safe House on the very same weekend.


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island once again could benefit greatly from no new family-oriented flicks released into the marketplace. It had the best hold in the Top 12, dropping just 31.9% to $2.5 million and jumped two spots within the Top 10, up to #8. Its running total stands at $95.1 million. The film is still tracking $7 million ahead of its predecessor, but will lose ground quickly, especially as another huge Josh Hutcherson-starring film hits the screens next week. I still expect it to make it to $100 million because even it will start dropping like a rock from now on, it is already close enough for WB to push it beyond the barrier if necessary. Right now, though, it looks like it will make it all by itself. Passing the first film, though, might not happen afterall.


For the first time in quite a while, a limited-release debuted in the Top 10. The Spanish-language comedy Casa de mi Padre, starring Will Ferrell in a Spanish-language role, opened at #9 to $2.2 million from just 382 locations for a PTA of $5,579. With a $6 million budget to boot and given the mixed reviews, it is a solid enough opening for this weird experiment of a movie. Its run from now on will depend on how Lionsgate will handle it and whether they will start adding theatres next week. Right now, it could finish anywhere around $6-9 million and probably achieve cult status on home video.


The Reese Witherspoon-vehicle This Means War rounded off the Top 10 with $2.1 million (down 43.4%) for a running cume of $50.5 million. Since its release the movie has performed just according to expectations as far as its legs are concerned. It is the opening that underwhelmed, though and will leave it with a mediocre $54 million total.


While another Channing Tatum movie is at the top of the box-office, his romance blockbuster The Vow is still hanging in there in its 6th weekend. Dipping three spots to the 11th slot of the box-office, it dropped 45.3% and now stands at $121.1 million. Considering that next weekend’s The Hunger Games has a huge female appeal, its days with good box-office numbers are counted. It should find its way to a $125 million total.


At last, the R-rated horror release Silent House had the worst hold in the Top 12, dropping seven spots to #12 as it lost 68.7% of its audiences. A second weekend of $2.1 million brought its total to $10.6 million after ten days. The effect of the “F” CinemaScore is showing. This is actually the second movie this year to receive this horrible grade (the first being The Devil Inside). It will wrap up its run soon with $13 million.


In another bits of news, the ensemble comedy Friends with Kids added271 theatres this weekend, bringing its total theatre count to 640. However, it still dropped 25.7% to $1.5 million and now stands at $4.2 million. It is already the 5th-biggest movie ever for the distributor Roadside Attractions. The Artist dropped out of the Top 12 and is apparently no longer able to reap the benefits from its Best Picture win. It slid 48.7% to $1.1 million and now stands at $42.1 million. Looks like it will wrap up its run with just $45 million. It is good enough for a black ‘n white silent film, but for a Best Picture winner still laying widely in theatres – not so much.

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