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HK: Top 10 Surprises of 2011

Top 10 Surprises of 2011

It's that time of year! Before we begin though, let's look at some honourable mentions.

Honourable mention - Johnny English Reborn

Johnny English Reborn took the city by storm (while having to survive one) and opened with a $1,358,742 OW. That was enough to claim #8 OW of the year and book it into the top 15. It just missed cracking the top 10 however, finishing at #11 on the year. It played for 7 weeks and left with a 3.218m total, doubling the original's gross.

Honourable mention - The Hangover 2

The Hangover 2 took care of business and delivered a strong $528,954 opening. It passed the original's gross in 1 week. It had good drops up until its 5th weekend where it got crushed by Transformers. It ended with $1.6m, more than double the original's gross and showed that Hollywood comedies still had a place in Hong Kong.

Honourable mention - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The final installment of Harry Potter opened with a gigantic $3,640,758 coming in $600,000 bigger than the opening weekend from Half Blood Prince with 2.97m. Besides setting the record for opening weekend for a Harry Potter movie, it also took away one record from Transformers. That record was the biggest opening day for a non-holiday or weekend which Harry Potter just managed to squeeze out with a $790,625 start. It dropped to #2 in its 2nd weekend but took in another $1.7m. Its gross zipped up to 6.7m and Part 2 of the Deathly Hallows passed Order of the Phoenix to become the highest grossing movie in the franchise. It alternated between good and horrible holds for the remainder of its run before closing with 9.8m.

Honourable mention - Don't Go Breaking My Heart

This smoocher opened with a good $430,312 (including previews -- $365,308 without), however, it was the next weekend that really turned heads. It dipped a scant 5% and was only $10,000 away from repeating on top. That weekend allowed it to become the biggest local romance film of the year and it ended with great legs, finishing with a multiplier over 4.

Honourable mention - Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes had a couple of uncertainties leading up to its release but all of that got flattened as Apes posted a $1.05m opening weekend, beating out Cars 2 on the traditional 4-day weekend. It held well in its 2nd weekend before succumbing to the weight of all the competition in the following 3 weekends and walked away with 3.07m total.

Honourable mention - The Tree of Life

It was expected that this movie of arthouse flavour wouldn't do much while audiences clamored for more Hollywood movie extravaganzas but it showed its mettle opening weekend. The Tree of Life posted a magnificent $136,000 from 10 theaters for a PTA of more than $13,600. It held well for 5 more weekends after that, dropping less than 50% in each of those weekends. It finished with more than a 3 multiplier, well above what a typical arthouse release usually makes.

Now, let's begin our countdown.

10. Transformers: Dark of the Moon


Released: June 28, 2011
OW: $4,302,758 ($5,126,924 incl. previews + Wed.)
Total: $10,883,894

It was the event picture of the summer and of the year. It completely demolished and obliterated everything in its path on its opening weekend. Transformers 3 set new records left and right on its opening including: Biggest 4-day OW, 5-day OW, highest OW admissions, highest PTA ever and it was the first movie to not only break 1m in one day but managed to set a new record of having 3 consecutive days over 1m. Its OW was a world class performance that was never seen before. Just the previous year, Toy Story 3 took the OW reigns from Kung Fu Hustle (both debuted with 3.2m) but no one expected Transformers to kill Toy Story 3's record by 1.1m. It also doesn't factor in its opening day which at the time was the highest non-holiday OD ever. Say what you will about its legs, but its OW alone deserved a place in the top 10.

Then the freefall began. It fell a whopping -63% in its 2nd weekend, failing to hit 2m for a 2nd time. It was overshadowed by the stellar performance of Mr. Popper's Penguins which won admissions 3/4 days. After the overperformance of Popper's, the next weekend featured its arch-nemesis in Harry Potter. No surprise that it fell even harder, this time -64%, but managed to secure another $678,000 in its 3rd weekend. It would officially pass the 10m mark on Wednesday before falling another -53% in its 4th weekend. Little competition in its 5th weekend allowed it to achieve a softer drop but it declined hard in its 6th weekend when the Captain America/Smurfs duo hit the big screens. It's -67% decline officially killed any chance it had with passing 11m and thus it settled with 10.8m.

Transformers run hedged on its OW. Its multiplier was in the 2's so the legs were nothing special but the biggest weekend in history deserves an inclusion into this top 10 list.

9. X-Men: First Class


Released: June 2, 2011
OW: $1,180,064
Total: $3,325,094

June 2 was not only the right time for comedies but also for superheroes. X-Men: First Class was the main attraction and attracted a huge turnout to the tune of $1.18m in its opening weekend. While that OW number was behind The Last Stand's 7 day gross, it was ahead of Wolverine's 5-day OW. It shrugged off the competition from The Hangover 2 and it had a promising start. The best part came later.

In its 2nd weekend, X-Men survived the typical X-Men dive into the abyss with a 53% drop. That drop was by far its best as the previous 2 X-Men films jumped off a cliff with a 60% drop or higher. That low drop by X-Men standards saw it lose #1 to Super 8 by just $16,000. For a movie that didn't get IMAX, it was fantastic news. Its 2nd weekend saw its total flash up to 2.3m, beating Wolverine and $400,000 behind The Last Stand. The real problem though was how would it stack up against Green Lantern, its brethren?

It soldiered on just fine, scoring a 44% decline even with the big competition. Its cume now stood at 2.8m and it moved ahead of The Last Stand on the same weekend to become the highest X-Men movie in the franchise. While many thought that Green Lantern would be its deathblow, it turned out to be its 2nd strongest hold of its run.

Turning it on even more, it slid just 32% in its 4th weekend and ran up its total to 3.19m.

There was no escaping a terrible drop its 5th weekend as Transformers pounced on every screen given to it and First Class scraped a $41,000 weekend for a 81% nosedive. It did not end the way it started, however, as it sputtered out of control with falls of 82% and 93% in its 6th and 7th weekends respectively and left Hong Kong with 3.325m total.

In the end, it not only doubled Green Lantern's gross but it was the only one of the 4 superhero movies that broke 3m. Adding to the fact that the other 3 were in 3D while this was not was a huge factor. Furthermore, it handily defeated the rest of the X-Men films by a margin and kept up with the many male driven films by posting solid drops in its first 4 weekends.

8. Mr. Popper's Penguins


Released: July 7
OW - $919,768
Total - $2,494,058

Sandwiched between two juggernauts, it seemed like the July 7 weekend was destined for mediocrity. That never materialized due to the surprise opening weekend from Mr. Popper's Penguins. The kid friendly film brought in kids and adults alike with its family story, a recognizable actor in Jim Carrey, but most importantly, cute CGI penguins. The movie also capitalized on the big/small factor akin to what Gulliver's Travels achieved in December 2010. All those factors helped in its opening weekend as it garnered the best PSA of that weekend with a whopping $16,424. Tracking its admissions on opening weekend, it was the individual winner and displaced the 3D version of Transformers 3. It wasn't able to defeat the combined admissions total of Transformers 3 but it saw an outstanding Sunday, increasing 5% from Saturday. Take a look at its opening weekend admissions below.

  Mr. Popper's Penguins
Thursday 28,289
Friday 30,289
Saturday 56,921
Sunday 59,544
Total 175,043

It opened in 37 theaters and scored a $25,028 PTA. That was only behind Rise of the Planet of the Apes and X-Men: First Class for the highest PTA for a non-3D release of the 2011 summer. As much as its first weekend surprised people, it still had obstacles to come.

Although armed with a very good opening weekend, Mr. Popper's Penguins had the daunting task of going up against the finale of the Harry Potter series in its 2nd weekend. It remained unfazed though as it enjoyed the best hold of any wide release that week. Down a incredible 52%, this passed 2m by the end of its 2nd week. The release of Harry Potter might have allowed some breathing room the next weekend but it wasn't the case in Hong Kong.

July 21 saw Mr. Popper's Penguins handed its biggest challenge yet. What do you get when you combine a big sequel that is coming off glowing reviews from the first one but is direct competition for Mr. Popper's audience? You realize that you've just been given the ultimate test in Kung Fu Panda 2. The sequel to the beloved hit didn't stop Mr. Popper's Penguins though. Popper's delivered a respectable 56% decline and increased its earnings to $2.21m.

A slight reprieve occurred on the July 28 weekend when only 1 release battled for the top 5. By Popper's 4th weekend though, it was showing signs of fatigue. It took in another $93,000 and was up to 2.395m by Sunday. It suffered a 52% decrease with little new competition, signaling the beginning of the end of its run in Hong Kong as audiences' attention had already turned to Kung Fu Panda 2. It passed 2.4m by Monday.

5th weekend saw the releases of Captain America/The Smurfs duke it out for #1. Even though The Smurfs ended up in 2nd place, its impact on Mr. Popper's Penguins was far more significant. Popper's nosedived 66% with only a $31,000 weekend and its total inched up to 2.47m. Would it be able to glide past 2.5m?

Nope, it had to settle for a shade under 2.5m in its 6th weekend after it collapsed 83% due to Cars 2 coming out.

Overall, its performance was outstanding. It opened to an unexpected number then had solid holds the next few weekends. While it drowned near the end, it was shocking to see that something coming out between 2 high profile releases could open well, hold great and ride off into the cold with a solid total.

7. Fast Five


Released: May 5
OW - $533,559
Total - $1,823,664 (3.42 multiplier)

Opening on the 2nd unofficial weekend of summer, this heist flick set new records in the franchise. Departing from the first 4 films' theme of street racing, Fast Five evolved into a crime action thriller and it paid off dividends at the Hong Kong Box Office. It opened on top, beating Thor's 2nd weekend and beat 3/4 previous installments in the franchise with just its opening weekend. The last film would not hold on for very long as Fast Five took advantage of the Tuesday holiday on its 1st week and it became the new franchise leader in gross in an astonishing 5 days. In admissions, Fast Five started off well on Thursday with 12,031 admissions and jumped 21% on Friday. Weekend brought about no changes as Thor led with pre-selling but Fast Five zoomed ahead taking all 4 days. It raced up 83% on Saturday and declined 14% on Sunday with a weekend total of 76,064 admissions, taking the trophy by more than 22,000 admissions.

In its 2nd weekend, it achieved a drop that no other movie in the franchise has done ever. It slid 29%, becoming the first film in the series to decrease less than 50% in its 2nd weekend. It also became the first film to spend a 2nd weekend in pole position by winning out over challengers such as Priest and The Detective 2. By the end of its 2nd weekend, it had already doubled Fast & Furious's total, the 2nd highest grossing film in the franchise.

3rd weekend would be its defining moment with the 4th Pirates movie taking over. While Pirates 4 dominated theaters, Fast Five had a decent hold, dropping only 57% to post the 2nd best hold for any wide release that weekend. By this time, its total had already reached an unbelievable 1.5m.

With no major releases out on its 4th weekend, Fast Five took advantage and once again folded less than 50%. Its soft 46% decline left it with 1.736m after 25 days, already outgrossing the rest of the Fast & Furious series combined.

There would be no pit-stops for Fast Five in its 5th weekend as the X-Men: First Class and Hangover 2 duo targeted its audience and it paid for it dearly with an 80% nosedive. Its total moved up to 1.789m.

6th weekend saw another male-driven release out, Super 8 was released and it took another hit. It blew 51% but it passed 1.8m during this time.

7th weekend was no help either for Fast Five as Green Lantern entered. It sawed off another 52% leaving it with only $4,000 for the weekend.

No movies targeted its demographic on its 8th weekend but the combination of no new releases geared towards its demo and the impending release of Transformers pushed forth an excellent hold. It slowed down 1% from its 7th weekend and ended its Hong Kong run with $1,823,664.

It not only defeated The Fast & Furious series by a huge margin but it was the only film in the franchise to achieve more than 3 multiplier. It also became the longest running film of the series, playing for 8 weeks. Its May box office was spectacular, enjoying a good opening to having some legs with its great 2nd and good 3rd and 4th weekend holds. It was a hit in a sea of a middling box office wasteland and successfully deflected doubts that the movie was just an aging franchise looking for a quick buck.

6. Overheard 2


Released: August 18
OW - $889,778
Total - $3,092,131 (3.48 multiplier)

Like many local crime dramas before it, Overheard 2 is the quintessential film. It has recognizable actors, action, high stakes drama and a suitable soundtrack accompanying the movie. What propelled it to new heights was great word of mouth that sustained its grip over the HK box office in its first 4 weeks of release. After the disappointment of the first Overheard, many were concerned that Overheard 2 would either be a rehash of the original or experience an even worse dip in quality. Their concerns would soon turn into anticipation as positive reviews rolled in and declared this better than the first one.

Slipping into the August 18 release date, it was the first of its kind for months and it powered ahead on opening weekend, taking in more than the other two openers, Larry Crowne and Final Destination 5, combined. In admissions, this took control on Thursday, storming to #1 with an average 18,374 admissions. WOM started to seep through as Friday bounced back with a 44% increase to lead all releases with a solid 26,363 admissions number. Saturday nearly doubled Friday's number as it took advantage of the great WOM and weekend and it pounced, shooting up 94% to 51,196 admissions, one of the best Saturday % increases of the 2011 summer. That wouldn't even be the highlight of its weekend as it slithered up another 9% on Sunday to finish off the weekend with 55,552 admissions and a whopping 151,485 in admissions over the 4-day weekend. That admissions number translated to $889,778 for the 4-day weekend. Its opening weekend beat the likes of other recent fellow local dramas by a big margin including The Beast Stalker, The Stool Pigeon and the first Overheard. Overheard 2 increased from the first Overheard by 30% and made more than $200,000 extra than its predecessor opening weekend.

2nd weekend brought the release of the sci-fi Western Cowboys & Aliens and 5 other releases. When Cowboys & Aliens' release date was first announced, there was much anticipation but interest started to wane in the weeks leading up to its opening day. That set the stage for Overheard 2 to deliver a good hold and it did just that. It fell 37% on its 2nd Thursday and fell 28% for the weekend to an outstanding 1.94m in 11 days. It would pass the first Overheard and 2m by the end of week 2, making it the biggest local crime drama in the past 3 years.

Its 3rd weekend saw kids go back to school but its drop remained steady declined only 35%. By contrast, The Stool Pigeon fluttered away 58%, The Beast Stalker 60% and Overheard 49% on their 3rd weekends respectively. It cruised to its 3rd weekend on top with a magnificent $416,066 for a 2.6m total.

4th weekend threw a wrench into Overheard 2's quest for a top 10 spot as 6 new openers clamored for screens that week. It performed below par and squandered 65% to put its 3m hopes in jeopardy and a place in the top 10 out of reach.

Things didn't go much better for Overheard 2 in its 5th weekend as it delivered the worst PSA of any film in the top 10 that week and fumbled 59% but one bright spot did happen. It hit its next milestone in 3m and snuck out a 5th week in the top 10.

6th weekend was the end of the road for it as it lost 60% and had the worst PSA of the top 15 but it tiptoed by Rise of the Planet of the Apes in the end.

While most of the damage was done in the first two-thirds of its run, it proved to doubters and critics alike that sequels can make a good run at the box office in the summer. This not only beat Overheard's opening weekend but consistently performed better than it in drops which was definitely not expected. Where most of the local box office faded into the background, this completely ran away and put local films back on the map in a way not many people visualized.

5. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol


Released: December 15
OW - $1,303,500
Total - $5,704,387 (4.38 multiplier)

Looking to rejuvenate his career, Tom Cruise went back to his old faithful in the Mission Impossible series. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol hoped to be Tom Cruise's meal ticket back towards being an A-lister but it faced some extreme challenges along the way. Set for a December 15 release date in Hong Kong, its release date was pitted against the Sherlock Holmes sequel. This battle is akin to the 'Battle of the MANs' in April 2010 when Iron Man 2 and Ip Man 2 cornered every theater in the market that weekend. The two 'Man' sequels combined for more than 3.25m and dominated the box office with a 90.6% market share and it was expected that something similar would happen with Impossible/Holmes.

There were some concerns that with the Mission Impossible series seeing its grosses sliding down ever since the first one made 5.4m that the 4th one would make even less. Needless to say, the 2nd one easing to 4.6m and the 3rd only capturing 3.9m didn't calm fears much. Also, the first Sherlock Holmes made 3m in Hong Kong and sequels usually trend upwards. All of those fears were put to rest on opening weekend as Mission Impossible calmly took the weekend over its rival by over $200,000. Opening weekend admissions saw the Mission Impossible film go back and forth with Sherlock Holmes 2. Thursday saw it field a 3,500 admissions advantage over Holmes. Thursday actuals would put it over $210,000 as IMAX helped it wipe out Sherlock Holmes' opening Wednesday advantage in 1 fell swoop. Friday would see its lead shrink to less than 1,000 with Sherlock Holmes jumping over 50%. Saturday was its best day of the weekend with 53,809 admissions but Sherlock Holmes leapfrogged it with a 100 admissions win. It came roaring back on Sunday with only a 2.5% drop while Holmes blew away 13.5% of its Saturday business and marked Sunday with an impressive 5,700 admissions lead. It sported a 10,000 admissions triumph over Sherlock Holmes 2's opening weekend in the 4-day period and carried its admissions win into gross. It opened with $1,303,500, ahead of Knight & Day but behind MI3, which made over 2m in the summer.

Christmas weekend saw 4 new openers but they were no match for Mission Impossible. MI4 remained atop the leaderboard besting the opening weekend of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and the 2nd weekend of Sherlock Holmes 2. It performed admirably in admissions where on Thursday it eased 10% from opening day with 21,987 admissions. That hold was fantastic considering Breaking Dawn stormed to #1 with over 36,000 admissions. Actuals would see it slip only 25% in gross and behind Breaking Dawn by $25,000, only a small gap compared with its big 13,000 one in admissions. It sunk Breaking Dawn Part 1 on Friday, stealing away the #1 spot by just 10 tickets and increased 2% from its opening Friday. It continued to strengthen on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, increasing on both days. Saturday saw it pump up to 57,476, gaining 7% week-to-week. It saw another jump on Sunday, up 14% and managing to post its best admissions day on Christmas. Its weekend admissions was up 6% to 172,055 but it couldn't achieve a similar hold in gross, instead falling 12%. Outside of the weekend, MI4 held steady while Breaking Dawn started to fade as December 26 and 27 saw great holds. It passed 3m on Monday and by the end of the week, it had already doubled Knight & Day's gross and placed in the top 10 of the year.

Weaker competition allowed it to rule a 3rd weekend as it had the best admissions drop of the top 5. Turning Point 2 opened but to little fanfare as MI4 scored another weekend of over 100,000 admissions and stumbled only 29% with an $838,000 weekend. It not only passed 4m after the weekend but took MI3 down. After its 3rd week, it stood at an astonishing 4.9m, killing MI2 and it was just a few hundred thousands away from the big kahuna, the first Mission Impossible.

Mission Impossible 4 would pass 5m on the start of its 4th weekend but The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo snatched #1 away from it, ending its 3 week reign as the boss. The end of the holidays meant that movies could no longer be seen at any time of day and 7/8 holdovers in the top 10 declined 60% or higher including Mission Impossible 4. It still had the 2nd best hold with a 60% drop and held a $7,500 PTA in its 4th weekend. After 28 days, it came in just a hair shy of 5.4m.

It enjoyed the best hold of the top 5 on its 5th weekend, off 47% to 5.57m. It spent another weekend in the top 5 and ran past the original Mission Impossible, finally clinching the victory in 32 days.

Chinese New Year came on MI4's 6th weekend but it came with a price. 9 new openers filled theaters, 8 of them landing in the top 10 as the big holiday sees many studios put a big movie there to make money off of the Lunar New Year holidays. As a result, MI4 screen counts and showtimes nosedived and it was only left with 7 theaters, down from 39 its 5th weekend. It crumbled 87% to 5.655m.

The effects of having the Lunar New Year holidays on the weekdays bled into MI4's 7th weekend. Half of the movies saw blue including all of the top 5. Unfortunately to MI4's dismay, it did not see any increase itself. It went down 40% and lost another 5 screens in the process.

8th weekend saw it tumble 84% with 7 new movies coming out but it soldiered on past 5.7m.

Its final weekend saw it make $1,166 to close out its run with an amazing 5.704m.

A couple of uncertainties made people nervous about its box office prospects but it completely shattered and blew past any and all preconceived notions with its run. It not only took down Sherlock Holmes 2 in an epic battle but survived well throughout the holidays with superb holds thanks to great WOM. It also continued to solidify Tom Cruise's place as an action star in Asia and Mission Impossible 4 became Tom Cruise's biggest movie ever in Hong Kong.

4. Sanctum


Released: February 17
OW - $1,008,465 ($1,350,810 including previews)
Total - $2,833,859 (2.81 multiplier)

When Chinese New Year falls in February, most of the month's earnings come from that period alone and February 2011 was no exception. Where things deviate, however, comes from a adventure thriller that swam its way to #1 for a week and #2 for the month. Sanctum was billed as an underwater adventure from executive producer James Cameron and moviegoers bought it hook, line and sinker. The marketing was effective; showcasing James Cameron's name at the very beginning of the trailer and spending 25% of the time highlighting his accomplishments which indirectly lead viewers to assume and conclude that he was the director. Sanctum soon gained buzz thereafter and it led to one of the most explosive weekends in February.

Hoping to capitalize on this effective marketing tool, theaters held special screenings of Sanctum across Hong Kong the weekend before its official release. It achieved amazing results as Sanctum powered its way to a top 5 finish with limited showtimes on Saturday and Sunday. It grossed north of $300,000 and debuted early in 25 theaters. The shocking number would only serve to fuel its official opening weekend when it opened against 5 other new releases.

The gigantic sneaks led into its 1st weekend and it blew away the competition, grossing 3x more than its nearest competitor. All of the top 3 that weekend had special screenings the weekend before and it turned out to be the biggest non-fueled holiday weekend of all time in February at the time. The total gross for that weekend turned out to be $2.386m, a little more than $1m of which came from Sanctum. Sanctum grossed $1,008,465 for the 4-day weekend and altogether (including sneak previews) made over 1.3m. At the time, it was considered to a good OW but the surprise factor didn't sink in until it finished its run OS. Its OW was $250,000 more than Germany's and it beat out other OW grosses in other places like Mexico.

Amidst all the fantastic earnings Sanctum took in on its opening weekend and sneaks, there was still one big hurdle to conquer. Black Swan was one of 4 openers on Sanctum's 2nd weekend that had heavy promotion and internet buzz. With so momentum against it, Sanctum relinquished the top spot to Black Swan but not everything was grim. It shined with its drop, diving 48% even with the steep competition and passing 2m. It not only did that in 2 weeks but later on we would find out that it beat France's total in that amount of time.

As Black Swan continued to dominate headlines and the box office, Sanctum suffered and a result, it plunged 63%, leaving it with $193,135 in its 3rd weekend. That was enough to send it past another milestone though and it waded past 2.5m.

4th weekend brought about the release of Battle: Los Angeles. It hit Sanctum's main demographic and Sanctum suffocated. It drowned 70% but passed 2.75m.

Sanctum saw a better drop in its 5th weekend. It slipped 62% but crept past 2.8m.

There were no movies targeting its demo in its 6th weekend and it took advantage with a nice 46% hold.

In its final weekend, it saw another down weekend, off another 59% and it pushed its way to a $2.833m total.

The results speak for themselves. Hong Kong took in more than huge territories like France, Germany and Mexico and was one of the top 10 markets for Sanctum. It placed in the top 15 for the year and it finished in 2nd for the month of February behind I Love Hong Kong. James Cameron's name did wonders for the film but its monstrous gross cannot be attributed to his name alone as evidenced by the solid 2nd weekend hold. The first 2 weekends were surprising but even more so after disappointing results everywhere else overseas. Everything surprising about this movie seems to be magnified by the results of others than its own but at its core, it found a way to pull in an excellent gross during one of the weakest periods of the year.

3. Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy 3D


Released: April 14
OW - $1,679,759
Total - $5,290,771 (3.15 multiplier)

No one was quite sure what to make of Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy when it opened its doors on April 14 but it shocked viewers and box office analysts both. Early pre-selling two weeks ahead of its release might have been a signal that it was going to be a hot selling movie but analysts were apprehensive about what a porn movie in 3D could do at the box office. It received widespread media attention from both local and foreign media publications alike ahead of its release as it was billed as the 'first 3D porn film in the world'. It utilized the media attention and grabbed locals by piquing their curiosity of a porn film being shot in 3D. Tour guides from China even used the film as the main selling point to get people to come over since it did not receive a release in China. The special promotions didn't stop there though. Certain theaters even ran 'Ladies only" special screenings for those women who wanted to see the film but didn't want to see men jerking off or didn't feel safe being around men in general. The rejection from IMAX wasn't enough to stop Sex & Zen from going over the top in its opening weekend with an out-of-left field opening.

Sex & Zen blew past all expectations, opening to numerous sold out shows at night and it roped in an enormous $1.679m from its first 4 days. That opening is the highest OW for any category III-rated movie ever and it outperformed Lust, Caution by more than $250,000. Going by a day-by-day basis, Thursday delivered strong results with 41,967 admissions reported from 80% of theaters. The flurry of media coverage continued into its opening weekend as many media outlets ran the story of it beating Avatar's opening day after Thursday actuals came in. With $360,000 made on its opening day, it more than doubled Lust, Caution's opening Thursday. Friday, even with more sellouts, inched a mere 3% possibly indicating that it was frontloaded with many wanting to see this opening day. It pushed back on Saturday, moving 63,151 admissions for its biggest admissions day of its run. Without the late night to boost ticket sales, it cracked on Sunday and went down 23%. Total number of admissions for Sex & Zen's opening weekend tallied to 197,247, a mere orgasm away from 200,000. With its astonishing opening weekend, many seemed convinced this was going to do well over the holidays even with the amount of competition.

Unfortunately, for the porno, it faced a whopping 11 new releases Easter weekend. 7 of them even managed to reach the top 10. Still, none of the openers really provided a challenge for Sex & Zen as it easily repeated on top Easter weekend. While admissions slacked off its 2nd weekend (-56.4%), it only suffered a 48% decline in gross. Its total squirted up to 3.272m after 11 days, beating every film with that gross except for the other 9 films in the top 10 and becoming Newport's biggest hit of the year after only 2 weeks. 14 days into its run and it already zoomed up to 3.5m, positioning itself as the #1 film of the year at that time by taking out I Love Hong Kong.

Its 3rd weekend saw 2 formidable action films go head-to-head with each other. Thor and The Lost Bladesman took over for Sex & Zen and knocked it down to 3rd but it finished with a solid 53% hold, the 2nd best drop for a wide release that weekend. Its admissions saw better holds as the weekend went along as it went from a steep 68% fold on Thursday to easing 24% on Sunday. That would bring its total up to 3.987m after 2 1/2 weeks and it passed 4m on Monday.

The release of Fast Five in Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy's 4th weekend didn't deter Sex at all. It slid down 50%, the best of the top 20 and of any film showing on more than 2 screens that weekend. Its 4th weekend came in just above $200,000 and its total crept up to 4.4m. After seeing Sex & Zen breaking records and catching the eye of the media, there was only one question left for it to resolve. Would it make 5m?

Its weekend hold in its 5th weekend would give credence to that notion as it enjoyed the best hold for any semi-wide or wide release, sliding down 25%. Its total was up to a stunning 4.7m but it faced a huge obstacle the next weekend when every theater would make room for the 4th installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Pirates of the Caribbean 4 did little to stop it. Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy didn't even flinch and it locked up another $93,000 in its 6th weekend and its total now stood at 4.862m, certain to pass 5m in a matter of weeks. It also spent its 6th weekend in the top 5.

After surviving Pirates 4, it ran away with the best drop of any holdover the next weekend. 7th weekend saw it stumble 25%, more than 10% better than the nearest holdover.

2 months into its run and it accomplished what many was thinking was never going to materialize. It snagged 5m and it did it with style, jumping back into the top 5 and diving only 29% even with 2 fairly big openers in X-Men: First Class and The Hangover 2. It once again enjoyed the best drop of any holdover for the 2nd weekend in a row.

There was a dilemma in its 9th weekend as an adapted stage play hoping to steal Sex & Zen's audience made its way into theaters. Although the adaptation was a comedy instead of an erotic film, it had the name 'Sex' in the title and it frequently referenced jokes about erections and other bodily functions. Microsex Office got its playdate along with Super 8 but they were no match for Sex & Zen's staying power. Sex & Zen got slashed 34% and its total funneled up to 5.111m.

Its 10th weekend saw it lose another 3 screens and push down another 2 spots but it did the unthinkable and increased 19%. It got no holiday boost and it held on for another week inside the top 10.

Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy would drop out of the top 10 on its 11th weekend with Beginning of the Great Revival and Treasure Inn coming out but it came so close with it showing on just 4 theaters. It limped past 5.2m after 11 weeks.

Transformers was supposed to decimate the remaining screens for Sex & Zen but it never happened. Instead, the erotic film countered with a 41% slide, one of only 2 films that escaped with a drop of less than 50%. It also marked its return into the top 10 where it placed #9.

It clung onto another weekend in the top 10, even when half of its business vanished from the weekend before. Its 13th weekend saw it make only $7,741 but it climbed another spots to #7, meaning it spent 3 full months inside the top 10, an incredible achievement.

Sex & Zen continued its hot streak on its 14 weekend of release. The farewell party for Harry Potter didn't spoil Sex & Zen moviegoers and it notched $6,626 from 1 theater while rising to #6 from only a 14% decline.

Good declines carried on through Kung Fu Panda 2's release as it lost 22% of its business to pull its total up to 5.269m. This would mark its final week in the top 10.

Wu Xia put an end to Sex & Zen's extreme run in the top 10 as it along with 4 other openers pushed Sex & Zen well outside the top 10. Sex & Zen didn't suffer any drastic fallout though. It shook off only 43% for another weekend drop below 50%.

Its 17th and final weekend saw it slow down only 30% and it was a fitting end to such a bizarre and amazing run.

Let's run down the numbers and facts here. Sex & Zen was #1 for 2 weeks and beat out every other film at the time in only 2 weeks. It was a mainstay in the top 5 and top 10, amassing 7 and 14 weeks respectively. It was ranked inside the top 10 for 14/17 weeks. Even though it was a male driven film, it survived well on the weeks where male oriented movies came out. Super 8, Transformers, Hangover 2, X-Men: First Class, Thor, The Lost Bladesman, Wu Xia, Harry Potter 7-2 all couldn't stop Sex & Zen from achieving one of the best runs ever. It also spent the last 13 weeks of its run dropping 50% or below, one of the most peculiar things to ever happen to a film. Typically, even films with great WOM would see larger and larger drops as it box office declines but Sex & Zen defied that trend. It tied Toy Story 3 for number of weeks in release with 17 and it finished the year ahead of some big names like Kung Fu Panda 2, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, X-Men: First Class and Black Swan. It kept on accumulating exceptional weekend holds in the face of extreme competition and that carried it to one of the biggest totals ever for a category III film. It obliterated everyone's expectations and almost defiantly, slowly crept its way to being one of the biggest films of 2011.


Opening weekend - $1.679 million, highest opening ever for III rated movie
2nd weekend - 48% drop with 11 new openers to contend with
3rd weekend - 53% drop with release of Thor and The Lost Bladesman
4th weekend - ...
5th weekend - 25% drop, passed 4.7m
6th weekend - 39% drop with release of Pirates 4
7th weekend - 25% drop
8th weekend - 29% drop with X-Men: First Class and Hangover 2 openers, passed 5m
9th weekend - ...
10th weekend - 19% increase
11th weekend - passed 5.2m
12th weekend - 41% drop in face of Transformers 3
13th weekend - ...
14th weekend - 14% drop with finale of Harry Potter opening
15th weekend - 22% drop with Kung Fu Panda 2 opening
16th weekend - [ties Inception for number of weeks in release]
17th weekend - final weekend, 30% drop, [ties Toy Story 3 for number of weeks in release]

5th-17th weekend - dropped 50% or below

2. You Are the Apple of My Eye

and now...the moment you've all been waiting for.




1. 3 Idiots

That's it! I hope you enjoyed the top 10 surprises of 2011. May 2012 be just as surprising and successful as 2011.

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Total Comments: 1
Bluebomb    May 8 2012 12:47pm
If you're wondering why there is no write up for Apple of My Eye or 3 Idiots, each of them have their own separate articles.