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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (June 15-17, 2012)

The US box-office remains a wild rollercoaster ride. After the two wide openers delivered over $110 million last weekend, the two new movies this weekend could barely muster a quarter of that. Thanks to these weak openers and Father’s Day on Sunday, most holdovers held extremely well. Nevertheless the Top 12 cume went down 28.5% compared to last weekend and amounted to $124.5 million. This number makes it one of the weakest June weekends at the box-office during the last ten years and the least-attended June weekend since the 1990s. Compared to last year when Super 8 opened with decent numbers on top, the Top 12 was down around 5.9%. Now the hope is with Pixar’s newest outing, Brave, to revive the domestic box-office next weekend.


Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted not just easily held on to the top spot of the box-office, it is also easily the weekend’s big winner. Dropping just 44.1%, the animated sequel brought in $35.5 million in its second weekend and upped its running total to $120.5 million after just ten days in theatres. Considering the disappointing performances by animated sequels in recent memory, Madagascar 3 looks to be a real winner. Its second weekend is the highest of all Madagascar movies to date, even though Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa had a higher opening. Moreover, it is currently tracking $3.5 million ahead of that film and over $20 million ahead of the first Madagascar. To top it off, its ten-day gross is also higher than that of last summer’s Cars 2 which was coming off a lower second weekend, but a higher opening weekend. Cars 2 went on to pass $190 million which is definitely Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’s trajectory now too.

There is no doubt that the complete lack of direct competition and Father’s Day helped the movie’s hold. However, there is also the fact that its word-of-mouth is very strong. Next weekend, Pixar’s Brave will provide more than ample competition for families. Not only will it challenge Madagascar 3 for 3D screens, it will also directly aim at its demographics. One must not forget that the last four Pixar films all opened above $60 million. Madagascar 3 is certain to suffer a blow, but it should recover after that. June 2008 has shown that two big animated movies can co-exist very well in the summer. WALL-E and Kung Fu Panda both opened in the span of three weeks. Each film achieved a $60+ million start and a total gross north of $200 million. It will be Ice Age: Continental Drift that will ultimately kill off the third Madagascar film in mid-July. Until then, it should be able to share the marketplace with Brave. The sequel will likely pass $150 million by the end of its third weekend. That makes passing the second film’s $180 million total a given. The first movie’s $193.6 million finish is a tougher call, but I believe it has a great shot at doing that as well. In fact, it might become DreamWorks Animation’s third non-Shrek movie to pass $200 million at the domestic box-office (after Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon). That would be a very impressive achievement for a third movie in a franchise and should ensure several further Madagascar films down the road. Right now it is looking at a $190-200 million total, but another good hold would greatly increase its chances at $200 million.


Thanks to the new released movies disappointing, Ridley Scott’s epic sci-fi flick Prometheus held on to the second spot of the box-office, while still dropping like a rock from its solid opening. Down 60.4%, it added $20.2 million to its running gross, bringing it to $88.9 million after ten days on release. The immense frontloading and a very mixed reception are certainly showing now. Even Father’s Day couldn’t prevent its freefall. Rock of Ages taking a tollmon its IMAX screens and showings certainly didn’t help either. At least its second weekend decline is better than that of a similarly hyped and ultimately financially disappointing big R-rated film – Watchmen. Watchmen dropped 67.7% in its sophomore frame and finished with an opening-to-total multiplier of less than 2. Such fate won’t await Prometheus, but it will struggle to reach a 2.5 multiplier at this point. Looking at the brighter side of things, Prometheus’ performance is still strong for a normal R-rated film. It has become this year’s 11th R-rated movie to make more than $50 million domestically, showing this year’s strength as far as R-rated movies are concerned. Last year, 11 R-rated films in total passed $50 million. Prometheus will also soon join 21 Jump Street ($137.6 million) and Safe House ($126.2 million) as the third $100 million-grossing R-rated film this year. Unfortunately, this is not just your average R-rated sci-fi horror flick, but Ridley Scott’s $130 million budgeted, long-anticipated return to the genre that made him famous. Taking that into account, the performance is certainly underwhelming. It should find its way to $120-125 million, therefore finishing below Safe House which only had a fraction of the hype and buzz leaing up to its release.


The biggest opener this weekend was Rock of Ages. The adaptation of Broadway’s rock musical opened at #3 to a disappointing $15.1 million from 3,470 locations for a per-theatre-average of $4,340. This average, in particular, is very disappointing. Rock of Ages isn’t the first high-profile musical to open during the summer box-office season, trying to counter-program big blockbusters. So far it has paid off with Mamma Mia! making $144.1 million as it opened against the juggernaut The Dark Knight back in 2008 and with Hairspray which grossed $118.9 million back in summer 2007. Hairspray’s director Adam Shankman obviously tried to replicate Hairspray’s success with Rock of Ages.  However, the luck wasn’t on his side this time. Rock of Ages, despite the aid of IMAX screens, opened to about 55% of Hairspray’s opening weekend – and that without counting in the inflation effect. Unloike Hairspray, Rock of Ages didn’t gather positive reviews with its RottentTomatoes score being rotten. The (mostly female) audiences were more generous, awarding the film a “B” CinemaScore. However, a “B” is not good enough to mean anything significant for the movie’s legs. The film’s underperformance shows that 1980s nostalgia isn’t as big as studios believe it is. Warner Bros. certainly did their best to promote the film, but average moviegoers just aren’t interested in rock musicals based on already existing well-known and well-worn songs. For Tom Cruise who has been the front and center of Rock of Ages’ marketing, despite his Stacee Jaxx character just being a supporting player, Rock of Ages is a mild throwback after the success of Mission: Impossible – Ghost rotocol. It shows that Mission: Impossible was more of a fluke for him and was big not because of, but despite Cruise. The times of him being a certifiable box-office draw are gone. Rock of Ages joins Knight and Day as one of Cruise’s high-profile disappointments. The $75 million production will be lucky to make $47-52 million stateside.


Snow White and the Huntsman stabilized somewhat after its disastrous drop last weekend and fell 40.1% to $13.8 million in its third outing. It placed 4th this weekend. With the running total at $122.6 million after 17 days, it is back on track to $150 million after it seemed last weekend that the number might be just a tad too high for it. Nonetheless, the movie is still not the kind of a huge hit domestically that Universal probably hoped for and the box-office prospects for the planned sequel are bleak, in my opinion. I project Snow White to wrap up its run with $150-155 million in the bank.


Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy opened to a horrendous $13 million from 3,030 venues (PTA of $4,290) at #5 of the charts. The father-son-themed R-rated comedy couldn’t even properly benefit from a Father’s Day boost. For Sandler, it marks the box-office low point of his career of the last 15 years. Even his notorious flop Little Nicky opened to $16.1 million back in November 2000. For Sandler, That’s My Boy marks the lowest opening weekend for a live action non-comedy since Bulletproof back in 1996! That’s an absolutely terrible number for one of Hollywood’s most consistent draws. To date, Sandler has starred in 12 $100+ million hits and nine of these films made more than $35 million opening weekend. However, none of these films as rated R. Sandler’s popularity is big with younger teen audiences, but his appeal to older R-rated moviegoers seems to be limited. His last major disappointment was his collaboration with Judd Apatow, Funny People. Funny People made $51.9 million at the domestic box-office, a number that That’s My Boy can only dream of now. Last year there have already been signs of Sandler’s appeal decreasing. First Just Go With It opened to just $30.5 million, though it crawled past $100 million eventually. In November then, the critically-maligned cross-dressing comedy Jack & Jill opened to $25 million and finished with $74.2 million, becoming Sandler’s first non-R comedy to miss $100 million since Little Nicky. The decline continued this year as it seems. Whereas Jack & Jill might be classified as a slight letdown for Sandler, That’s My Boy is a flat out bomb given its $70 million budget. Obviously being rated R played a major role in this lack of success, but it might also be Sandler’s shtick getting old even for his fans. Either way, with its abhorrent reviews and a “B-“ CinemaScore the movie won’t go far. I see it ending up with $30-35 million when all is said and done.


Men in Black 3 surprised with a great hold this weekend as it dipped just 28% to #6 and $10 million. Its current total stands at $152.7 million. The film’s good WoM is really kicking in now. The hold is even moreso great, given the fact that it most likely lost most of its remaining IMAX screens to Rock of Ages this weekend after Prometheus already put a dent into those last week. It is coming off a bigger fourth weekend than Men in Black II, though it is still tracking over $14 million behind that film. While I think the gap will decrease, strong competition for screens and theatres will ensure that Men in Black 3 won’t catch up to its predecessor. Right now I project a $175-180 million for the sequel. After a slightly disappointing start, Men in Black 3 recovered quite well and won’t end up as a huge disappointment afterall. Will Smith is still a box-office king, especially now after this direct comparison to Adam Sandler.


The Avengers slid down to #7 with a formidable $8.8 million gross (down 21.3%) as it managed the best hold among wide releases this weekend. Its running total stands at an unbelievable $586.7 million. The movie could greatly benefit from Father’s Day, delivering a projected increase on Sunday. While next weekend will see its 3D screens being taken away by Brave, the fact that both are from Disney might actually give The Avengers a small bump. The Avengers could pass $600 million as soon as by the end of June. What an incredible achievement! Titanic’s lifetime total is safe, but The Avengers should pass its first-run total by a solid margin. I see it finishing with $612 million.


Still chugging along, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel lost 32.7% of its audiences and dropped down to #8 of the box-office. A $2.2 million weekend take brought its running cume to $35.1 million. It is a real shame that the movie has never even played in more than 1,300 theatres. It certainly had the potential to pass $50 million. Even as it is, it is a terrific hit for Fox Searchlight. It is currently their 15th-biggest film and should have no problems breaking into their all-time Top 10 with a final gross amounting to $45 million.


Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is still enjoying its quiet limited run. It added almost doubled its theatre count this weekend, bringing it to 17 venues. That led to a 39.8% increase in box-office as it made $2.2 million this weekend. That was enough for the 9th slot of the box-office. Its per-theatre-average of $12,253 still shows that there is a lot of strength left in this film. However, it remains to be seen how well it can do in wide release, once it goes beyond big cities and their more sophisticated audiences. I see a $20-25 million finish for it, though it might be too early to tell.


Down to #10, What to Expect When You’re Expecting suffered the worst drop in the entire Top 12. The Lionsgate release decreased 52.3% to $1.3 million and brought its domestic gross to $38.8 million. There isn’t much gas left in its tank and it is on course to a $42 million finish.


Battleship lost over 1,000 theatres this weekend and dropped out of the Top 10, down to #11. Nevertheless, thanks to Father’s Day boost it avoided a humongous drop, dipping 44.6% to $1.3 million. Its total now stands at $62.2 million. It is not long until its pathetic run will find its end. I expect it to leave the theatres with around $64 million in its pockets.


At last, The Dictator rounded off the Top 12 with a 50.3% drop to $1.1 million. It currently stands at $57.7 million, tracking around $2 million behind Bruno. It should finish with an almost identical total gross to that, gathering around $60 million domestically.

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