After hitting a two-month low last weekend, the box-office rebounded nicely as Pixar’s 13th effort Brave opened to potent numbers on top. It helped to boost the Top 12 cume by 29.2% to $158.8 million, while none of the holdovers was affected too much by the new arrivals. Nonetheless, the numbers were down 6.6% from the comparable weekend last year when Pixar’s very own Cars 2 opened to almost exactly same numbers as Brave, but had a much bigger second wide opener to go along with it (Bad Teacher). Overall, there seems to be a feeling of the calm before the storm at the box-office with The Amazing Spider-Man set to be the next tentpole with the potential to deliver truly huge numbers.
The recipe for success this year seems to be arrow-slinging heroines. First The Hunger Games stunned everyone with a $150+ million opening back in March, now Pixar lands its 13th #1 opener with Brave. The Scottish Highlands-set animated film by the undeniably most acclaimed animation studio in the world delivered the studio’s 5th-biggest opening weekend with $66.7 million taken from 4,164 theatres for an impressive $16,028 per-theatre-average. The movie also set the record for the widest non-sequel opening, edging out this year’s The Hunger Games. Brave’s opening comes as even moreso surprising given the fact that it slightly outdid last year’s Cars 2 which was a follow-up to a $240+ million hit that ended up as one of the biggest home video bestsellers of all time. Cars 2 ended up being Pixar’s first effort genuinely disliked by most critics. The audience’s reception wasn’t that warm either as it became Pixar’s first film that failed to hit an opening-to-total multiplier of 3. Many box-office followers speculated that Cars 2 might have tarnished Pixar’ hitherto impeccable reputation and would hurt their next film, Brave. However, it appears like Pixar’s brand name is still a strong pull and one movie couldn’t hurt what the studio has built up with eleven well-received predecessors. Brave’s opening is not just huge for Pixar, it also stands as the 10th-biggest opening weekend for any animated movie and the 6th-biggest for a non-sequel animated feature. Brave’s $24.5 million opening day is also the biggest ever for a non-sequel Pixar film (only Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 made more on their first Friday). What is also impressive is that the marketplace wasn’t starved for family-oriented films. In fact, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted just opened two weeks ago and was still doing strong this weekend. For the first time since 1998 the top two spots were occupied by animated movies (ironically when that happened in 1998, the #1 movie was Pixar’s A Bug’s Life). Add to that the claim of the biggest non-sequel June opening and the fourth-biggest June start overall and you’ve got yourself a little box-office sensation. The fact that it skewed female (57% of its opening weekend audiences was female) makes it yet another poof of the females’ current dominance at the box-office.
Pixar’s track record is simply amazing and Brave will be yet another claim of success for them. Every single of Pixar’s 13 films has opened on top of the box-office once they went wide (Toy Story 2 and A Bug’s Life went limited first). It all started with Toy Story which surprisingly won the yearly domestic crown in 1995 with $191.8 million. Four years later, the sequel Toy Story 2 made almost $246 million becoming the second-biggest animated movie of all time, behind The Lion King. Another four years later, Pixar finally took the crown from The Lion King when Finding Nemo opened to a tremendous $70.3 million (biggest opening for an animated film at the time) and finished with $339.7 million. It would take Pixar a long time to top Nemo’s total, something they finally achieved two years ago with Toy Story 3 which became their first $100+ million opener and finished with $415 million, making it Disney’s 2nd-biggest film ever at the time. Between 1999 and 2010 Pixar has released nine consecutive $200+ million grosser. In fact, Pixar averaged a $252.6 million gross per movie for the 12 films released prior to Brave and their newest offering is currently looking good to end up somewhere in the vicinity of that average. Most of their films usually had solid openings, followed by terrific legs. Judging by Brave’s terrific “A” CinemaScore and lack of direct competition until Ice Age: Continental Drift in three weeks that should be the case again. Interestingly enough, the 3D share of Brave’s opening weekend gross was just 34% which is shockingly low even by the low standards of family-oriented films. Even Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted managed a 45% share two weeks ago (though the share has dropped to 35% by now). On the other hand, it means that competition for 3D screens won’t affect Brave much as soon its 3D share will drop as low as 25%.
All of Pixar’s summer movies except for Cars 2 at least managed an opening-to-total multiplier of 3.5 which would put Brave above $230 million. In fact, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo and Up all easily passed the multiplier of 4 which seems doable for Brave as well. It is true that by now, Pixar’s famous brand name is leading to some sort of frontloading on opening weekends as Brave actually dropped 4% on Saturday. With no competition next weekend and only The Amazing Spider-Man the weekend after it should make a killing throughout the next weeks until Ice Age: Continental Drift delivers a blow on July 13th. Right now, Brave is looking good for a $250-275 million finish and will most likely crack Pixar’s all-time Top 5 which is a much bigger result than most expected for this seemingly more low-key movie.
In what could easily be called as one of the weekend’s most surprising outcomes, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted managed not to crumble entirely due to Brave’s arrival, but just lose 40.7% of last weekend’s audiences for a $20.2 million third weekend and a running total of $157.6 million after just 17 days in theatres. That easily ensured it the #2 spot over the three-day period after it narrowly lost the second spot to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter on Friday ($6.1 million vs. $6.3 million). For comparison’s sake Kung Fu Panda dived 46.7% the weekend WALL-E opened back in June 2008, Shrek Forever After dropped 64.4% due to Toy Story 3’s humongous opening in June 2010 and Over the Hedge tumbled 50.5% when Cars got out of the gate in June 2006. Given these precedents, Madagascar 3’s hold is nothing short of terrific and a true showcase of the film’s formidable word-of-mouth. After a slightly lower opening two weeks ago, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is already tracking over $20 million ahead of where Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa was at after 17 days. It is also $29 million ahead of where the first Madagascar was after its third weekend and all that while coming off a larger third weekend than either of those films. By now, it is assured that Madagascar 3 will end up as the franchise’s highest-grossing film domestically (as well as overseas). That does come as a surprise after several recent animated sequels have decreased significantly from their predecessors (Happy Feet Two, Cars 2, Kung Fu Panda 2 and, yes, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa). Summer weekdays are playing a large role here too, but most of all, it benefits from strong WoM and a good release date as it came out in the marketplace devoid of any big movies for family audiences. The film could surpass its immediate predecessor’s $180 million total by the end of the next weekend. By the time its next big challenge, Ice Age: Continental Drift opens, it will already be sitting at around $200 million. Its biggest challenge over the next weeks should be maintaining its screens and theatres and numerous new wide openers will claim a lot of those. However, given its relatively strong PTA, it should stick around for a while with other holdovers to go before it. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is looking at a $210-215 million which in my eyes makes it one of the most impressive animated sequel performances ever given the recent disappointments by similar films. It shouldn’t be long until we see another installment in the franchise.
As mentioned above, the $69 million revisionist action-horror Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter placed second on Friday, but had to settle for #3 for the whole weekend. It took in $16.5 million from 3,105 venues and averaged $5,309 per theatre. Given the talent involved (Wanted’s Timur Bekmambetov directing, Tim Burton producing), this opening must be a letdown for Fox which is now hoping for overseas territories to respond kinder to this film. On the upside, it beat the similar looking, but even more critically-trashed Jonah Hex ($10.5 million) already. The 3D percentage of the film’s opening weekend came in at just 45%, yet another somewhat grim sign for 3D (after it seemingly recovered this year) as movies like this usually pull bigger shares in 3D than that. Abraham Lincoln’s “C+” CinemaScore is less-than-encouraging as far as its future prospects go and facing two potentially big R-rated openers next week, Ted and Magic Mike, it should suffer a harsh drop next weekend. I don’t expect it to recover quickly either, wrapping up its domestic run with around $38-42 million.
Prometheus' freefall continued as the R-rated sci-fi horror flick dropped 51.7% (worst hold in the entire Top 12) to $10 million and #4 of the box-office this weekend. At least its $108.5 million current total already puts it ahead of Watchmen ($107.5 million) despite a smaller opening weekend. Nevertheless, it is obvious that Prometheus is suffering under mediocre WoM and frontloading that resulted due to high anticipation and for the film. Next weekend it will face two strong R-rated openers and the weekend after it should lose most of its remaining IMAX screens to The Amazing Spider-Man, meaning that there is no recovery for it in sight. Thanks to strong weekdays it should make it to $125-130 million and maybe even break the 2.5 multiplier something that initially seemed unlikely given the early audience reactions.
Rock of Ages decreased 44.6% and dropped to #5 this weekend. It added $8 million to its box-office, bringing its running cume to $28.8 million after ten days. Its drop is in line with the second weekend from for Adam Shankman’s previous summer musical, Hairspray, but given the much smaller opening weekend, the movie’s current total is utterly disappointing. It should benefit from having little competition over the next few weeks, though losing IMAX screens to Spider-Man certainly won’t help. I project it to end up in the $45-50 million range. Given the tepid overseas reception Rock of Ages., which carries a $75 million price tag, is looking to become Tom Cruise’s biggest bomb since Lions for Lambs five years ago.
Tying Rock of Ages for #5, Snow White and the Huntsman held somewhat better, dipping just 39.7% to $8 million. That upped its running total to $137.1 million. After initial reservations, I am now certain that it will pass $150 million afterall. However, a multiplier of 3 is still out of question. With a lot of R-rated movies ahead, I expect this to hold relatively well and play well into July. As it doesn’t have IMAX or 3D screens to lose, it should be able to stomach competition better than many other films in the marketplace. A total gross of $158 million should await the movie by the end of its run.
Adam Sandler’s bomb That’s My Boy occupied the 7th slot in its sophomore weekend with $7.9 million (down 41.3%) for a running cume of $28.2 million. The 10-day total of this film is still lower than the opening weekends for most Adam Sandler-led movies. With Ted providing very direct competition as another R-rated comedy, That’s My Boy should drop had next weekend, only to possibly recover when Sony’s own The Amazing Spider-Man might give it a small studio boost the weekend after. Either way, I see it making $48 million when all is said and done.
Boasting the weekend’s best hold among wide releases, The Avengers went down just 20.9% to $7 million and dropped to #8 of the charts. The movie was obviously helped by Brave’s opening and drive-in double bills which gave the movie the typical same-studio boost. The movie’s current total sits at an incredible $598.3 million. On Tuesday, it should finally become the third movie ever to pass the $600 million barrier at the domestic box-office. Its recent drops suggest that there is no stopping for it anytime either. Clearly the movie is still enjoying terrific WoM and probably numerous repeat viewings. Also, despite having fallen from the upper spots of the box-office, it still remains somewhat of a must-see phenomenon. The Dark Knight made just $5.5 million in its 8th weekend, but it still went on to gross another $19 million before the IMAX re-release later in its run. The Avengers should at the very least manage that, but most likely get even a little more, unless The Amazing Spider-Man really crushes it. Right now, it is firmly on track towards $620 million.
Men in Black 3 is not holding up as well, but a $5.6 million weekend (down 44.3%) gave it a total of $163.3 million after five weeks. Sure, this is underwhelming for a $225 million movie, but given its soft opening and the worse outcomes for similar sequels that arrived much later than they should have. This number is respectable. Men in Black 3 should experience a Sony-boost thanks to The Amazing Spider-Man before completely vanishing from theatres with a total of $178 million.
Focus Features’ Seeking a Friend for the End of the World opened to terrible results at #10. The Steve Carell/Keira Knightley dramedy started with just $3.8 million from 1,625 theatres (PTA of $2,361) and earned an unsatisfying “C+” CinemaScore. It shouldn’t make more than $8-10 million.
Even tough it dropped out of the Top 10 to #11, Moonrise Kingdom is still doing splendidly. Focus’ slow rollout is working wonders. The movie added another 217 theatres this weekend (395 in total now) and increased 52.4% to $3.4 million. It currently stands a $11.6 million, less than $0.5 million away from The Darjeeling Limited’s total domestic gross. It looks like the movie’s appeal goes wider than I have anticipated and it is doing surprisingly well in wider release. Its final gross is still hard to pinpoint, but it should be looking at a $30-35 million by the end of its run.
At last The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel rounded off the Top 12 with $1.6 million (down 29.3%) at #12. Its splendid $38.4 million total makes the movie Fox Searchlight’s 12th-biggest ht to date already and it shouldn’t be difficult for it to get into the Top 10 soon as well. It is being affected by competition for theatres and screens, but I still think that it will play strongly throughout July and finish with $46 million.