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Weekend Box-Office Analysis (March 22-24, 2013)

Three wide openers and one expanding film combined for over $86 million this weekend, giving the box-office the much-needed fresh blood and bumping the Top 12 cume by 37.1% to $131.9 million, making it the biggest box-office weekend of the year so far. While that does sound good, it must still be noted that on the same weekend last year, The Hunger Games opened to $152.5 million, thus making more over the weekend alone, than this year’s entire Top 12 put together. Compared last year, this weekend’s box-office unsurprisingly went down 35.3%. The total domestic box-office of 2013 currently lags a terrible 13.3% behind last year. While next weekend could see three strong openers (A Stephenie Meyer-adaptation, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and the new Tyler Perry flick), there are only seven wide openers currently scheduled for all of April. That means, it is unlikely that 2012 will start catching up on 2013 before the summer hits.


The Croods has become DreamWorks Animation’s 15th #1 opener (out of 26 releases in total), securing the top spot with a solid, if not outstanding $44.7 million from 4,046 venues (widest release of the year so far and the widest opener since The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).It averaged a good $11,048 per theatre. The opening was completely in line with the starts of other spring animated releases such as How to Train Your Dragon ($43.7 million) and Rio ($39.2 million), though well below the opening of DreamWorks’ Monsters Vs. Aliens which bowed to $59.3 million back in 2009. It should be noted that The Croods is the first animated movie by DreamWorks to be distributed by 20th Century Fox, after their long partnership with Paramount. Fox marketed the film well and gave it a perfect release date with Oz The Great and Powerful having faded enough by now and the May competition still far away. The Croods is only the third release of this year to have a lower rating than PG-13, showing how little there has been for family audiences.

Like Rio and How to Train Your Dragon The Croods earned a great “A”-CinemaScore. However, its audiences skewed surprisingly old with 55% being 25 or older. It also attracted more female audiences, which made up around 57% of its opening weekend. Another noteworthy fact about the film’s opening weekend is that only 38% of its gross came from 3D-showings. That’s a very low number that is indicative that families are less and less willing to pay the 3D premium for every flick on release as 3D has become a non-event by now. By comparison, How to Train Your Dragon’s 3D-share was 67%! The future prospects are looking very good for The Croods. It won’t face any family-oriented competition until May whatsoever. In fact, its first very direct competition will arrive in mid-May with Epic, though of course Iron Man 3 will be seen by many families as well. As it is, though, it should have a great run throughout all of April. I don’t legs similar to Dragon (which almost got an opening-to-total multiplier of 5!), but it should at least show more longevity than Rio, which faced Thor in its fourth round. With Rio’s legs The Croods would get more than $160 million, meaning that at the very worst, $150 million is locked. However, I expect it to end up with slightly better word-of-mouth than Rio and the circumstances are much better for it. Therefore, I see it finishing somewhere in the $165-190 million range and with some luck become one of DreamWorks’ ten biggest films. Either way, it is a good outcome for the $135 million production and a great rebound for DreamWorks after the domestic flop that was Rise of the Guardians ($103.2 million).


The Croods might have won the weekend, but the real surprise of the frame was Olympus Has Fallen. The first of the two White-House-occupied-by-terrorists movies this year (with the second being White House Down, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx) opened to a great $30.5 million from 3,098 locations for an average of $9,845 per theatre. This opening is by far the biggest ever for its studio, FilmDistrict, more than doubling the previous #1, Red Dawn. Also, the opening weekend alone made Olympus FilmDistrict’s 4th-biggest hit ever. By the end of its second weekend, Olympus Has Fallen might become the distributor’s highest-grossing feature to date. At $70 million, it is also their most expensive one as well, but it shouldn’t have any problems recouping its budget. It seems like audience are still not sick of R-rated action flicks this year as Olympus Has Fallen opened bigger than all of them, even topping the three-day-weekend of A Good Day to Die Hard (though, admittedly, it opened on Thursday, building off some demand before the weekend). What’s impressive is that Olympus Has Fallen’s opening weekend is bigger than the combined totals of Bullet to the Head and The Last Stand. After a string of flops, Gerard Butler desperately needed a hit and this is his first live-action one in three years (since The Bounty Hunter). The film’s opening weekend audiences loved the film, awarding it a generous “A-“-CinemaScore on average. As expected, it skewed older (73% above 25) and slightly male (53%). The film’s 23.6% Saturday increase also bodes well for things to come, showing very little frontloading. The movie might be hit hard by G.I. Joe: Retaliation next weekend, though the R-rating sets it apart. The movie’s legs might not be outstanding, but it looks like a sure bet to finish above $80 million and end up somewhere in the $80-95 million range, with a small shot at $100 million.


Oz The Great and Powerful slid down from the top spot to #3 this weekend, dropping an expected 46.6% in the face of new competition courtesy of The Croods. The fantasy flick added $22 million to its gross, bringing it to $177.6 million after just 17 days in theatres. The film’s third-weekend drop is perfectly in line with Alice in Wonderland’s 48.2% in its fourth weekend, when it faced the release of How to Train Your Dragon – also a DreamWorks Animation release. Oz is lagging around $88 million behind Alice in Wonderland and the gap keeps increasing. Nevertheless, by itself the film did extremely well. Within the next two weeks, it will become the first movie of 2013 to break the $200 million-barrier. Though the movie is holding alright, it has shown that it definitely does not have enough stamina to get to $250 million and, like Alice in Wonderland, its multiplier will probably remain below 3 afterall. Easter and the lack of competition in April will boost its gross, but it won’t survive the onslaught of May competition. I see it winding up with $225-235 million, which is most likely enough to end up in the yearly Top 10. It’s not another Alice, but given the lack of a huge star like Johnny Depp and the fading 3D-craze, this gross is about as good as it could get.


The Call went down 49.2% to #4. It is impressive that despite facing R-rated competition from Olympus Has Fallen it still avoided a bigger drop. That must be because of its strong female appeal. Over the three-day-portion The Call took in $8.7 million. Its 10-day-total stands at $30.9 million, more than twice the film’s $13 million production budget, making it the first bona fide success for Halle Berry in the leading role in around 10 years. Word-of-mouth is on the film’s side, though it will inevitably suffer when Evil Dead hits the screens in two weeks. Nevertheless, it is still on track to end up with $45-50 million, a far better total than Sony probably ever hoped for.


The Tina Fey/Paul Rudd-vehicle Admission opened to very disappointing $6.4 million from 2,160 theatres (PTA of $2,984) at the 5th spot of the box-office. Produced on a $13 million budget it certainly won’t lose much money for Focus Features, but given its star pedigree it also didn’t do as well as one could have expected. While Paul Rudd is hit/miss at the box-office (This Is 40, I Love You, Man, Dinner for Schmucks being in the hit-bracket, while Wanderlust and How Do You Know are in the miss-bracket), Tina Fey has done pretty well for herself, gaining a lot of popularity thanks to 30 Rock and landing hits with Date Night ($98.7 million) and Baby Mama ($60.5 million). The marketing people behind Admission clearly assumed that the combined starpower of the two will push the film to its success and focused the marketing efforts entirely on them, while not selling the film itself enough. However, it should be well-known by now, that the stars are rarely selling a film nowadays. An example as recent as The Incredible Burt Wonderstone clearly showcases just that. Middling reviews certainly didn’t help in Admission’s case either as Focus was hoping for it to develop good legs. With a “B-“-CinemaScore to boot, Admission’s run is not looking promising. It might be helped by the fact that its audiences are older women (68% of the film’s opening weekend audiences were women and 47% were 50 or older!). This kind of audiences usually guarantees good legs, even if the WoM is seemingly mediocre. On the other hand, Admission will also face the issue of losing its screens and theatres fast as its PTA is simply not strong enough. When all is said and done, I expect it to finish with $17-20 million – an unremarkable range, but at least not a bomb for Focus.


Last weekend’s limited-release-sensation Spring Breakers went much wider in its second weekend than originally planned and expanded into 1,101 more theatres, bringing its total theatre count to 1,104. This is where the limitations of the film became obvious. While it did crazy business in New York and Los Angeles, the rest of the country wasn’t that hyped up for it. It averaged a decent $4,529 per theatres for a weekend gross of $5 million, enough for the 6th slot of the charts. Sure, for a $2 million feature, that’s a good number, but not all that impressive given the PTA last weekend (which was above $87,000 from three locations). The weekend performance has also shown strong frontloading as the film dipped 14.3% from Friday to Saturday. Including its limited release gross, the film has made $5.4 million thus far. I expect another expansion to take place next weekend, but it will still have a hard time avoiding a harsh drop. The movie garnered solid reviews overall, but WoM among general audiences will likely be atrocious. If lucky, it will finish with around $13-15 million, though a even lower total would not surprise be given the nature of the film and its lack of mainstream-appeal (that goes beyond girls in bikinis). Nevertheless, it is already a financial winner for the studio.


The Incredible Burt Wonderstone crashed and burned in its sophomore weekend, diving 58% to $4.3 million and #7 at the box-office. In ten days the comedy starring Jim Carrey and Steve Carell has accumulated an embarrassing $17.4 million. It will soon shed theatres like crazy, starting next weekend and it’s unlikely to end up with much more than $22 million at this point, meaning that not only did it open terribly, but its legs left a lot to be desired as well. This might be the single biggest disappointment in Carrel’s and Carrey’s respective careers.


Down four spots to #8, Jack the Giant Slayer suffered from competition by The Croods, likely losing many 3D screens to it. The movie declined 53.1% to $3 million and brought its total to $59.1 million after four weeks on release. At least it held better, once again, than John Carter, last year’s big budget bomb with a March release. The gap between the two is now down to around $7 million, yet facing G.I. Joe: Retaliation on Thursday, Jack will never catch up to John. It will lose its remaining IMAX screens next weekend and face competition from Jurassic Park 3D and Oblivion in the following weeks as well. Thus, it will finish with just around $64 million, making it a huge bomb, given the $195 million budget.


Identity Thief had the worst drop of its run so far, losing 42.4% of last weekend’s audience and yet it held better than any other holdover in the Top 10. Adding $2.5 million to its gross, Seth Gordon’s comedy pushed its running total to $127.7 million, now tracking full $15 million ahead of Horrible Bosses. I expect it to play well into April as its only direct competition that month will be Scary Movie 5. It will find its way to $135 million.


Down to 10, Snitch lost a decent 44.9% and made $1.9 million in its 5th weekend. Its running total now amounts to $40.3 million. G.I. Joe: Retaliation will hit it hard on Thursday, but overall the movie has already performed better than many have expected. I project it to finish with $45 million.


Despite losing almost one-third of its theatres and finally leaving the Top 10, Silver Linings Playbook still delivered the best hold in the entire Top 12, dropping 35.9% to $1.6 million in its 19th (!) weekend as it placed 11th. The movie brought its running cume to $127.2 million. The film’s run is soon coming to an end, with the movie’s DVD/BluRay release scheduled for the end of April. It will leave the theatres with around $132 million in its pockets.


Safe Haven rounded off the Top 12, dropping a hefty 53% to $$1.2 million. After six weeks it stands at $68.9 million and will likely go on to finish with $71 million, making it Relativity’s third-biggest domestic grosser ever, behind Immortals ($83.5 million) and Limitless ($79.2 million).


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