Box Office Report: July 17-19, 2011

This article reprinted with kind permission of Awards Circuit, and originally linked at The Awards Circuit News Blog

Via Box Office Mojo, The Numbers, Deadline, and other sources:

Despite a strong start with higher than expected numbers from midnight showings and a well attended Friday night, Warner Bros. saw its “Green Lantern” flicker and dim by the end of the weekend. The third superhero film to arrive in 2011, following “Thor” and “X-Men: First Class”, “Green Lantern” was the least attended opening weekend of the three, starting at a $52.3 million clip. Most films would be thrilled to land that sum, but everything has perspective and Warner Bros. are hugely disappointed in the diminishing returns.

A strong midnight to strong Friday to lessening Saturday to dismal Sunday can be attributed to a lot of different factors. Initially, the film was ravaged by critics and although CinemaScore provided a B+ rating from audience members, the fact is that people stopped coming after the first eyes got a look at the final cut. That pesky word-of-mouth can be a helluva thing sometimes.

Nikki Finke at Deadline has reported that there was a great deal of behind-the-scenes consternation by the marketing department, as they were only able to see 70% of the final cut two weeks prior to release day. Constant tinkering and refining of visual effects were cited as a blaming factor, but after audiences responded dismally to the teasers as far back as the fall of 2010, a push-and-pull developed with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment on whether to focus on Ryan Reynolds solely in the marketing or draw in the supporting alien characters to define a new brand. What resulted was a bit of both strategies put into place which, it is speculated, led to confusion amongst those interested but not familiar with the source material.

Good marketing/bad marketing/late delivery of final product…ultimately, the film is just not good. Rotten Tomatoes assigns a 21% ranking for the film, which trails dozens of points behind “Thor” and “X-Men” earlier this year. Ultimately, all of the drafts and rewrites and rewrites again, along with the problematic post-production woes are what contributed to the film’s precipitous slide from Friday through Sunday. Typically, with this opening Warner Bros. could expect a film to gross $150-$175 million; however, tracking and trending may place this closer to the $120-$130 million range, which would require huge worldwide numbers to make the film profitable.

Chilly penguins freeze up the box office, there is no actual art in getting by it seems, and a Tree sprouts while Paris suffers a minor setback…after the cut!
MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS

Oof. Jim Carrey’s return to family-friendly filmmaking was met with a shoulder shrug as “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” turned in a subpar $18.4 million opening. Adapted very loosely from the 1938 children’s novel of the same name, families were rather cold to the film and Fox were hoping to have the film land in the low-20′s for an opening weekend. They simply didn’t get there and whether it be poor reviews (43% on Rotten Tomatoes), or the fact that the movie seems much more suited for a holiday/fall release then positioning in the blockbuster-laden summer, Fox seems to have misjudged this along the way.

Perhaps this is an indicator that Jim Carrey’s bankability may be officially heading down the other side of the hill. Carrey has not had a massive success since 2003′s “Bruce Almighty” grossed more than $242 million domestic/$484 million worldwide. He’s certainly cleared the $100 million mark since then, but “…Penguins” looks to finish around $50-$55 million with this tracking. Unless it has a significant hold against this weekend’s “Cars 2″, this will be Carrey’s lowest grossing wide release since 2007′s “The Number 23″ grossed $35.2 million stateside.

So again I ask…why did this come out now and not the fall?

THE ART OF GETTING BY

Another poorly reviewed film saw a tepid and unenthusiastic greeting from audiences as Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts failed to spark “The Art Of Getting By”. Opening just short of a wide release at 610 locations, the film earned $679k and a paltry $1,113 per screen average. Fox Searchlight were hoping for a platform expansion in the coming weeks but the film was reviewed as a carbon copy indie romantic dramedy that has been made and gets made several times a year. Although budgets were not released by Fox Searchlight, this film may close its stateside run with a gross between $2-$4 million, unless expansion plans are retained.

THE TREE OF LIFE

It feels like its taken forever but “The Tree Of Life” finally earned its first million-dollar weekend, grossing $1.2 million in 114 locations. The increase was a strong 40.7% uptick and the film has retained its buzz amongst discerning filmgoers who are looking for something not loud and noisy. Fox Searchlight had rolled out the film incrementally each weekend in June and the final push will be made this weekend, although the expansion was not released at press time.

The only film coming soon that looks to pull more mainstream audiences away from checking this out would seem to be the Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts romantic comedy, “Larry Crowne” on July 1, which Universal is expecting to bring in a big opening as counterprogramming to “Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.” “The Tree Of Life” has a budget of $32 million and has banked $19 million worldwide thus far.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris” took its first hit this weekend, dipping 16.2% for a $4.9 million weekend. Slightly troubling is that film expanded further to more than 1,000 screens this past weekend and still stumbled with larger access. The film has made $21.4 million thus far in North America and nearly $40 million worldwide. With the film profitable, it will be interesting where this film lands in Allen’s box office history.

THE TRIP

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s darkly comedic road trip film “The Trip” had a healthy second weekend gain of 126.4% as it moved from 6 screens to 30. Drawing a pronounced $5,879 per screen average, the film has banked $290k in 10 days of small scale availability. The film is a sequel of sorts to the 2006 film “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story”, which earned $1.3 million with its run.

ADDITIONAL INDEPENDENT OPENINGS

Four documentaries opened to big audiences and conflicting critical reception.

“Jig”, a simply described look at the 40th Irish Dancing World Championships, logged $70k on 5 screens. The film also earned Screen Media Films its third biggest opening weekend ever. Critics were split on the film and it holds a 58% approval through Rotten Tomatoes presently.

“Buck”, a more marketed and better reviewed effort about a charismatic man, Buck Brennaman, who has turned his entire life over to raising, training, and educating about horses, scored a higher per screen average than “Jig”, but with one less screen finished with a starting sum of $67k.

“Page One: An Year Inside The New York Times” drew some Oscar buzz initially and saw critics approve the film to the tune of 79%. The film played one two New York locations and began its run with $28k.

“Battle For Brooklyn”, a searing documentary focused on the Brooklyn housing projects, kickstarted an $11k opening from just one screen and a 70% critical reception.

REMAINING TOP 12 FILMS

“Bridesmaids” continues to be the story amongst the holdovers in the upper reaches of the chart. Sliding 29% in its 6th weekend, the film has tallied more than $136 million thus far and shows no signs of sliding massively on its own merit. As theaters give its space away, the numbers will drop more dramatically, but this is easily one of the most noteworthy box office stories of 2011.

THE DISCOUNT HOUSE

“The Lincoln Lawyer” surged 135% with its placement in second run houses this past weekend. The film arrives on DVD July 12 and has earned more than $57 million in its box office run.

Disney films continued to perform strong when released in the second run houses as “African Cats” surged almost 250% from its placement there. Unfortunately, the per screen average for the film was second-worst among films playing at more than 50 locations.

THE WEEKEND BREAKDOWN

#1 Film – “Green Lantern”, earned $53.2 million in its debut weekend.

Last Year’s #1 Film at this time: “Toy Story 3″, opened with a $110.3 million debut weekend.

Biggest Per Screen Average: “Green Lantern”, $13,935 at 3,816 locations ($53.2 million cumulative)

Worst Per Screen Average (50+ Sites): “Prom”, $466 at 72 locations ($34k, $10.1 million cumulative)

Largest Increase (50+ Sites): “African Cats”, +249.2%

Steepest Decline (50+ Sites): “Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer”, “Ready”, -65.4%

Films Earning More Than $1m for the weekend: 12

Films Which Surpassed $100m: N/A

Films Which Surpassed $200m: N/A

Films Which Surpassed Reported Budget This Weekend (Domestic): “Super 8″