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:
With a year-long build and teasers regarding what secret lies within the film, “Super 8″ opened #1 at the box office with a less-than-estimated $35.5 million take. While critics had a largely favorable, if not somewhat tempered reaction to the film, audiences reportedly loved the film and reports show that the film could have strong word-of-mouth heading into its first full week and second weekend.
Estimates and expectations for the film were all over the board with “Super 8″. On the one hand, the start was a disappointment when compared to director J.J. Abrams’ two previous films, 2006′s “Mission: Impossible III” (opened at 47.7 million) and 2009′s “Star Trek” (opened at $75.2 million). “Super 8″ was not a franchise or relaunch and thus, served as Abrams’ first foray into wholly original content. And yet, even describing “Super 8″ has completely or wholly original will generate guffaws from those who claim the film is too much of a copy of co-producer Steven Spielberg’s own directorial and writing efforts of the past; namely, “E.T.”, “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind”, and “The Goonies”.
Confounding pundits further was the more muted viral efforts of Paramount in promoting the film. Previously, with Abrams’ TV creation “Lost” and the Abrams-produced feature “Cloverfield”, several curiously named websites appeared with clues, anecdotes, and labyrinthine games and paths for fans and those interested to follow, send around, discuss, and debate. Short of wondering if there was in fact a monster, or monsters, or what it or they looked like, the only real non-trailered promotion for the film came in the form of a short film, truncated in the finished product, which shows archived government footage of a scientist attempting to feed something in a darkened cage. Near the end of the footage, one giant arm of a creature swoops down and takes the scientist high into the air.
All of this to say that Paramount reportedly was very satisfied with the opening weekend and feel the film is positioned to withstand the oncoming “Green Lantern” and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” this weekend, and then will have a strong foothold in the market to hold off an expected huge opening for Pixar’s “Cars 2″. Then, with the arrival of “Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon” on Wednesday, June 29, Paramount feels that both “Transformers” and “Super 8″ will have cemented themselves as huge hits with legs to carry the studio and audiences through to July 22, when “Captain America” arrives.
A children’s adaptation of a popular book series whimpers into theaters, Woody Allen makes history again, and huge attendance continued for “The Tree Of Life”. Plus, a handful of indies look to make their mark. All of this and the Weekend Breakdown after the cut!
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
This was the big weekend for Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris” to prove it had wide-reaching appeal as Sony Pictures Classics expanded the film from 147 sites to 944 locations and the results were good, even historic on the one hand, and yet exhibited a slight bit of cock-eyed disappointment.
Everything has been fantastique thus far with the rollout and enthusiastic review of Allen’s latest feature. Some have recently discussed it being in the conversation for a Best Picture nomination and the per screen averages each weekend have been the best of Allen’s career. And so, with the expansion, a per screen average of approximately $6,200 may place it third when looking at the best wide-screen release averages of the weekend. But when compared with what the film had been pulling in, the dropoff was much steeper than Sony expected or wanted.
“Midnight In Paris” grossed $5.8 million and has raised its total to just under $14 million. Despite the disappointment, “…Paris” could be the film that becomes the alternative for older and more discerning audiences this summer and could see small declines from week-to-week. Time will tell how big this becomes for Allen commercially, but the one bit of good and historic news for the legendary and iconic director…
The film’s $5.8 million weekend is Allen’s largest grossing weekend of his entire career (not including the animated feature, “Antz”, which featured Allen’s voice of a main character).
JUDY MOODY AND THE NOT BUMMER SUMMER
It took a long time to bring this adaptation to the big screen but Relativity Media delivered a film lambasted by critics and loved by audiences; or at least those who bothered to see it. Ringing the till for slightly over $6.0 million, “Judy Moody…” was a shoulder shrug of a debut for the studio. Produced by the Oscar-nominated producers of “Precious: Based On The Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire” (yeah, really…), “Judy Moody” was shot for a reported budget of $20, which could allow this to become profitable in its theatrical run. Tracking and history would have the film land at or near that figure. The CinemaScore rating for the film was overall a “B+”, while attendees under the age of 12 gave it an “A-”. While we can debate how reliable exit polling of children under the age of 12 could ever hope to be, the film will probably come out as a modest hit for all involved.
THE TREE OF LIFE
With its final rollout expected over the last two weeks of June, Terrence Malick’s “The Tree Of Life” continues to draw audiences and those curious about what all of this buzz is about. Landing just outside the Top 10 and still looking for its first weekend of exceeding $1 million in box office receipts, Malick’s epic drama delivered a sturdy 33.8% increase moving from 20 screens to 47. “Tree” banked $827k this weekend and raised its gross to $2.5 million overall.
Positioning itself as a potential third breakout amongst the Parises and Trees of this summer movie season, Mike Mills’ “Beginners” expanded to 19 locations (from 5 in its opening weekend) and grew 72%, delivering a strong $12,793 per screen average. Although the film dipped below 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, sitting at 87%, tracking indicates that the film is well received by those who attend and could be a breakout success for Focus Features. Oscar buzz only seems to grow around Christopher Plummer’s supporting turn and talk of a screenplay nomination for Mike Mills caught fire this week as well. This could be the start of something long and sustained for Mills and his autobiographical work.
A sequel of sorts to the cult favorite “Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story”, “The Trip” stars British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon reprising their caricatured portrayals of themselves from the previous film. This film, abridged from a 6-part BBC television series, is presented in a documentary style and in its televised form won Steve Coogan a BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance. IFC distributed the film which grossed an impressive $78k on only 6 screens. For comparisons, “Tristram Shandy” opened on 3 screens, earning $60k in 2005.
ADDITIONAL INDEPENDENT OPENINGS
First released in Europe in 2008, “Bride Flight” documents three women on board a KLM flight competing in what was documented as The Last Great Air Race”. Apparently, the three women are attempting to fly to New Zealand to meet their fiances, when all of them are intermittently smitten by a handsome stranger. Reportedly one of the most expensive Dutch films of all time, the film opened in America to the tune of a tepid $54k at 18 locations for Music Box Films.
Music Box also delivered a gritty Congolese crime drama, “Viva Riva!”, to 3 sites and a $10k gross. “Viva Riva!” which won 6 awards, including Best Picture, at the 7th annual African Movie Awards this past February.
The much buzzed about Norwegian film, “The Troll Hunter”, a faux-documentary about college students looking to make a film about a bear poacher and finding something much more sinister, opened on one lone screen and grossed approximately $5,600. The film drew mainstream attention this past week when director Chris Columbus announced that he would be optioning the film for an American remake by his production company, 1492.
REMAINING TOP 12 FILMS
Both “The Hangover Part II” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” joined “Fast Five” as the only films to bank more than $200 million domestically this year. “The Hangover Part II” sits as the year’s biggest grossing effort, with a total haul of $215.7 million after its weekend gross of $17.7 million.
“Kung Fu Panda 2″ became the more favorable family option for those either not interested in “Judy Moody” or concerned about the intensity of “Super 8″. Sliding just 30.7%, the film raised its 18 day total to a respectable $126.8 million. Far off the pace of the first film domestically, but the film has grossed a strong $332 million worldwide.
“Bridesmaids” remains the most impressive of the Top 10 holdovers, sliding a modest 16.4% in its 5th weekend, earning $10.1 million, and overall bringing home $123.8 million.
THE DISCOUNT HOUSE
“Soul Surfer” surged 44.8% with its placement in second run houses this past weekend. The film arrives on DVD August 2 and has earned more than $42 million in its box office run.
Two films that were ignored and panned when they opened 7 weeks ago, “Prom” and “Hoodwinked Too!” had huge discount business comparatively. “Prom” saw attendance rise 132% and kick its overall gross to more than $10 million in doing so. “Hoodwinked Too!”, still a big money loser for The Weinstein Company, benefitted the most from its discount placement, gaining 293% from last weekend. Budgeted at $30 million, the film has still grossed a mere $9.7 million overall.
THE WEEKEND BREAKDOWN
#1 Film – “Super 8″, earned $35.5 million in its debut weekend.
Last Year’s #1 Film at this time: “The Karate Kid”, opened with a $55.7 million debut weekend.
Biggest Per Screen Average: “The Tree Of Life”, $17,596 at 47 locations ($2.4 million cumulative)
Worst Per Screen Average (50+ Sites): “Mars Needs Moms”, $424 at 53 locations ($22k, $21.3 million cumulative)
Largest Increase (50+ Sites): “Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil”, +293.1%
Steepest Decline (50+ Sites): “Priest”, -69.3%
Films Earning More Than $1m for the weekend: 10
Films Which Surpassed $100m: N/A
Films Which Surpassed $200m: “The Hangover Part II”, “Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”
Films Which Surpassed Reported Budget This Weekend (Domestic): N/A