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 landing the weakest opening attendance-wise in the “X-Men” film series to date, “X-Men: First Class” ruled the top of the box office weekend with an opening weekend tallied at $55.1 million. While this does exceed the opening of the first film in the franchise speaking strictly in a dollars-and-cents capacity (2000’s “X-Men” started with $54.5 million), simple inflation would tell you that a lot more people saw that film in its first 3 days then this one. Was it the absence of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine (save a hilarious and winning cameo by Jackman), the fact that James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, and a 2011 Kevin Bacon are not bankable box office commodities, or simply attrition with moviegoers on this series?
Eyes turned to the success that another fifth film in a series experienced when “Fast Five” conjured up $568 million worldwide. Fox was optimistic that they would deliver a healthier number than they did, hoping in the mid $60-low $70 million range. Executives were saying all the right things regarding the opening, indicating that this “X-Men” is a starting over or relaunch of a series and pointed to the opening of “Batman Begins” ($54.5 million) as more of a reasonable comparison. Regardless, the film may have opened to strong reviews, but will struggle to make back its $160 production budget on the domestic side of the ledger, especially with the eagerly anticipated “Super 8″ looming in a few short days.
“X-Men” proved to be the only major opening of the weekend, but how did other independent films fare? Did Woody Allen deliver a third impressive return with “Midnight In Paris”? How did Terrence Malick’s “Tree Of Life” expand? Details and the Top 40 after the cut!
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Increasing to 147 screens, “Midnight In Paris” continued to amaze by ramping up business by nearly 44% and grossing $2.8 million and an impressive $18,843 per screen average. With a huge summer blockbuster on the way this coming weekend, Super 8″, and a family film, “Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer!” starting on 2,000 screens, Sony Pictures Classics is going wide for “Midnight In Paris”, placing it more than 750 screens this coming weekend. This is the test to see if Allen’s latest can play well with middle America and smaller cities. Signs point to yes, but it will be interesting to see if the buzz the film has built can generate it a robust return with more exposure.
THE TREE OF LIFE
Looking past Allen’s success, one must account for the strong and impressive second weekend for Terrence Malick’s “The Tree Of Life”. Moving from 4 locations to 20, the film nearly doubled “Paris'” per screen average to almost $31,000 a showing, sliding it into 13th place with a $618k weekend. Total gross is up and over $1.25 million in 10 days and the rollout continues with more cities added next weekend.
Oscar buzz has started to swirl around Christopher Plummer’s performance in this heartfelt indie co-starring Ewan MacGregor as a man who not only learns that his 80-year old father has terminal cancer but is also gay. Director Mike Mills’ highly personal adaptation of his own true story, and his first full length theatrical release since 2005’s “Thumbsucker”, started with an impressive $27,039 per screen average at 5 locations. Shot for a mere $3.2 million, Focus will slowly rollout “Beginners” and could end up with a nice arthouse hit on their hands if the film catches more and more eyes.
The Weinstein Company also had a nice opening with British comedy, “Submarine”, which had a healthy $10k+ per screen average on a small 4 location breakout. The coming-of-age tale of a 15-year old wishing to lose his virginity while making sure his mother remains single won over critics with a Tomatometer on the mid-90s.
ADDITIONAL INDEPENDENT OPENINGS
Audiences were less than taken by a host of other small indie openings. Jean-Luc Godard’s experimental “Film Socialsme” began with a decent $4,600+ opening in its one showing in New York City.
The drama “Beautiful Boy” starring Maria Bello and Michael Sheen as divorcing parents whose only child, an 18-year old, pulls a gun on fellow students at his high school, saw a demure $16,162 opening on 4 screens. Anchor Bay had made a pretty strong effort in advertising the film in big markets, so those numbers had to be disappointing.
REMAINING TOP 12 FILMS
After its huge start, “The Hangover Part II” hemorrhaged a worse than expected 63.5% in its second weekend to finish with $31.4 million for the weekend. The film still has banked nearly $200 million domestic in 11 days, and word came that “Part III” was indeed on its way.
All other films saw their attendance cut by 50% or more, with one lone exception…
“Bridesmaids” lost a little more than a quarter of its previous weekend audience, finishing with $12.0 million and $107.2 million overall.
THE DISCOUNT HOUSE
“Insidious” was the only noteworthy addition to the second run circuit and saw a modest 10% increase in its weekend haul. The film arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray July 12, 2011.
THE WEEKEND BREAKDOWN
#1 Film – “X-Men: First Class”, earned $55.1 million in its debut weekend.
Last Year’s #1 Film at this time: “Shrek Forever After”, held for a second weekend with $57.1 million
Biggest Per Screen Average: “The Tree Of Life”, $30,915 at 20 locations ($1.25 million cumulative)
Worst Per Screen Average (50+ Sites): “Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil”, $382 at 80 locations ($31k, $9.5 million cumulative)
Largest Increase (50+ Sites): “The Tree Of Life”, +65.8%
Steepest Decline (50+ Sites): “Priest”, -78.8%
Films Earning More Than $1m for the weekend: 8
Films Which Surpassed $100m: “Kung Fu Panda 2″, “Bridesmaids”
Films Which Surpassed Reported Budget This Weekend (Domestic): N/A