Box Office Report: March 23-25, 2012

Elizabeth Banks and Jennifer Lawrence in Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games"

Banking on broader appeal than the Twilight franchise and delivering the third-largest opening weekend of all time, Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games surpassed even the most optimistic of expectations, with a $152.5 million opening weekend. In a snap of one’s fingers, Jennifer Lawrence will forever be associated with Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson will likewise forever be linked to Peeta Mellark. Their anonymity is gone. Next November 2013, Liam Hemsworth will likely join them in being branded as Gale, with his role exponentially increased in the sequel Catching Fire, and the lives of these three young actors have been irrevocably changed forever. Most who saw the film were in favor of Gary Ross’ adaptation, with yours truly giving it, admittedly, one of the strongest reviews of the lot. Audiences were thrilled, the record books rewritten and Lionsgate’s all in gamble on the franchise rivals that of New Line’s investment in “Lord of the Rings” and Summit’s daring risk on “Twilight”. Everyone knew this franchise would be a success, but third-biggest-opening-of-all-time success? Lots of jaws are still falling open as numbers are continually crunched.

  • THE HUNGER GAMES BREAKDOWN
    • Lionsgate‘s Biggest Grossing Film Of All Time
    • Largest Spring Seasonal Opening Of All Time
    • Largest March Opening Of All Time
    • Second Fastest Film to Gross $100 million
    • Third Fastest Film to Gross $150 million
    • Biggest Grossing Film in the “Reality TV” genre
    • Largest Per Screen Average of the Weekend ($36,871 @ 4,137 screens)

Uh oh...

Taking the biggest punch in the face from the arrival of The Hunger Games was Disney’s John Carter, which plummeted 62.6% in its third weekend and has been an unmitigated disaster. While some may point to the worldwide gross of $234.5 million in three weekends and still hold to the belief that the film will be a success, domestically the film’s $62.4 million haul resulted in Disney publicly acknowledging that with production budget-plus-marketing, the film will force Disney to sustain a $200 million loss. This, coupled with the debacle of 2011′s Mars Needs Moms, which resulted in more than $150 million in losses for Disney and essentially bankrupted Robert Zemeckis’ production studio, ImageMovers Digital, means that heads will likely roll. However, who those heads happen to belong to remains to be seen.

Lead actor Taylor Kitsch was featured namelessly in the marketing, and his name and brand will not suffer from this film. Perhaps, Battleship will take care of that in May. Disney chairman Rick Ross was not in charge when these two Mars-related projects were greenlighted and his job remains safe. As many, many crooked red numbers are punched into Disney Profit and Loss statements and Balance Sheets, no one will be held to task for the failure of this film. Director Andrew Stanton’s first foray into live action will likely mean a return to animation or smaller scale features and since Disney financed the project on their own, they will have to answer to their investors. What an amazing mess the House of Mouse have found themselves in. Clearly, these two projects likely mean that Mars-related cinema scripts and ideas are all being shredded and shelved for the indefinite future.

UNDER THE RADAR…

Christian-themed films continue their popularity...

A famous and long standing film studio and distributor who has fallen on hard times in recent years, the Samuel Goldwyn Company saw a return to the Top 10 for the first time in years with the distribution of Five & Two Pictures’ October Baby. The controversial Christian film about an abortion survivor who goes on a spiritual journey of forgiveness saw a theatrical run in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee in late-October 2011 as a means of serving as a catalyst for those who supported ballot initiatives to define life beginning at conception (a/k/a the Personhood movement). The film grossed $199k in its three-week theatrical run and was then positioned for a re-release and distributed by the Samuel Goldwyn Company in 390 theaters as counterprogramming of sorts to The Hunger Games. That the film landed in the Top 10 was a stunner and its strong per screen average meant that while the film took in just $1.7 million, it is now profitable and could see a sustained life, similar to Courageous and Fireproof, both Christian-themed successes championing evangelical beliefs.

THE MILLION DOLLAR CLUB

11 films grossed more than $1 million this weekend, a decrease from 15 last weekend. The steepest decline amongst them was the aforementioned John Carter, which fell just one position in the rankings, but lost 62.6%.

Casa de mi Padre was the only film of the 11 to add screens. picking up 93 new sites, but the film failed to capitalize on an increased Hispanic-targeted marketing strategy and the film lost 48.3% of its opening weekend audience. 10-day totals for the film are just north of $4 million.

MILESTONES

  • Obviously The Hunger Games was the only film to surge past $100 million this weekend, although Journey 2 The Mysterious Island inched ever so much closer, finishing the weekend at $97.1 million. One last push for the film comes this weekend with Hutcherson starring in both films and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s return to WWE at WrestleMania 28. Warner Bros. have reportedly stepped up their ad buys for the coming weekend.
  • Word-of-mouth and rapturous response led The Raid: Redemption to a massive $221k start on just 14 screens. Some have called the Indonesian-made martial arts/action hybrid one of the finest action films to arrive in years and audiences looked for it. Sony Pictures Classics will widen the film in the coming weeks and hope to have a breakout hit on their hands.
  • While this news is a week old, something must be said for the IMAX film Sea Rex 3D: Journey To A Prehistoric World finally earning its $5 million production budget back 95 weeks after it first arrived in theaters. While 3D Entertainment have not made another film since this was released in 2010, and are credited with just two productions overall, IMAX hung with it and in a rapid-fire world of instant results and instant gratification, something makes me smile about the film finally crossing that threshold.

THE WEEKEND BREAKDOWN

#1 Movie Of The Weekend: “THE HUNGER GAMES” (Lionsgate), earned $152.5 million in its debut weekend.

Largest Per-Screen Average (50+ Sites): “THE HUNGER GAMES” (Lionsgate), $36,871 at 4,137 locations for a total gross of $152.5 million.

Smallest Per-Screen Average (50+ Sites): “EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE” (Warner Bros.), $402 at 50 locations for a total gross of $20k. Total gross stands at $31.8 million in 92 days time.

Largest % Increase (50+ Sites): “SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN” (CBS Films), Increased 52.6% with a growth of 62 locations to 124.

Largest % Decrease (50+ Sites): “SEEKING JUSTICE” (Anchor Bay), Decreased 87.2% with a reduction in theaters from 231 to 74.

Now Profitable – Domestic v. Production Budget:

  • “THE HUNGER GAMES” ($152.5 million/$78 million).
  • “OCTOBER BABY” ($1.8 million/$1 million)

TOP 10 MOST ATTENDED FILMS (3/23/12 – 3/25/12)
Dollar amounts are in millions…

RK

FILM

WKND

TOTAL

% +/-

WEEKS

1

The Hunger Games

152.5

152.5

NEW

1

2

21 Jump Street

20.5

70.2

-43.6

2

3

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

13.2

177.4

-42.1

4

4

John Carter

5.1

62.4

NEW

3

5

Act Of Valor

2.0

65.9

NEW

5

6

A Thousand Words

1.95

15.0

-41.9

3

7

Project X

1.93

51.7

-49.2

4

8

October Baby (Re-Release)

1.7

1.9

-32.9

4

9

Safe House

1.4

122.6

-60.0

7

10

Journey 2/Mysterious Island

1.36

97.2

-54.5

7

TOP 10 BEST PER SCREEN AVERAGE (3/23/12 – 3/25/12)
Regardless of screens or locations…
AVG – dollars are in thousands
TOTAL – dollars are in millions

RK

FILM

AVG

SCREEN

% +/-

TOTAL

1

The Hunger Games

36,871

4137

NEW

152.5

2

Gerhard Richter Painting

21,887

1

+61.7

.054

3

The Raid: Redemption

15,270

14

NEW

.214

4

Children Of Paradise (’12 Rel.)

6,842

1

+8.8

.032

5

Footnote

6,765

23

+131.9

.320

6

21 Jump Street

6,559

3121

-43.6

70.2

7

Jiro Dreams Of Sushi

6,487

27

+92.0

.382

8

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

5,666

124

+52.6

1.6

9

Sea Rex 3D…

4,911

12

+73.9

5.1

10

The Trouble With Bliss

4,618

1

NEW

.004