Box Office Report: October 7-9, 2011

Hugh Jackman stars in "Real Steel" (Buena Vista)

Reported by kind permission from AwardsCircuit.com.

As anticipated, the long-awaited science-fiction/action/family/drama “Real Steel” took the championship in the weekend box office tournament, easily outpacing the star-studded “The Ides Of March” in claiming the top spot. A slew of other smaller releases flooded the arthouses and a couple of high profile independent films, a milestone 100th movie for Jackie Chan and the car crash of a horror film, “The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence”, were met with tepid to mediocre attendance.

Budgeted for $110 million (though many feel that number is vastly underreported), “Real Steel” shocked no one by running away with the domestic crown, with $27.3 million banked for its opening weekend. Starring Hugh Jackman, in a film executive produced by Steven Spielberg amongst others, “Real Steel” was mocked as the Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots Movie, a fair depiction for a film set in a world in the not-to-distant future where boxing, MMA, and professional wrestling has given way to remote-controlled robots waging battle in the esteemed WRB – The World Boxing League. Critics were muted and middle-of-the-road on the film, some championed the family dynamic of a father/son story which lies at the heart of the film. Others made comparable comparisons to “Real Steel” as a “Science-Fiction Rocky”, citing its underdog trying to overcome the odds fighting story. Others, including yours truly, found it incomprehensible and an outright mess. Either way, tracking indicated that opening night audiences were on board, CinemaScore reported an “A” grade, and word-of-mouth was strong leading into Saturday.

The weekend's #1 movie with earnings of $27.3 million...

Hauling in $27.3 million over the weekend is a fine sum for most films and with DreamWorks and Buena Vista (Disney) handling the tag team of promotion (DW) and distribution (BV), reps were pleased with the figures. The belief is that “Real Steel” will be a huge success overseas and in international markets, signs point to that already being the case. Big openings in Russia, Mexico, and Jackman’s native Australia pushed “Real Steel” well on its way to making a profit, but domestically, tracking shows the film on pace to earn $80-$85 million, a complete disappointment no matter how one assesses the overall performance. “Real Steel” will likely hold well during the week and then must find a foothold in a landscape featuring a young adult-focused remake (“Footloose”), a more-adult skewing PG-rated comedy featuring Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson (“The Big Year”), and the 17-34 horror crowd, who will perhaps gravitate towards “The Thing”.  Point being, “Real Steel” may land in the Top 3 or 4 next weekend and if it can hold up to 60% of its opening weekend audience buying in for a second round, “Real Steel” may see its prospects improve in North America after all.

"The Ides Of March" (#2, $10.4 million) (Columbia Pictures)

THE IDES OF MARCH

Perking some modicum of interest was the George Clooney-directed political drama/thriller, “The Ides Of March”, which kicked off its campaign with a moneybomb of $10.5 million for its opening weekend. This take pleased Sony/Columbia execs just fine as the film tried to position itself as a buzzworthy Oscar player. As is par for the course with George Clooney’s Oscar-nominated prestige 2005 film, “Good Night and Good Luck”, he brought the film to the screen with a relatively tiny production budget. “The Ides Of March” cost just $12.5 million and nearly earned that in its first 3 days. Profitability will be no problem for the star-studded feature.

Featuring Ryan Gosling’s third high-profile film in the last 90 days, “The Ides Of March” also featured Oscar winners Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, and Clooney himself in a supporting role as Democratic-presidential hopeful Mike Morris, an Obama-esque candidate looking to button up his party’s presidential nomination in a volatile political primary season. Critics were largely supportive of the film, with a TomatoMeter landing in the mid-80% range, and I mostly concurred with that sentiment.

As a director, “Ides” falls a bit behind Clooney’s 1920’s-era football comedy “Leatherheads”, which opened with $12.7 million in April 2008. And it does represent a notable dip in Clooney-as-an-actor pictures – at least for those films which saw a wide release in their opening weekend. You have to travel all the way back to 1996’s “From Dusk Till Dawn” to find a film which opened with such a low sum for the A-list star, although many of his films start with the $12-$15 million range.

Laurence R. Harvey - "The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence" (IFC Films)

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II: FULL SEQUENCE

Let’s just get this out of the way. Banned in Britain, then allowed in Britain with no cuts. Receiving a Zero Star review from Roger Ebert (which the first film in the “franchise” did as well), “The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence” may or may not have done well, depending on your perspective. IFC Films opened the film at 18 locations and restricted most of the screenings to only midnight showings. The film opened with a per screen average of $2,748 and a total weekend take of $49,456.

The 2010 “Human Centipede” banked $182k domestic and $252k worldwide and the start for this film may or may not be impressive because I honestly have no frame of reference for how an only-shown-at-midnight-exhibition typically performs. Reports are that IFC Films are pleased with the response (come on now…) and will be expanding the film to more cities. The movie, filled with scenes involving 11 people defecating into human being’s mouths, the slashing open of buttocks, the stapling of faces and lips onto those buttocks, the birth and disgusting death of a newborn, depraved sexual abuse and rape scenes all add up to a film better reviewed than the following 2011 releases:

1911, Dream House, Abduction, Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star, Zookeeper. Priest, Hoodwinked Too, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer, I Don’t Know How She Does It, Shark Night, and Spy Kids: All The Time In The World.

So, you know, there’s that…

"1911" (Variance Films)

1911

I’m not sure what the marketing strategies were for Variance Films and “1911”, but dropping a few banner ads around and a couple of notes to the press that the film was Jackie Chan’s 100th of his career seemed to be all the company could or would muster. As a result, the movie tanked with audiences and critics alike, generating a 9% TomatoMeter and a tepid $1,692 per screen average in 33 theaters for a total gross of $55,850.

A highly personal project for Chan, who serves as star, co-producer, and director, the film also features his son Jaycee Chan in a featured role. The film’s story of a political and social uprising at the turn of 20th Century China was cited as confusing, feeble, laborious and convoluted beyond words by many critics. Chan shot the film for a $30 million budget, and while box office figures were not readily available from its opening in China, audiences in Hong Kong responded quite poorly to the film and many now site the film was a potent misfire.

THE WAY

A modest start for Emilio Estevez’s latest film, “The Way” opened to $110k earned at 33 sites. Estevez’s film stars his father, Martin Sheen, in the leading role as a man who takes a Christian pilgrimage, known as The Way Of St. James in Spain. Following a wave of inspirational films, “The Way” generated overall nice reviews from critics.

Some cited the opening as a failure and in some respects that is accurate.  When compared to last weekend’s stunning debut for “Courageous”, for example, “The Way” looks flat out ignored.  “The Way” has a tentative DVD release date in February 2012.

"50/50" held strong in a second weekend (Summit Entertainment)

ELSEWHERE…

Within the Top 10, most holdovers performed strong, including “50/50″, which held its 5th place position and dropped just 34.6%. Obviously, I am a huge fan of the film and was personally pleased that the film held its ground. While much of the Oscar talk surrounding the Will Reiser screenplay and Joseph Gordon-Levitt has fallen away, the film is still generating nice word-of-mouth reaction and people may be more and more inclined to give it a chance, despite its troubling subject matter.

“Moneyball” had the third-best retention within the Top 10, heightened not only by Oscar buzz and strong reviews, but drawing a causal interest with the Major League Baseball playoffs in full swing. Declining just 38%, Bennett Miller’s film has a nice 17-day total of $49.2 million and has earned its production budget of $50 million back by the time you read this.

“Dolphin Tale” and “Courageous” held good over the weekend.  The two inspirational films, the former more implied with its faith-based themes than the latter, declined 34.4% and 46.6% respectively.  “Dolphin Tale” was, and may remain, the film of choice for families this coming weekend, while “Courageous” may struggle to match its lofty tracking from a stellar first weekend.  “Dolphin Tale” has a 17-day total of $49.0 million, while the $2-million budgeted “Courageous” has banked $16.2 million in 10 days.

"Restless" earned unique distinction this weekend (Sony Pictures Classics)

Sony Pictures Classics expanded Gus Van Sant’s “Restless” and pulled the rare double-distinction of having the largest increase in business for a film playing at more than 50 locations and also having the lowest per screen average for any film playing at more than 50 locations. I cannot recall the last time I have seen this occur, but audiences just do not seem at all interested in Van Sant’s latest romantic drama starring Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hooper.

We touched on them last weekend, but tiny budgeted horror thrillers, “Filth To Ashes, Flesh To Dust” and “Munger Road” built on noteworthy debuts and “Munger Road” moved from a one-theater weekend premiere in Illinois to 9 sites and saw business improve 41.2%. “Filth To Ashes…”, which earned almost 5-times its $18k production budget in its opening weekend, saw business dip 40.2%. However, the film has grossed $156k, scoring Nocturnal Pictures a 771% return-on-investment already!

“Weekend”, the much buzzed about romantic story about two men whose one-night stand leads to perhaps finding their respective Mr. Right’s climbed into the Top 40 Most Attended Film list (see below) even with a slight 1.9% increase in attendance. The 24 day total for the film is $175k on a film shot on an undisclosed shoestring budget.

THE MILLION DOLLAR CLUB

14 films grossed more than $1 million this weekend, an increase from 12 films last weekend. The steepest decline amongst them was “The Lion King 3D”, which Disney kept in theaters in a bid to push the film even higher in the all-time box office rankings. By the middle of the week, “Lion King” will have moved into 9th place all-time in total box office gross, despite shedding 56.7% this weekend. As most everyone is now aware, “The Lion King 3D” was released on DVD, Blu-Ray, and 3D Blu-Ray combo packs this past Tuesday.

MILESTONES

“The Smurfs” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″ moved into second-run distribution and saw grosses increase. “The Smurfs” saw tickets ramp up a healthy 52.4% and raise its total domestic gross to $139.4 million thus far. Worldwide, the film has grossed a staggering $532.8 million. Just announced, “The Smurfs” arrive on home video December 2, 2011.

For Mr. Potter, home video streets November 11, 2011 for the biggest grossing film of 2011 thus far, and likely of the year. “Deathly Hallows Part 2″ saw receipts tick up 48.5% and push domestic totals to just under $380 million. Worldwide, Part 2 has banked $1.327 billion to add to Part 1’s worldwide gross of $955 million.

THE WEEKEND BREAKDOWN

#1 Movie Of The Weekend: “REAL STEEL” (Buena Vista), earned $27.3 million in its debut weekend.

Largest Per-Screen Average (50+ Sites): “REAL STEEL” (Buena Vista), $7,942 at 3,440 locations for a total gross of $27.3 million.

Smallest Per-Screen Average (50+ Sites): “RESTLESS” (Sony Pictures Classics), $266 at 126 locations for a weekend take of $33k. Total gross stands at $118k in 24 days time.

Largest % Increase (50+ Sites): “RESTLESS” (Sony Pictures Classics), Increased 59.7% with an increase in theaters from 43 theaters to 126.

Largest % Decrease (50+ Sites): “BAD TEACHER” (Sony Pictures), Decreased 93.1% with a reduction in theaters from 354 to 64.

Now Profitable – Domestic v. Production Budget: N/A

TOP 40 MOST ATTENDED FILMS (10/7/11 – 10/9/11)
Dollar figures are listed in millions.

RK

FILM

WKND

TOTAL

% +/-

DAYS

1

Real Steel

27.3

27.3

NEW

3

2

The Ides Of March

10.5

10.5

NEW

3

3

Dolphin Tale

9.1

49.0

-34.4

17

4

Moneyball

7.5

49.2

-38.0

17

5

50/50

5.7

17.5

-34.6

10

6

Courageous

4.9

16.2

.46.6

10

7

The Lion King 3D

4.6

86.0 / 414.6

-56.7

24 / 326

8

Dream House

4.5

14.5

-44.9

10

9

What’s Your Number?

3.1

10.4

-42.3

10

10

Contagion

2.9

69.0

-40.0

31

11

Abduction

2.89

23.4

-48.4

17

12

Killer Elite

2.2

21.6

-55.2

17

13

The Help

1.9

162.7

-35.5

61

14

Drive

1.8

30.1

-44.0

24

15

The Smurfs

.512

139.4

+52.4

73

16

Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain

.468

6.9

-36.4

31

17

Harry Potter/Hallows Part 2

.406

379.8

+48.5

87

18

Captain America: First Avenger

.312

175.8

-28.5

80

19

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

.296

174.9

-45.3

66

20

Cars 2

.285

190.5

-25.5

108

21

The Debt

.249

30.6

-60.4

38

22

Colombiana

.228

36.2

-44.1

45

23

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

.202

83.1

-49.2

73

24

Warrior

.171

13.4

-62.9

31

25

Rascals

.168

.168

NEW

3

26

Spy Kids: All Time In World

.159

37.8

-55.8

52

27

Zookeeper

.1475

80.1

-30.2

94

28

Cowboys & Aliens

.1472

99.8

-21.1

73

29

Midnight In Paris

.131

54.9

-27.5

143

30

The Guard

.119

4.6

-38.4

73

31

Machine Gun Preacher

.113

.291

+32.8

17

32

The Way

.110

.110

NEW

3

33

Born To Be Wild IMAX

.104

13.3

-7.0

185

34

Horrible Bosses

.101

117.4

-41.2

94

35

I Don’t Know How She Does It

.100

9.5

-75.1

24

36

Straw Dogs

.88

10.3

-79.5

24

37

Transformers: Dark Of Moon

.83

358.4

-58.7

103

38

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

.70

23.8

-45.6

45

39

Shark Night 3D

.66

18.6

-53.2

38

40

Weekend

.62

.175

+27.2

17

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