(For all the newcomers here, this is a continuation of my posts at the old thread. What you'll get here is far more accurate about how good grosses are and better at predicting their impact than the studio-influenced reporting by the trade papers, general media and other blogs - already this week there is an example of this, and likely the cutting and pasting from other sources done here will also include wrong analysis).
New releases -
First off, though it has nothing to do with the Oscars, hardly anyone noticed that Jim Sheridan - the director of My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, The Boxer and In America, not only had a film released this week - Dream House - but it wasn't even screened for the press! Totally humiliating for him.
Take Shelter (Sony Classics)
Variety is already out with their article describing this film's opening grosses - $56,000 in 3 NY/LA theatres, $18.7 PSA - as strong. No, they're not. They are very mediocre, and don't bode well for the film's future.
At this point of the year, and with the reviews this film got (90 on Metacritic, near the very top of the year), any PSA under $30,000 should be considered disappointing. This had virtually no competition; it had good sized ads; significant separate articles touting Michael Shannon, and yet something around 5,000 people bothered to see it.
Just for compaison - just about a year ago, Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger opened in NY/LA, had a PSA of $26,000, was called strong - and it went on to a poor $3.2 million national gross, which was around what I predicted based on the opening.
From what I hear, Shannon should be a strong best actor nominee contender. And based on his familiarity - his previous nomination, currently on Boardwalk Empire, and his performance here - he could still factor with SAG (Sony Classics has a poor track record with the GGs). But this film needed a better opening his boost his chances.
Once again, the idea of waiting until October or later to release a film that premiered at Sundance in January is risky. It works sometimes (Precious, to a lesser extent Blue Valentine). But more often it is too late, as seems to be the case here.
The other significant openings - Kenneth Longeran's long delayed Margaret (his first film since You Can Count on Me), Sarah Palin - You Betcha! and Nat'l Geographic's Benda Bilili - were all total disasters.
Moneyball - it fell only 36%, which is encouraging. However, its 2nd week falloff is a bit bigger than The Social Network's 2nd FSS last year, and of course it started from a lower gross. This looks like it will end up around $75 million or so, which should, based on its older male demographic appeal, be enough to keep it relevant through Oscar season.
Among limited specialized expansions, My Afternooons With Margueritte and Machine Gun Preacher continue to be weak. Weekend, a British gay-relationship film, which was decent in its NY exclusive, added 5 more screens, for a very ordinary 8000 PSA (I believe it is also VOD already). IFC also expanded Black Power Tapes Mix to ll from 5 theatres, for a minor 4000 PSA.
Thanks LKM. I was going to continue with it even if it meant just emailing it to some people from GD and other blogs, but it seemed with all the effort involved over the last few years this was the right place for it, particularly as we head into awards season.
This year is the grimmest ever for specialized. My fear is that all but a small handful of films are going to underperform in their openings over the next few months, and this will continue the long-term trend toward fewer Oscar-quality film being made or at least made for theatrical distribution.
I can't find any reports on Take Shelter's cost (either its initial budget or what Sony Classics paid to buy it). But generally speaking, based on precedents, and including the money involved in marketing a film like this and any Oscar campaign, for both parties, it is likely a domestic theatrical gross of way above $5 million - probably closer to $10 - will be needed as part of the overall revenues to make this successful.
Another comparison - Get Low opened to a $22,000 PSA and ended up over $9 million, without a Duvall Oscar nomination. If Take Shelter takes a similar trajectory, it would get up to $8 million or so, likely adequate. Get Low though had three advantages Take Shelter doesn't - three better known actors, much less competition as is expanded (it was a summer release), and more of a cross-country appeal. Its reviews, though favorable, weren't as good as Take Shelter's. It did survive a long-wait - it premiered at Toronto 09, wasn't released for nearly a year.
So the jury is certainly not in yet on Take Shelter - perhaps initial grosses will stabilize and it will open better elsewhere. But so far, no way can these grosses be called strong. They simply aren't.
Scott, wonder what you thoughts are on Shame. I think it will end up being one of the finest if not best film of the year but doesn't have a release date yet. I think once it's reviewed and seen, reviews and word of mouth wil make it a must see for urban types. If it's released too late in the year (say mid or later December) wonder if that could reduce its Oscar chances as the likely nominee list becomes crowded with higher profile films already released in the fall.
Also, in light of Courageous' $8 million weekend versus $2 million production budget, makes me wonder if Shame should be similarly marketed to the evangelicals, as a cautionery tale of sex in the city and poor parenting.
Here I am at the Oscars wearing a delicate Armani Prive!
Weekend Report: 'Dolphin Tale' Leaps Into Lead by Ray Subers Dolphin Tale.
October 2, 2011
On strong word-of-mouth, Dolphin Tale managed to leap over Moneyball and The Lion King (in 3D) to take first place on its second weekend in theaters. Estimates had faith-based movie Courageous trailing 50/50, though it ultimately leveraged a stronger Sunday to come out ahead when actuals reported. Dream House disappointed in its debut, while What's Your Number? tallied one of the worst numbers for a super-saturated (3,000+ theaters) release ever.
Dolphin Tale eased just 27 percent to $13.9 million, which brought its 10-day total to a solid $37.2 million. It had a better hold than Soul Surfer and was about even with last Fall's Secretariat, albeit with a much higher total than either of those movies at the same point. Still, it couldn't hold a candle to The Blind Side (which actually improved in its second frame), though that was a holiday weekend so it isn't an apples-to-apples comparison.
Moneyball dipped 38 percent to $12 million. That's steeper than The Social Network's 31 percent decline, though it's still very solid in its own right. The Brad Pitt baseball drama has scored $38 million through 10 days in theaters.
After ruling the charts for the past two weeks, The Lion King's 3D re-release fell 52 percent to $10.6 million and had to settle for third place. That week-over-week decline is a fairly steep, though it's not entirely unexpected considering the Blu-ray hits stores on Tuesday and most advertisements pegged the re-release as a two-weeks-only affair. The movie's total has now reached $79.2 million, which brings The Lion King's overall total to $407.7 million. On Saturday, it passed Spider-Man to move in to the Top 10 all-time, and it should be able to climb a few more spots before the end of its run. Thanks in part to The Lion King's impressive performance, Walt Disney Pictures passed the $1 billion mark on Saturday, making it the sixth straight year that the studio reached this milestone.
Sherwood Pictures' Courageous was the only one of the new releases to improve from estimates to actuals, and it passed 50/50 in the process to take fourth place. The movie debuted to $9.1 million from just 1,161 theaters for a strong per-theater average of $7,806. That's up from the studio's last movie Fireproof ($6.8 million), though the average was off just a bit. The opening ranks fifth all-time for a Christian movie, and only trails The Passion of the Christ and the three Narnia movies. Courageous scored a rare "A+" CinemaScore, and the audience was 53 percent female and 77 percent over the age of 25.
Made outside of Hollywood without any major stars, Courageous managed to fly under most radars (including my own) until very recently. It's unfair to ignore the vast majority of church-going Americans for whom typical Hollywood fare isn't of great interest, though, and Sherwood Pictures has impressively found a way to mobilize this subset of the population. It will be interesting to see if Courageous can hold as well as Fireproof did when it went on to earn $33.46 million, or nearly five times its opening weekend, in 2008.
50/50 opened to $8.6 million from 2,458 theaters, which is the lowest debut ever for a Seth Rogen movie. Considering the grim subject matter, though, that's not an entirely awful start, and an "A-" CinemaScore should translate in to decent word-of-mouth in coming weeks. The audience was 54 percent female and 57 percent under 30 years old.
50/50 had a hot young cast, and strong reviews and word-of-mouth, but all of that only goes so far. The marketing was ultimately too lukewarm: by attempting to off-set the cancer plotline and dreary gray palette with random jokes and the uplifting tagline "Beat the Odds," the movie's story and characters were diluted and instead it came off as a somewhat sad buddy comedy. It could hang on well moving foward, though it will be tough to match star Joseph Gordon-Levitt's 2009 hit (500) Days of Summer ($32.4 million).
Dream House scared up a meek $8.1 million. That's just a fraction of haunted house movies like The Skeleton Key ($16.1 million) and The Amityville Horror ($23.5 million), and it's even off a bit from Dark Water ($9.9 million). The movie received a "B" CinemaScore and the audience was 54 percent female and 62 percent under the age of 25. Hispanics were the largest ethnic group in attendance at 38 percent, which tends to be the case with supernatural thrillers.
The combined star wattage of Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts couldn't save Dream House from a vague marketing effort that failed to firmly place the movie in a genre (it seemed to fluctuate between supernatural and psychological thriller) or generate any kind of scares. It doesn't help that it wasn't screened for critics and ultimately wound up with a terrible 5 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Between this and July's Cowboys & Aliens, it's starting to appear like Craig isn't much of a draw outside of the James Bond franchise.
Abduction fell 49 percent to $5.6 million for a total of $19.1 million. Killer Elite dipped 47 percent to $4.9 million and it's total reached $17.5 million.
What's Your Number? wound up in eighth place with a terrible $5.4 million. That's the fifth-worst debut ever for a movie in more than 3,000 theaters, and is just over one-third of the opening of star Anna Faris's The House Bunny ($14.5 million). The movie received a decent "B" CinemaScore, and the audience was 63 percent female and 63 percent over the age of 25.
A brief mea culpa: I gambled by predicting over $14 million for What's Your Number? this weekend and clearly got burned. Honestly, though, it was hard to look at any of the relevant metrics and forecast an opening below $10 million, and there were likely some odd intangibles in play here. Perhaps it's that star Anna Faris has cooled off a bit in the three years since The House Bunny. Or maybe the title's bluntness about sex turned some viewers off. Or it could be that What's Your Number? just looked like an uninspiring retread following a Summer chock-full of successful female-oriented movies like Bridesmaids and Bad Teacher. As is often the case, all of these factors probably added up in one way or another to generate one of the worst wide release debuts in quite some time.
Star power will be in no short supply at the weekend box office, with Hugh Jackman headlining DreamWorks' robot-boxing movie, "Real Steel," and Ryan Gosling starring in a political drama written by, directed by, and co-starring George Clooney.
The art houses, meanwhile, will be filled up with new small films: among them, Weinstein's "Dirty Girl" starring Milla Jovovich and William H. Macy, and PG-13 adventure-comedy "The Way," which was written and directed by Emilio Estevez, and co-stars his brother, the indomitable Charlie Sheen.
Oh, and a sequel to 2010's very sick "Human Centipede" will debut in 18 theaters.
It's widely assumed that "Real Steel" will lead the box office this weekend -- the question is, can DreamWorks and its new distribution partner, Disney, open the movie well enough to offset a production budget of $110 million?
Estimates outside the studios -- those on the high side -- predict that the PG-13-rated film will open to around $30 million. Disney's own projections come in at around $23 million - $25 million.
Given the cost, pre-release tracking is just OK. The strongest traction for the film is among young males, 76 percent of which know about the film, according to the latest surveys from research firm NRG. Among this group, a solid 54 percent report "definite interest" in "Real Steel," while a very good 21 percent call it their "first choice."
Unfortunately, the data among female groups is much weaker, but their first-choice listing doesn't always factor in when excited sons want some hot robot action.
Reviews are middling but not terrible -- the film was ranking at 59 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes as of midday Thursday.
Based on a book by Richard Matheson -- the guy who wrote "I Am Legend" and "Duel" -- the near-futuristic film stars Jackman as a failed human boxer, who with the help of his son, trains a robot to contend in the ol' mixed android martial arts ring.
The word "dystopian" gets thrown around a lot with source material like this. DreamWorks conscously worked to offset bleak approach with the hiring of Levy, a commercially savvy director of family-oriented films like Fox's "Night at the Museum" franchise.
Also read: Review: Idealism Gets Assassinated in Clooney's 'Ides of March'
Starting with 2002 Frankie Muniz family comedy "Big Fat Liar," and continuing onto bigger broad-skewing comedies like last year's "Date Night," Levy hasn't had a bomb yet.
Unfortunately, outside of his "X-Men"/"Wolverine" work for Fox, Jackman's track record at the multiplex is a little spottier.
"Real Steel" will open up in 3,440 theaters.
"Ides of March," meanwhile, arrives in 2,199 North American locations Friday with good reviews -- 79 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with a few critical precincts still trickling in.
Produced through Clooney's Smokehouse Productions at a cost of around $18 million and based on Beau Willimon's political-campaign-focused play "Farragut North," "Ides" has a rather conspicuous cast.
Indeed, lead man Gosling, who plays a campaign staffer, and Clooney (the candidate) are joined by Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and Max Minghella.
"Ides of March" is tracking best with older females (well, older than 25 anyway), with NRG reporting 71 percent "total awareness" among women in that group. Also for that quadrant, definite interest comes in at a strong 43 percent and first choice a solid 12 percent.
Pre-release predictions for the film's opening are at around $12 million - $14 million.
Of course, with Halloween only weeks away, those cinema buffs who wish to delve into the darker regions of the human psyche might crave something a little spicier.
Also read: Review: 'Dirty Girl' a Fun Ride Down a Familiar Road
IFC has them covered with "The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence," a meta extrapolation of the first "HC." The sequel follows a deranged DVD watcher of the fictional part one, who's home video experience convinces him to take this franchise's seriously awful concept to an entirely new level.
For those who didn't think popular culture had anything left to truly shock, disgust and offend with, filmmaker Tom Six has proven you wrong.
The unrated film debuts in 18 North American locations this weekend.
1. Real Steel - $27.3 million 2. The Ides of March - $10.4 million 3. Dolphin Tale - $9.16 million 4. Moneyball - $7.5 million 5. 50/50 - $5.5 million 6. Courageous - $4.6 million 7. The Lion King (3D) - $4.552 million 8. Dream House - $4.5 million 9. What's Your Number - $3.05 million 10. Abduction - $2.9 million 11. Contagion - $2.845 million 12. The Help - $2 million 13. Drive - $1.8 million
Machine Gun Preacher - $113,000 Take Shelter - $55,634
Now into prime adult/upscale movie season, and still mainly as weak as ever.
The most significant one perhaps is Melancholia (Magnolia). But it opened on VOD, not theatrically (its limited runs will be in November, although it qualified for a week quietly over the summer in LA).
The Ides of March (Sony) With its superlow upfront budget (12.5 million, with deferrals and tax credits, although marketing will more than double the upfront expense), this still could eke out a profit. But the sense of underachievement, along with OK but not great reviews suggest that as expect this tough-sell political story will not linger in people's memories.
Dirty Girl (Weinstein) $18,000 in 9 theatres. Funfact: This likely had a bigger audience at its 2010 Toronto screening than it will get its opening weekend in its multiple theatres. This has been a bad year for Weinstein specialized - this joins Miral and Submarine as seemingly big-deal fall 2010 festival acquisitions that bombed (Sarah's Key was the exception) or went straight to DVD. This ship needs to be turned around very soon.
The Women on the 6th Floor (Strand) $26,000 in 7, PSA 4400. Very minor grosses.
The Human Centipede 2: The Full Sequence (IFC) In LA this was midnight only- if this was its pattern nationally, the $3000 PSA in 9 theatres is decent for what is primarily a VOD film.
The Way (PDA) This Toronto 2010 Special Presentation Emilio Estevez directed/starring has no reported grosses yet, likely meaning they were bad, and nothing like his Bobby a few years back.
Moneyball (Sony) Down only 37% in its 3rd weekend, up to $49 million total. The Social Network a year ago at this point was at $62 million, so this is not quite as strong, but it looks likely to do $75 million or more, likely enough (along with lingering in theatres for a while) to keep it fresh among voters who likely are fans of the film.
Take Shelter (Sony Classics) $130,000 in 11 (+8), 5500 PSA. As last week's NY/LA openings indicated, this is weak. With Sony Classics' access to theatres, this will probably surpass $1 million, but not by a lot, and way below what is needed to make it a financial success or an award contender without some major later boost from early awards.
Machine Gun Preacher (Relavity) $113,000 in 33, PSA under $2000. In its third week, this is still limping along, with no sign that it will ever find an audience.
While Real Steel does feature an "absentee father reunites with estranged son" story similar to many of executive producer Steven Spielberg's movies, that element never came to the forefront of the marketing campaign. Instead, Real Steel was primarily billed as a sci-fi boxing movie, which explains how the audience was skewed towards young males instead of the family audience that would likely have pushed Real Steel's opening a bit higher. Movies that play to young male audiences tend to be fairly front-loaded, and with The Thing, Paranormal Activity 3 and The Three Musketeers on the immediate horizon, it's tough to see how Real Steel gets close to $100 million.
The Ides of March earned an estimated $10.4 million on its opening weekend. That's just a bit ahead of George Clooney's Michael Clayton ($10.37 million) but behind his last directorial effort Leatherheads ($12.7 million). It was also slightly off from star Ryan Gosling's Drive ($11.3 million), and it lagged a bit behind Primary Colors ($12 million) among comparable campaign movies. The audience was 58 percent female and 65 percent under the age of 35, and it tallied an okay "B" CinemaScore ("B+" for the under-25 demographic).
The Ides of March was billed as a thriller, but previews were light on action and heavy on political intrigue. That didn't prove to be enough to mobilize a large number of people, most of whom are probably content to get their fill of politics from the non-stop Republican primary news coverage. The movie's mild debut also reemphasizes that while George Clooney and Ryan Gosling are Hollywood darlings, neither are very big box office draws. With solid but unspectacular reviews and a middling CinemaScore, there's virtually no chance The Ides of March ultimately matches Michael Clayton's $49 million.
Thanks to The Ides of March, Moneyball and Courageous, Sony passed $1 billion in 2011 domestic box office on Friday. It's the sixth straight year the studio has reached that milestone, and Sony is the fourth studio to earn $1 billion this year following Paramount, Warner Bros. and Disney.
Last weekend's winner Dolphin Tale eased 34 percent to an estimated $9.16 million for a total of $49.1 million. It's still slightly behind Moneyball, which dipped 38 percent to $7.5 million for a total of $49.3 million.
50/50 had the best hold among last weekend's newcomers. It declined 36 percent to an estimated $5.5 million, and the movie has now earned $17.3 million. Courageous on the other hand fell a rough 50 percent to $4.6 million. That's notably worse than Fireproof's 42 percent decline, though Courageous's $15.9 million total is still running ahead of Fireproof's $12.4 million through the same point.
With the Blu-ray finally in stores, The Lion King (in 3D) plummeted 57 percent to $4.55 million. That brings the re-release's total to $86 million and the movie's overall total to $414.5 million. Within the next few days, The Lion King will pass Toy Story 3 ($415 million) to move in to ninth place on the all-time domestic chart.
Dream House fell 45 percent to an estimated $4.5 million for a paltry 10-day total of $14.5 million. What's Your Number? was off 44 percent to $3.05 million for a terrible total of $10.3 million.
In limited release, horror sequel The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence debuted to an estimated $54,000 from 18 locations ($3,000 per-theater average), most of which were only playing the movie during late shows on Friday and Saturday night. The original Human Centipede earned $181,467 in theaters last year, and the sequel will look to eclipse that figure as it expands throughout the month of October.