Sunday, January 1, 2012

Weekend Box Office (01/01/12): Strong holdovers close out 2011 movie year.

As is often the case, the last weekend of the year is basically a repeat of last weekend, both in general ranking and numbers, as the holiday weekend tends to keep drops low, if often absent.  Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol led the pack of major Christmas and holiday releases that actually went up from last weekend.  The Brad Bird spy thriller earned $31 million over Fri-Sun, with an eye towards a likely $40 million four-day holiday weekend.  At the end of its third weekend, the first of which was IMAX-exclusive, the crowd-pleasing Tom Cruise vehicle will have grossed $140 million by Monday, which means it has already outgrossed the $134 million-grossing Mission: Impossible III.  Overseas, the sequel is doing even bigger business, with a worldwide total of $324 million as we close out 2011.  The $215 million gross of John Woo's Mission: Impossible II is likely out of reach, but surpassing the $181 million gross from Brian DePalma's Mission: Impossible is not only possible but plausible.  Worldwide, the film is shaping up to be $600 million earner, the respective totals, speculative as they may be now, would make this film Tom Cruise's third-biggest domestic grosser and his biggest worldwide earner ever.  MI4 already ranks ninth on both lists.

Coming it at a strong second place was Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.  Both it and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked debuted below expectations two weeks ago, but both have used the holiday season to pick up lost ground, proving again that the last two weeks of the year are great for leggy runs.  Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows grossed $22 million, for a new total of $132 million.  Combined with Monday's grosses, that should put the second Sherlock Holmes picture exactly where the first was at the end of its New Year's weekend, albeit with an extra seven days to get there.  Point being, if the film can avoid complete collapse in the mostly barren January (and said mediocre January slate will boost every single film discussed here today), it may get closer to the $209 million domestic total of Sherlock Holmes than anyone thought possible two weeks ago.  Alvin and the Chipmunks 3 earned $18 million for the weekend, giving it $94 million with the strong possibility of crossing the $100 million mark on Monday or Tuesday.  The third Chipmunk film still lags behind the first two by $40-50 million ($, but a $150 million total would be nothing to be ashamed about, especially with the infamous Fox overseas machine (Alvin 3 has already made $79 million overseas).

In genuinely positive news, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo held onto those adult viewers with a solid $16 million second weekend, and it will end the long holiday with about $60 million.  The David Fincher film will still struggle to get to $100 million, but that just means that the film shouldn't have cost $90 million in the first place.  Whatever my issues with the picture, the industry desperately needs R-rated adult franchises.  So I'm still rooting for the film to turn a profit, which it will need strong overseas business to do.  War Horse also earned $16 million in weekend two, although it was somewhat of a comedown considering it earned $15 million in its first two days over the last two days of the Christmas weekend.  The Steven Spielberg Oscar-bait drama has now grossed $42 million.  That's not a huge number, but the film only cost $70 million to make (Spielberg knows how to stretch the dollar better than anyone outside of Clint Eastwood), meaning a strong European showing is all that's needed to make the film profitable.  If it gets Oscar love, then $100 million domestic is pretty assured, so it's just a question of hanging on until the end of January.

The other Spielberg film, The Adventures of Tintin, showed even stronger legs.  Ah, Christmas, the time when a film can score a $2.3 million opening day and still end up with around $50 million by the end of its second weekend!  Regardless, the US market was just gravy for this one, as it's nearing $300 million worldwide.  Showing even more surprising strength is the Cameron Crowe family drama We Bought A Zoo.  Produced for $50 million, the Matt Damon film had a $9 million weekend over Christmas and rose 52% to $14 million this time.  The film now has $41 million domestic.  Since it's a Fox film, it will likely do about $350 million overseas (I jest, but only slightly).  This closes out a pretty terrific year for Matt Damon.  He has of late been inconsistent outside the Bourne franchise, but in just over twelve months, he's had True Grit ($171 million), The Adjustment Bureau ($62 million), Contagion ($75 million), and now We Bought a Zoo which should gross at least $65 million before it's done. Yes, he has a voice on Happy Feat 2 ($60 million domestic against a $135 million budget) and a cameo in Margaret ($46,495), but we won't hold that against him.  As for Cameron Crowe, We Bought a Zoo is now easily the third-highest grosser of his career, behind his Tom Cruise films Vanilla Sky ($100 million) and Jerry Maguire ($153 million).  Oh, and Puss In Boots crossed $145 million domestic and $400 million worldwide. The Darkest Hour is struggling to make $25 million domestic, but it's $13 million cume has nearly been equaled overseas ($8 million), meaning that Summit's would-be tax write-off may accidentally make a profit next quarter.  And The Muppets squeaked past the $80 million mark to close out the year, but the front-loaded performance of the film, as well as still-unknown overseas play-ability and merchandise sales leaves the franchise in doubt.  

In limited release debuts, three female-centered films were opened all against each other right at the end of the year.  The Meryl Streep vehicle, The Iron Lady (where she plays Margaret Thatcher) debuted with a huge $55,000 per-screen in four theaters.  A Separation and Pariah cannibalized each other, earning just $22,200 and $12,000 per-screen respectively in their 3-4 screen debuts.  In other Oscar bait news, The Descendants will cross $40 million tomorrow.   Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is holding on strong is limited engagement with a $4 million total, far eclipsing Shame ($2 million as of tomorrow).  Young Adult may be somewhat disappointing, but it's already equaled its $12 million budget and could get a real boost if Charlize Theron scores the Oscar nomination that she damn-well ought to.  Hugo, at a cost of $140 million, may never make its money back, but it at least can say that it crossed the $50 million mark as of tomorrow.  The Artist may be the presumptive Best Picture favorite at the moment, but at some point it has to start actually attracting audiences, as its $5.6 million total isn't going to cut it come late-February.  The Hurt Locker ($12 million) was a fluke for a reason, riding the critical passion all year long and then turning the post-nomination parade into a grotesque girls vs. boys contest with Katherine Bigelow cast as the damsel in distress against her mean, evil, Oscar-stealing ex-husband James Cameron.  The Artist has no such absurd narrative this time around.

That's it for this weekend, and this year.  Join us next weekend (maybe... I may have to miss the first couple weekends due to other responsibilities) as Paramount releases the first of its slate of 'micro-budget' horror films with The Devil Inside.  

Scott Mendelson                      


marcie said...

i'm sad about the muppets. i really wanted it to do well so they can do more stuff. is the problem that little kids just didn't connect to it?

Mikeyb4204 said...

I cant' speak for little kids, but coming from someone born in the mid 80's I can tell you I don't care about the Muppets. The cast of Jackass brings my generation much more joy.


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