Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weekend Box Office: Bourne Legacy tops while The Campaign and Hope Springs debut well and The Dark Knight Rises presses upward.

To the surprise of no one, the top film of the weekend was The Bourne Legacy.  With $38 million, the fourth entry in the ten-year old franchise opened well above the $27 million debut of The Bourne Identity during June 2002, but that's mostly due to ten years of inflation as The Bourne Identity's opening would equal $38 million today.  It's below the $52 million debut of The Bourne Supremacy back in July 2004, and understandably well below the $69 million opening weekend of The Bourne Ultimatum back in August 2007.  This spin-off/reboot of the Matt Damon-led Bourne series showcased Jeremy Renner as a totally different government assassin in the same world as the three prior Bourne films.  Helmed by Tony Gilroy (who had a hand in writing all three prior adaptations), Universal sadly spent $125 million on this quasi-sequel.  So if the film 'merely' approaches the $121 million gross of the first film and earns about that much overseas ($92 million for a $214 million total), it won't be profitable.  The endless loop on USA starting in 2015 won't hurt. The second and third films grossed $176 million and $227 million in the US respectively while earning $288 million and $422 million worldwide respectively (Bourne Ultimatum basically doubled Bourne Supremacy's overseas take).  If the film excels overseas, which it now must, matching the $288 million gross of Bourne Supremacy isn't out of the question (it opened in a few markets this weekend and earned $7.8 million overseas).

Had the film been a little cheaper and/or a lot better, this would be a far more promising debut.  On paper, Universal successfully opening a franchise entry without its marquee star and only a loose connection to the prior entries is pretty impressive.  On one hand, the film represents an unwillingness for studios to die at the end of their natural life cycle.  On the other hand the film's use of the prior trilogy's continuity is somewhat clever and the approach is technically better than a straight-ahead reboot. All three Bourne films had decent legs, with weekend-to-multipliers of 3.2 (part III), 3.3 (part II), and an uncommonly leggy 4.5 (part I).  Using the sequels as the likely pattern, the film could get as high as $132 million domestic.  The only downside, since the film is pretty bad (what sounds clever on paper actually hurts the prior films), it A) might drop pretty quickly and struggle to top $100 million and B) won't build the kind of momentum that would otherwise pay-off for a sequel 2-3 years from now.  The film earned a "B" from Cinemascore, meaning word of mouth won't approach the prior three mostly well-liked and/or loved entries.  The Bourne franchise was a textbook case of a well-liked original film having a leggy run and strong DVD sales and thus exploding out of the gate over the opening weekend of part II.  Don't expect the same kind of magic to happen twice.  Free tip studios: when rebooting your franchise, do try to remind people why they fell in love with said property in the first place.

The next big opener was The Campaign, an R-rated political comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinackas. The film is directed by Jay Roach, who is best known for the Austin Powers franchise and Meet the Parents but moonlights as a director of top-notch HBO political dramas (Recount and Game Change).  With $28 million, the $60 million performed at the end end of expectations for an R-rated Will Ferrell film.  It's quite as not has high as the $30 million debut of Step Brothers four summers ago (still Ferrell's best R-rated debut) but is certainly larger than the $15 million debut of the underrated Semi-Pro back in April 2008. Depending on final numbers, it's either Ferrell's seventh-biggest or eighth-largest debut ever just ahead of Anchorman ($28 million) and behind Step Brothers ($30 million), Elf ($31 million), Blades of Glory ($33 million), The Other Guys ($35 million), Megamind ($46 million), and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby ($48 million).  It's surely below the $32.6 million debut of Zach Galifianakis's Due Date, which had less competition and the red-hot Robert Downey Jr. plus director Todd Phelps coming off of The Hangover.  What this means for Ferrell is that he can keep doing his barely-released 'one for me' projects (Everything Must Go, Casa De Mi Padra, etc.) knowing that his mainstream vehicles will compensate.  For Zach Galifianakis, this is another sign that his is genuine box office when paired with a strong comic foil, but he has yet to test the open road and go it solo.  And considering the success he's had as one of a duo or trio, he may not be itching for a solo gig for awhile anyway.  This is his sixth-biggest debut, behind the two Hangovers ($45 million and $87 million respectively), Puss In Boots ($34 million), Due Date ($32 million), and G-Force ($31 million).  If The Campaign crosses $100 million domestic (not a sure thing but a likely one considering that Ferrell's comedies often have strong legs), it'll be Ferrell's seventh and Galifianakis's sixth such milestone.  That's not a guarantee, as it understandably earned B- from Cinemascore (it's a mess of a film, painfully unfocused but with genuine laughs and some strong commentary).

The third big release was Hope Springs, Sony's relationship dramedy with Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell.  The picture opened on Wednesday, meaning it did $20 million over five days instead of three days (it earned $15.6 million during the Fri-Sun portion).  It's perhaps a pointless distinction, but the five-day debut ended Meryl Streep's run of big-studio high-profile $20 million+ debuts stretching back to 2004 with The Manchurian Candidate (see also: Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Devil Wears Prada, Mamma Mia, Jules and Julia, It's Complicated).  Like Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep in a big-studio mainstream wide release is basically a guaranteed $20-$30 million opener.  Regardless, this well-reviewed $30 million 'counter-programming' should have decent legs (my wife saw it on Thursday and enjoyed it, although I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a formal review).  It's a solid win in the whole 'grownups will go to see movies about grownups' argument.  Sony will make a lot more on this than they will on Total Recall, which plunged 66% in weekend two and is officially dead in America.  With $44 million in ten days, it's actually trailing the ten day total of the 1990 Total Recall by about $7 million. It's in a tie with Battleship ($44 million) and a bit behind the ten-day total of John Carter ($53 million).  This all means that the film will end up between around $60 million and $70 million give-or-take a million bucks.  If it did only cost $125 million, then it's a flop.  If it actually cost $200 million, it's the bomb of the summer.

Oh, and Arc Entertainment unleashed Nitro Cirus: The Movie 3D on 800 screens and earned a whopping $1.1 million for their efforts. The Dark Knight Rises is sticking around for the moment, although its time in the sun is quickly coming to an end if only due to screen-bleeding.  It'll keep its IMAX screens until Resident Evil: Retribution opens on September 14th, but the ten wide releases between now and then plus a few possible expansions will cost The Dark Knight Rises its normal 35mm/DLP screens in the meantime. Alas, the Batman threequel has made a measly $390 million after four weekends.  The Dark Knight had $440 million at this juncture, meaning that The Dark Knight Rises, with around $800 million worldwide, is an unmitigated disaster and Chris Nolan should be tarred and feathered on the Warner Bros. lot. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days has $30 million after ten days, trailing the first film ($35 million) and the second film ($38 million) at the same juncture.  *But* its $8.3 million second weekend compares favorably as the first two films had $10 million second weekend grosses despite both opening well over $20 million (it dropped 43% this weekend).

 Ice Age 4 has... does anyone really care what this film's domestic gross is?  The fifth film could go direct-to-DVD in the states and still make $600 million overseas.  Still, it has $144 million over here and over $750 million worldwide. Ice Age 4 has... does anyone really care what this film's domestic gross is?  The fifth film could go direct-to-DVD in the states and still make $600 million overseas.  Still, it has $144 million over here and over $750 million worldwide.  The Amazing Spider-Man has a similar situation, with a series-low (by a long shot) domestic cume of $255 million but a worldwide total heading towards $700 million, although it may not top the $782 million worldwide gross of Spider-Man 2 making this the lowest-grossing Spidey flick anywhere and everywhere.  Step Up: Revolution has topped $30 million although hitting $40 million will be a challenge. Also topping out at $30 million is The Watch, which now has $31 million and is pretty much finished domestically (of course, it's Fox, so it could do $100 million overseas).  Ted has $209.9 million, meaning its now the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever behind Beverly Hills Cop ($234 million) and the two Hangover films ($279 million and $254 million respectively).  Brave has surpassed Wall-E and sits with $227 million while Ruby Sparks expanded to 261 screens and topped $1.25 million this weekend.  Beasts of the Southern Wild topped $7 million while The Intouchables has about $6.3 million.  The Moonrise Kingdom has $42 million and From Rome With Love has topped $15 million.  And still sticking around somewhere is the delightful Safety Not Guaranteed, which didn't expand like it should have but still snagged $3.6 million so far.

That's it for this weekend.  I'll try to update later today with relevant foreign totals and some of the (mostly middling) limited release debuts.  Let's just say Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer sadly did not set the arthouse world on fire.  Join us next time for a crowded frame with four wide releases.  The Odd Life of Timothy Green opens on Wednesday and Friday brings Whitney Houston's Sparkle, the animated Paranorman, and The Expendables 2.    

Scott Mendelson              


Mbjar2000 said...

You repeated the bit about Ice Age 4 in consecutive paragraphs.

Bulldog said...

Isn't it a bit ironic that all four major flops this year, Titans, Carter, Battleship, and now Total Recall will all end within $20m of each other. You could arguably add Dark Shadows to that list as well.
Also, I think TDKR is performing exactly the way it should coming off of an exceedingly popular prequel that had a kind of perfect storm circling around it with the most popular villain in the Joker and an inspiring performance and death of Heath Ledger. Anyone that expected this to perform beyond $500m needs to change their meds. TDKR still ends up in the Top 10 of all time.


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