Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weekend Box Office: Dark Knight Rises tops, Total Recall flounders, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid 3 opens ok.

In the face of two relatively non-mighty openers, The Dark Knight Rises (review/spoiler-review) topped the weekend box office again with $36 million.  As has been the case throughout the film's much-debated run (which is really only 17 days old), it's doing pretty spectacular by any logical standard but must be defended from those who think it automatically should have topped The Dark Knight and/or challenged The Avengers.  The film has $354 million after three weekends, versus The Dark Knight ($393 million) and The Avengers ($457 million).  It's the third-biggest 17-day total of all-time, closely surpassing Avatar ($352 million) as the third-fastest film to reach $350 million.  It will crack $400 million in two or three weekends (surely the fourth-fastest movie to do so if it can in less than Shrek 2's 43 days) and anything after that is merely bragging rights.  It may or may not crack $1 billion worldwide, with around $700 million so far and holding up relatively well.  Despite my concerns following its Harry Potter/Twilight-esque opening weekend, it's already having a leggier run than any recent Harry Potter or Twilight Saga sequel, as well as Spider-Man 3 (2.2x its weekend) or Iron Man 2 (2.4x times its weekend).  It'll out gross Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith ($380 million) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II ($381 million) around next weekend.  It will probably outgross Transformers 2 ($402 million), Spider-Man ($403 million), and The Hunger Games ($405 million) by the end of the month, with Toy Story 3 ($415 million), The Lion King ($422 million), and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($423 million) waiting on tap if it can keep those non-IMAX screens during the end-of-August deluge.  So relax Bat-fans, it's doing just fine.

In terms of *not* doing all that fine, we have the first of two wide releases this weekend, Sony's critically-trashed and not-exactly audience-embraced (a C+ on Cinemascore) Total Recall (essay).  The needless and not nearly-different-enough remake of the 1990 Paul Verhoeven/Arnold Schwarzenegger mind-bender opened with $26 million, or about $1 million more than the original film debuted with back in summer 1990 (that would be $48 million adjusted for inflation)! The film's budget had been pegged as $200 million for two years yet magically was reported as $125 million days before this underwhelming debut.  But for the sake of not propagating possibly false information, we'll use the $125 million figure, which ironically, is exactly the original film's $65 million cost adjusted for inflation. Fun fact: The original film was the second-most expensive film of all-time back in 1990, just behind the $70 million cost of Rambo III.  As such, Total Recall is not another John Carter/Battleship, but merely a garden-variety genre tent-pole that needs strong overseas numbers not to outright flop.  The film will likely struggle to approach $70 million in the US, but if it can muster even the $280-$300 million that those other two films earned worldwide, then it will actually be a success *if* its budget is $125 million and not $200 million.  Point being, the original film's $119 million gross ($229 million today) is out of the question although its $261 million worldwide gross is within reach.  Overseas numbers will sink or save this one, period.  Collin Ferrell will be fine, as this will merely motivate him to make more films like Ondine and In Bruges.

The other major wide release was a relative success.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days debuted to $14.7 million.  That's lower than the $22 million debut of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the $24 million opening of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules over the last two respective years, but we're still talking a franchise that costs under $25 million a pop.  This third film, released in late summer versus late Spring like the other two, will likely continue the series's domestic downward spiral.  The first film ended with $62 million while the second ended with $52 million.  Part 3 (actually a combination of books three and four, never a trend I particularly endorse) may well drop another $12 million and end up with $40 million, which is just fine when your film costs just $22 million to make.  The last two films made around $20 million overseas, and this one should follow suit making a fourth installment sometime next year all-but-inevitable.  The other major studios should learn a lesson from 20th Century Fox, creating a viable franchise that doesn't cost $150 million a pop, something only Lionsgate/Summit seem able to do (watch how Lionsgate/Summit just poached Disney's cost-effective Step Up franchise). Dog Days was also produced by Color Force along with Fox 2000.  The big limited debut this weekend was the romantic-divorce-comedy Jessie and Celeste Forever.  Buoyed by mainstream coverage around stars Rashida Jones and Andy Samburg, the film earned a fine $112,000 on four screens for a $28,000 per-screen average.  Expansion for the Sony Classics film should follow. A less successful opening for Millennium's The Babybakers, which earned just $578 per its eleven screens.  To be fair, the film was also available on VOD. I purchased it last night for $7 and will watch it later this week.

Elsewhere in arthouse land, Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Intouchables have both crossed $5 million. The former is just shy of $6 million and the latter has been kept in theaters by the Weinstein Company since Memorial Day weekend.  Speaking of long releases, the under-the-radar arthouse smash Bernie is still in 99 theaters after being released on three screens way back on April 27th.  The Jack Black/Shirley MacClaine/Matthew McConaughy comedy has stayed alive with minimal advertising, earning over $8 million purely on old-school word-of-mouth.  Still, the Richard Linklater film is just the sort of thing that would have been a mainstream release just several years ago.  Ruby Sparks expanded to 64 theaters and grossed $400,000 while Killer Joe expanded to 14 screens and earned 11,644 per screen for a $220,000 cume.  In holdover news, Ted topped $200 million this weekend, becoming the rare R-rated film and/or comedy to achieve that milestone.  It won't catch up to The Hangover films or Beverly Hills Cop ($234 million), but it will pass The Wedding Crashers ($209 million) next week and already has $77 million overseas. Step Up Revolution sank like a stone and now has $23 million after ten days.  It will peak at around $30 million where it will hopefully have better luck overseas like the franchise's other entries.  Brave now has $223 million domestic, meaning it will surpass Wall-E ($223.8 million) over the next couple days.

Speaking of international might, Fox's Ice Age: Continental Drift may be dragging way behind the prior installments in the US (it will struggle to hit $150 million), but it's well over $550 million overseas, once again becoming one of the biggest animated films of all-time in foreign territories.  Maybe Fox should just send the fifth film direct-to-DVD in America next time. The Watch dropped about 50% for a $6.3 million second weekend, giving the $65 million bad luck-magnet comedy $25 million in ten days.  Magic Mike is ending its domestic run with $111 million, and there is little else to say about this astonishing success story.  Kudos to Warner Bros and I think we can officially say that Channing Tatum is the first new genuine 'box office draw' movie star in a good long while.  Like a lower-rung Will Smith, he has found success in all manner of genre, be it romantic dramas, satirical comedy, and now a male-stripping dramedy.  Just think, had GI Joe: Retaliation been released this summer, Tatum would likely have four $100 million hits in just the first half of 2012.  He'll have to settle for three.  The Amazing Spider-Man now has $250 million, which would be great for 90% of all other franchises but is a bit of a comedown for Spidey (even the allegedly loathed Spider-Man 3 earned $334 million five years ago). Still the film is racing towards $700 million worldwide so it's an unqualified smash.  The question, as it has always been, is whether the mediocre first installment has killed the ability to build on this audience for the sequel in two years.      

And that's it for this weekend, folks.  As always I'll update any relevant foreign numbers during the day.  Join us next weekend when Universal debuts Live and Let Die 2.0, err The Bourne Legacy (review Thursday per embargo) while Warner Bros debuts the R-rated Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis political comedy The Campaign. Debuting Wednesday is the Meryl Streep/Tommy Lee Jones/Steve Carell romantic dramedy Hope Sparks. I don't know what Nitro Circus the Movie 3D is, but Arc Entertainment is debuting it on 800 screens this Wednesday.  In limited release, Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer (review tomorrow) squares off against the Julie Delpy/Chris Rock comedy 2 Days In New York.  For more context on these new releases, check out John Gosling's fantastic weekly new release preview which should pop up on this site on Wednesday night or Thursday afternoon.  And do give some love to Brandon Peters for his obscenely detailed James Bond retrospective which began last week.  Entertainment Weekly gave three sentences to each 007 film, but Mendelson's Memos gave you 1,800 words on Dr. No alone!

Scott Mendelson

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