Sunday, October 7, 2012

Weekend Box Office (10-07-12): Taken 2 scores $50m while Frankenweenie stumbles and Pitch Perfect stays on-note.

As always, check out John Gosling's insanely informative 'preview' of this weekend's new releases HERE.

Taken 2 basically pulled a Bourne this weekend, as a prime example where a well-liked and leggy original film capitalized on said goodwill with a massive opening weekend for the second installment.  Taken 2: The Takening earned a massive $50 million this weekend, which is more than double the $24 million debut of the first Taken over Super Bowl weekend 2009.  If the numbers hold, it will be the third-biggest opening in October, behind only last year's $52 million debut of Paranormal Activity 3 and $50.4 million debut of Jackass 3D.  The trajectory is most similar to the Bourne series and yes the last two 007 films.  The Bourne Identity had a $27 million debut in June 2002, which was followed by a leggy run to $121 million and a sterling performance on DVD as a top-rented title.  Two summers later, The Bourne Supremacy debuted to $52 million and ended its US run with $176 million.  While Casino Royale was technically the 22nd 007 film, it played like a reboot/fresh start to the franchise and it too parlayed a solid $40 million opening into a leggy $167 million run and massive critical and audience approval.  Two years later, Quantum of Solace opened with $67 million and quick-killed its way to a $168 million domestic gross.

As is with Taken, which parlayed a $24 million weekend into the kind of legs usually only seen by James Cameron and ended its domestic run with $145 million (that's a stunning 6x weekend-to-final multiplier).  The key difference is that audiences and critics were generally very very pleased with The Bourne Supremacy while Look Who's Taken Too is basically a sequel in the Home Alone 2/The Hangover II variety (IE - take the first film and pour it into a slightly different bottle).   Even Quantum of Solace, which is not as beloved as Casino Royale, received most of its criticisms due to variations on the Bond formula. Critics denounced both the 'same story different day' narrative as well as the hardcore neutering of the very thing we came to see (Liam Neeson brutally kicking ass and killing people) in pursuit of a PG-13.  The last film was also cut to a PG-13 in America, but it was released as an R overseas and the editing was not nearly as obvious last time.  I actually passed on an uber-convenient 10pm Thursday screening because I presumed that I would vastly prefer the eventual Unrated DVD.

Anyway, general audiences didn't seem to mind that Taken it 2 the Streets was sanitized for their eight-year old children and gave the film a B+ Cinemascore rating, just as they didn't care that The Hangover part II was a rehash of the first film. Taken 2: Taken Harder will likely follow the box office path of Quantum of Solace, where a much larger opening gives way to a much less leggy performance, which in turn ends up equaling the first film's domestic take.  So give Taken 2: Takers United a 2.4x weekend-to-final multiplier and a $124 million domestic total. Of course, Fox has overseas rights this time so the overseas total should be much higher than the first film's $81 million.  This time the sky is the limit, with $117 million worldwide thus far.  So expect Look Who's Taken Now in a few years time, as Liam Neeson continues to mine box office gold out of the kind of thing that normally would go straight to video while Jason Statham desperately waits by the phone for a team-up offer (jokes aside, that would be pretty awesome).

The other big new release was "Disney Thanks Tim Burton for Alice In Wonderland", ie Frankenweenie.  It's no secret that Tim Burton made a 25-minute black-and-white short film called Frankenweenie for Disney that was intended to be played in front of Pinnochio during a 1984 re-release.  And it's no secret that the film was yanked after it got a PG rating and that it led to Burton being fired by Disney (that's bad) and hired by Paul Reubens to direct Pee Wee's Big Adventure (that's good).  So it's no small irony that Disney has allowed Burton to spend $39 million to concoct a feature-length claymation adaptation of his own short film, in black-and-white no less, as a way of thanking him for directing the $1 billion-grossing Alice In Wonderland. Alas, the film debuted this weekend to a relatively modest $11.5 million.  It's tough to place this in the ranks of Tim Burton debuts, although it's surely among the lowest, because quite a few of his smaller/artier films had a platform weekend or two before busting out wide.  But among films that went wide immediately, this is the lowest number since the $9 million debuts of the equally-well reviewed Sweeney Todd in 2007 (on just 1,507 screens on a very crowded Christmas weekend) and Mars Attacks! in December 1996.

Still, this was clear inside baseball, a film less intended for general family audiences and more for the adults who grew up on Tim Burton films.  This was never going to play like a mega-release along the lines of Hotel Transylvania or Ice Age: Continental Drift to general audiences.  Like ParaNorman, Frankenweenie had to contend with kids who thought it looked scary and parents who thought it might be too scary, which is a tough thing to overcome.  In short, my daughter wanted to see Hotel Transylvania (which earned $26 million this weekend and now has $76 million here and $105 million global) last weekend so we went and saw it.  But this weekend she thought Frankenweenie looked scary so we probably won't see it.  Sometimes box office analysis is that simple.  The film skewed younger in concept than The Corpse Bride yet scared off many of those youngsters before they even got to the theater.  Still, this was clearly a 'one for me' project along the lines of Mars Attacks and Sweeney Todd, with the above-mentioned benefit of actually keeping the budget at a reasonable level.  Burton will be fine, Disney will be fine, and this will be something he had to get out of his system.

The other big news was the successful expansion of Pitch Perfect.  Following a debut weekend of $5 million on just 300 screens, Universal took the film wide and pulled a solid $14.7 million for the Anna Kendrick/Rebel Wilson film.  The $17 million film has now earned $21 million and is another feather in the whole 'women-centric movies can make money too' cap that has become that much closer to conventional wisdom over the last two years.  Last weekend I hadn't seen this one despite numerous press screenings because a trusted friend/critic told he he didn't like it.  This weekend it looks like I won't see it for awhile because my wife wants to see it, which means I'll be waiting for a rare chance for both of us to get to a movie.  DVD it is!  Despite superb reviews and a week of non-stop online chatter, Looper couldn't quite withstand the heat of Taken 2.  A 41% drop is fine and the film has $40 million after ten days, but I still say the film could have flourished opening in the mostly vacant September 7th slot.  Nonetheless, the film is perceived as a success and everyone involved will benefit, so it's still a happy ending for a rock-solid genre entry.  Sony's other major release, Resident Evil: Retribution, crossed the $40 million mark for a $41 million cume and $187 million worldwide thus far.

Summit expanded The Perks of Being A Wallflower to 221 theaters for a $1.5 million weekend (I was told it would go wide this frame but no matter).  At some point Summit is going to have to pull the trigger unless they *want* massive per-screen averages and an under-$10 million domestic cume (it has $3.3 million thus far).  Dredd 3D has $12 million (sorry, the movie didn't do a thing for me) while The Expendables 2 has $84 million domestic plus $200 million overseas and The Possession has $48 million.  Ted has $218 million domestic and $450 million worldwide, setting the stage for the highly unnecessary sequel (it's currently Universal's tenth-biggest earner ever and the fourth biggest R-rated comedy behind Beverly Hills Cop, The Hangover 2, and The Hangover).  The Bourne Legacy has amassed a respectable $232 million worldwide, so yes we'll probably see another one.  Among the many releases from a couple weeks ago, End of Watch has $32 million, Trouble With the Curve has $29 million and The House at the End of the Street has $27 million.  In long-forgotten summer titles, The Amazing Spider-Man has crossed $750 million worldwide, Brave has $515 million worldwide, Madagascar 3 has $638 million global (DWA's biggest grosser behind the three Shrek sequels and Kung Fu Panda 2) and Prometheus quietly snuck past the $400 million worldwide mark just in time for its DVD/Blu Ray release.

That's it for this weekend.  Join us next time when Ben Affleck's Argo (review Tuesday) squares off against Sinister and Seven Psychopaths (review hopefully tomorrow, it's terrific).  Until then, take care, and let us know what you think about the state of the box office and/or what movies you've seen lately.

Scott Mendelson


Bulldog said...

I'm sure you'll get to it later when international numbers are updated but Madagascar 3 opened in several countries this weekend to about $23m. That should put it about $15m shy of Kung Fu Panda 2 on the WW charts. That's phenomenal for a threequel of a not very beloved series.

Brandon Peters said...

Was looking for Taken 2: The Heretic


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