Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Weekend Box Office: Families Complete The Circle Of Life, Pack Theaters For Movie They Own On DVD

by Gabe Toro
September 18, 2011 3:49 AM
17 Comments
  • |


Right now, some jerk at Disney is finding a way to use the term “circle of life” to define how they can release “The Lion King” anytime, and it will always make money. A 3D re-issue of the film became the number one weekend attraction by a very wide margin with $29 million, a huge middle finger to those who claim audiences are looking for something “fresh” or “new.”

This is the biggest re-release since “Star Wars,” though the industry has to ask if this is a fluke or not. The kiddie market has been barren for the last few weeks, so some parents were likely starving for an entertainment option for their kids (here’s an idea: A LIBRARY). Still, this could be the beginning of a new revenue stream, as studios have openly discussed 3D updates to “Ghostbusters” and “Top Gun.” Could recycling popular catalog titles become the new practice after a summer filled with underperforming remakes and sequels? Is this a good way to get “Halloween” in cineplexes for Halloween? Are movies the new TV? And what is “The Matrix”?

Falling out of the top spot was “Contagion,” though the second weekend hold was fairly strong. The film is appealing to the adult market, so having legs isn’t entirely that strange. The picture is playing, and there’s no doubt the release date hit the sweet spot as it seems like the first real adult alternative in a number of weeks. The film might deflate in the coming weekend, but a $60 million plus total isn't out of the question.

Landing at #3 was “Drive,” which FilmDistrict somewhat accurately marketed as a boutique genre picture. A more established studio would have likely done a bait-and-switch and presented the Nicolas Winding Refn picture as another gearhead actionfest, but with a movie like this, it could have resulted in a boom-or-bust, and not these safer mid-range numbers. Upstart distributor FilmDistrict has opened all its films in this vicinity, and the titles thus far benefited from word-of-mouth to pull in surprising final grosses, but the somewhat-difficult “Drive” collected a C- Cinemascore this weekend. We’ll see if their wide release gamble of one very unusual movie pays off in the following weeks, though the film was budgeted within the $10 million range and isn’t likely a huge money loser.

The Help” eased on down the lineup, showing vague signs of slowing down but still on the cusp of $150 million domestic. Media coverage has centered on the controversy, which places the spotlight on standouts, and likely Oscar players Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. And yet, is it possible co-star Emma Stone ends up getting the biggest career bounce out of the film’s success? Boys and girls, that’s called a “rhetorical question.” Next weekend brings an almost entirely male-dominated slate, so it would not be a surprise for “The Help” to flex its box office muscle again and possibly maintain three quarters of its take.

There were so, so, so many factors playing into the flop of “Straw Dogs,” most of which start at the title. Even fans of the original (who, very likely, made up less than one percent of this weekend’s audience) have a hard time remembering the significance of that name, so it might as well have been in Chinese for today’s market. Screen Gems knows how to market these low rent cheapies, but showcasing James Marsden and Kate Bosworth as your leads just screams 2004. The presence of Alexander Skarsgård certainly didn’t hurt, but even with its media exposure, the ratings for “True Blood” are, generously, in line with a mid-level broadcast program.

Mark this down as another disaster for The Weinstein Company. “I Don’t Know How She Does It” belly-flopped, its release seemingly cementing the fact that Sarah Jessica Parker isn’t nearly as big as her “Sex and the City” alter ego, which Carried (LOL) those films to massive box office tallies. They may have not taken a bath on “Apollo 18” but, along with “Scream 4” and “Spy Kids,” they’ve released some mid-to-low budgeted films where they were expecting at least twice as much from the grosses. Oddly enough, the studio’s biggest success might be indie acquisition “Our Idiot Brother,” which may not even pass $25 million domestic.

Ouch for niche sports offering “Warrior.” The picture lost less than half its small first weekend crowds, but it’s already being forgotten, falling behind geezer spy thriller “The Debt.” “Warrior” was looking like a possible Oscar performer, but the crowd-pleaser needed actual crowds to respond for the Academy to take notice, and that certainly didn’t happen thanks to the year‘s most dunderheaded ad campaign. “The Debt,” meanwhile, opened smaller than last fall’s Focus offering “The American” but is having much stronger legs, and should hit $30 million by next weekend.

It’s proven difficult to kill “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which Fox is trying to limp to a final tally higher than the 2001 'Apes' offering, while “Colombiana” has proven to be a decent-sized teaser for its eventual DVD/Blu-Ray release. And were you looking for somewhere quiet to do some thinking alone? You should have bought a ticket for “Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star,” which averaged a spectacularly awful $253 per-screen in its second weekend of wide release.

Indie theaters must have been starving for some Gerard Depardieu, as his drama "My Afternoons With Margueritte" grabbed $20k on two screens. It handily outperformed Gus Van Sant's "Restless," which only grossed $17k on five screens. On a quiet weekend for indie releases, the big winner remained "Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain," the standup doc that grabbed $1.1 million on only 230 screens, for a spectacular total of $3.6 million in two weeks. Meanwhile, microdoc "Shut Up Little Man" was a decent-sized winner in its fourth weekend, with $8.5k on two screens for a four week total of $14k. Strong business continued for "The Guard," which collected $389k in its eighth weekend for a $3.8 million tally, and "Higher Ground," which had a steady third weekend expansion for $120k and a three week $470k tally, though the per-screens aren't very strong in the latter case. Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls.

1. Kimba The White Lion 3D (Disney) - $29.3 million
2. Everyone Has Cooties (Warner Bros.) - $14.5 million (total: $44 mil.)
3. Drive (FilmDistrict) - $11 million
4. That's Our Sassy Black Maid! (Disney) - $6.4 million (total: $147 mil.)
5. Straw Dogs (Sony/Screen Gems) - $5 million
6. I Don't Know How What I Am Doing Here Huh What? (The Weinstein Company) - $4.5 million
7. The Debt (Focus/Paramount) - $2.9 million (total: $27 mil.)
8. Warrior (Lionsgate) - $2.8 million (total: $10 mil.)
9. Ape, Planet, Rise, Etc. (Fox) - $2.6 million (total: $172 mil.)
10. Colombiana (Sony) - $2.5 million (total: $33 mil.)

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

17 Comments

  • mekeritrig | September 19, 2011 4:57 AMReply

    "(here’s an idea: A LIBRARY)."

    HAHA! Americans.

  • Sean | September 19, 2011 3:58 AMReply

    @Julie
    Hendricks is gorgeous. But her role was minimal in the film. If anyone, with a small role in Drive, who excelled, it was Perlman.

    @JD
    I guess i couldn't be friends with you.
    I found Drive marvellous. Superb cinematography, perfect acting, and a great soundtrack.

  • Nate | September 19, 2011 3:35 AMReply

    @aquarius1271

    The 3D is not what's driving new business, it's the fact that families have a chance to see a, despite what you think, great film on the big screen again. The reason most 3D releases have been rejected lately is because most of them suck. If Scorsese and Spielberg's releases live up to their names, they should be fine.

  • aquarius1271 | September 19, 2011 2:47 AMReply

    İt's mindless that such a widely known and owned film as The Lion King grossed that much. The American movie going public continues to make even more stupider decisions every new week. They increasingly reject new 3-D releases but flock to see The Lion King just because it is in 3D. I bet they will not bother to see 3D Tintin or Hugo Cabret when they are released later in the fall. And I strongly presume that many people will state headache-inducing glasses and overinflated ticket prices as excuses. For Disney these kinds of excuses do not seem to apply. The only thing the American audiences care about is sheer nostalgic family entertainment presented in a shiny new package. I already feel sorry for Scorsese and Spielberg. Apparently they need not have bothered to create something new.

    And yes, I do not like The Lion King that much to begin with. I have always felt bored from watching that one. I am definitely no Disney hater and I prefer older Disney titles such as Sleeping Beauty or later fare such as Tangled or any day over The Lion King.

  • GCandle | September 18, 2011 10:49 AMReply

    Why do you treat this like it is a bad thing? It proves that Hollywood needs to step up their game and make some good stuff like they did in the past. Also, you don't mention why everyone probably most likely went to see this movie, the nostalgia of it dumbass! It's THE LION KING! Probably one of the best films to come out of Disney!

  • SchiffliFilms | September 18, 2011 10:39 AMReply

    I didn't go see The Lion King because it was in 3D, I saw it because it was the first time I've seen it in theaters since I was 10 and it is way better than any crappy family movie that has been released this entire year!

  • Alohaha | September 18, 2011 10:17 AMReply

    Gabe - I know it may not seem like it, but Disney only releases its animated films on home video one year in ten for this precise reason. There are a lot of people who legitimately want to see a film that is not readily available to see on DVD, and to that extent, I think we can probably cut them some slack for propelling it to the top of the box office.

    Anyone remotely interested in disney's DVD strategy can read more about it here:
    http://blogcritics.org/video/article/disney-animated-movies/

  • Nate | September 18, 2011 9:28 AMReply

    Gabe, instead of whining about middle fingers to originality, you should be happy that parents are introducing their kids to such a great film. Between a library and seeing The Lion King on a big screen, I don't know why anyone would choose the library.

  • Fred | September 18, 2011 8:57 AMReply

    Yes, it is amazing how many people frequent film sites who would seem to love to see cinema fail completely. And It would be great to be able to identify the very first person on the internet who prefaced a snide comment with "um" or "uhhh" so we could properly thank them for their contribution to the electronic lexicon.

  • Gabe Toro | September 18, 2011 6:40 AMReply

    "The Weinsteins' biggest success" doesn't exactly mean "success."

    Some of the commentators seem SO DESPERATE to see studios fail, and for us to confirm it with hard, concrete numbers and overwhelming gloating. I never understood this.

  • cable guy | September 18, 2011 6:36 AMReply

    How on earth is Our Idiot Brother a success? They paid a 6 million advance, then committed 15-20 million in advertising. Harvey then paid for a new ending to the film to be shot. When you factor in the cut that goes to theaters, cost of prints, your looking at a $30 million break even point for the film. That's not even considering possible back-end deals for Paul Rudd that could nudge the break even point to closer to 35 million. This film got one of the most lucrative deals at Sundance. The Weinstein thought that they were going to release it as a summer R-rated raunchy comedy and it was going to be a big commercial hit.

    Ditto Apollo 18. The 5 million budget that you guys toss around isn't even accurate, as the Weinstein Company did a lot of reshoots and tinkering trying to "fix" the movie. They also spent $20 million marketing the film. It needs to gross around $35 million to break even.

    Both films are def. in the red.

  • Josh | September 18, 2011 5:37 AMReply

    @JD

    To each his own. I thought Drive was the most thrilling cinematic experience I've had this year. Of course, I'm a huge fan of Xavier Dolan (similar self-indulgent slow-motion shots) and I relish many of the filming techniques that I can see people totally hating. The "down syndrome" comment seems completely out of line. Gosling and Mulligan are phenomenal in this, even if neither has too much dialogue.

  • JD | September 18, 2011 4:55 AMReply

    Um Julie, Henricks has like 2 lines in drive. She just wears makeup and walks into a pawn shot. Yeah, great performance.

    speaking of which, drive was terrible. Gosling acts like he has down syndrome and the half the movie is just slow motion shots to music or shots of Cary Mulligan or Ryan Gosling starring straight ahead.

    Some cool stuff in it but the director really ruined it with his self indulgence.

  • AR | September 18, 2011 4:49 AMReply

    "a huge middle finger to those who claim audiences are looking for something “fresh” or “new.”"
    Classics are always fresh and new. and certainly more trustworthy than over hyped movies like "Drive".

  • Julie Wyatt | September 18, 2011 4:32 AMReply

    This week's MVP: Christina Hendricks
    She excels with her performances in 'Drive' and 'I Don’t Know How She Does It' and proves her talent and once and for all to those who can’t see past her ample cleavage, fuller legs and fuller backside. These roles are taking her to new places - less 'Mad Men' and more mainstream movies.

  • Amir Syarif Siregar | September 18, 2011 4:23 AMReply

    Nevermind.

  • Amir Syarif Siregar | September 18, 2011 4:23 AMReply

    Hey! Where's the 'Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls' tagline?

Email Updates