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Friday Box Office Top Ten: Original Films and Inventive Marketing Win

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
September 29, 2012 4:20 PM
1 Comment
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3. End of Watch (Open Road) Week 2 - Last Friday: #2; Last Weekend: #1

$2,400,000 (-48%) in 2,780 theaters (+50); PSA:; Cumulative: $20,269,000

Holding better than Open Road's biggest hit so far ("The Grey," which fell 53% its second weekend, while opening much higher than "End of Watch"), this is a decent performance considering it is competing with two new solid openers.

What comes next: Open Road's game plan is to acquire films and put most of its money into marketing. This weekend's performance suggests they've made another successful investment.

4. House at the End of the Street (Relativity) Week 2 - Last Friday: #1; Last Weekend: #2

$2,300,000 (-50%) in 3,083 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $756; Cumulative: $17,401,000

A normal second week drop for a horror film, with signs that Jennifer Lawrence's starring role continues to be the big draw for this.

What comes next: After "The Hunger Games" and with "Silver Linings Playbook" opening soon, this will be the last time we see Lawrence in a film like this for a long, long time.

5. Trouble With the Curve (Warner Brothers) Week 2 - Last Friday: #3; Last Weekend: #3

$2,300,000 (-45%) in 3,212 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $716; Cumulative: $18,496,000

"Gran Torino," Clint Eastwood's last film as star, fell only 25% its second wide weekend (after opening to much more than double what "Curve" did on its way to a stunning $145 million domestic gross.) This film doesn't seem so far to have anything like the great audience response "Torino" had.

What comes next: Eastwood's last three films as a director (without him as an actor) grossed between $32-37 million, which this likely reaches or surpasses slightly. But three of his last four as an actor grossed over $90 million (going back to "Space Cowboys"), so at age 82 his appeal as a star seems to have taken a big drop.

6. Pitch Perfect (Universal) NEW - Cinemascore:; Metacritic: 65

$1,750,000 in 335 theaters; PSA: $5,224; Cumulative: $1,750,000

An extraordinary opening for what could be the sleeper of the year. Opening in targeted theaters, particularly in areas with college audiences (particularly female), this comedy about an a capella national singing competition had an amazing PSA and a #6 position with only 335 theaters.

Most films that platform and do this well come with a festival/review/awards oriented pedigree appealing to older audiences. Though the reviews came in at a consensus mildly favorable level (the NY Times buried its mixed take among its "also opening" lesser-film group). Universal found alternative marketing to reach its audience. (There was no display ad in yesterday's LA Times, a close to unprecedented marketing decision). Yet the film performed, big time.

This is the first feature film for director Jason Moore, who was Tony-nominated for "Avenue Q" and also has TV experience. Three years after her Oscar nomination as a young executive in "Up in the Air," Anna Kendrick heads up the cast here as a college freshman. She also stars in well-received hit "End of Watch."

Actress Elizabeth Banks and her husband Max Handelman made up 2/3s of the producing team along with Paul Brooks ("Because I Said So"). Banks joins a growing trend of actresses stepping up into producing and/or writing, a significant development this year.

What comes next: This goes wide next Friday, with this week meant to establish word of mouth in advance. This unusual release pattern could become a model for future films. It was risky, but if as is likely "Picture Perfect" turns into a hit expect to see selected films take this route.

7. Finding Nemo 3D (Buena Vista) Week 3 - Last Friday: #4; Last Weekend: #4

$1,017,000 (-41%) in 2,639 theaters (-235); PSA: $362; Cumulative: $33,426,000

After lagging far behind the performance of "The Lion King 3D" last year its first two weeks, this actually will have a smaller third weekend falloff, but its gross is still much weaker (on its way to a reissue gross of $94 million, "King" still did over $10 million its third weekend).

What comes next: A total reissue gross of about half of "The Lion King."

8. Won't Back Down (20th Century-Fox) NEW - Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic score: 43

$921,000 in 2,515 theaters; PSA: $366; Cumulative: $921,000

Surrounded by controversy because of its perceived anti-teacher's union story line, this inner city story of parents fighting for their children's education flopped despite a cast including Viola Davis in her first lead role since "The Help."

Financed by Walden Media (which also backed the documentary "Waiting for Superman," and whose films almost always aspire for middle-America/family audiences ("Chronicles of Narnia," "Bridge to Tabitha," "The Water Horse") this had a production budget of just under $20 million.

What comes next: Unless word of mouth kicks in quickly, this is likely to quickly disappear.

9. Resident Evil: Retribution (Sony) Week 3 - Last Friday: #6; Last Weekend: #5

$810,000 (-58%) in 2,381 theaters (-635); PSA: $340; Cumulative: $36,515,000

Another big falloff in a crowded genre film market, but Sony is not unhappy.

What comes next: This has already grossed over $100 million in the rest of the world.

10. The Master (Weinstein) Week 3 - Last Friday: #7; Last Weekend: #7

$787,000 (-43%) in 856 theaters (+68); PSA: $919; Cumulative: $7,676,000

Not an encouraging falloff (with additional theaters coming on) for Paul Thomas Anderson's acclaimed drama, only two weeks after its huge platform openings. The weekday grosses last week were promisingly consistent (which suggested sustained interest and good reaction). But the PSA here for the quality of theaters this is playing at suggest that this is not in for a long run and an initial gross (before a planned wider reissue around nominations) under $20 million.

What comes next: This will need major critics' groups support in December (which is quite likely) to help reinvigorate this later on.

Box Office
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1 Comment

  • Egils Milbergs | September 29, 2012 7:05 PMReply

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