Weekend Box Office: Families Gobble Up "Harry Potter" and "Tangled"; "Love & Other Drugs" Stumbles

by Anthony D'Alessandro
November 28, 2010 5:25 AM
9 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood
Families flocked to fantasy this record Thanksgiving holiday; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I (on its second weekend) and Disney animated fairy tale Tangled 3-D dominated the five day frame. On the indie side, indieWIRE reports that Tom Hooper's Oscar favorite The King's Speech enjoyed a very royal Thanksgiving, breaking the 2010 record for highest per-theater-average in its massive limited debut.

Anthony D'Alessandro does the studio numbers:


Families pushed the robust Thanksgiving box office to an estimated festive three-day record of $187 million, inching out last year’s $186.3 million.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 cast its spell with a $76.3 million five-day--the franchise’s third-best haul over the Turkey frame--while Disney’s Tangled 3-D put the Mouse House back on a track with a $69-million five-day and $49.1 million Friday-Saturday-Sunday– the best start for a Mouse House original/non-Pixar toon since Chicken Little's $40-million bow in 2005.

Thompson on Hollywood
Sony/Screen Gems’ cheery musical Burlesque ($17.2 million) warmed more adults than Fox’s Love and Other Drugs ($14 million) and CBS’ Faster ($12.2 million).

Disney distrib chief Chuck Viane credits the studio’s close distribution and marketing collaboration for Tangled 3-D's boffo opening: “The marketing guys knew how to position Tangled 3-D, trusted our Thanksgiving release date following Potter, and used the movie to sell the movie with word-of-mouth screenings.” Disney went after boys as well as the target girl demo. Critics swooned over Tangled 3-D (87% fresh) and audiences gifted it a jeweled A+ Cinemascore. 56% of Tangled 3-D’s gross was repped by 3-D. That share still reflects too-few theaters in the market to sustain a 3-D blockbuster.

Pundits expected Screen Gems’ $55 million Burlesque to razzle-dazzle holiday crowds with at least $25 million over five-days, but the PG-13 divathon wound up in the mid-to-high teens. For one thing, critics loathed the musical at 33%; Variety’s Peter DeBruge called it a Cabaret redux that “lacks the edge and historical context to pull it off.” But audiences didn’t listen to the intelligentsia: They gave Burlesque an A- Cinemascore, which bodes well for high-kicking legs. Audiences repped 69% women and 54% over 25. The biggest challenge for Burlesque: it wasn’t based on an established Broadway musical title with a built-in following. However, the film bested the wide bows of such Broadway bombs as Nine ($5.4 million) and Thanksgiving 2005’s Rent ($10 million).

Fox's $30-million adult romantic comedy Love & Other Drugs disappointed, given high wattage director Edward Zwick and stars Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. Chalk up the film's so-so grosses to a surplus of adult choices, an R-rating due to ample nudity, and negative reviews. Critics stuck out their tongues (Tomatometer: 42% rotten), which held more discerning adults at bay. Overall Cinemascore was a B-.

The stars worked hard to sell the film, with Hathaway joking about her nude scenes on Saturday Night Live and both stars appearing sans clothes on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. After summer fizzle Prince of Persia, Gyllenhaal’s leading man marquee value is in question. 63% of moviegoers were women and 60% were over 25. Finally, this was a distribution mistake: this romance with dramatic undertones, like a delicate Thanksgiving Beaujolais, needed a spot to air on the schedule, away from a crowded weekend.

It's no surprise that CBS Films’ Dwayne Johnson’s guns-and-gas actioner Faster brought up the rear of the weekend competition. While some R-rated manly movies, such as 1999’s Arnold Schwarzenegger headliner End of Days ($31.5 million 5-day), have fared well over the Thanksgiving break, in recent years studios have thrown low-budget B-grade fare into the holiday fray as counterprogramming: see last year's Ninja Assassin (final domestic cume $38.1 million) and 2007’s Hitman ($39.7 million). Faster didn’t leave any blood stains on CBS’ ledgers as the distributor was exposed to half of the film’s $24 million budget thanks to Sony co-financing. Tomatometer critics didn’t like the smell of Faster’s fumes. The ho-hum factor in Faster: Dwayne Johnson. When Schwarzenegger left the cinema for politics, he left behind an action hero void. The Scorpion King star Johnson, like Vin Diesel and Gerard Butler, hasn't moved to fill it, opting for low-rent choices when he should hold out for higher-octane action epics directed by the likes of Wolfgang Peterson or Tony Scott.

The top 10 films are as follows ranked by 3-day, % change reflective of weekend-to-weekend drop:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (Warner Bros.): $50.3 million down 60% in its second weekend at 4,125 theaters. $12,205 theater average. 5-day: $76.3 million. Domestic total: $220.4 million.

2. Tangled 3-D (Disney): $49.1 million in its first weekend at 3,603 theaters. $13,628 theater average. Domestic total: $69 million in its first 5 days.

3. Megamind (Paramount/DreamWorks Animation): $12.85 million down 20% in its fourth weekend at 3,411 theaters. $3,767 theater average. 5-day: $17.6 million Domestic total $130.5 million.

4. Burlesque (Sony/Screen Gems): $11.8 million in its first weekend at 3,037 theaters. $3,885 theater average. Domestic total: $17.2 million in its first 5 days.

5. Unstoppable (Fox): $11.75 million down 10% in its third weekend at 3,183 theaters. $3,691 theater average. 5-day: $16.2 million Domestic total: $60.7 million.

6. Love and Other Drugs (Fox): $9.85 million in its first weekend at 2,455 theaters. $4,012 theater average. Domestic total: $14 million in its first 5 days.

7. Faster (CBS): $8.7 million in its first weekend at 2,454 theaters. $3,548 theater average. Domestic total: $12.2 million in its first 5 days.

8. Due Date (Warner Bros.): $7.3 million down 18% in its fourth weekend at 2,555 theaters. $2,857 theater average. 5-day:$10.4 million Domestic total: $85 million.

9. The Next Three Days (Lionsgate): $4.84 million down 27% in its second weekend at 2,564 theaters. $1,888 theater average. 5-day: $6.6 million Domestic total: $14.6 million.

10. Morning Glory (Paramount): $4.03 million down 23% in its third weekend at 2,441 theaters. $1,651 theater average. 5-day: $5.5 million. Domestic total: $26.5 million.

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9 Comments

  • influence | November 29, 2010 5:18 AMReply

    It's funny Jake Gyllenhaal is the only one keep be qustioned his leading man status and box office numbers by people and critics. He is one of a few promising young actoers in the Hollywood.
    Honestly, I can't even name one young actor under 30 years old can carry a movie by his own.He has the looks and acting chops.That's why the studio chose him to be the leading man.But it takes time.
    As for prince of persia,we all know the horrible record of video game-adopted movies.It won't change much even you cast Johnny Depp or Hugh Jackman etc...

  • Barbara W | November 29, 2010 2:34 AMReply

    I saw "love and Other Drugs " today was surprised at how much I liked it and it's too bad the critics have panned it because Anne gave a good solid performance.

    In reality the ink elephant here is the nudity and sex...Americans are prudes about this as has been demonstrated time after time.

    I have no issue with sex or nudity in films however and sadly in reality it would have done much better had they been murdering people with axes rather than having sex.

  • mary | November 29, 2010 2:32 AMReply

    Koto:
    Thank you! Actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sam Rockwell may not get as much money as A-list superstars, but they also receive much less pressure to let their careers to be controlled by others, and they have much more freedom to enjoy their careers and personal live. And of course, they will have very long and happy career.

    Barbara W:
    You made good points It is just sad that many US audience still prefer gratuitous violence to nudity and consensual sex on big screen. (They would still like to watch nudity/sex at home, though. It is why "Showgirls" flopped at US box office before it made a lot of money in ancillary markets)

    Movies like "The Reader", "Chloe", "The American" and "The Kids Are All Right" proved that upscale sexual movies can still make money at indie level. Good roles in upscale sexual movies also generally have better impact on actresses' careers than the lead roles in teen-driven horror movies. (BTW, among the actresses who won Best Actress awards at Oscar in recent 21 years, only Julia Roberts and Kathy Bates did not do any nude scene before winning the awards. ) So I wish that the upscale sexual movies will still get made by the independents.

  • Koto | November 29, 2010 1:45 AMReply

    >[i]Based on your theory, very few people outside the Hollywood bubble care about the actors like Sean Penn, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Daniel Day-Lewis. But no matter how much box office power they have, few people in industry can deny that they are great actors. (Even Steven Spielberg is glad to cast Daniel Day-Lewis for his new movie.)

    Very few people have big mainstream box office power in US. On the other hand, actors/actresses don’t have to become big box office star.
    There are many actors/actresses who chase for critical acclaim and industry recognition rather than box office glory, and they achieve better career longevity then many former big box office star. In fact, length of the life as a big box office star has its limit (in hollywood, ‘length’ becomes shorter and shorter); critical acclaim and industry recognition can help actors/actresses to achieve better career longevity. In short, many actors/actresses wish to have better career longevity rather than short-lived fame.[/i]

    What a excellent post,Mary.I'm sure every actors/actresses who have brain totally agree with you.I too think most important thing for actors/actresses is not winning Oscar.It's long,good career,I guess.

  • mary | November 29, 2010 12:18 AMReply

    flacked

    Based on your theory, very few people outside the Hollywood bubble care about the actors like Sean Penn, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Daniel Day-Lewis. But no matter how much box office power they have, few people in industry can deny that they are great actors. (Even Steven Spielberg is glad to cast Daniel Day-Lewis for his new movie.)

    Very few people have big mainstream box office power in US. On the other hand, actors/actresses don't have to become big box office star.
    There are many actors/actresses who chase for critical acclaim and industry recognition rather than box office glory, and they achieve better career longevity then many former big box office star. In fact, length of the life as a big box office star has its limit (in hollywood, 'length' becomes shorter and shorter); critical acclaim and industry recognition can help actors/actresses to achieve better career longevity. In short, many actors/actresses wish to have better career longevity rather than short-lived fame.

  • flacked | November 28, 2010 10:40 AMReply

    Jake Gyllenhaal is entirely a media phantom phenomenon. No one outside the Hollywood bubble cares about him at all. Anthony is right. Jake is good for getting Oscar voters' attention. But they all live in the bubble. To the great movie masses, Jake is just one of hundreds of other interchangeable supporting actors.

    This reminds me of the moment Chris Rock called out Hollywood for repeatedly churning out Jude Law starring vehicles, even though nobody outside the bubble really wanted that. The public didn't hate Jude Law, but they also had no desire to see him as a leading man.

  • mary | November 28, 2010 7:37 AMReply

    Thank you, Anthony!

    I think that Jake Gyllenhaal isn't the reason why “Love & Other Drugs” couldn't open better at US box office.
    The main problem is that “Love & Other Drugs” isn't a typically romance picture; it is a R-rated sexual romantic drama (and it is why Anne Hathaway needed to cut her upfront salary to star in the movie).
    After all, even Julia Roberts' star power could not help "Closer" to gross more than $35 million at US box office.

    That said, "Closer" did much better at overseas box office. And a lot of upscale sexual movies performed much better at overseas box office. (A very extreme example: Ashton Kutcher's "Spread" grossed $250,618 at US box office and $11 million at overseas box office) It is why I think that “Love & Other Drugs” will still be very profitable.

    But I really wished that “Love & Other Drugs” would open better, so the studios would not be too afraid of releasing upscale sexual movies that have strong nude/sex scenes. (Bruce Willis said that "Perfect Stranger" was originally set to be made as a very sexual movie, but the producers eventually deleted most of sexual elements from the script, and Willis was very disappointed)
    That said, if indies can make upscale sexual movies with reasonable budget, they can still make money on them. (ie. in the case of "Chloe", StudioCanal made the movie cheaply and Sony bought the movie cheaply, and both companies could make profit on the movie)

    By the way, upscale sexual movies (which have strong nude/sex scenes) tend to polarize critics, and maybe it is why “Love & Other Drugs” can't receive mostly positive reviews (even "The Reader" couldn't do so).

  • Anthony | November 28, 2010 6:44 AMReply

    Excellent insight Mary. Case in point: Eyes Wide Shut, which did double its domestic or $100 million-plus abroad. I really liked "Love & Other Drugs." It's too bad that it went out this weekend. Anne Hathaway can typically fetch $20-million plus for a romance picture. However, male co-leads are vital in selling chick-pic romantic comedies, and I think Jake only works in Oscar dramas. Burlesque will benefit from solid word of mouth.

    Another point I forgot to bring up due to deadline is that Fox's "Unstoppable" is doing fantastic. Men during the holiday will obviously gravitate toward an excellent actioner. The movie is currently pacing 10% ahead of Fox's "Speed" through three weekends. Though released at different times of the year and in diff. years, "Speed" is a decent compare to "Unstoppable." It finaled at $121.2 million.

  • mary | November 28, 2010 6:32 AMReply

    It is strange to see that "Burlesque" and "Love & Other Drugs" opened at the same weekend, sicne both movies have similar target audience. Based on the box office result, it is clearly a no-win situation.

    It looks like “Love & Other Drugs” will gross around $30 million at US box office, which would be in line with the box office performance of other similar movies.
    Upscale sexual movies (which have strong nude/sex scenes) tend to gross around $30-35 million million at US box office at best (ie. “Monster’s Ball”, “The Reader”, “The American”), and R-rated romantic dramas also tend to gross around $30-35 million million at US box office (ie. “Closer”, “Derailed”, “Brothers”).
    I believe that “Love & Other Drugs” will do very well at overseas box office (especially with the star power of Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway), and the movie will be very profitable. It is just sad that “Love & Other Drugs” isn’t likely to break the upper US box office limit of upscale sexual movies.

    PS: upscale sexual movies and R-rated romantic dramas tend to have more commercial potential in ancillary markets and overseas box office, and both kinds of films can still have positive impact on the career of actors/actresses. So I think that both kinds of films will still get made by the independents (not the major studios)

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