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Weekend Box Office: The Help Ascends to Number One, Spy Kids 4 Strongest Newbie

by Anthony D'Alessandro
August 21, 2011 4:51 AM
9 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

As expected, robust holdover drama The Help kept all weekend newcomers at bay and claimed the number one spot. Of the newbies, family-friendly Spy Kids 4 fared best. Anthony D'Alessandro reports:


Disney/DreamWorks' The Help bossed around three franchise reboots and an arthouse film for the top box office spot, earning $20.5 million in its second sesh and a respectable 21% dip. Clearly, many moviegoers have lost patience with summer carbon copies and are ready to embrace the autumn wave of smart adult fare coming down the pipe. Weinstein Co. four-quel Spy Kids: All the Time in the World came out ahead of the competition with $12 million because it was the only film geared toward families. Meanwhile, two R-rated 3-D films shot each other in the chest: Nu Image/Lionsgate's Conan the Barbarian forked $10 million and DreamWorks' Fright Night, handled by Disney, scared audiences out of the multiplex with $8.3 million. And Focus Features' One Day bucked sour reviews in top markets, grossing $5.1 million.
It made sense for the Weinstein Co./Dimension to stick to its mid-August playdate for Spy Kids 4, where the series has historically thrived. The kid flick pulled in 67% females and 65% kids under 12. Posting the lowest bow in the series, even lower than Spy Kids 2 ($16.7 million), it seems that Dimension wasn't expecting The Smurfs to make a dent in the market. Furthermore, it's been eight years since the last installment. But Weinstein distribution exec Erik Lomis has no regrets over the crowded release date: "We made sure we were the only wide release geared toward our demo." Optimism prevails heading into September as Spy Kids 4, armed with a B+ Cinemascore, is one of the only family films out there.

Advance projections for the weekend predicted Nu Image's Conan the Barbarian, distributed by Lionsgate had the edge over Spy Kids 4 to win the weekend. Aiming to emulate the success of it's '80s action homage The Expendables a year ago, Nu Image spent $90 million to jumpstart Conan; Lionsgate thought it was a good investment, snapping up U.S./U.K. rights for $25 million. While Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have remained alive in peaks and valleys at the B.O., Conan hasn't. The film had a small cult following that hasn't been kept alive through the decades like Terminator; Conan wasn't a blockbuster back in 1982 either: it grossed $40 million. Lionsgate worked overtime promoting this film on social networks and earned 97% positive scores with its YouTube trailers. There was a reveal in the online game Age of Conan, which clicked 300K new subs in the last month. Folks were hooting and hollering at a Burbank midnight screening Thursday. It's an opulent, bloody epic with a beefcake guy (Jason Momoa) who does the role justice. The film deserved another release date away from the fray. "It's a missed opportunity," points out one rival studio exec.

Why place a horror film in the middle of a crowded weekend? It's the last chance to get any summer teenagers. Fright Night cost $30 million and Disney probably figured that if they came up short, they wouldn't lose their shirt. The film's failure to click stemmed from its inability to win over old fans; apparently Colin Farrell isn't someone teen girls fantasize about as a vampire (see Rob Pattinson or Alexander Skarsgard). Could he be too old?

One Day started out okay for Focus Features, hitting 72% females and 73% over 25. While lackluster reviews can spell death to many arthouse films, One Day played well to frequent female moviegoers, many of whom had already seen The Help. 73% of the crowd smooched it with either an A or a B Cinemascore, which should give it some legs.


The Top Ten Box Office Chart:


1. The Help (Disney/DreamWorks) $20.5 million down tkk% in its second weekend at 2,690 theaters. $tkk theater average. Domestic total: $71.8 million.
2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Fox) $16.3 million down 41% in its third weekend at 3,471 theaters. $4,696 theater average. Domestic total: $133.8 million.
3. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (Weinstein) $12 million in its first weekend at 3,295 theaters. $3,648 theater average. Domestic total: $12 million.
4. Conan the Barbarian (Lionsgate/Nu Image) $10 million in its first weekend at 3,015 theaters. $3,317 theater average. Domestic total: $10 million.
5. Fright Night (Disney/DreamWorks) $8.3 million in its first weekend at 3,114 theaters. $ theater average. Domestic total: $8.3 million
6. Smurfs (Sony) $8 million down 42% in its fourth weekend at 3,057 theaters. $2,617 theater average. Domestic total: $117.7 million.
7. Final Destination 5 (Warner Bros./New Line) $7.7 million down 57% in its second weekend at 3,155 theaters. $2,442 theater average. Domestic total: $32.3 million.
8. 30 Minutes or Less (Sony) $6.3 million down 53% in its second weekend at 2,888 theaters. $2,181 theater average. Domestic total: $25.8 million.
9. One Day (Focus Features) $5.1 million in its first weekend at 1,719 theaters. $2979 theater average. Domestic total: $5.1 million.
10. Crazy, Stupid, Love (Warner Bros.) $4.95 million down 30% in its fourth weekend at 1,940 theaters. $2,552 theater average. Domestic total: $64.4 million.

9 Comments

  • Anthony | August 22, 2011 8:57 AMReply

    Hi Samantha, One Day was made for $15 million, and Focus typically recoups abroad on its films. If Focus has some intel that says the film is better than what John Q public thinks, and I agree Anne's accent makes dogs bark, furthermore she's jumped the shark: http://teamcoco.com/video/anne-hathaway-paparazzi-rap

    She really has to stop stretching and just be herself.

  • Samantha | August 22, 2011 7:01 AMReply

    I'm sorry but 'One Day' flopped. Hard. It's based on a best-selling book, it should have made more than $5 Million. According to Deadline the cinema score was a B-, so it's not going to get good word of mouth. Anne's accent was HORRIBLE.

  • JC | August 22, 2011 3:25 AMReply

    If that's what he meant, then perhaps he should have actually said it.

  • mary | August 21, 2011 11:40 AMReply

    JC:

    Maybe Anthony just thinks that Alexander Skarsgard has more appeal to young girl than Colin Farrell.

    Anthony may has his point: Alexander Skarsgard is a famous TV star, but Colin Farrell is an acclaimed actor without mainstream box office draw.

    I remember that after "The Island" flopped, the film's producer Laurie MacDonald blamed Scarlett Johansson for not having enough box office draw box office draw and said that even lesser television actresses would have more connection to audience.

  • dewayneinsd | August 21, 2011 6:13 AMReply

    It was Arnold not Stallone in Conan ;-)

  • Angela | August 21, 2011 6:09 AMReply

    I hope they include the following characters in future Conan sequels:

    Akiro, Bêlit, Fafnir, Red Sonja, Subotai, Valeria, Zenobia

    I look forward to seeing the following villains in future Conan sequels:

    Jenna, Kulan Gath, Mikhal "the Vulture" Oglu, Rexor, Serpent Men, Thorgrim, Thoth-Amon, Thulsa Doom, Vammatar, Xaltotun, Yezdigerd, Zukala

  • JC | August 21, 2011 6:02 AMReply

    Colin Farrell is all of 3 months older than Alexander Skarsgård. I fail to see how that would make Skarsgård just the right age and Farrell too old.

  • Nicole Lindsay | August 21, 2011 5:36 AMReply

    Arnold Schwarzenegger is the greatest Conan of all time. Jason Momoa looks more like Tarzan than Conan.

    It is unfortunate that 5 Days of War only got a limited release in the U.S. and has already gone straight to DVD here in the UK. It has Renny Harlin directing and a stellar cast – Rupert Friend, Val Kilmer, Andy Garcia, Dean Cain, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Heather Graham, Antje Traue, Rade Serbedzija. It would have been interesting to see how it would have done commercially if released nationwide.

  • mary | August 21, 2011 5:07 AMReply

    1) I agree with you that "One Day" did fine for Focus Features (which probably had already recouped most of this film's budget back from foreign sales alone) .

    2) “The Help” could gross more than $150 million in US.

    On the other hand, Anthony Kaufman wrote that “The Help” may be this year’s “Crash” . (He disliked both films)
    http://blogs.indiewire.com/anthony/archives/is_the_help_this_years_crash/

    I had some doubts about the Oscar potential of “The Help” , but Anthony Kaufman’s article explained my doubts; now I feel that “The Help” would become a big Oscar winner like “Crash”.

    I am willing to shamelessly say that “The Help” is almost locked to win the Best Picture award at Oscar 2012. Other Oscar contenders may be the masterpieces; but on surface, their subject matters seem to have much less mainstream appeal than “The Help” (which clearly has huge appeal to both mainstream audience and the Academy’s mainstream branches).

    I even think that “The Help” could become the highest-grossing Best Picture Oscar winner in US since "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King".

    BTW, “The Help” and "Crash" have the same editor (Hughes Winborne).
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0003893/

    3) In here, I humbly beg TOH to wrote an article to analysis about what went wrong with "Attack The Block"! Screen Gems worked hard to market this movie only to Geeks, but they clearly didn't put much effort to market this film to other kinds of audience. Even after "Attack The Block" opened strong, Screen Gems still didn't capitalize on the strong opening and help this film to crossover. (apparently, Screen Gems didn’t run the TV spots of “Attack The Block” until last week, right after this film’s weekend PTA had already dropped from $17,438 to $2,699)

    If Screen Gems thought that "Attack the Block" could only appeal to geeks, why Screen Gems agreed to release this film for Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions? Maybe Screen Gems did so only for keeping "Attack The Block" from other Sony's distribution divisions and third-party distributors? (Both Sony Pictures Classics and FilmDistrict would be able to handle "Attack the Block" more respectfully and successfully. )
    http://www.indiewire.com/article/screen_gems_take_sxsws_attack_the_block/

    On the other hand, films like "Shaun of the Dead", "Hot Fuzz" and "Paul" enjoyed moderate successes in wide releases in US; it may indicates that "Attack the Block" has potential to crossover.

    Anyway, "Attack the Block" is clearly a geek favorite and one of the best reviewed films of this summer. If TOH can interview both Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, then published an article about what went wrong with "Attack The Block", I think that the article will be one of the most popular TOH articles in this month! :p

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