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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pixar's sky high as 'Up' soars to $68.2m debut, May 29-31, 2009

Disney-Pixar's computer-animated family film Up dominated the box office in its debut, raking in a whopping $68.2 million. Directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc), the well-reviewed pic represented the first ever 3-D release by Disney's Pixar Animation Studios, as well as the studio's tenth straight No. 1 opening.

The impressive debut ranks as the third biggest in Pixar's illustrious history, finishing behind only the studio's blockbuster hits "Finding Nemo" with $70.2m and "The Incredibles" with $70.5m. Released in 2004, The Incredibles finished with $260m domestic while 2003's Finding Nemo raked in $339.7m, still Pixar's highest grossing film ever.

Featuring the unusual combination of a grumpy old man, a young kid and a floating house, heavy skepticism from Wall Street about the film's financial viability weighed down many predictions for a big opening weekend. Most analysts projected a $50-60 million weekend.

But thanks to a successful premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, glowing reviews (critics polled by rottentomatoes.com gave the film a 98% "fresh" score) and a huge marketing campaign from Disney, the film posted the fourth biggest opening of 2009 and sixth biggest opening ever for an animated release. It was the biggest animated feature opening since 2007's summer hit The Simpsons Movie bowed with $74 million, and the third biggest non-sequel animated debut of all-time (behind only The Incredibles and Finding Nemo). Pixar's Up also compared favorably to its rival studio DreamWorks Animation, whose hits Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar 2 managed $60.2 million and $63.1 million respectively last year.

Delving into the details for the weekend, Disney has got to feel good about the long-term prospects for Pixar's latest effort. Nearly a third of the opening weekend audience were adults without children and 5% were over the age of 50, an unusually high number for an animated release, indicating just how broad the demographic reach of the film was. Also encouraging was audience reaction to the film, with moviegoers polled by Cinemascore giving the film an incredible A+ rating.

Those internals were supported by a healthy 24% increase in ticket sales from Friday to Saturday, indicating strong word of mouth. Given the hefty price tag, the stakes are high for Up to perform well in theaters. Pixar films have lately performed much stronger internationally, and the bulk of its overseas release date takes place in the fall. The film did open in Russia to $4.2 million, Pixar's biggest opening ever in that country.

The numbers, May 29-31, 2009

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Up $68,200,000 3,766 $18,109 $68,200,000 -- 1 Buena Vista
2 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian $25,500,000 4,101 $6,218 $105,296,000 -52.9 2 Fox
3 Drag Me to Hell $16,628,000 2,508 $6,630 $16,628,000 -- 1 Universal
4 Terminator Salvation $16,140,000 3,602 $4,481 $90,657,000 -62.1 2 Warner Bros.
5 Star Trek $12,800,000 3,507 $3,650 $209,500,000 -44.1 4 Paramount
6 Angels & Demons $11,200,000 3,464 $3,233 $104,760,000 -48.4 3 Sony
7 Dance Flick $4,900,000 2,459 $1,993 $19,241,000 -54.0 2 Paramount
8 X-Men Origins: Wolverine $3,900,000 2,263 $1,723 $170,870,000 -51.7 5 Fox
9 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past $1,910,000 1,450 $1,317 $50,020,000 -50.3 5 Warner Bros.
10 Obsessed $665,000 679 $979 $67,508,000 -66.3 6 Sony

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pixar's 'Up' soars to $20.4m on Friday

Though early reports have varied, it looks like Pixar/Disney's animated family adventure "Up" is headed toward a weekend gross in the high $60+ million range. Slashfilm reported first that inside sources put Up's Friday bow at $20.4 million. Variety is now reporting that Disney estimates put the film's Friday take at $21.4 million, which would make it the second biggest opening day in Pixar history (behind only Wall-e's $23.2 million Friday haul).

Playing in 3,766 theaters, Up already set a record for most 3-D screens launched at 1,530. That number should help its weekend total immensely given the better ticket margins for 3-D equipped theaters.

Easily the best reviewed film of the year thus far, with critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com giving the film a stellar 98% "fresh" score, look for word of mouth and a huge Saturday to push Up towards a $66-70 million bow. The two biggest openings in studio history are 2004's The Incredibles with $70.5 million and 2003's Finding Nemo wit $70.3 million.

Monday, May 25, 2009

'Night at the Museum 2' bests 'Terminator Salvation' with $70m bow, May 22-25, 2009

Though this Memorial Day weekend didn't have the wow factor of last year's $126 million Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull bow, or even better 2007's $139.8 million Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End debut, the weekend's two heavyweights Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Terminator Salvation posted strong openings, helping the box office equal the total of last year's holiday frame.

The consensus among analysts was a tight victory for Fox's big budget Night at the Museum, but the sequel blew away even those lofty predictions with a huge $70 million four-day bow, outpacing Salvation by over $16 million and averaging an impressive $17,090 from Friday to Monday from an ultrawide 4,096 theaters. Over the three day frame the Ben Stiller pic took in $53.5 million.

The sequel to Fox's $574 million grossing comedy blockbuster Night at the Museum, Battle of the Smithsonian's $53.5 million Friday-Sunday haul was the biggest live-action debut ever for star Ben Stiller, surpassing the $46m debut of 2004's Meet the Fockers. His career best is still last winter's animated Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, which bowed with $63.1 million.

The original Night at the Museum debuted over the Christmas frame of 2006, opening over the four-day holiday frame with $42.2 million on its way to $250.9m domestic and $574m worldwide. Budgeted at a hefty $150 million, this latest family comedy will face stiff competition next weekend in the form of Pixar's computer-animated comedy Up. Internationally, Smithsonian hauled in an additional $50 million, giving the PG-rated pic a huge $120 million global launch.

Debuting in second with what was certainly a very disappointing $53.8 million four-day bow was Warner's massively-expensive sequel Terminator Salvation. Directed by McG, the $200 million budgeted sci-fi actioner averaged $15,248 in 3,530 theaters.

With buzz seemingly strong given the Springtime hoopla surrounding Christian Bale's on-set meltdown, as well as the strength of the sci-fi franchise itself, many thought Terminator Salvation had the makings of one of the summer's surefire blockbusters. But poor reviews (34% on Rottentomatoes.com) and a surprisingly huge weekend from top competitor Night at the Museum doomed the film's hopes of a record weekend.

Instead, the film finished below its 2003 predecessor Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which took in $72.4 million over its first five days of release compared with the $67.2 million haul for Salvation (which includes Thursday-Monday numbers). Over the Friday-to-Sunday frame Salvation managed just $43 million.

The film's massive price tag was split by Warner Bros., who is handling the film's domestic release, and Sony, which owns the rights to the international market.

The curious choice of handing over the reigns of their Terminator franchise to McG, whose most notable films to date have been the two Charlie's Angels movies, will surely be wondered about for the remainder of the summer. And unless the film generates Oscar-worthy word of mouth, don't expect Salvation to come close to recouping its gigantic budget on the domestic side.

The only other wide-release debut this weekend came from Paramount's spoof comedy Dance Flick, which took in $13.1 million over the holiday frame, averaging $5,347 in 2,450 theaters.

The numbers, May 22-25, 2009

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian $70,000,000 4,096 $17,090 $70,000,000 -- 1 Fox
2 Terminator Salvation $53,825,000 3,530 $15,248 $67,197,000 -- 1 Warner Bros.
3 Star Trek $29,400,000 4,053 $7,254 $191,034,000 -31.7 3 Paramount
4 Angels & Demons $27,700,000 3,527 $7,854 $87,811,000 -40.0 2 Sony
5 Dance Flick $13,100,000 2,450 $5,347 $13,100,000 -- 1 Paramount
6 X-Men Origins: Wolverine $10,100,000 3,183 $3,173 $165,354,000 -31.3 4 Fox
7 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past $4,835,000 2,255 $2,144 $46,973,000 -27.3 4 Warner Bros.
8 Obsessed $2,500,000 1,603 $1,560 $66,408,000 -45.5 5 Sony
9 Monsters vs. Aliens $1,900,000 1,434 $1,325 $193,546,000 -40.3 9 Paramount
10 17 Again $1,280,000 1,107 $1,156 $60,589,000 -62.0 6 Warner Bros.

Monday, May 18, 2009

'Angels & Demons' unseats 'Star Trek' for top spot with $48m, May 15-17, 2009

*correction: Monsters vs. Aliens is currently the top grossing film of 2009, not X-Men Origins: Wolverine (thanks anonymous)

Sony's big budget sequel Angels & Demons reunited director Ron Howard with his main star Tom Hanks, and the combination proved to be enough to unseat last week's reigning champ Star Trek, though just barely. Debuting in 3,527 theaters, the $150 million budgeted book adaptation opened with $48 million, averaging a strong $13,609 per theater.

Still, the debut was significantly lower than its predecessor The Da Vinci Code, which launched amid controversy to $77 million back in May 2006. The film finished with a whopping $217.5 million domestic. Angels & Demons takes place chronologically before Da Vinci Code, and was a far less popular book, which could have reduced its box office appeal.

Suffering from mostly poor reviews from critics Angels & Demons clearly opened below industry expectations, given the name recognition of the franchise, big debut from its predecessor, and lucrative pre-Memorial Day weekend release date. With many analysts anticipating at least a mid-$50 million opening, the $48 million bow had to have been disappointing for Sony execs. It was the worst week-before-Memorial Day weekend in nearly a decade, dating back to Disney's computer-animated Dinosaur, which debuted with $38.9 million.

Released day and date internationally, Angels & Demons raked in a far more impressive $104.3 million, giving the film a very potent worldwide opening haul of $152.3 million.

Holding very strong in second with s 43% drop was Paramount's hit sci-fi actioner Star Trek with $43 million. The JJ Abrams reboot has now amassed $147.6 million in just ten days of release, nearly surpassing the total gross of third place finisher X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Word of mouth has clearly boosted the film's box office prospects, and a $250+ million domestic haul seems like a sure bet.

By mid-week Star Trek will surpass Wolverine in becoming the top grossing film of the summer, and has already surpassed 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home ($109.7m) as the highest grossing film in Trek history. The top grosser of 2009 is currently Monsters vs. Aliens with $190 million*. Internationally, Star Trek hasn't played nearly as strong, raking in $70 million in two weeks of release, bringing its worldwide take to $217.6 million.

Falling 44% to third was Fox's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which took in $14.8 million bringing its three week cume to $151.1 million. The film is still the current worldwide leader at the box office, with $151.1m domestic and another $144.5m overseas. Its worldwide take is an incredible $295.6 million.

The numbers, May 15-17, 2009

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Angels & Demons $48,000,000 3,527 $13,609 $48,000,000 -- 1 Sony
2 Star Trek $43,000,000 3,860 $11,140 $147,611,000 -42.8 2 Paramount
3 X-Men Origins: Wolverine $14,800,000 3,892 $3,803 $151,091,000 -44.0 3 Fox
4 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past $6,860,000 3,150 $2,178 $40,062,000 -33.1 3 Warner Bros.
5 Obsessed $4,550,000 2,634 $1,727 $62,571,000 -30.6 4 Sony
6 17 Again $3,400,000 2,450 $1,388 $58,395,000 -19.7 5 Warner Bros.
7 Monsters vs. Aliens $3,000,000 1,931 $1,554 $190,552,000 -8.0 8 Paramount
8 The Soloist $2,425,000 2,022 $1,199 $27,527,000 -38.6 4 Paramount
9 Next Day Air $2,280,000 1,139 $2,002 $7,648,000 -44.5 2 Summit
10 Earth $1,680,000 1,584 $1,061 $29,071,000 -37.0 4 Buena Vista

Sunday, May 10, 2009

'Star Trek' reboots franchise with dazzling $76.5m debut, May 8-10, 2009

Paramount's long-awaited reboot of their beloved but tired Star Trek franchise worked out about as perfectly as they could have hoped for, as their newest caretaker JJ Abrams dazzled both critics and audiences this weekend with his update of the sci-fi saga. Thanks to a hefty marketing push from Paramount and near universal praise from critics (a whopping 96% of critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com gave the film a recommendation rating), Star Trek cruised to an easy victory with $72.5 million over the weekend and $76.5 million including Thursday night sneak screenings.

Budgeted at $125 million, Abrams and a brand new cast of hot young trekkies managed to revive a franchise once thought all but dead. The last film in the franchise to hit theaters was 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, which petered out with just $43.2 million, the worst performing film among ten dating back to 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Star Trek is the eleventh film in the series).

Star Trek's $72.5 million debut easily became the biggest debut ever for the franchise, surpassing the $30.7 million opening of 1996's First Contact. Its $76.5 million total already puts the film at No. 5 on the all-time Trek list. Reaching out to a much broader audience than any other Star Trek film to date, the Chris Pine-Zachary Quinto starrer managed to create tremendous buzz in a fairly crowded May, which includes last week's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the upcoming Angels & Demons, Terminator Salvation, Night at the Museum, and Up.

Starting with $30.8 million in ticket sales on Friday (including $4 million from Thursday screenings), the film slipped an understandable 11% to $27.4 million on Saturday, falling another 33% to $18.3 million on Sunday. If word of mouth is as strong as reviews have been, look for Star Trek to easily outpace Wolverine by the end of May, and perhaps make a run at $200 million domestic.

After posting a surprisingly strong $85.1 million bow last weekend, Fox's poorly-reviewed X-Men Origins: Wolverine played to form in its sophomore frame, falling 68% to $27 million in second. Thanks to poor word of mouth, and a huge opening from Star Trek, Wolverine's days near the top of the charts seems numbered. Next weekend brings Tom Hank's Angels and Demons, which will continue to hurt the $150 million budgeted superhero pic. Still, in ten days the film has grossed a fantastic $129.6 million, and should wind up with $165 million domestic.

Mathew McConaughey's romantic comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past finished in third with $10.5 million, slipping just 32% from its debut last week. In ten days, the Warner pic has collected $30.2 million.

The weekend's only other debut went quietly to Summit Entertainment's comedy Next Day Air, which opened in sixth with $4 million. The R-rated pic starring Mos Def and Donal Faison averaged just $3,515 in 1,138 theaters.

The numbers, May 8-10, 2009

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 Star Trek $72,500,000 3,849 $18,836 $76,500,000 -- 1 Paramount
2 X-Men Origins: Wolverine $27,000,000 4,102 $6,582 $129,624,000 -68.3 2 Fox
3 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past $10,450,000 3,175 $3,291 $30,246,000 -32.2 2 Warner Bros.
4 Obsessed $6,600,000 2,602 $2,537 $56,247,000 -45.2 3 Sony
5 17 Again $4,405,000 2,903 $1,517 $54,167,000 -30.8 4 Warner Bros.
6 Next Day Air $4,000,000 1,138 $3,515 $4,000,000 -- 1 Summit
7 The Soloist $3,605,000 2,090 $1,725 $23,501,000 -36.2 3 Paramount
8 Monsters vs. Aliens $3,379,000 2,185 $1,546 $186,892,000 -41.8 7 Paramount
9 Earth $2,488,000 1,794 $1,387 $26,086,000 -42.7 3 Buena Vista
10 Hannah Montana The Movie $2,414,000 2,301 $1,049 $74,083,000 -42.0 5 Buena Vista

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' slashes at record book with $85.1m debut, May 1-3, 2009

The first of Fox's big-budget X-Men spin-offs got the 2009 summer season into full swing as the superhero pic X-Men Origins: Wolverine slashed the competition with with a powerful $85.1 million opening, posting the fifth largest debut in history for the first weekend of May.

Budgeted at a hefty $150 million, the Hugh Jackman starrer averaged a scorching $20,751 in 4,099 theaters (a studio record), posting the twelfth largest May opening ever. The biggest May opening of all-time still belongs to 2007's Spider-Man 3, which also posted a $151 million three-day bow over the first weekend of May. Wolverine also became the fifth biggest first weekend of May opening ever, behind only Spider-Man 3, 2002's Spider-Man ($114.8m), 2008's Iron Man ($98.6m), and 2003's X2: X-Men United ($85.6m). Among the X-Men franchise, Wolverine ranks third, behind 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand and X2. The original X-Men opened in 2000 with $54.4 million.

Directed by Gavin Hood, reviews were relatively poor for Wolverine, but thanks to a massive marketing campaign from Fox the film managed a monstrous $35 million opening day on Friday, followed by a 27% drop to $21.3 million on Saturday. Though Marvel Studios opened its own film studio to develop new franchises like Iron Man and The Avengers on its own, Fox still has a development deal with Marvel for the X-Men series. Up next for the franchise is a Magneto origin pic, with a release date set for summer 2011.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The numbers, May 1-3, 2009

 THE TOP TEN Weekend Theaters Avg. Total Gross %+- Wks Distributor
1 X-Men Origins: Wolverine $87,000,000 4,099 $21,225 $87,000,000 -- 1 Fox
2 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past $15,325,000 3,175 $4,827 $15,325,000 -- 1 Warner Bros.
3 Obsessed $12,200,000 2,514 $4,853 $47,002,000 -57.4 2 Sony
4 17 Again $6,355,000 3,255 $1,952 $48,497,000 -44.8 3 Warner Bros.
5 Monsters vs. Aliens $5,800,000 2,626 $2,209 $182,405,000 -31.9 6 Paramount
6 The Soloist $5,600,000 2,033 $2,755 $18,108,000 -42.4 2 Paramount
7 Earth $4,184,000 1,804 $2,319 $21,848,000 -52.6 2 Buena Vista
8 Fighting $4,173,000 2,312 $1,805 $17,507,000 -62.1 2 Universal
9 Hannah Montana The Movie $4,075,000 2,819 $1,446 $70,857,000 -36.7 4 Buena Vista
10 State of Play $3,655,000 2,445 $1,495 $30,883,000 -46.6 3 Universal