SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM UPDATE: If everybody like me is getting on or off a plane, then who’s at the movies this weekend? This is why, between shopping and partying and travelling, the last full weekend before Christmas is traditionally a lousy time for North American grosses. “They’re not rushing out to see movies. What you tend to forget, going into this weekend, is that the pool of people who are available, and don’t have a lot of commitments on their time in terms of parties and presents and vacations, is small,” a studio mogul explains to me. Meanwhile, Paul Dergarabedian is reporting that 2010 year-to-date revenues crossed the $10 billion mark this weekend, only the 2nd time in Hollywood history that this mark has been surpassed in domestic revenue. With only 12 days left in the box office year, he says it’s possible for record revenues beating last year’s $10.6 billion. But it’s because of higher ticket prices: attendance is likely 4% down from 2009’s full year total.
Here’s the Top 10:
1. Tron: Legacy 3D (Disney) NEW [3,451 Theaters]
Friday $18M, Saturday $14.9M, Weekend $43.6M, Intl $23M, Global $66.6M
Sequels 28 years after the original rarely happen in Hollywood. Yet this was exactly the sort of movie to benefit during the pre-Christmas rush because of the obvious fanboy interest, helped by the fact that every young male is out of school and can indulge his cultural need to see films like this first. So Hollywood and even Disney had been expecting a weekend of at least $50M. “Depends how good it is,” one rival studio exec snarked. The movie’s domestic grosses fell short. Remember that Friday’s number included $3.6M from midnight screenings, so Saturday’s take didn’t increase — not a good sign. With a budget estimated as $150M, and a global marketing push estimated at another $120M, Tron: Legacy 3D had a ton of pre-sales domestically but will have to depend on international overperforming. Globally, Tron 2 opened in 26 international markets (Australia, Brazil, Japan, Scandinavia, Spain, UK, etc.) representing about 50% of the marketplace. Overseas, Tron took in $23M for a worldwide total now of $66.6M.
Disney had arranged for “Tron Night” at 520 theaters in 40 countries, with premiere events in Tokyo, London, Los Angeles and Berlin (in January 2011). Not only did Tron 2 open the Tokyo International Film Festival, but key buildings in Osaka, Nagoya, and Yokohama were covered in blue Tron lights, while in Toronto the CN Tower was similarly lit up. Disney’s consumer products division came onboard. The studio even used its newly purchased Marvel to push the pic: a 2-issue comic book limited series, “Tron: Betrayal” grqaphic novel was sold under the Tron name. Meanwhile, the film’s soundtrack from Walt Disney Records produced by the Grammy Award-winning French duo Daft Punk hit #1 on Amazon, became iTunes single of the week, and debuted at #10 on the Billboard Top 200 — the first score soundtrack to debut in the Top 10 in five years.Nice, but that didn’t put moviegoers in seats…
2. Yogi Bear 3D (Warner Bros) NEW [3,515 Theaters]
Friday $4.7M, Saturday $7.1M, Weekend $16.7M
Not much good to say when Hollywood thought the bear could muster domestic grosses between $20M and $25M. Nope. The kiddie matinee bump for Yogi Bear was +52% on Saturday. Let’s see how it does over the holiday. But I pity the poor parent who has to sit through this Jellystone Park mind-dumber, even with the nostalgia factor. Especially considering the higher 3D ticket prices.
3. Narnia/Dawn Treader 3D (Walden/Fox) Week 2 [3,555 Theaters]
Friday $3.5M, Saturday $5.1M, Weekend $12.4M (-48%), Cume $42.7M
4. The Fighter (Relativity/Paramount) Week 2 [2,503 Theaters]
Friday $3.9M, Saturday $4.8M, Weekend $12.2M, Cume $12.6M
Paramount gushed what a “great start” this expansion is for their blue collar Oscar contender. “We should have great word of mouth and play to a great multiple,” an exec tells me because of The Fighter‘s high 88% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and “A-” CinemaScore and mere $25M budget. The studio’s adult-targeted Christmas release last year, Up In The Air, did $11.3M in wider release and went on to gross $83M domestically. Exit polls shows The Fighter played to a very balanced audience, 47% male, 53% female, with its R rating obviously playing older, 87% were over age 25. “Adult movies in the window play to very high multiples, 6 to 8 times this weekend,” a Paramount exec tells me. “With these exits and reviews, it’s on a great path. Just in case you haven’t heard it already, here’s the backstory: Paramount had been developing this film with producers David Hoberman and Mark Wahlberg for several years. The moment he learned nearly 5 years ago that he’d be starring in the movie — alongside Matt Damon for then anointed director Darren Aronofsky — Wahlberg built a boxing ring his backyard, hired two trainers on his own dime, and trained hours each day to hone his skills. Wahlberg never stopped training, not when Damon dropped out and Brad Pitt came in, not when Aronofsky dropped out, Pitt left, and the project was nearly knocked out. Then Relativity Media came in and agreed to finance and produce the film. Director David O Russell was brought in and deals were restuctured to get the budget down to $25 million. Paramount retained the option to keep domestic rights, which the studio elected to do once it screened the final film.
5. The Tourist (GK Films/Sony) Week 2 [2,756 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Saturday $3.5M, Weekend $8.7M (-47%), Cume $30.7M
6. Tangled 3D (Disney) Week 4 [3,201 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Saturday $3.8M, Weekend $8.6M, Cume $129.7M
Not only does Disney’s Tangled look to overtake DreamWorks Animation’s Megamind ($142M) before the end of the year, but the Rapunzel retelling has now made $97.8M abroad for a worldwide cume of $225.6M.
7. Black Swan (Fox Searchlight) Week 3 [959 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Saturday $3.2M, Weekend $8.3M, Cume $15.7M
Terrific gross for the first wide expansion on this Oscar-touted film pre-holiday time. Black Swan will expand again on December 22 to approximately 500 additional theatres.
8. How Do You Know (Sony) NEW [2,483 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Saturday $2.9M, Weekend $7.6M
Sony Pictures all week had been warning me about how little Jim Brooks’ movies make. The problem is that none of his films have been this expensive. Brooks’ highest grossing opening as a director was $12.6 million for As Good As It Gets, in part because Jack Nicholson was the lead. At first Sony hoped to come close to that for a solid multiple since this is a season where these films leg out. Not this expensive flop. Today, even Sony admitted this was a “disappointing start”. Tracking stayed awful right up until the movie opened Friday well behind Black Swan which was expanding into almost 1,000 screens this weekend and scoring twice How Do You Know‘s first-choice numbers for women. As for mutiples, they’re dependent on good word of mouth which this bomb never had. Without that, anything less than $15M this weekend was a giant headache for Sony given what I’m told is How Do You Know‘s $120 million budget — no kidding, and for a comedy — while a weekend under $10M represents a $50 million writeoff for Sony. That’s because Brooks kept to his usual long, long schedule, shooting a ton of footage, all while Jack Nicholson and Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon were getting paid full freight. Brooks wrote this pic for and around Witherspoon, then he indulged in uber-expensive reshoots as the studio and the writer/director tried to make Reese’s unlikeable character more appealing. But Black Swan, in the words of one studio rival, was “a better alternative” at the box office for women. Ouch! Opening weekend exits showed the audience was 60% female and 55% over 30 years old. Sony has had another great year at the domestic box office, but it’ll try to sever its longtime connection with Jim Brooks after this.
9. Harry Potter/Deathly Hallows, Pt 1 (Warner Bros) Week 5 [2,860 Theaters]
Friday $1.5M, Saturday $2M, Weekend $4.8M, Cume $265.5M
10. Unstoppable (Fox) Week 6 [1,876 Theaters]
Friday $550K, Saturday $810K, Weekend $1.8M, Cume $77.3M
The King’s Speech (Weinstein Co) Week 4 [43 Theaters] Weekend $1M, Cume $2.9M
127 Hours (Fox Searchlight) Week 7 [307 theaters] Weekend $520K, Cume $9.2M
The Tempest (Miramax/Touchstone) Week 2 [21 Theaters] Weekend $53K, Cume $117K
Rabbit Hole (Lionsgate) NEW [5 Theaters] Weekend $55K
FRIDAY AM: Disney now says Tron Legacy 3D opened to $3.6 million from midnight screenings. It also did over $1 million from 228 IMAX theaters. I’m told that’s by far the biggest percentage — 25+% — done of any movie’s midnight box office, and more than the percentage of midnight take by IMAX for Iron Man 2, Inception, Avatar. But note that’s not the highest IMAX gross.