SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 2ND UPDATE: Far be it from Summer 2011 to wind down with a whimper. Instead, these waning weekends are crowded with North American releases. I’m suffering burnout especially with four major studio releases in one weekend. It’s not just me: Hollywood’s distribution departments were calling this the “crowded-nearing-the-end-of-summer-but-thank-goodness-for-Apes-and-Help-kinda-weekend”. So what can we glean overall from these box office grosses close to $150 million, +5% compared to last year’s?
That Twentieth Century Fox’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes stayed #1 for the second straight week because humans empathize with apes no matter if we believe in Darwin or Dr. Spock. That DreamWorks/Disney’s The Help was a close #2 despite a midweek debut because movies based on bestselling books nearly always attract loyal readers and this pic has Oscar buzz. That New Line/Warner Bros’ Final Destination 5 looks like a dying franchise even in 3D because the filmmakers stopped murdering people in interesting or original ways. That Sony’s 30 Minutes Or Less isn’t going to result in action comedies replacing raunchy comedies even if this script started its life as one of Hollywood’s Black List of celebrated unproduced screenplays. (Instead Aziz Ansari needs to keep his day job.) That all non-Gleeks now can relax in the knowledge that Fox will never make another Glee 3D unless a few execs at 20th and 20th TV undergo lobotomies. The concert film opened in only 6th place Friday with $2.7M, then Saturday plunged -39% for just $1.6M which took the pic out of the Top 10 completely. Its $5.5M weekend from 2,040 theaters would be humiliating and downright disastrous if it hadn’t been made for such a low budget — around $9.5M to $9.7M, according to Ryan Murphy who emailed me: “That’s compared to the Bieber film which was around $14 million I believe. So the risk [was] very very low. No matter what it will be a money maker for Fox. I am proud of it.” Murphy, who produced but did not direct, was as befuddled as Fox TV and film execs why the pic didn’t do better, especially because it was given an ‘A+’ CinemaScore from audiences under age 25. “The CinemaScores were excellent. They don’t sync up with the results,” one Fox TV exec emailed me. The film studio expected the film would at least reach double-digits and crack the Top 5 for the weekend. Nope. (More Glee 3D analysis below)
Here’s the Top 10:
1. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (Fox) Week 2 [3,691 Theaters]
Friday $8.1M, Saturday $10.8M, Weekend $27M (-49%), Cume $104.4M
Twentieth Century Fox was hoping for a drop of 50% or less on Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and got it. “You do remember that ‘A-‘ CinemaScore don’t you?” boasted one studio exec to me. As if this movie wasn’t a prequel to a played-out franchise saved by CGI primates.
2. The Help (DreamWorks/Disney) NEW (Wed opening) [2,534 Theaters]
Friday $7.6M, Saturday $10.1M, Weekend $25.7M, Cume $35.5M
So here’s a big fat TOLDJA! to DreamWorks and Disney execs who whined to me since Wednesday that my five-day projections of $30+M were too aggressive. “For starters ‘A+’ CinemaScores don’t come along very often and this one will matter as The Help works to help itself into a meaningful crossover film,” as one rival studio exec told me. Interestingly, this dramedy is playing like a Tyler Perry film in the Southeast with significant strength in the Midwest as well. (Not so much in the Rockies and the West. And anemic in Canada.) Now The Blind Side is a comp. Controversy within the African-American community over the racial subject matter didn’t hurt moviegoing and may have increased it because of the media coverage. The DreamWorks pic based on the bestselling book overperformed for its first 5 days with distributor Disney predicting only $25M. The question was exactly how frontloaded The Help would turn out to be and how many more loyal readers flock to theaters after Day One. Then again the book sold 3 million copies and remained on the NYT best-seller list for 103 weeks. According to comps, these so-called appointment films for women based on popular books usually perform in the $20sM. For instance Eat Pray Love did $23M for Friday-Saturday-Sunday the same August weekend last year and its first 5 days was $29M. Julie and Julia also hit $20M. (more…)