SUNDAY 9:30 AM, 7TH UPDATE: Distributor Twentieth Century Fox is reporting that DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods made $63.3 million internationally — including $16 million from overseas previews the weekend before – for a worldwide cume of $108 million. Toon was playing on 11,870 screens in 47 markets and 86 countries representing 60% of the International marketplace. It was a confirmed #1 opening in 44 markets. Top market weekend Highlights included:
Russia: US$12.9M, including previews, from 2,166 screens. #1 in the market. 74% from 3D. Industry biggest non-franchise animated opening in Russia. Mexico: US$9.5M, including previews, from 1,911 screens. #1 in the market. 40% from 3D. Industry biggest non-franchise animated opening in Mexico. United Kingdom: US$8.3M, including previews, from 1,100 screens. #1 in the market. 45% from 3D. Germany: US$4.3M, including previews, from 986 screens. #1 in the market. 78% from 3D. Brazil: US$4.2M, including previews, from 674 screens. #1 in the market. 72% from 3D. Industry 2nd highest non-franchise animated opening in Brazil behind Rio. Spain: US$3.4M from 695 screens. #1 in the market. 20% from 3D. Italy: US$3.3M rom 788 screens. #1 in the market. 47% from 3D. Argentina: US$1.4M from 231 screens. #1 in the market. 60% from 3D. 3rd highest opening weekend ever for Fox in Argentina.
The Croods opens in 19 markets next weekend, including Australia, Belgium and Holland, followed by 3 markets (including Taiwan) the weekend of April 4, and then 3 more markets (including France) the weekend of April 12. School holidays start this week and next in many international markets.
SUNDAY 9:15 AM, 6TH UPDATE: (Top Ten list below) It shaped up as a hot weekend with an extra-strength Saturday and 3 films scoring $20M-plus this weekend. An estimated 13% of K-12 were on school break for the start of the Passover/Easter holidays so family fare ruled. Specifically, DreamWorks Animation‘s PG pre-historic newcomer The Croods (4,046 theaters, including over 3,000 in 3D) led the domestic box office with the widest release. It grossed $11.6M Friday and went up +67% because of the Saturday kiddue bump to $18.9M and an estimated $14.1M for a $44.7M weekend opening. Exit polling showed domestic demos were 57% female and 55% aged 25 and up. Its ‘A’ CinemaScore from audiences obviously helped word of mouth despite only 64% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes endangering its multiple. Pic cost $135M. Rival studios point out this is one of the softest of March openers from DreamWorks Animation and believe it could max out around $155M domestic. (2010’s How To Train Your Dragon also debuted to $43M and went on to make $217M all in – but its reviews were 98% positive.) Fact is that in recent years DWA’s films are badly trailing Pixar’s in terms of domestic openings and multiples – and Wall Street is taking note and depressing the share price of this publicly held company. (Katzenberg should blame himself: he personally lobbied theaters to drive up the price of 3D tickets beyond what parents are willing to pay now after the technology’s novelty wore off.) Distributor Twentieth Century Fox claims this is a “strong opening” for a non-sequel animated film and believe The Croods will really toon up for the next two weeks when kids are on vacation everywhere. Then again, this is the first DWA release by Fox after Jeffrey Katzenberg switched distribution from Paramount so all the execs are relentlessly upbeat. “Terrific opening for DreamWorks Animation/Fox and the beginning of a great partnership,” one suit gushed. Film isn’t exactly The Flintstones in terms of comedic campiness for animation, but TV ads succeeded in making this pic look pleasantly palatable to parents and kids. Directed by Chris Sanders & Kirk DeMicco, and produced by Kristine Belson and Jane Hartwell, voice cast includes Nic Cage, Emma Stone, and Ryan Reynolds none of whom are considered marquee names these days. About 25 overseas markets opened for previews last weekend but only 5 of the top markets (UK, Russia, Germany, Brazil, Mexico). Rival studios claim it’s telling that Fox kept the grosses quiet. But the studio says The Croods will add a big number this weekend to the $16M already in the international till.
Peter Schlessel’s FilmDistrict enjoyed its biggest distribution opening yet with #2 Antoine Fuqua’s R-rated action thriller Olympus Has Fallen (3,098 theaters). It grossed $10M Friday and $12.8M Saturday for $30.5M its first weekend. Pic scored an ‘A-‘ with audiences which helped word of mouth. That’s a relief because the movie’s cost of $70M is one of the bigger budgets this small indiefilm company has ever released. Exit polling showed 53% male vs. 47% female, 73% aged 25 years and older. Plot of the White House takeover by terrorists is newly plausible considering sequester spending cuts meant the U.S. government couldn’t even afford White House tours anymore because of Secret Service staff shortages. No surprise that the film did publicity at the recent CPAC convention for conservative politicos. FilmDistrict acquired distrib rights from Avi Lerner’s Millennium Films which produced and financed. The film was tracking strongest with males ages 18-plus and overperformed its expected high teens. Director and producer Fuqua with Mark Gill assembled a solid cast of Gerard Butler (who also produced and desperately needed a box office hit), Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Ashley Judd, Robert Forster and Rick Yune for the script by credited writers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt.
Disney’s holdover Oz The Great And Powerful (3,805 theaters) is still going strong at #3 with $5.7M Friday and a +80% Saturday kiddie bump of $10.2M for another $23M weekend and $178.5M cume. And #4 is Sony/TriStar’s holdover pickup The Call (2,507 theaters) with $8.7M weekend (-48% from a week ago) and $30.9M cume.
Right now for #5 is Focus Features’ Tina Fey/Paul Rudd new low-budget comedy Admission (2,160 theaters) which grossed $2M Friday and $2.7M Saturday for as soft as $6.4M this weekend. Audiences gave it a mediocre ‘B-‘ CinemaScore which didn’t help. Exit polling showed the audience skewed older (47% over age 50, 63% over age 35) and 68% female and 81% Causasian and 63% college graduates. Oh, Tina, Tina, Tina. You’re the funniest woman on the small screen in my opinion. But Red States may be holding a grudge over your SNL Sarah Palin impressions. And surely you can do better on the big screen than pairing with Paul since he’s box office poison. Pic underperformed studio expectations and barely met the low end of tracking. Even Focus admits grosses are soft despite its middling release and modest $13M cost. Because it’s a $30M-plus P&A pricetag just to open any pic these days. Focus saw a weekend that not only starts the waiting period for college acceptance letters but also had few moviegoing options for adult females aged 25+. “There is also an opportunity to play well through the next few weekends as the older end of our female target 35+ also tends to patronize films in the 2nd and 3rd weeks of release,” a Focus exec told me. Hard to believe this convoluted script based on the Jean Hanff Korelitz novel adapted by credited screenwriter Karen Croner was so clumsily directed by one of my favorites, Oscar nominee Paul Weitz (About A Boy, In Good Company) who also produced. Low-brow TV ads didn’t help the pic any by failing to hint at moments of poignancy no matter how misplaced. Meanwhile Fey, Weitz, and everything else about the film were tagged with poor reviews.
And #6 is A24’s Spring Breakers (1,104 theaters) in expanded but still small release. Quirky yet iconoclastic writer and director Harmony Korine’s R-rated hallucinatory dramedy stars James Franco with Disney/ABC Family princesses trying to shed their virginal images – Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Vanessa Hudgens – all with Korine’s wife Rachel hellbent on a Florida vacation to the dark side. It scored the top limited opening of 2013 last weekend based on per screen averages from 3 theaters in NYC and LA. But it’s no arthouse film nor Beach Blanket Bingo. Instead this cheaply made ($4M cost) seamy sexploitation encouraging drinking and drugs and violence is from the distribution outfit backed by Guggenheim Partners which owns The Hollywood Reporter and made sure the celebrity sheet cravenly hyped every angle of the lurid film and its cast and their SXSW appearance and theatrical opening. A24 acquired domestic rights from Annapurna Pictures whose Megan Ellison tellingly didn’t take a producer credit. (Was she too embarrassed?)
The weekend is way down (-33%) from last year because the Top Ten total won’t even equal the $152.5M opening of The Hunger Games. Based on weekend estimates: