Four new releases assembled at the North American box office but none had the strength to unseat the hit comedy Think Like A Man from the number one spot. The last weekend of April is usually a dumping ground for films with uncertain commercial appeal and this year studios used the frame to jettison its late-spring waste before heading into what should be a red hot summer season. All four new films failed to reach a $4,000 average and the three R-rated pics do not look to have much of a future.
Despite the parade of new titles on display, moviegoers made the battle-of-the-sexes comedy Think Like a Man number one for a second straight weekend thanks to an estimated $18M in ticket sales representing a 47% decline from the surprisingly potent opening. The Sony release is still playing in only 2,015 locations so its average of $8,933 was once again spectacular. In fact, the only films all year to post better sophomore weekend averages were The Hunger Games and The Lorax which just happen to be the top grossing films of 2012. Budgeted at only $12M, Man has now grossed a terrific $60.9M after just ten days and seems headed for a $90-100M domestic finish which would be about eight times the production cost.
Four films followed in a very tight range with estimates putting them within $243,000 of each other. Since studio estimates include only a guess at what Sunday sales will be, final numbers to be reported on Monday could see some movies change in the rankings.
Opening in second place with a respectable performance was the claymation-style toon The Pirates! Band of Misfits with an estimated $11.4M from 3,358 theaters for a mild $3,395 average. The PG-rated British film played to younger children and their parents (76% of the audience) and earned strong reviews too. With hardly anything else out right now for that demographic, Pirates carved out a nice audience for itself even though the numbers were far from big. But good word-of-mouth and a lack of direct competition could keep the loot coming in for weeks to come. Violent early summer tentpoles like The Avengers, Battleship, and Men in Black 3 are sure to attracts millions of kids, but all three are PG-13 titles so studios have nothing aimed at younger children until Madagascar 3 on June 8 creating a huge opportunity for Sony. Budgeted at just under $60M, Pirates has already grossed $63.7M from its international runs over the past few weeks for a worldwide total to date of $75.1M for the Hugh Grant-voiced pic.
Falling 50% on its second weekend, the Zac Efron romance vehicle The Lucky One followed with an estimated $11.3M bumping the ten-day total up to a solid $39.9M. Warner Bros. may find its way to about $60M or so. The Hunger Games, 2012’s biggest blockbuster so far, smashed the $600M global mark and continued to display incredible legs in North America. Katniss and company collected an estimated $11.3M this weekend domestically dipping a mere 23% which was the smallest decline yet in its six-week run. The Lionsgate hit has now amassed a towering $372.5M putting it at number 17 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just ahead of the $370.3M of 2004’s The Passion of the Christ. The $400M domestic mark now looks reachable, although how much Avengers obliterates its competitors starting next weekend will be a factor. Overseas, Games grossed an estimated $7.4M upping the international cume to $228.5M and the worldwide sum to $601M with domestic accounting for a very high 62%.
A trio of new R-rated films debuted in the next three spots all generating lukewarm averages between $3,000 and $4,000. The relationship comedy The Five-Year Engagement starring Jason Segal and Emily Blunt bowed to an estimated $11.2M playing to an adult female audience. Universal’s $30M production averaged $3,800 from 2,936 locations and earned mixed but decent reviews from film critics. Audiences were not too pleased with what they paid to see as the CinemaScore grade was a disappointing B-. According to studio research, a high 64% of the crowd was female and 57% was 30 and older. Serving as the opening night film for the Tribeca Film Festival last week got it some extra press, but didn’t seem to translate into much of a national bump. Engagement scored an opening weekend average that was not much higher than Wanderlust’s, the studio’s other R-rated couples comedy from this year.
Jason Statham’s latest action offering Safe landed in sixth place with an estimated $7.7M opening. Averaging only $3,407 from 2,266 theaters, the R-rated pic came in on the lower end of the action star’s usual range and matched up with debuts for Crank: High Voltage and Killer Elite which premiered to $7M and $9.4M, respectively. Reviews were mixed and the usual crowd of young men made up the primary audience.
Audiences weren’t too interested in seeing John Cusack play Edgar Allan Poe as the gothic thriller The Raven debuted in seventh with an estimated $7.3M for a weak $3,291 average from 2,203 locations. The R-rated mystery got slammed by critics which had a big impact since it skewed to an older audience. Exit polls showed that 59% of the audience was 25 and over while the gender split was more even with 52% being male. Moviegoers were just somewhat satisfied with what they saw as the CinemaScore was only a B. Produced for $26M, the Relativity release did not have the starpower or critical support to draw a large audience and the road ahead will be tough.
Disney’s latest nature doc Chimpanzee fell 49% in its second frame to an estimated $5.5M putting the ten-day cume at a solid $19.2M. Look for a final tally of around $30M which would easily beat out the performances of the studio’s last two Earth Day releases African Cats and Oceans. The comedy The Three Stooges took in an estimated $5.4M, off 45%, for a mild $37.1M cume. Rounding out the top ten was the horror flick The Cabin in the Woods which dropped 44% to an estimated $4.5M giving Lionsgate $34.7M to date.
Overseas, where studios are increasingly taking advantage of local holiday opportunities and different school calendars to launch summer action tentpoles before the United States, the box office witnessed a mammoth start for the super hero extravaganza The Avengers which amassed an estimated $178.4M from openings across 39 markets since Wednesday. Number one everywhere, Iron Man and pals broke the all-time opening weekend records in over a dozen territories including Mexico, Brazil, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. Leading the way were the U.K. with $24.7M, Australia with $19.7M, Mexico with $15.9M, and Korea with $12.9M. The global assault was espcially impressive as the 3D epic did not include the action-loving markets of China and Russia which open with North America next weekend or Japan which opens in August. The cast has been touring the world in recent weeks selling its new comic book juggernaut at red carpet premieres and press junkets in Moscow, London, Beijing, Rome, and Berlin aimed at heating up sales. The PR investment has been paying off and with such lucrative markets yet to open, The Avengers now looks on course to possibly break the $1 billion worldwide mark for Marvel and its owner Disney.
Also making its mark on the international marketplace, Universal’s Battleship took in an estimated $22.5M in its third weekend upping the overseas tally to $170M with one-third coming from China, Russia, and Japan. The studio tried to get in as much business as it could in each country before the arrival of Avengers. Domestically, the big-budget war-at-sea flick opens two weeks after the super heroes on May 18. Rival boat flick Titanic 3D pulled in $18.5M cruising to $260.9M international and $317.2M worldwide. The lifetime totals for the iceberg smash have now reached $657.1M domestically and $2.16 billion globally.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $93.5M which was down 33% from last when Fast Five kickstarted the summer season early opening to $86.2M; but up 6% from 2010 when A Nightmare on Elm Street bowed at number one with $32.9M.
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