Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Audiences Support G.I. Joe at #1

Also: Julie & Julia cooks up a counterprogramming winner; Geatway not so Perfect.

by | August 9, 2009 | Comments

Movie fans wanted mindless action and real American heroes and drove
G.I. Joe
to a huge
number one opening grossing more than the next five films combined by targeting
young males. Meryl Streep held her own against all the military hardware
generating a strong second place showing for her turn as a celebrity chef in
Julie & Julia

which played well to adult women. Entertaining entirely different audiences, the
two new releases joined forces to help the North American box office break a
four-week losing streak as the marketplace beat out last year’s numbers by a
healthy margin.

Attacking an ultrawide 4,007 theaters,
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

posted the fourth largest August opening ever taking in an estimated $56.2M this
weekend. The Paramount hit averaged a muscular $14,025. With an additional $44M
from foreign bows in numerous territories, the PG-13 film collected $100M
worldwide in its first weekend of play. After its Transformers sequel got
panned by critics but attracted massive crowds of moviegoers as 2009’s top
blockbuster, the studio decided to limit the number of press it would show Joe
to ahead of the release. The only films to open bigger in August were The
Bourne Ultimatum
($69.3M in 2007), Rush Hour 2 ($67.4M in 2001), and
Signs ($60.1M in 2002).

Studio research showed that males made up 60% of the crowd while those over and
under 25 were evenly split. Families made up one-third of the audience while 25%
of the turnout was Latino. Friday started with a bang with $22.3M in ticket
sales. Saturday saw a 18% fall to $18.3M while Sunday is estimated to decline by
another 14% to $15.7M. Produced for a hefty $175M and marketed aggressively to
mainstream American moviegoers looking for escapist popcorn fare, G.I. Joe
opened as the final major action tentpole of the summer and faced little
competition from similar titles.[rtimage]MapID=1193682&MapTypeID=2&photo=32&legacy=1[/rtimage]Adult
women not interested in mindless violence lined up for the Meryl Streep-Amy
Adams pic Julie &
Julia
which opened to a strong $20.1M, according to estimates. Playing
in 2,354 theaters, the PG-13 film averaged a strong $8,539 per location and was
effective counter-programming against the testosterone blast of G.I. Joe.
If estimates hold, Julie will give Streep a $20M+ opener in three of the
last four summers with each one programmed against a male-skewing action
tentpole. In 2006, her comedy The Devil Wears Prada debuted to $27.5M
opposite Superman Returns while last summer’s musical Mamma Mia!
bowed to $27.8M against the record launch of The Dark Knight. Now 60, Streep has
become a potent box office star in her later years.

Produced for just $38M, Julie enjoyed a 17% sales bump on Saturday and
scored an encouraging A CinemaScore grade making the road ahead look very
promising. Films targeting older women tend to have legs too so a final gross
north of $80M could result. Studio research from Sony indicated that the film
connected with its target audience as 67% was female and 64% was 35 or older.
Reviews were positive and moviegoers came out to see the Oscar winner play chef
Julia Child.[rtimage]MapID=1207146&MapTypeID=2&photo=29&legacy=1[/rtimage]Disney’s
3D actioner
G-Force
dropped 44% but remained in third place taking in an estimated
$9.8M pushing the cume to a robust $86.1M for the expensive pic. The Jerry
Bruckheimer production looks to break the $100M mark in another week or so.

Ranking fourth with an estimated $8.9M was

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
which lost 50% of its business.
With $273.8M grossed in 26 days, the latest Hogwarts pic is running 5% ahead of
the last film in the series Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
which had taken in $261M at the same point in its run. But with ticket prices
rising by 7% over the last two years, Prince has actually sold slightly
less stubs than Phoenix. A final domestic tally of about $300M still seems
likely. Overseas, the horny teen wizards captured an estimated $22.3M (down 49%)
to boost the international total to a stellar $541.8M and the global gross to a
staggering $815.6M.[rtimage]MapID=1189302&MapTypeID=2&photo=123&legacy=1[/rtimage]Audiences
abandoned the Adam Sandler-Judd Apatow experiment
Funny People
which collapsed 65% in its second weekend grossing an estimated $7.9M. Falling
from first to fifth place, the R-rated dramedy raised its ten-day cume to a
disappointing $40.4M and is likely to end its domestic run with a dismal
$60-65M. That’s a far cry from Apatow’s previous R-rated summer comedies The
40-Year-Old Virgin
($109.2M) and Knocked Up ($148.8M). Funny‘s
failure to please crowds will also put an end to Sandler’s streak of seven
consecutive years with $100M+ grossers. Budgeted at $75M, the Universal film
will also struggle overseas.

Knocked Up star Katherine Heigl followed in sixth with her date movie hit
The Ugly Truth
which pulled in an estimated $7M, off 47%. The Sony romantic comedy has
collected a solid $69.1M. With its $38M pricetag, Ugly cost substantially
less than both Funny People and Brüno and will gross much more
winning the three-way battle of the R-rated July comedies.

More bad news for Universal came in seventh place where its suspense thriller
A Perfect Getaway

grossed a weak $5.8M, according to estimates, in its opening weekend. The
R-rated fright pic averaged a dismal $2,670 from 2,159 locations. Getaway
was produced for $14M by Rogue Pictures which also paid for the marketing cost.
Females made up 52% of the audience.[rtimage]MapID=1200466&MapTypeID=2&photo=23&legacy=1[/rtimage]Fox’s
kidpic flop
Aliens in the Attic
tumbled 50% in its second weekend to an estimated
$4M boosting the ten-day total to $16.3M. A $25-30M final seems likely. Two
films tied for ninth place including the horror title
Orphan
with
an estimated $3.7M, off 50%, for a $34.8M sum for Warner Bros. After two weeks
at number 12, Fox Searchlight’s indie hit
(500) Days of
Summer
expanded nationwide and jumped up into the top ten with an
estimated $3.7M as well. The Joseph Gordon-Levitt-Zooey Deschanel love story
widened from 266 to 817 sites and averaged a good $4,559. Total stands at
$12.3M.[rtimage]MapID=1208707&MapTypeID=2&photo=6&legacy=1[/rtimage]New totals
for summer blockbusters outside of the top ten include $393.7M for

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
, $287.4M for
Up
, $262M for
The Hangover
,
$187.8M for

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
, $174.9M for

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
, and $154.8M for
The Proposal
.

Opening to moderate results in limited release, the mockumentary
Paper Heart

grossed an estimated $206,000 from 38 theaters for a decent $5,421 average. The
Charlyne Yi-Michael Cera pic generated mixed reviews for Overture. The Paul
Giamatti comedy Cold
Souls
bowed in just seven locations and grossed an estimated $63,000 for
a solid $9,000 average. Critics were generally pleased.[rtimage]MapID=1212089&MapTypeID=2&photo=21&legacy=1[/rtimage]The
top ten films grossed an estimated $127.1M which was up 17% from last year when
The Dark Knight
stayed in the top spot for a fourth consecutive time with $26.1M; but down 5%
from 2007 when Rush
Hour 3
debuted at number one with $49.1M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru