Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Super 8 Captures #1 Spot

Go Super 8 OK.

by | June 13, 2011 | Comments

Exceeding expectations, the new kid-driven monster movie Super 8 shot straight to number one at the North American box office while fellow newcomer Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer failed to make a dent with a weak debut in seventh place. Most holdovers fared well as the overall marketplace fell from last year’s numbers, but only by a small margin.

Paramount scored a hit with its 1979-set sci-fi action-drama Super 8 which opened impressively with an estimated $37M this weekend from 3,379 theaters for a solid $10,950 average. The PG-13 film about a group of middle school kids trying to solve the mystery behind a train crash that unleashes a creature in their small town had no starpower and instead relied on the brand names of director J.J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg who both worked overtime promoting the $50M production. The studio opened the film one day early in over 300 theaters on Thursday, including all 239 IMAX sites, and grossed an estimated $1M that day giving Super 8 a cume of $38M. IMAX accounted for 12% of the gross, or about $4.5M and a sparkling $19,000 average.

Reviews were mostly positive and the marketing campaign purposely held back much about the film so audiences would be intrigued and then experience all the excitement inside the theater. It was a risky move in today’s world of information overload, but it paid off. Opening day audiences gave the creature feature a B+ grade which was good, but not exceptional. But Saturday sales rose 15% from $12.2M to $14M. Even for an original film with no real built-in audience, it indicates a promising road ahead.

Super 8 played much older than most other films in the marketplace. The audience was 71% over 25 and 56% male which was similar to the crowd for the well-reviewed summer action entry Thor which played 72% over 25. The Abrams film did better with cross-gender appeal as Thor was 63% male. Older moviegoers do not rush out on the first weekend as much as younger ones do and with an original non-franchise film like Super 8, there could be substantial sales still to come.

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The opening of Super 8 was very close to the $37.4M debut of another recent one-word-one-number summer monster movie – 2009’s District 9. Though it was rated R, took place in another country, and was centered on adult characters, the Sony film won praise from critics with an original story about regular people coping with odd beasts in their town. That film fell 51% in the second weekend before ending its run with a terrific $115.6M – a little more than three times its opening.

Overseas, Super 8 had a limited bow in just nine markets with Australia being the only major one. The estimate was $6.7M and next weekend will see the first major overseas showing with numerous marketing opening including Russia and Korea.

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Dropping from number one in its second weekend was the super hero reboot X-Men: First Class which fell by an understandable 55% to an estimated $25M giving Fox $98.9M in ten days. The PG-13 origin flick earned good reviews and positive buzz which helped it hold up relatively well for this type of film. Plus it had a competing sci-fi film also playing to adult men to deal with. It was a smaller drop than the 60% fall that Universal witnessed in June 2008 with its Marvel reboot The Incredible Hulk and beat out the 59% slide that Fantastic Four suffered in July 2005. However it was larger than the 47% dip that Thor experienced last month in its sophomore session. That pic introduced a brand new character to the screen and did not have a major action film opening against it in the second weekend. Look for the domestic total to end with around $140M. The overseas weekend brought in an estimated $42.2M, down just 33%, for a $124.2M cume and $223.1M worldwide tally.

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The Bangkok mayhem of The Hangover Part II attracted an estimated $18.5M worth of business for a reasonable 41% fall in the third session. Warner Bros. smashed the $200M mark on Friday after just 16 days setting a new speed record for live-action comedies. The old record of 19 days was held by 2004’s Meet the Fockers. The new Hangover pic has now reached an impressive $216.6M in 18 days and could be headed past $260M. Global audiences are also having fun with the hungover boys as holdover markets overseas dropped by just 37%. The weekend brought an estimated $38.3M pushing the international take past the double century mark as well to $215.5M. Worldwide, The Hangover Part II has grossed $432.1M. While the film’s domestic final may end a bit short of its predecessor’s, the international figure has already zoomed past the $191.6M of the first Hangover.

Despite facing two new films with kids as their lead characters, the animated comedy Kung Fu Panda 2 held up very well dropping only 30% to an estimated $16.6M in its third weekend. The Paramount/DreamWorks title has now banked $126.9M in 18 days and could be headed past the $170M mark. Panda opened at number one in 17 international territories fueling a strong $56.5M offshore frame lifting the overseas gross to $205M and the global take to $331.9M. Top spot bows this weekend in the U.K., Mexico, and Brazil helped keep the global roll-out going and an amazing hold in China has propelled the local total to a stellar $71.2M. The Panda sequel debuts in a number of European markets next weekend including France and Germany. Adding foreign to domestic, Kung Fu Panda 2 was the world’s most popular film this weekend.

Dropping 40% to fifth place was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with an estimated $10.8M boosting Disney’s take to $208.8M. The latest Johnny Depp adventure is the second biggest domestic grosser of the year behind the Wolf Pack, however overseas business remained red hot with the film collecting an estimated $41.1M boosting the international haul to an eye-popping $678M. That makes Tides the sixth biggest blockbuster of all-time overseas. By the end of the week, the Fountain of Youth pic will sail past the $690.1M of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and the $690.2M of Depp’s own Alice in Wonderland to take the number four spot trailing only the third Lord of the Rings and a pair of James Cameron megahits. The new Pirates now stands at a towering $886.8M worldwide with a steep 77% coming from overseas and the one billion mark likely within reach. Top international markets are Japan ($74.5M), Germany ($66.7M), China ($65.2M), Russia ($60.7M), and the United Kingdom ($48M).

For the fourth straight weekend, Bridesmaids posted the lowest decline in the top ten slipping a mere 16% to an estimated $10.2M. If the estimate holds, the Kristin Wiig hit will become the only film of 2011 to gross over $10M for five weekends. With $123.9M, the Universal sleeper hit is cashing in on great word-of-mouth as more audiences continue to discover the raunchy wedding comedy. Bridesmaids should have no problem breaking the $150M mark now and may even reach the $164M of The Proposal from two summers ago which was PG-13.


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Stumbling into seventh place with an estimated $6.3M in its opening weekend was the tween girl comedy Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer which didn’t excite too many kids. The PG-rated film starring Jordana Beatty and Heather Graham averaged a weak $2,483 from 2,524 theaters and could not carve out a big audience despite being based on a popular series of books. The budget was under $20M with producer Smokewood Entertainment paying that plus the marketing tab. Relativity distributed the critically-panned film in the U.S. for a fee. The overall CinemaScore grade was a B+ and females made up 78% of the audience. Playing mostly to moms and daughters, Judy generated 88% of its business from children under 12 plus their parents.

After three sizzling weeks in limited release, Woody Allen’s new hit comedy Midnight in Paris accelerated its expansion plan and went nationwide this weekend taking in an estimated $6.1M from 944 locations for a good $6,511 average. Sony Classics has taken in $14.2M to date and could have a lot more to go as it positions the Owen Wilson starrer as an alternative choice for mature adults in a marketplace dominated by sci-fi actioners, sequels, and kidpics. Critics have been singing praises so the PG-13 film could enjoy good legs in the weeks ahead as buzz spreads and the long Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches.

Rounding out the top ten were the summer kickoff films that went head-to-head around the world. The 3D comic book pic Thor fell 44% to an estimated $2.4M for $173.6M to date for Paramount with $434M worldwide. Universal’s bigger hit Fast Five grossed an estimated $1.7M, off 46%, putting the domestic cume at $205.1M and the worldwide tally at a muscular $583.4M. The Vin Diesel vehicle is now the third biggest domestic grosser of the year but second highest globally behind only the Pirates sequel.

Top-tier specialty films continued to perform well as they expanded to more markets. Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn went from 20 to 47 theaters and grossed an estimated $875,000 for a solid $18,617 average for Fox Searchlight. Focus widened its Ewan McGregor pic Beginners from five to 19 playdates and collected an estimated $255,000 for a $13,421 average. Totals stand at $2.4M and $465,000, respectively.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $134.6M which was off 4% from last year when The Karate Kid opened in the top spot with $55.7M; but up 4% from 2009 when The Hangover remained at number one with $32.8M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!

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