BOX OFFICE: HOP STAYS ON TOP, RIO OPENS BIG OVERSEAS

by Laurent Kelly

NB: This would usually be my weekly article for Obsessed with Film but I’m a bit late with it this week and so I am posting it here instead.

Easter-bait animation Hop held onto top spot over the weekend with its fortunate release date paying dividends in the build towards the upcoming school Holidays. The film dropped 43 percent in gross to take $21.3 million for a $67.8 million total with a weekend figure that could not be matched by either of the four new nationwide releases. Hop has fallen just short of Rango’s ten day tally but its far more modest 62 million budget makes it a greater success story. Hop is failing to capture viewers imaginations overseas however where it has limped towards a $14.5 million sum.

Indeed the overseas charts were where the real attention lay this weekend as Rio stormed the international market and gave signs that it might become the first and much needed box office smash of 2011. Its $54.3 million three day overseas opening almost doubled that of the previous highest international weekend take of 2011 which was set on the weekend of March 18th when Battle La took 28.7 million overseas. 

 Given that stateside releases can occasionally double international opening weekends, it is easy to understand why Rio is currently stealing all the financial headlines.  At this point last year Alice in Wonderland had made over 300 million dollars at the box office whereas this year no film has come even remotely close to obtaining 200 millions domestically. The American movie industry is in dire need of a box office mega-hit and studio heads will be praying that Rio continues to build in momentum in time for its stateside opening this weekend. Although Alice in Wonderland opened overseas to a far more impressive tune of $94 million, it would still be a much needed boost if Rio could even go onto just half that film’s billion dollar worldwide gross.

The remake of Arthur featuring British actor Russell Brand in his first top billed role not only failed to challenge Hop for first place in the US market but was also somewhat embarassingly pipped to second place by Hanna despite the latter film having access to far less theaters and being allocated far less marketing coverage. It was however the poor marketing along with a string of bad reviews that seems to have let Arthur down. The campaign was centered around Brand’s eccentricites as opposed to a focused look on the story, relationship and characters and this reliance on the lead actor seems to have backfired as Brand has not yet proven himself as a legitimate ticket seller and no-one seems to have been too interested in watching two hours of his heavy handed attempts at humour. Arthur opened with $12.2 million and to put into perspective just how mediocre this is one only has to look at how the original film made almost a 100 million dollars back in 1981 when ticket prices were almost three times cheaper than they are today.

 

Even Brand looks confused by his own rise to fame.

Arthur did however average a surprisingly high A- cinemascore from the under 18 age range which has prompted Dan Fellman, the Warner President of Distribution, to state that he will attempt to focus on a new marketing campaign that better caters to this demographic. Indeed something needs to be done drasticallyif the film is to make a profit from its 40 million budget.

As stated it was Hanna that took second place over the weekend with a $12.3 million haul. The film was helped by a clear and concise trailer though it didn’t set the world on fire by any means and will also have a battle to domestically match the 30 million that it cost to make.

BOX OFFICE SUCCESS STORY OF THE WEEK:  FILMDISTRICT


This week the award is handed out to not a film but rather a studio. FilmDistrict were left in charge of marketing Tristar’s inspirational sports story Soul Surfer and they succesfully targeted an audience for a niche sport that usually sinks at the box office. The film’s tough female protagonist clearly struck a chord as eighty percent of the film’s audience were women and many of them contributed to its rare A+ cinemascore rating.

There was also more good news as the film managed to bring under 25’s to the multiplexes with 56% of them making up the audience and hinting that perhaps it is the marketing as opposed to the rise in illegal downloads that is helping to alienate this important target market.

FilmDistrict also saw Insidious have a dynamite second week in the charts as it dropped just 29.4 percent in gross, an incredible achivement considering that it is a horror film and horror is a genre that routinely witnesses opening weekends drop off more than twice the amount during their second weekend in the charts.

BOX OFFICE FLOP OF THE WEEK:  YOUR HIGHNESS

Note to studios planning future R Rated comedies. Don’t market your film with silly, adoloscent gags designed to appease male teenagers if it is infact only adults who will be able to attend the picture. If Your Higness had any chance of showing any better than its poor $9.3 million opening then it needed to promote far edgier mateiral that would actually inspire older people to part with their hard earned cash. As it was the flawed marketing campaign means that this medieval comedy is in dire straits and must hope for a strong overseas showing if it is to surpass its near 50 million budget.

You know you're in trouble when Natalie Portman advertised looking like this still struggles to sell tickets.


BOX-OFFICE ROUND-UP:

Given that there were four new releases onboard Source Code’s 41.6 percent drop is decent though I expected it to hold a lot stronger after its evenly proportioned showing last weekend. The film has now made $28.2 million after ten days on release and has surpassed its 32 million budget worldwide.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules had another substantial drop and has generally performed very badly since the arrival of Hop. Although its has now made $45 million domestically and more than doubled its budget, I think Fox were probably expecting a better showing after its impressive chart topping opening sum in the mid twenty million range.

Sucker Punch fell out of the top ten after only its third weekend on release with a pathetic $2.2 million weekend haul. The film however is performing solidly overseas resulting in a 65 million total that might just go close to matching its 82 million cost. Its still a huge dissapointment however for Warner Brothers and heightens the financial pressure on Synder in the build to his much anticipated Superman reboot.

The full chart can be seen below courtesy of Box Office Mojo:

W LW Title (click to view) Studio Weekend Gross % Change Theater Count /Change Average Total Gross Budget* Week #
1 1 Hop Uni. $21,298,240 -43.3% 3,616 +37 $5,890 $67,754,545 $63 2
2 N Hanna Focus $12,370,549 2,535 $4,880 $12,370,549 $30 1
3 N Arthur (2011) WB $12,222,756 3,276 $3,731 $12,222,756 $40 1
4 N Soul Surfer TriS $10,601,862 2,214 $4,789 $10,601,862 $18 1
5 3 Insidious FD $9,371,769 -29.4% 2,419 +11 $3,874 $26,728,357 $1.5 2
6 N Your Highness Uni. $9,360,020 2,769 $3,380 $9,360,020 $49.9 1
7 2 Source Code Sum. $8,650,238 -41.6% 2,971 +10 $2,912 $28,218,871 $32 2
8 5 Limitless Rela. $5,461,378 -41.3% 2,655 -183 $2,057 $64,149,608 $27 4
9 4 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules Fox $4,770,987 -52.5% 2,881 -288 $1,656 $45,348,247 $21 3
10 6 The Lincoln Lawyer LGF $4,281,598 -37.3% 2,420 -287 $1,769 $46,136,408 $40 4
11 8 Rango Par. $2,301,507 -48.9% 2,007 -1,127 $1,147 $117,532,400 $135 6
12 7 Sucker Punch WB $2,102,082 -65.1% 1,755 -1,278 $1,198 $33,973,736 $82 3


Next weekend it is up to two new major releases to help revitalize movie business in America. Rio opens off the back of an impressive foreign opening and has been granted 3,800, screens. Scream 4 opens off the back of its popular predecessors and has been allocated 3,300, screens. Studios will be hoping that these films can share close to 100 million dollars between them and present a promising piece of foreshadowing for the summer movie season.

 

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