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Movies by the Numbers: March 18, 2013

Oz The Great and Powerful Movie Poster

Oz The Great and Powerful Movie Poster

It was another runaway success this weekend for Oz The Great and Powerful but there was an unexpected twist to what was otherwise a similar weekend to last year. Oz held strong, although not as strong as Alice in Wonderland. The $41 million weekend helps set the Disney adventure picture well on its course for $250 million when it finally closes.

To call the success of Halle Berry’s latest film The Call unexpected would be an understatement. The film which was co-produced by TriStar and WWE Films, saw a $17 million opening weekend. Distributor Sony’s aggressive marketing campaign helped ticket buyers understand, early on, what they were getting into. That knowledge definitely contributed to the film’s strong opening. Attendees skewed female, not surprisingly, and reviews were favorable for the most part. A film like this never holds incredibly well after its first week but expectations are that it will finish around the $45 million mark. That would be considered a huge success considering where this film was headed just a few months earlier. Continue reading

Movies by the Numbers: March 12, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful Movie Poster

Oz the Great and Powerful Movie Poster

After two months of flops and less than stellar numbers that have left the business well behind last year’s figures, Oz The Great and Powerful has arrived to be the shining beacon of hope. At $79 million, Oz became the first film to crack $50 million in one weekend since The Hobbit. Overall the totals are up 15 percent from last year when John Carter reigned supreme with a minimal $30 million weekend.

The success of 2010′s Alice in Wonderland laid the groundwork for Oz‘s success in 2013. With a release in the same month two years earlier, Disney found a winning formula with fantasy, PG, entertainment. Oz didn’t venture far from that formula and found similar success. They also grabbed a battle tested director that added an edge to keep the film from falling too far into the children’s genre. Sam Raimi has once again found success with a previously established brand. His success and visual style with Spider-Man found a home in the land of Oz. Continue reading

Movies by the Numbers: February 19th, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard Movie Poster

A Good Day to Die Hard Movie Poster

While it’s not an overwhelming victory, Bruce Willis will reign over the President’s Day weekend as A Good Day to Die Hard finishes on top of the box office. Finishing up just shy of $29 million, the fifth installment of the Die Hard series may be the last or perhaps the last to be rated R. The previous film Live Free or Die Hard took in roughly $48 million on its opening weekend and that wasn’t a holiday release. In the end, A Good Day to Die Hard may not even crack $100 million. Where the finger should be pointed for the blame isn’t quite as clear. Although many will say that the PG-13 rating gave them the ability to get more eyeballs on the screen. Throwing in overseas numbers, this latest Bruce Willis action film will be seen as a success for Fox. However, whether or not the gamble on future films will be necessary remains to be seen.

Identity Thief finished second and nearly took first place for the first time. Adding the $27 million into the mix and the Melissa McCarthy driven comedy is the highest grossing film of the year thus far. With a string of comedies in the works for McCarthy, she may be taking the reigns as the queen of comedy in Hollywood in the coming months. Identity Thief is well on its way to becoming the first film in 2013 to reach $100 million. While this is no slight on the success of the film, it is quite telling that Identity Thief is the most successful film of the year. Most of the films have seemingly felt like leftovers from 2012 or sequels to franchises years in the making. This will of course change as 2013 rolls on but the slow start has left the major films of the year with quite a load to carry. Continue reading

Movies by the Numbers: January 28th, 2013

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Movie Poster

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Movie Poster

Jeremy Renner continues to be the dominant male action star as Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters claimed the top spot in a relatively quiet weekend. The $19 million opening is better than Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and The Brothers Grimm. Renner’s involvement can easily be linked to the film’s early success. In the last few years the action star has become quite a draw with theatergoers. As to be expected, critics panned the film but that has never been a problem with over-the-top, special effects driven, action films. Combined with overseas totals, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters will more than likely double its $50 million production budget.

Last week’s king, or queen, Mama saw a considerable drop in week two but is still on pace to perform better than any film of the same genre from 2012. Proving that the old horror formula is not dead, Mama has used a straight forward marketing campaign to continue drawing audiences despite the normal decline that comes with a January release. Having already closed in on $50 million, every dollar from here on in is icing on the cake for a film that has definitely over-performed.  Continue reading

Movies by the Numbers: January 22, 2013

Mama Movie Poster

Mama Movie Poster

The first three day weekend of 2013 saw Jessica Chastain flex her muscle as one of the new superpowers in Hollywood while Mark Wahlberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger saw their latest releases fizzle. By all expectations, Mama should not have been as successful as it was. For a genre that has been dominated by a “found-footage” style, Mama went back to horror roots, delivering a solid premise that hooked audiences. Jessica Chastain’s rising star power helped to push the film to over double its production budget in its first weekend. The other secret to the film’s success lies in the numbers. The much desired female demographic flocked to the film in large numbers. Over 60% of the audience was comprised of women and under the age of 25. Combined with a PG-13 rating, Mama should have legs as the month drags on.

Finishing in second was another film starring Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty. Earning nearly $16 million in its second week of full release, Katherine Bigelow’s latest film has held better than comparable films such as Black Hawk Down. Similarly, Zero Dark Thirty is only slightly off from the total of Black Hawk Down at this same point. Overall, the buzz from the slow release, combined with the award show nominations, has helped to set the film up for a successful run. February will see stiff competition with Live Free or Die Hard. However, the film should do most of its damage before the latest installment of the Die Hard series. Continue reading

Movies by the Numbers: January 14, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty Movie Poster

Zero Dark Thirty Movie Poster

Zero Dark Thirty fired a warning shot to all of the other Oscar contenders with a $24 million opening in its first weekend of wide release. Katherine Bigelow’s latest film proves that all of the real life controversy has helped to garner a more rabid following. The strong opening weekend was better than both Argo and Lincoln. The decision to push the release date back from December helped Sony’s marketing effort as they took advantage of a usually slow month. Aside from having the time to grow unopposed, the film has seen an unusual amount of coverage given the content and how it may have been acquired. The extra few weeks helped to build up extreme anticipation and so far audiences are certainly interested.

In second place was A Haunted House, the horror movie spoof written by and starring Marlon Wayans. While the film only brought in $18 million, it managed to bring in a higher per-theater average attendance. A Haunted House screened in nearly 800 less theaters than Zero Dark Thirty but still managed a respectable showing. In the end it will most likely finish around $40 million which is par for the course with such films. The audience demographics skewed more ethnic as 48% were African American and 30% were Latino ticket buyers.  Continue reading

Movies by the Numbers: December 24, 2012

The Hobbit Movie Poster

Christmas will not be as fruitful as expected for The Hobbit. Even though Peter Jackson’s epic adventure film held off five new openings for a $36 million weekend, The Hobbit is well underneath expectations with $150 million through two weeks. This was eerily similar to the drop I Am Legend saw in 2007. Whether or not the new king of December films can regain some momentum after the new year remains to be seen. Current expectations show The Hobbit finishing a shade under $300 million, making it the lowest grossing film in the Lord of the Rings franchise.

In second place was the debut of Tom Cruise’s latest film Jack Reacher. While studios won’t be extremely upset with the $15 million opening, it is well below previous Cruise films. Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol started with nearly double the opening of Jack Reacher. Unlike his previous films, Cruise didn’t have a superstar franchise or director to add to the draw. We’ve seen the decline of star actors as major draws at the box office and this trend continues with Cruise’s latest outing. Reviews have been quite favorable and word-of-mouth seems to be picking up steam, so Jack Reacher should finish strong by the end of its run. Continue reading

Movies by the Numbers: December 18, 2012

The Hobbit Movie Poster

This weekend’s outcome was expected but didn’t produce the punching power that some thought it might. The Hobbit, the latest film from famed director Peter Jackson, had an $84 million opening easily becoming the highest grossing premiere in the month of December. The latest film based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels didn’t have much competition. Will Smith’s I Am Legend previously held the record with $77 million. While it is definitely a reason to celebrate, that party will be tempered as The Hobbit failed to break $100 million.

Unfortunately for Warner Bros. many movie-goers decided to wait for reviews instead of jumping head first back into Middle Earth. The Lord of the Rings may be one of the most successful franchises of the previous decade but audiences tend to move on. The last film was released nine years ago and the marketing effort decided to lean heavily on fan knowledge of the previous installments. That fandom has obviously dwindled. There are still high hopes for the film as December is notoriously a slow month. With economic times being what they are, the film will most likely have staying power. Audiences will venture to the theaters when they have the time after the holidays. Continue reading

Movies by the Numbers: December 10, 2012

Skyfall Movie Poster

After spending three weeks behind The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, James Bond has returned to the top of the box office. This is no surprise as it was an unimpressive weekend altogether with only one major opening that failed from the onset to grab any particular audience. The Gerard Butler romantic comedy Playing For Keeps became the star actor’s second flop this year behind Chasing Mavericks. Where things went wrong this time around can be laid at the feet of the movie’s overall marketing campaign. Gerard Butler, well known for his roles in action films, has not caught on as the romantic sex symbol. Selling him without selling the content of the film ended up dooming the picture to a dismal $5.7 million opening. Not only was relying on Butler to sell tickets a mistake, but making little mention of the overall plot to the film was an even more egregious error.

Skyfall has industry people talking about more than just this latest installment being the most successful in the franchise. Approaching $300 million at the box office, this latest installment of the James Bond franchise is easily one of the most successful films of 2012. A great combination of word-of-mouth and brand establishment created an undeniable buzz about the film that has kept it going strong. Just to show how successful it has been, Quantum of Solace – once considered the most successful Bond film — has been eclipsed by $120 million. Unfortunately, James Bond will have much of its audience pulled away as Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit approaches in the coming weeks. Continue reading

Movies by the Numbers: December 4, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 Movie Poster

The weekend after Thanksgiving continues to be a death trap for new releases. This week’s group of arrivals included Killing Them Softly and The Collection. Neither of these films was able to crack the top five which continued to be dominated by Skyfall and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. Thanks to the popularity of both series the normally dormant week following the holiday saw a nearly 45% increase in attendance from last year. Both Skyfall and Breaking Dawn Part 2 eased minimally and nearly traded places atop the box office mountain.

For Lionsgate, Breaking Dawn Part 2 helped to make them the most successful studio of 2012. It is the 11th week in which a film from their production company has sat alone on top of the box office. Including Hunger Games, The Possession and The Expendables 2 Lionsgate has made over $1.2 billion. Earlier this year it became apparent that the once independent production house had put a lot of effort into breaking through the old studio guard. Now that they have everyone’s attention, it will be important to follow up this year with an equally successful 2013 and 2014. With a slate of films expected, including Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Expendables 3, it is likely that Lionsgate will be around for quite some time. Continue reading