Oscar B.O. Blues: Box Office Report (Feb. 24 - 27)
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While Hollywood was patting itself on the back by giving its best film Oscar to a French faux silent film, red blooded brie-hating amuricuns were rushing out to see Act of Valor, the thinly disguised recruiting film for the Navy SEALs. Talk about Hollywood being out of touch with America!
Anticipation of the Oscars seemed to have little impact on the public. A Separation was in 22nd place, though up +18.5% in 29 new theaters. It's total for the weekend was $366,330, and $300 grand seemed to be the average for the other big nominees: My Week with Marilyn from the Weinsteins ($304,959); The Adventures of Tintin from Paramount ($274,988); Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close from Warner Bros. ($258,148). The Weinstein-distributed Iron Lady pulled in $668,805 for a total of $18.5 million thus far, and its star, Meryl Streep, was awarded Best Actress, adding to the Weinstein's near-sweep of the Oscars. Hugo attracted $1,510,760 to Paramount, for a total of $69,354,704. Fox Searchlight's The Descendants garnered $2,133,442 ($78,460,135 total). Winner The Artist, also from Weinstein, made $2,905,858, up +19.6%, for an American total of $31,779,657. The film won a César award, the French Oscar, just a few days before.
Holdovers from the weekend before included in 10th place The Secret World of Arrietty distributed by Buena Vista, AKA The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), adding $4,351,115 for a total in the U. S. of $14,508,920. This Means War fell to seventh place for Fox, AKA News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWS), adding $8,425,010 but dropping a disastrous -51.6% from an already tepid weekend before. And people were still paying to see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, in sixth place for Columbia (i.e., Sony) for a total of $38,038,217. From earlier, Safe House, in fourth place for Universal, added $10,926,145, but with a -53.8%, and The Vow in fifth place for Screen Gems adding $9,916,774 but dropping -57.0%; its total is $102,924,117 off a $30 million dollar budget. That's a hit. Surprisingly, people suddenly showed interest in Warner Bros.'s Journey 2: The Mysterious Island advancing it from the previous week's fourth place, to third, and adding $13,389,102 with only a -32.5% drop from last week. Is word of mouth that good? Or were people making it their second choice after not getting into Act of Valor? Or was it a good place to dump the kids during an Oscar cocktail party?
Another surprise was the light opening for Gone, the Amanda Seyfried vehicle, which has her searching for the serial killer who abducted her sister. Summit Entertainment, which distributed this Lakeshore Entertainment item, made only $4,770,360 off of 2,186 screens (or $2,182 a venue), a bad calling for this low budget film shot in Portland, Oregon.(1) Meanwhile, back at home Summit was also clearing house in the aftermath of its sale to Lionsgate Corp. (NYSE: LGF) for a cash and stock package of $412.5 million. Among the casualties, according to Variety, were Alex Fragen, head of TV distribution, Steve Nickerson, home entertainment executive, Bobby Gerber, home entertainment vice president, and Andi Isaacs, production head. Variety noted that Universal distributes Summit's DVD fare, but Lionsgate, with its own strong home video arm, will probably take over that function. This instability is disheartening, but with luck, temporary. The stock has been holding around $13 ($13.68 at the moment), but is often on the upswing. The company's price-earnings ratio, however, is a disquieting 53.76.
In an embarrassing eighth place was Wanderlust, the Judd Apatow-produced comedy with Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd, pulling in $6,526,650 at 2,002 screens for Universal. In second place was a new Tyler Perry movie, Tyler Perry's Good Deeds, distributed by Lionsgate, and earning $15,583,924 at 2,132 venues. This was offbeat material for Mr. Perry, who runs his own studio and usually plays his signature female character Madea. Here he plays a mom-pecked person of rectitude. According to tracking companies such as CinemaScore, the film's primary viewers were women (76%), with African American viewers making up 80% of BO sales, but loyalty only goes so far, and this film was his second lightest opening after 2007's non-Madea Daddy's Little Girls ($11.2 million its opening weekend).
Winning the weekend was the war film-documentary hybrid Act of Valor which pulled in a good $24,476,632, which was last weekend's average for all the top films. Relativity Media put its $12 million budgeted film on 3,039 screens for an average of $8,054 per venue. Nice. However, next week will tell how big comes the appetite for a film about Navy SEALs that mixes a few real actors with "actual" SEALs engaged in two operations. According to CinemaScore, the film's fans were 25-year-olds and up (60%), who were also 63 % Caucasian. That will be good for DVD sales and rentals, but how about next weekend when the girls start going back to the theaters, post-Oscar red carpet viewing?
Now, in a temporarily post-Oscar world, we dash to the coming weekend, for Seuss's The Lorax, distributed by Universal, and the teen "hey, let's throw an awesome party" film, Project X, from Warner Bros. This next weekend will be illuminating about the weight that Oscar bestows on a project, as we will see what people do with their spare entertainment cash knowing that The Artist is the best movie made last year. It's at least the best faux silent French film.
1 This author's home town.
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