July 8, 2011



With a summer movie season bracketed by the first weekend in May on one end, and Labor Day on the other, we’ve reached the midpoint of 2011’s array of blockbusters, and for the next week, here at SHOWBUZZDAILY, we’ll be providing our judgments on how the studios are doing.  US Grosses are as of July 4, 2011; Overseas Grosses are as of July 3,2011.
Today:  Murdoch Empire, Less Scary Division

THE TREE OF LIFE (Fox Searchlight)
US Release:  May 27
US Gross:  $8,084,606
Overseas Gross:  n/a (Searchlight only controls some territories)
Worldwide Total: n/a
US Release:  June 3

US Gross:  $140,202,185

Overseas Gross:  $196,198,895

Worldwide Total:$336,401,080


US Release:  June 17
US Gross:  $53,800,091
Overseas Gross:  $11,100,000
Worldwide Total: $64,900,091

THE ART OF GETTING BY (Fox Searchlight)
US Release:  June 17

US Gross:  $1,427,431

Overseas Gross:  n/a

Worldwide Total::  n/a

US Release:  July 1

US Gross:  $11,162,897

Overseas Gross:  $1,300,000

Worldwide Total: $12,462,897

With one big picture yet to open, so far Fox is having an underwhelming summer on the financial side.  Its only tentpole thus far was X MEN:  FIRST CLASS, and that will be the lowest grossing domestically of the franchise’s history; even though it will do better internationally (probably 2d for the series behind X-Men 3), that won’t be enough to lift it worldwide above any of the others, except the original film from 11 years ago.  It should still be profitable, but won’t reap the kind of revenues that a studio seeks in its biggest summer release.

The news is worse after that.  Even if MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS cost the $60M Fox claims, it will need a much more solid performance overseas than it had in the US in order to hit breakeven.  MONTE CARLO was modestly budgeted, but isn’t likely to even recoup its marketing costs.

On the Fox Searchlight limited release side, the jury is still out in THE TREE OF LIFE, which has done well in only around 200 theatres but has heftier promotional costs than the typical art movie and needs to expand outside big cities.  THE ART OF GETTING BY was a complete flop.

Fox can console itself, at least somewhat, with the critical praise some of its releases have earned.  With an 87% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes, X Men is behind only Bridesmaids and Midnight In Paris as the best reviewed picture of the summer.  The very aspects of the film that made it dramatically exciting–the 1960s Cuban Missile Crisis setting, the cast chosen for genuine talent more than familiarity–probably limited its audience.

Tree Of Life has drawn more polarized response–some adore it, others think it’s the cinematic equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes–but it’s still clearly one of the notable pictures of the year.

Mr Popper, Monte Carlo and Art Of Getting By, on the other hand, collectively barely registered a pulse. 


SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN (Fox Searchlight) – July 15:  A subtitled limited release from the director of The Joy Luck Club that will probably never go beyond a small number of theatres.

ANOTHER EARTH (Fox Searchlight) – July 22: This Sundance pickup has a very small indie-movie budget, but with its powerful central performances, universal emotions and a distinctive low-tech scifi plot, it has a shot to break out and reach a more general audience. 
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – August 5:   Fox’s last shot for a big summer hit.  The trailer is promising (those CG intelligent apes are almost too convincing), and if Cowboys & Aliens doesn’t hit big the week before, Apes will have the entire month of August without any big-budget action competition.  

THE MONEY:  C+, X-Men did not deliver what it needed to and the rest barely registered — if Apes hits, they can earn a B.

THE QUALITY:  B-, with X-Men and Malick making up for the dross of the rest.
Click HERE to read the other studio report cards.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."