May 28, 2011

Box Office Footnotesj – 5/27/11

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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THE HANGOVER PART II seems to be headed for the 4th highest Memorial Day opening of all time, behind only Pirates 3, Indiana Jones 4 and X-Men 3–and at less than half the budget of any of them.  Unlike all 3 of those, it should have good word of mouth, being a classic example of the difference between critics (not this particular critic in this instance, but generally) and audiences:  the critics were completely right in saying that Hangover 2 was simply a remake of Hangover 1, but audiences had no problem with getting back on the same rollercoaster they enjoyed the first time.  Also, the picture faces no comedy competition until Bad Teacher on June 24, so it has a solid month of boxoffice coming.
KUNG FU PANDA 2 is also in good shape for a long run, as there are no family movies opening until Mr. Popper’s Penguins on June 17, and nothing animated until Cars 2 on June 24.  Panda is running about even with the original Madagascar, which also opened on Memorial Day weekend, but the Kung Fu number includes an extra day in the market (Madagascar opened on Friday instead of Thursday) and 3D premiums, so the number is undoubtedly a little softer than DreamWorks was hoping. 
It looks as though PIRATES 4 may struggle even to reach $250M at the domestic boxoffice, an amazing comedown from the $309M that Pirates 3 made, especially when 3D is factored in.  Although it got off to a roaring start internationally, we’ll see in Mitch Metcalf’s column later this week if it’s running out of steam overseas as well.  With a production and marketing cost of around $450M, a global gross of $750M wouldn’t be all that great for this franchise.  (An interesting sidenote:  while the earlier Pirates movies were bought for cable TV by USA Network, this one has been purchased by ABC Family, which means instead of fresh cash, it’s just ABC/Disney shuffling money from one pocket to another.)
BRIDESMAIDS (and here is where this particular critic was way off) is now on track to gross as much as Superbad, which would make it the 2d biggest hit ever out of the Judd Apatow empire.

A little perspective on the terrific MIDNIGHT IN PARIS numbers:  its Fri-Sun per-theatre average is comparable to what Black Swan and King’s Speech made after their first significant expansions, although of course Midnight won’t have an Oscar campaign to extend its run for months.  Sony Classics can be a bit conservative in its release patterns, so it’ll be interesting to see if they keep pushing into new venues or take it so slowly that the momentum dissipates.

It’s particularly heartening that in the middle of high Hollywood blockbuster season, both Midnight and THE TREE OF LIFE are doing gangbuster business.  Tree, like Midnight last week, is only in NY and LA, and given its challenging style, it faces an uphill battle to reach general audiences (the Los Angeles Times has a good piece on the strategies and difficulties in selling an out-and-out art film with a director who won’t talk to the press and a busy star), but it’s gotten just about the best start imaginable.  Next week will bring limited releases of Submarine, Beginners and Beautiful Boy, which are unlikely to reach these kind of per-theatre heights. 

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."