July 23, 2011

Box Office Footnotes – 7/22/11


Unlike nearly all the other action epics this summer, CAPTAIN AMERICA:  THE FIRST AVENGER is rolling out slowly overseas, with only a couple of dozen territories getting the picture this weekend.  That will postpone a call on its ultimate boxoffice fate, because in this genre, international results are crucially important, contributing more than half of ultimate boxoffice–and because Captain America (retitled in 3 territories to remove any US stigma) could meet resistance in some areas.  Worth noting:  while the difference between its A- Cinemascore rating and Thor‘s B+ is meaningless, the fact that the Captain had about 50% more young viewers than the Norse god could suggest a more frontloaded boxoffice than Thor had.  For now, Captain America is, by a (not to be unduly suspicious of studio estimators) remarkably thin margin, the biggest superhero opener of the season. Also in its favor:  reports that next weekend’s Cowboys and Aliens is tracking weakly (so expect the TV airwaves to be bombarded with last-minute promos for that one in the next few days).

A 73% drop for HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS (PART 2) wouldn’t be historic–just in the Top 30 of all-time second weekend falls–but more subjectively, it would be the worst drop ever for a movie as well-reviewed and generally well-regarded as Hallows 2 is.  (The massively front-loaded Twilight series has never gone beyond a 70% second weekend fall.)  Any lingering fan hope of a Best Picture nomination probably went out the window yesterday.  Mitch Metcalf will tell us over the course of the weekend whether Harry‘s all-important foreign numbers are slipping as badly.
The FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS number is a bit disappointing, especially considering generally solid reviews. (Mine is here.)   It’s a picture that would normally benefit from good word of mouth and some extended playing time, but with Crazy Stupid Love, The Change-Up and 30 Minutes or Less about to flood the comedy pipeline, that may be time Friends doesn’t have.
Amazingly, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS lost 10% of its theatres this weekend and yet its Friday boxoffice number barely moved.  It could now realistically be on its way to a $50M US gross.  A BETTER LIFE expanded again, by 20%, but because its per-theatre number fell, its Friday boxoffice is down 35% from last week.  Similarly, Fox Searchlight’s SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN (for which the only important credit is “Produced by Wendi Murdoch,” AKA the wife who so zealously protected her billionaire hubby–and owner of Searchlight–from shaving cream last week)  more than doubled its theatres and saw its per-theatre number fall by almost half.  
The roughly $20K per theatre for ANOTHER EARTH is better news than the same number for SARAH’S KEY, since the latter is a slick international co-production based on a bestselling novel and Another Earth is a very low-budgeted indie. (And one well worth seeking out–my review is here.)  THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER has been getting excellent reviews, but seems likely to do only about $12K in one NY house.

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."