September 10, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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>Finally, The Help has been knocked off its perch, after facing one turd of a movie after another for four weeks.   Contagion will open at #1 with over $22 million (slightly above forecast) and headed for about $72 million domestic.  Don’t cry for The Help, though.  Its final domestic gross estimate has been upgraded yet again to $172 million — very impressive.  Warrior will open well below forecast and is headed for only $24 million domestic unless its fantastic reviews convince older viewers to catch the film in the next few weeks.  Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star is pure embarrassment for Sony and utter schadenfreude for those who can’t stand Adam Sandler (who wrote and produced this train wreck).  Overall the weekend is looking like it will be down 1% from this weekend last year but down 11% from a typical weekend the last few years.

Contagion is opening above forecast ($8.0 million Friday for an expected $22.5 million this weekend versus a $20.5 million forecast).  This is the best opening in the last four brutal weeks (since The Help opened to $26 million).  The Matt Damon-Jude Law virus thriller is headed for $72 million in North America when it crosses the finish line, according to the ShowBuzzDaily Domestic Final estimate.  International numbers will be in our overseas round-up late Sunday.  Critics nationwide are broadly positive about the film (82% positive at RottenTomatoes) so we could some adjustments upward in the final gross in the next few weeks if the film shows some durability with real audiences. 

Warrior is opening well below forecast ($1.8 million Friday for an estimated $5.5 million opening weekend, compared to an $10.5 million prediction).  The film is on track for $24 million in North America.  Critics nationwide also have been very positive (84% positive at RottenTomatoes). 

Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star is making a bid for one of the most embarrassing openings ever.  The Adam Sandler-written movie is opening well below forecast ($540,000 Friday for an expected $1.5 million this weekend versus a $3 million forecast).  The movie is headed for $2 or $2.5 million in North America.  The few critics on RottenTomatoes are universally negative (0% positive so far; a distinction shared by few films such as Gigli).      

In case you missed them, click to see this week’s Weekend Predictions.     

The Help is showing the first sign of losing steam (down 37% this weekend from last — although most studios would kill for a 37% decline on any weekend).  But thanks to strong mid-week business, The Help has been upgraded yet again in terms of it final domestic gross. 
September 9-11, 2011    Pre-Wknd    Wknd            Showbuzz
(millions)              Showbuzz    Early   Friday  Domestic
                        Forecast    Proj.   Actual   Final*

Contagion (WB)           [$20.5]    $22.5   $ 8.0     $ 72
The Help (DW/Dis)        [$10.5]    $ 9.2   $ 2.7     $172+
Warrior (LG)             [$10  ]    $ 5.5   $ 1.8     $ 24
The Debt (Focus)         [$ 6  ]    $ 5.0   $ 1.4     $ 37
Colombiana (Sony)        [$ 4  ]    $ 3.9   $ 1.2     $ 41
Rise of Planet Apes (Fox)[$ 4.5]    $ 3.7   $ 1.1     $183

Shark Night 3D (Rel)     [$ 3  ]    $ 3.3   $ 1.0     $ 15
Apollo 18 (Wein)         [$ 3.5]    $ 2.8   $ 0.9     $ 14
Our Idiot Brother (Wein) [$ 3  ]    $ 2.7   $ 0.8     $ 31
Bucky Larson (Sony)      [$ 3  ]    $ 1.5   $ 0.5     $  2

Note: The table above summarizes an early look at the weekend.  The first column is a reminder of each film’s ShowBuzzDaily Forecast for the weekend (in brackets).  The second column, on which the films are sorted, displays the new weekend projection for each film, based on the Friday numbers (the third column).  The final column is a preliminary estimate of the ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Total number for the film’s total run in North America.  A “++” indicates the Domestic number has been upgraded; a “–” indicates a downgrade. 

Limited Releases 
Opening this weekend on the indie circuit (partial results to come):

— Laugh at My Pain (concert) at 99 theaters
— Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (foreign) at 75 theaters
— My Kingdom (foreigh) at 21 theaters
— Love in Space (foreign) at 16 theaters
— Shaolin (foreign) at 9 theaters
— Tanner Hall (drama) at 5 theaters
— The Black Power Mix Tape: 1967-1975 (documentary) at 2 theaters
— The Whale (documentary) at 2 theaters

Total Box Office Volume

The Top 12 Films this weekend are looking like $65 million total, down 1% from the same calendar weekend last year when Resident Evil: Afterlife opened and down 11% from the typical total for this weekend the last four years.   

Top 12 Films: Weekend #36
     Volume     (millions)

2011  $ 65  (
-11% vs 2007-10 average; -1% vs 2010) 

Avg   $ 73            Movies Opening That Weekend
2010  $ 66  Resident Evil: Afterlife $27    

2009  $ 76  TP’s I Can Do Bad $23, 9 $11, Love Happens $8
2008  $ 86  Burn After Reading $19, Family That Preys $17
             Righteous Kill $16, The Women $10
2007  $ 64  The Brave One $14, Mr Woodcock $9, Dragon Wars $5

Next Weekend
Opening next week are I Don’t Know How She Does It from Weinstein, Drive from FilmDistrict, Straw Dogs from Sony, and Lion King (in 3D) from Disney.  Those movies will be compared to The Town ($24 million opening weekend), Easy A ($18 million), Devil ($12 million) and Alpha and Omega ($9 million).  

Look for updates of the weekend box office on Sunday, based on the Saturday actual numbers.  

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.