September 6, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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The past week (seven days ending Sunday) is flat versus last year’s comparable week.  Year-to-date box office is now down 4.0% versus last year.  The Debt opened on Wednesday and is currently on track for $38 million final in North America, with some upside possible depending on the second week.  The other two new films this weekend were pretty much DOA.  The Help continues on its roll and has been upgraded to $156 million domestic.  Now we turn the page on Summer and head into the Fall/ Holiday period which starts off very slowly in terms of business and film quality but builds in both respects later in the Fall.   

The Past Week: Total Box Office Volume

All films in wide release playing between August 29 and September 4 grossed an okay $135 million, flat versus the same week in 2010 and up 12% from the average comparable week the past four years (much of this due to Northeast box office bouncing back from last week’s Irene).  Year to date, all films are now down 4.0% from the same period last year (better marginally from -4.1% last week), and all films year-to-date are up about 2% versus the comparable year-to-date number averaged over the last four years.  

All Films August 29-September 4
(millions)           4yr              vs      vs
             2010    Avg     2011    2010    Avg

Week #34     $135    $120    $135   
– 0%    +12%

Year to Date $7440   $7005   $7141   -4.0%   +1.9%

Updated Estimates of Final Grosses

The ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Grosses (the estimated North American gross when the film ends its run) for recent films are summarized below.  Pay attention to the final domestic grosses, which are much more important than individual weekend grosses and especially weekend rankings. 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes ($182 million, 92nd percentile)
The Help ($156 million, 89th percentile)The Smurfs ($144 million, 87th percentile)
Cowboys & Aliens ($102 million, 79th percentile)
Crazy, Stupid, Love ($86 million, 73rd percentile)
Final Destination 5 ($44 million, 51st percentile)
Colombiana ($40 million, 47th percentile)
30 Minutes or Less ($39 million, 46th percentile)

The Debt ($38 million, 45th percentile)
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World ($37 million, 44th percentile)
Our Idiot Brother ($31 million, 35th percentile)Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark ($27 million, 31st percentile)Fright Night ($20 million, 21st percentile)
Apollo 18 ($19 million, 19th percentile)
Conan the Barbarian ($19 million, 19th percentile)
Shark Night 3D ($17 million, 17th percentile)
One Day ($15 million, 14th percentile)
Glee: The 3D Concert Movie ($12 million, 10th percentile)

Weekend Actuals vs Sunday’s Studio Projections 

The weekend Studio Projections (Friday and Saturday actual numbers with estimates for Sunday’s box office) for The Help and The Debt were actually too conservative (The Help actually came in about $400,000 higher today and The Debt came in $200,000 above the studio estimate).  Clearly, Sunday business was more brisk than expected.  The other films came in closer to their studio projections.    

      Weekend of                 Sunday    Monday   Showbuzz
      Aug 29-Sep 4               Studio    Weekend  Domestic
      (millions)                Estimate   Actual    Total

The Help                  (Dis)   $14.2    $14.6     $156+
The Debt                (Focus)   $ 9.7    $ 9.9     $ 38
Apollo 18                (Wein)   $ 8.7    $ 8.7     $ 19
Shark Night 3D            (Rel)   $ 8.6    $ 8.4     $ 17
Rise of Planet of Apes    (Fox)   $ 7.8    $ 7.9     $182
Colombiana               (Sony)   $ 7.4    $ 7.5     $ 40++
Our Idiot Brother        (Wein)   $ 5.2    $ 5.5     $ 31
Don’t Be Afraid of Dark (FilmD)   $ 4.9    $ 5.2     $ 27+
Spy Kids 4               (Wein)   $ 4.6    $ 4.8     $ 37
The Smurfs               (Sony)   $ 4.0    $ 4.1     $144

Read the International Box Office Numbers round-up if you haven’t seen it already, and take a look at our related post on worldwide box office for each studio in Pathway to Profitability.

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.