September 26, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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The past week (seven days ending Sunday) is up 17% versus last year’s comparable week, thanks to a solid second-weekend hold for the 3D resissue of The Lion King and good openings for Moneyball and Dolphin Tale.  Year-to-date box office is now down 3.5% versus last year, the smallest year-to-year margin we’ve seen so far this year.  The Lion King in 3D has been upgraded to about $123 million in additional domestic box office for Disney.       

The Past Week: Total Box Office Volume

All films in wide release playing between September 19 and September 25 grossed a terrific $141 million, up 17% versus the same week in 2010 and up 25% from the average comparable week the past four years.  Year to date, all films are now down 3.5% from the same period last year (better than the -3.8% last week and now the smallest margin of the year), and all films year-to-date are up 2.4% versus the comparable year-to-date number averaged over the last four years.  

All Films September 19-25
(millions)           4yr              vs      vs
             2010    Avg     2011    2010    Avg

Week #38     $121    $112    $141    
+17%    +25%

Year to Date $7793   $7342   $7520   -3.5%   +2.4%

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.  As a family film, Dolphin Tale is expected to have more long term playability than Moneyball (both opened with about the same opening weekend).  However, Moneyball could see a substantially higher total domestic gross if potential awards buzz mixes with general word of mouth.

The Lion King in 3D ($123 million, 84th percentile)
Dolphin Tale ($86 million, 73rd percentile)

Contagion ($82 million, 72nd percentile)
Moneyball ($66 million, 65th percentile)

Drive ($39 million, 46th percentile)
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World ($39 million, 46th percentile)
Colombiana ($38 million, 45th percentile)
The Debt ($33 million, 40th percentile)
Our Idiot Brother ($26 million, 29th percentile)

Abduction ($25 million, 27th percentile)
Killer Elite ($24 million, 26th percentile)
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark ($24 million, 26th percentile)
Warrior ($19 million, 19th percentile)
Shark Night 3D ($17 million, 16th percentile)
Apollo 18 ($15 million, 13th percentile)

Straw Dogs ($11 million, 8th percentile)
I Don’t Know How She Does It ($9 million, 5th 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 top six films were high, with the projections for Moneyball and Dolphin Tale especially optimistic.  The actual weekend numbers for the two major openers were over one million dollars lower than the studio projections Sunday morning.  Nonetheless, the rank order of the top films did not change when the actual box office was counted Monday.       


      Weekend of                 Sunday    Monday   Showbuzz
      September 19-25            Studio    Weekend  Domestic
      (millions)                Estimate   Actual    Total

The Lion King in 3D       (Dis)   $22.1    $21.9     $123+
Moneyball                (Sony)   $20.6    $19.5     $ 66
Dolphin Tale               (WB)   $20.3    $19.2     $ 86
Abduction                  (LG)   $11.2    $10.9     $ 25
Killer Elite         (OpenRoad)   $ 9.5    $ 9.3     $ 24
Contagion                  (WB)   $ 8.6    $ 8.4     $ 82

Drive                 (FilmDis)   $ 5.8    $ 5.8     $ 39-
The Help                  (Dis)   $ 4.4    $ 4.4     $169
Straw Dogs               (Sony)   $ 2.1    $ 2.1     $ 11-
I Don’t Know How She Does(Wein)   $ 2.0    $ 2.0     $  9

Read the International Box Office Numbers round-up if you haven’t seen it already.

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.