October 3, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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>The past week (seven days ending Sunday) is up 11% versus last year’s comparable week, thanks to solid continued business for Dolphin Tale, Moneyball and The Lion King in 3D.  Year-to-date box office is now down 3.3% versus last year, the smallest year-to-year margin we’ve seen so far this year.       

The Past Week: Total Box Office Volume

All films in wide release playing between September 26 and October 2 grossed a solid $126 million, up 11% versus the same week in 2010 and up 6% from the average comparable week the past four years.  Year to date, all films are now down 3.3% from the same period last year.  (Remember back in April when the year was down over 20% versus 2010?)  

All Films September 26-October 2
(millions)           4yr              vs      vs
             2010    Avg     2011    2010    Avg

Week #39     $113    $119    $126    
+11%    + 6%

Year to Date $7906   $7461   $7646   -3.3%   +2.5%

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 expected, Moneyball has almost caught up with Dolphin Tale in terms of final domestic box office potential (because of strong word of mouth and strong business throughout the week).

The Lion King in 3D ($117 million, 83rd percentile)
Contagion ($79 million, 71st percentile)
Dolphin Tale ($76 million, 70th percentile)

Moneyball ($72 million, 68th percentile)
Drive ($37 million, 44th percentile)
Colombiana ($37 million, 44th percentile)
50/50 ($35 million, 42nd percentile)
The Debt ($31 million, 35th percentile)
Courageous ($28 million, 31st percentile)
Abduction ($28 million, 31st percentile)
Killer Elite ($26 million, 30th percentile)
Our Idiot Brother ($25 million, 27th percentile)
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark ($24 million, 25th percentile)
Shark Night 3D ($17 million, 16th percentile)
Warrior ($16 million, 16th percentile)
Apollo 18 ($15 million, 13th percentile)
What’s Your Number? ($12 million, 10th percentile)
Dream House ($11 million, 8th percentile)
Straw Dogs ($11 million, 8th percentile)
I Don’t Know How She Does It ($9 million, 6th 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 three films were high, with the projections for Dolphin Tale, Moneyball and The Lion King in 3D each about half a million dollars too optimistic.  Courageous and 50/50 were estimated to be running neck and neck Sunday, but Courageous actually came in ahead when the actual numbers were tallied Monday morning.  However, we expect 50/50 to play longer than Courageous (see estimated final domestic grosses above).       


      Weekend of                 Sunday    Monday   Showbuzz
      Sep 26-Oct 2               Studio    Weekend  Domestic
      (millions)                Estimate   Actual    Total

Dolphin Tale               (WB)   $14.2    $13.9     $ 76-
Moneyball                (Sony)   $12.5    $12.0     $ 72+
The Lion King in 3D       (Dis)   $11.0    $10.6     $117-

Courageous               (Sony)   $ 8.8    $ 9.0     $ 28
50/50                  (Summit)   $ 8.8    $ 8.6     $ 35
Dream House               (Uni)   $ 8.2    $ 8.1     $ 11
Abduction                  (LG)   $ 5.7    $ 5.6     $ 28
What’s Your Number?       (Fox)   $ 5.6    $ 5.4     $ 12

Contagion                  (WB)   $ 5.0    $ 4.9     $ 79
Killer Elite         (OpenRoad)   $ 4.9    $ 4.9     $ 26

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.