April 28, 2012



Hollywood, like teen girls before a Twilight opening, counts the hours until THE AVENGERS arrives.
OPENINGS:  Universal badly miscalculated when it scheduled THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT for a weekend when Think Like A Man and The Lucky One were both available for the romance market.  The movie was moderately budgeted (although it had a substantial marketing campaign), so it’ll be more of a disappointment than a disaster, but this is a far cry from the studio’s last week of April in 2011, when it opened Fast Five and raked in the profits.  Thanks to kiddie matinees, THE PIRATES! A BAND OF MISFITS (Sony) may well pull away from Engagement to be the highest arrival of the weekend–but it also cost twice as much to produce, so a $1M weekend victory won’t make the ink any blacker.  Even with almost no competition for the action audience, SAFE (Lionsgate/Summit) will be one of Jason Statham’s lowest openers (The Bank Job and Crank:  High Voltage opened to $6M and $7M, respectively, although Bank Job had an exceptionally good multiple and got to a $30M total because it was–unusually for Statham–actually a good movie).  Lionsgate’s exposure is limited, because it acted as distributor-for-hire on the film, but it’s still on the hook for marketing costs.  THE RAVEN (Relativity) is also looking at a sad $6-7M opening, and appeared to have a much more significant marketing budget than Safe, so the message to Relativity is:  Nevermore.

THE HUNGER GAMES:  Maybe not the Secretariat of movie holdovers (that would be Avatar), but still an extraordinary performer.  It’s likely to dip a tiny 25% in its 6th weekend (helped a bit by a 1-week return to some IMAX houses), bringing its total to over $370M by the end of Sunday.  That would be, depending on the exact numbers, one of the top 5 or 10 6th weekends of the past decade, and also make Hunger Games the 16th or 17th highest grossing film of all time, almost certain to pass Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (which had 3D ticket prices and a decade of blockbusters leading up to it) at #13. 
THE AVENGERS:  Not even here yet, and it’s already a blockbuster.  The Marvel/Disney hulk, in just 3 days of overseas release (it opened Wednesday in many parts of the world) has already made $73M in 41 territories–not yet including Russia, China or Japan–and should top $125M by the end of the weekend.
HOLDOVERSTHINK LIKE A MAN (Screen Gems/Sony) is down 55% from its opening day (that will stabilize to around a 50% drop for the weekend), which is an excellent hold for its genre–Tyler Perry’s movies typically plummet 65-70% on their 2d Fridays.  Soapy romances, though, usually hold up better, so the 57% drop for THE LUCKY ONE (Warners) is rockier, and suggests a mixture of mixed word-of-mouth and the effect of Five-Year EngagementCHIMPANZEE (Disney)‘s 55% Friday drop is better than those of its forebears Oceans (60%) and African Cats (71%).  THE 3 STOOGES (20th) and THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (Lionsgate/Summit) are both holding well, looking at 40% drops in their 3d weekends, and 21 JUMP STREET (Sony) continues to inch downward, with only a 36% slip on its 7th Friday.
LIMITED RELEASES:   Richard Linklater’s dry and dark Jack Black comedy BERNIE (Millenium) is opening very well, with what should be a weekend number of $25-30K in each of 3 theatres.  SOUND OF MY VOICE (Fox Searchlight), which lacks star power, is finding the road tougher, heading for perhaps $10K in each of 5.  Time is catching up with SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (CBS), still in 335 theatres, but likely to earn only about $1K in each for the weekend.
NEXT WEEKEND:  The only open question about THE AVENGERS is just how many records it’s going to break.  You can’t really call THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) “counterprogramming,” since it’s only opening in 27 big-city theatres–but it’s certainly aiming for the non-Avengers audience.  

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."