May 19, 2012




Audiences sank Universal’s Battleship.

OPENINGS:  There’s no way to spin the arrival of BATTLESHIP (Universal)  as anything other than a horribly expensive flop.  Its $9M opening day is even less than the infamous John Carter‘s $9.8M, and it may not have the 3x weekend multiple that got Carter to a $30M weekend.  Battleship is doing a little better (not much) overseas than Carter, and supposedly cost a bit less, but it’s still looking at a write-off that could be over $150M.  Over the next 2 weeks, look for the studio to feverishly push its next opening, Snow White & The Huntsman, as it tries not to blow the summer.

THE DICTATOR (Paramount)‘s failure is on a much smaller scale (the budget was reportedly $65M, less than a third of Battleship‘s), but still pretty awful.  The movie won’t get much higher than $15M this weekend, which means total US boxoffice will barely pay for its marketing campaign.  Sacha Baron Cohen needs to revamp and prove he can do something besides funny accents.  WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING (Lionsgate) didn’t even connect with its core audience, let alone anyone else, and also probably won’t recoup anything more than its marketing expenses.

THE AVENGERS:  Winner and still champion.  Its likely $55M weekend will be the highest non-holiday 3d weekend any movie has ever had, pushing its US gross over $450M with plenty still in the tank.  It’s on track to become the #3 US release ever, and the highest not directed by James Cameron.

OTHER HOLDOVERS:  Hardly anyone liked DARK SHADOWS (Warners), and it’s heading for a sizable 55% drop in its second weekend.  It’s unlikely to gross more than $80M in the US, and will need to overperform overseas in a big way just to get near break-even, thanks to its enormous cost.  THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) doubled its theatre count to 357 and held beautifully, with what should be a $9K per theatre average.    Despite losing 500 theatres, THE HUNGER GAMES (Lionsgate) continues to hold like a champ, down only 31% from last Friday and heading for around $391M by the end of the weekend as it tries to nose its way to $400M in US boxoffice.

LIMITED RELEASE:  HYSTERIA (Sony Pictures Classics) is heading for an unimpressive $7K average at 5 theatres.  That’s better than the well-reviewed POLISSE (IFC), which should have about a $5K average at 3.  And still better than VIRGINIA (EOne) barely registering with a likely $2K average at 5.

NEXT WEEKENDThe Avengers‘ reign at #1 is likely to come to an end with the arrival of MEN IN BLACK 3 (Sony), one of the season’s biggest question marks, but still a picture that should easily top the $30M or so Avengers is likely to gross in its 4th weekend.  Also arriving is THE CHERNOBYL DIARIES (Warners), a low-budget horror flick the studio is promoting like a much bigger piece of merchandise.  In very limited release, Wes Anderson’s MOONRISE KINGDOM (Focus/Universal) and THE INTOUCHABLES (Weinstein) also open for Memorial Day weekend.

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."