March 3, 2012



There are good movies and there are hits, and given the choice, there’s never been any doubt which Hollywood prefers.
OPENINGS:  A March filled to the brim with wannabe blockbusters is off to a big start.  THE LORAX (Universal) may be a bad movie (spoiler alert–it is), but the studio sold the hell out of it, and the result looks to be the all-quadrant hit Universal dreamed of.  The opening day for Lorax was almost 25% higher than the Friday for Horton Hears A Who! in March 2008, and that one got to $154M, so $200M is certainly in reach (Horton happened to be a better movie, but we’ll see if that means much).  Also helping:  no real competition until Mirror Mirror and Wrath of the Titans open on March 30.

Also opening well (and at least as bad) is PROJECT X (Warner Bros), the latest “found-footage” contraption.  Its $8.1M Friday is only slightly behind the $8.6M for Chronicle, February’s found-footage picture, and while Project‘s trajectory downward may be faster (Chronicle rose 18% on Saturday on good word-of-mouth, which Project will be hard pressed to match), that could still put it in the neighborhood of a $20M weekend and $50M total, not bad for a picture that has a $12M budget and lower-than-usual reliance on expensive TV marketing.
HOLDOVERSACT OF VALOR (Relativity) and WANDERLUST (Universal) should go down a standard 45-50% in their second weekends, but oddly enough, the given-up-for-dead GONE (Summit/Lionsgate) is holding extremely well and may decline less than 40%.  Amanda Seyfried fans?  GOOD DEEDS (Lionsgate/Summit) will fall the heavy 60% or so that’s typical for Tyler Perry’s movies.  Also collapsing this weekend is JOURNEY 2 (Warners), which held like a champ for several weeks but got poleaxed by The LoraxSAFE HOUSE (Universal), THE VOW (Screen Gems/Sony) and THIS MEANS WAR (20th) continue to hold well, although in the case of the latter, that will still only get it to around $50M.  Worth noting farther down the list is that PHANTOM MENACE 3D (20th) is now headed for only around $45M, which means with the cost of 3D conversion and marketing, the re-release may remarkably have to scrape just to break even–we’ll see how quickly Attack of the Clones 3D hits theatres after this.
OSCAR WINNERS:  Even with the Best Picture Oscar and the giant publicity that comes with it, THE ARTIST (Weinstein) managed only a mild bump at the box-office.  Its theatre count increased by over 80%, but it’s headed for only a 20-25% higher gross this weekend.  Artist now seems unlikely to reach $50M at the US boxoffice, which would make it the first Best Picture winner in current theatrical release (unlike The Hurt Locker, which was already on homevideo when the awards were presented) not to hit that mark since The Last Emperor in 1987, a film that made $44M at a time when those dollars had 25 years worth of higher value.  (For a real, inflation-adjusted equivalent, you’d have to go back to the pre-homevideo era.)  Meanwhile THE IRON LADY (Weinstein) rode its Best Actress Oscar to a 10-15% increase.  Winners in the lesser categories had no Oscar benefit:  THE DESCENDANTS (Fox Searchlight) dropped 20% of its theatres and will decline 40-45%, and HUGO (Paramount), now out on homevideo, lost about 15% of its theatres and will fall 20-25%.
LIMITED RELEASES:  The first major indie of 2012, BEING FLYNN (Focus) didn’t muster much enthusiasm at the boxoffice (sadly, for good reason) and may only get to around an $11K average at 4 theatres.  TIM AND ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE (Magnolia), also available on VOD, is headed for perhaps a $5K average at 24.
NEXT WEEK:  The knives have been sharpening for weeks, but is JOHN CARTER (Disney) really as bad as the buzz suggests?  It will, at least, have the weekend almost to itself, as the “single-take” (not really) SILENT HOUSE (Open Road) and the long-delayed Eddie Murphy vehicle A THOUSAND WORDS (Paramount) are only opening in roughly half as many theatres.  2 romantic comedies also arrive in limited release:  FRIENDS WITH KIDS (Roadside Attractions), which has a terrific cast that includes Jon Hamm, Kristin Wiig, Adam Scott and Maya Rudolph, and SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (CBS), with the somewhat less marketable Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt. 


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."