May 20, 2012




Be extra-nice to anyone you know at Universal today.

OPENINGS:  BATTLESHIP (Universal) is lucky John Carter exists, because the studio can spin the numbers (Carter cost a little more, Battleship is doing a little better overseas) to obscure the fact that its movie, with a domestic opening of $25.3M ($5M less than Carter‘s) is going to lose a ton of money.  And although neither failure is Taylor Kitsch’s fault, don’t expect to see him starring in more prospective franchise-launching movies anytime soon. 

THE DICTATOR is a smaller level of failure because of its relatively low cost (and early indications are that it may have more potential overseas than in the US), but its $17.4M weekend ($24.5M with Wed/Thurs added) still shows dwindling US interest in Sacha Baron Cohen.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING (Lionsgate) is a complete failure with a $10.3M weekend, and it’s not entirely clear why–sure, it’s  a terrible movie that got awful reviews, but that doesn’t make it all that different from Valentine’s Day or even New Year’s Eve, both of which did much better.  It may be that the rom-com audience just isn’t interested in a pregnancy movie–and also that the studio whiffed by having a large ensemble cast with only one genuinely bankable name (Cameron Diaz) in it.  (Side note:  considering how much Lionsgate marketed What To Expect with the scenes of the “Guys Club” of dads with their strollers, NBC may want to rethink the appeal of its upcoming Guys With Kids sitcom.)

THE AVENGERS:  Another weekend, more trucks of money coming in.  Only the New Year’s Weekend 3 of Avatar kept Avengers from another record, but a $457M total to date won’t cause Disney any tears, and a 47% drop, at this level of boxoffice, is spectacular.  Looking ahead to next weekend, the Weekend 4 record is Avatar‘s $50.3M, and although Memorial Day will help Avengers, it’ll probably have to settle for #2 again.  Meanwhile, Avengers has also taken in $723M overseas, to make it the #4 worldwide grosser of all time with $1.18B, and certain to pass the final Harry Potter at $1.33B.

HOLDOVERS:  DARK SHADOWS (Warners) took a bad 57% drop to $12.8M, making it another expensive flop in this still-young summer season.  THE HUNGER GAMES (Lionsgate) had another lovely hold, down only 33% in Weekend 9, and may just stretch itself to reach $400M.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Expansions did better than arrivals.  THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) doubled its run to 354 theatres and retained a very robust per-theatre average over $9K. BERNIE (Millenium) went to 95 theatres, with a solid average over $5K.  But an $8K average for HYSTERIA (Sony Pictures Classics) wasn’t very impressive in a 5-theatre debut, nor was the $6K average for POLISSE (IFC) in 3.  (Next weekend will bring a couple of art-house big guns, with Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom (Focus/Universal) and the French blockbuster The Intouchables

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."