August 6, 2011

THE BIJOU: Boxoffice Footnotes – 8/6/11


RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES has a slew of positives going for it commercially:  the reportedly fairly low $93M production cost, the month of August ahead with its limited competition, strong support from an older audience that doesn’t flock to theatres on opening weekend, a genre and emphasis on visuals that should work internationally–and it’s a good movie, too.  Although even with its overperformance this weekend, it won’t have one of the summer’s biggest openings, there’s every reason to think it can be a solid success story for the next several weeks.  It’ll be interesting to see how much this does for James Franco’s career going forward–he’s technically the star of a hit, but barely even gets mentioned as part of its appeal (and rightly so).

THE CHANGE-UP,  by contrast, is nothing but bad news.  Promos were unable to make the movie look less crude or more original than it is, and Ryan Reynolds, who’s supposed to have star power in comedies, didn’t deliver audiences.  (Jason Bateman is more of a supporting guy even when he’s playing a lead.)  Also, as the summer’s comedies go, it was relatively expensive to produce at $50M+.  And worse:  next week’s 30 Minutes or Less is aiming straight at Change-Up‘s audience. 
THE SMURFS held quite well; COWBOYS & ALIENS, as expected, didn’t.  On that film, international will spell the difference between “flop” and “disaster.”  CRAZY STUPID LOVE had a gratifyingly good hold, and may decline less than 40% this weekend–but even though they’re in different genres, it does face competition from The Help next week, which is directed at the same older female audience. 
TRANSFORMERS 3 lost 750 theatres this weekend, and with them, probably any chance of holding onto the crown as summer’s top grosser; over the next week or so, HARRY POTTER should pull ahead and stay there.  FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS seems to have been hurt by the arrival of R-rated comedy competition from Change-Up, and now may struggle to get past $60M.  HORRIBLE BOSSES, though, continued to hold quite well, and pushed past the $100M mark.  
A quiet weekend for limited releases:  THE WHISTLEBLOWER, a muckraking thriller with Rachel Weisz, seems likely to do around $7500 average in 7 theatres, while in fewer theatres, GUN HILL ROAD (about a father’s relationship with his trannsexual child) and BELLFLOWER (semi-apocalyptic adventure-romance) may get to $15K in each of 3 and 2, respectively.  THE MYSTERIES OF LISBON, a 4 1/2 hour drama from director Raul Ruiz, may ride rave reviews to around $5K in each of 2 houses, despite its length.
This was essentially the last big summer weekend for major studio openings.  Next week’s crop of The Help, Final Destination 5 3D, 30 Minutes or Less and the Glee 3D concert movie are all modestly budgeted and will be happy with midlevel numbers (the last Final Destination opened with $27M).  Look out for Friday’s Glee number, though–that could be one of the most front-loaded pictures of the season.

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."