October 22, 2011

THE BIJOU: Boxoffice Footnotes – 10/21/11


PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 continues Paramount’s license to print money–it’ll soon be in profit even with worldwide marketing costs calculated in.  Yesterday will probably prove to be by far the biggest day of its front-loaded run, but at those prices, who cares?
Sometimes it’s not about the marketing–it’s about the movie.  It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find 30 seconds of the godawful THREE MUSKETEERS remake that could be cut into a promo that would make anyone want to see it.  The movie reportedly cost $90M, and even though Summit seems not to be on the hook for much of the production cost, they won’t even recoup their prints and marketing expenses.  The best thing about this is that it should mean the sequel threatened in the final scene won’t actually be made.

If not for relationship issues, Universal would probably have let JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN slip quietly to direct-to-homevideo in the US, since there was already plenty of evidence that Rowan Atkinson has no boxoffice appeal on American soil.  As it is, they gave it a stealth opening in only 1500 theatres and with little marketing behind it.  Now that it’s over, they’ll continue to pour cash into TOWER HEIST, opening in 2 weeks.
With the exception of horror movies THE THING and DREAM HOUSE, there was no competition for any of the holdovers, and they all did very well, with 20-30% weekend drops.  (Well, all but THE BIG YEAR, which continued to be a movie no one wanted to see.)  The free ride for the family movies, however, ends this week with Friday’s arrival of PUSS IN BOOTS.
There was no audience for the G-rated sports movie THE MIGHTY MACS, which will be lucky to hit a $1K average in almost 1000 theatres.  Emilio Estevez’s spiritual-themed THE WAY almost tripled its count and did passably, with about $1750 in each of 280 theatres.
Two excellent indies made their debuts this weekend with very different release strategies.  MARGIN CALL opened at a surprisingly wide 56 theatres, and is also available on VOD, meaning its theatrical numbers are only part of the picture (studios don’t release their VOD figures).  Despite that, it’s headed for a very impressive $10K per theatre, which puts it on track to be one of the relatively few VOD titles to also exceed $1M in theatre revenues.  Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight gave MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE a more conventional showcase opening in NY/LA only, and is headed for a superb $35K in each of its 4 theatres.  That’s roughly the same per-screen as THE SKIN I LIVE IN had last week in 6, but as often happens, when that film expanded this weekend to 21 houses, its per-theatre number went down to a still-good $11K.
Halloween weekend is a soft one for teen business, due to all the social events the holiday brings with it, and consequently the only major opening on Friday is DreamWorks’ Puss In Boots for the kiddies.  Fox’s IN TIME features a host of young actors who are trying to prove they can carry an action movie (Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde), and the studio is putting some marketing cash behind it.  RUM DIARY is getting a wide opening, but it’s more like the kind of indie Johnny Depp used to make in his pre-Captain Jack Sparrow days.  Also, Sony will open the Shakespeare-themed ANONYMOUS in around 250 theatres, having backed off their wacky initial notion of opening it wide.
One final note:  whether for ego, relationship or contractual minimum guarantee reasons, Universal has been utterly determined to get COWBOYS & ALIENS to the $100M mark, leaving it in hundreds of theatres long after much bigger hits have gone away.  Well, mission accomplished!  The picture has scratched its way to the goal, so everyone associated with the movie can be very proud.

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."