November 5, 2011

THE BIJOU: Friday Boxoffice Footnotes – 11/4/11


TOWER HEIST hurts Universal on several levels.  It’s a big-budget movie (with marketing costs included, the total is likely $200M) in a genre that doesn’t necessarily travel well, and it was the studio’s big year-end release.  And just to make things worse, next week its pair of Stiller and Murphy have to face off against Adam Sandler’s Jack & Jill.  (Incidentally, the idea, floating online, that the movie’s $25M opening shouldn’t be considered soft because on this particular weekend of the year, other comedies not aimed at families haven’t done better, is beyond inane–it seems to assume that moviegoers check the calendar before heading out to the multiplex, saying “Hey, I don’t care what’s opening–if it’s the first weekend in November, I don’t want to see any damn non-family comedy!  Everyone knows I only go to those in the second weekend in November or the third weekend in September!”)   

PUSS IN BOOTS got the second weekend it needed, with a superb drop of only around 20%.  Not to be churlish, though, but while that’s a far better hold than Megamind had last year (37% drop), it’s still likely to make for a second weekend lower than Megamind‘s $29M, and a 10-day gross 20% lower than Megamind‘s $88M.  (Megamind wound up with $148M in the US.)  Next week Puss also has to contend with the Sandler movie, which is PG and being pitched to a family audience, and the following week a deluge of animated competition begins with Happy Feet 2.  
A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D XMAS looks to be on par with the last picture in the series, Guantanamo Bay, which opened with $14.8M (although the Xmas number is boosted by 3D ticket prices).  It’s doubtful that Warners expected much more, so presumably these economics work for them.
With little excitement generated by the new arrivals, holdovers again did very well:  other than the post-Halloween PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3, none of the Top 10 appear likely to decline more than 40% (not even THE RUM DIARY).  This developing pattern of strong holdover business may also suggest an aging of the theatrical movie audience, as older audiences have long been likely to wait a week or 2 before heading out to see films.
There weren’t any major indie openings this weekend, but several expansions are worth noting.  ANONYMOUS (which isn’t technically an “indie,” but has the subject matter of one) doubled its theatre count to 513 but only increased its gross by 20%, meaning an anemic per-theatre number that may not reach $2500.  MARGIN CALL continued its quiet success, adding 38 theatres for a total of 178 and holding to a fine per-theatre number over $4K (it continues to be available as well on VOD)–the film now seems capable of reaching $5M or more at the boxoffice, which would make it a solid low-budget success.  MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE almost tripled its theatres to 98, and is finding an audience, with a per-theatre that should be at least $4500.  LIKE CRAZY took a smaller leap to 16 houses, and should be a very good $15K in each.
Next weekend is all Adam Sandler, in fact 2 of him, since as everyone now knows, he plays both himself and his twin sister in JACK & JILL. His last non-summer opening was $30M for Just Go With It, so that will presumably be a target number for the picture.  Sandler’s competition will be limited to the R-rated 300 rip-off IMMORTALS and Clint Eastwood’s very serious J. EDGAR, also an R. 

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."