October 8, 2011

THE BIJOU: Friday Boxoffice Footnotes – 10/7/11


The irony of the new DreamWorks/Disney is that thus far, their big “event” spectaculars have done only modest business–I Am Number Four opened with $19.5M and ended up with $55M domestically, and REAL STEEL might do about 25-30% better–while their “little” picture THE HELP has been a blockbuster, one of the most profitable films of the year.  Number Four did gross 60% more internationally than it did in the US, and the same may well be true with Real Steel–however, Steel cost at least double what Number Four did (DreamWorks claims $110M, about which we may be politely dubious), so that may not be enough.

THE IDES OF MARCH is quite low-budget by big-studio standards, with a reported cost of just $12.5M (but considerably higher marketing expenses).  No one expected it to open big, so the question is whether it will last long enough in theatres to recoup its cost.  The downside for the film is that the subject of American politics is unlikely to travel well, so foreign business may be comparatively minimal.  Ides also confirms what we learned a few weeks ago with Drive:  Ryan Gosling is a superb and rising actor, but his name alone doesn’t sell tickets.
It’s now clear that MONEYBALL won’t get close to The Social Network‘s $97M gross–Moneyball started out lower, and although its weekend holds are fine, they’re not nearly as impressive as Network‘s (which didn’t dip more than 33% until its 7th week in release).  Like Ides, Moneyball‘s subject matter makes it a problematic release overseas; however, its production cost is 4x that of Ides.  The big-picture risk for the movie is that it will be out of theatres when serious awards talk begins in a month or so, and absence may not make critics’ hearts grow fonder.
DOLPHIN TALE continues to run fairly parallel (although about 35% ahead) to last year’s Legend of the Guardians–and at a much lower budget–so that’s a nice seasonal win for Warners.  Now that THE LION KING has actually hit blu-ray, its theatrical business collapsed, but that’s still going to be close to $100M in mostly surprise dollars for Disney.
50/50 had a very nice hold, and with its small production cost and relatively low-key ad campaign, it should do OK for Summit.  (As that studio counts the days down to November 17, when the new Twilight opens and they go back to printing money.)  DREAM HOUSE, WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER? and ABDUCTION will all fall close to the expected 50%.  It’s worth noting, though, that COURAGEOUS, which caused some excitement last week with its big opening day, has turned out to be much more front-loaded than last year’s faith-based Fireproof, and will fall at least 50% this weekend, compared to the 40% 2d weekend drop for Fireproof.  (Although with a $2M production cost, the movie will still be very profitable.)
Nothing to get excited about in limited release.  MACHINE GUN PREACHER continues to expand badly, and is headed for little more than $1K per theatre in 93.  THE WAY has a deal with AMC Theaters for exclusive distribution, and is looking at an OK $3500 in each of 33.  THE WOMEN ON THE SIXTH FLOOR should do similarly at only 6, while THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 may ride its “You’ll vomit from the disgustingness!” hype to $6K in each of 9.  DIRTY GIRL wasn’t able to get any traction, with about $2500 in each of 9.

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."