August 18, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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>Now that we are in mid-August, let the true dumping of movies begin!  Sure they can be called summer movies, but films the next few weeks have little hope of turning in impressive box office results.  The Help (a truly rare August hit) should continue at #1 with a very small second weekend decline, while Conan the Barbarian, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World and Fright Night duke it out with average (at best) returns.   

Opening at more than 2,900 theaters in North America by Lionsgate, Conan the Barbarian should average a slightly above par $5,700 per theater (for $16.5 million for Friday-Sunday).  With a small number of reviews posted at RottenTomatoes so far, critical opinion is mixed (52% positive).  This 3D entry should be on track for around $50 million total in North America, more proof that 3D is not the guarantee for success.

At about 3,000 theaters, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World from Weinstein/Dimension should average $4,850 (for $14.5 million this weekend).  No reviews yet for this movie, which has not been made available for critics (who would likely dump all over it).  This attempt at a franchise resuscitation is probably headed for around $60 million domestically. 

Opening at 2,900 theaters from DreamWorks and distributed by Disney, Fright Night should average $4,900 from Friday-Sunday (for a $14 million opening weekend).  Early reviews have been positive at RottenTomatoes (69% positive, which is near unanimity for a horror film).  This movie is most likely on track for $40 million in North America.     

Finally, opening at about 1,600 theaters, One Day from Focus/Universal should average a below average $3,700 per theater (for a meager $6 million opening weekend).  (The average wide-release film averages $4,900 per theater in its opening weekend).  Reviews have been brutal so far at RottenTomatoes (25% positive in the early returns).  One Day is probably headed for a domestic total of $14 million, if that.

New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
August 19-21                     Positive   Weekend   Total*

Conan the Barbarian      LG  R      52%      $ 16.5    $ 50
Spy Kids: All Time     Wein  PG     n/a      $ 14.5    $ 60
Fright Night         DW/Dis  R      69%      $ 14.0    $ 40
One Day               Focus  PG13   25%      $  6.0    $ 14

Note: Although critic reviews are not related to the size of the opening weekend, they are significantly correlated with the size of the declines in the opening weeks of a movie.
* The Domestic Total is a very early ShowBuzzDaily projection of the total North American gross, based on the Weekend Forecasts.

The Help should remain #1 with an amazing 22% decline thanks to strong word-of-mouth among its older demographic, who do not rush out to movies the first weekend.  This film will play for some time.  Final Destination 5 will have a typical decline for a horror sequel (54%), while Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Smurfs continue to cruise nicely with declines around 40%. 

Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic
August 19-21                    vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*

The Help            DW/Dis        -22%      $20       $100
Rise of Planet of Apes Fox        -43%      $16       $175
The Smurfs            Sony        -37%      $ 9       $140
Final Destination 5     WB        -54%      $ 8.5     $ 45
30 Minutes or Less    Sony        -47%      $ 7       $ 40
Crazy, Stupid, Love.    WB        -38%      $ 4.5     $ 80
Harry Potter Deathly 2  WB        -37%      $ 4.5     $370

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $100 million total, ranking 39th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $110 million, and the year before was $112 million.  This Friday-Sunday is looking like another up weekend at $125 million, up about 13% from this weekend last year.  This would be the sixth up weekend in a row.   

This Weekend Last Two Years

 Vampires Suck FOX PG13 Ken Jeong  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $13  Actual: $12
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $35  Actual: $37
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $44
 Piranha 3D WEINS R Richard Dreyfuss Elizabeth Shue 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $11  Actual: $10
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $29  Actual: $25
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $57
 Nanny McPhee Returns UNI PG Emma Thompson Maggie Gyllenhaal 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $11  Actual: $8
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $33  Actual: $29
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $64
 Lottery Ticket WB PG13 Bow Wow Brandon T Jackson 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $9  Actual: $11
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $26  Actual: $25
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $0
 The Switch MIR PG13 Jason Bateman Jennifer Aniston 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $6  Actual: $8
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $28  Actual: $28
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $22
 Inglourious Basterds WEINS R Brad Pitt Diane Kruger 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $28  Actual: $38
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $127  Actual: $121
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $193
 Shorts WB PG Jon Cryer William H Macy 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $11  Actual: $6
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $24  Actual: $21
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $5
 Post Grad FOX PG13 Alexis Bledel Michael Keaton 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $4  Actual: $3
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $4  Actual: $6
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $0

Come back throughout the weekend to see how the movies actually perform.  Saturday morning we will have an early look at how the weekend is shaping up as a whole (based on Friday’s early numbers), on Sunday we will have initial studio estimates (based on Friday and Saturday), and Monday we will have the final numbers for the entire weekend.

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.