November 3, 2011


More articles by »
Written by: Mitch Metcalf
Tags: , , , , , , ,


$59.99 for home VOD — Genius!

Box office normally starts to pick up when the calendar turns to November, moving from $90-100 million per weekend through most of October to $120 million or more per weekend in early November (building toward $185 million or more for the Friday-Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend).  Last year’s first weekend of November featured brilliant counter-scheduling of three films serving very different audiences (an animated family movie, Megamind, an adult comedy, Due Date, and a female-skewing For Colored Girls).  This year two comedies open against each other, and this weekend should be down almost 30% from the same weekend last year.        

Opening at more than 3,200 theaters in North America by Universal, Tower Heist should average a solid $9,300 per theater (for $29.5 million for Friday-Sunday).  (All films the last two years have averaged $5,525 per theater in their opening weekend.)  Much to Universal Distribution’s horror, the theater count for the latest from Brett Ratner would have been much lower had Comcast gone through with the limited video-on-demand test of this movie while it was still in theaters — and for the insane price of $59.99.  In the end, cooler heads prevailed.  Comcast scrapped the experiment, and theater owners ended talk of a boycott.  So the opening should be a normal one, and Tower Heist has received surprisingly favorable reviews, with 78% positive at RottenTomatoes.  The Ben Stiller-Eddie Murphy comedy should be on track for around $92 million in North America when it leaves theaters.    

At about 2,800 theaters, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas from Warner Brothers should average a mediocre $5,900 per theater (for $16.5 million this weekend).  The R-rated comedy has not been released for reviews.  This movie is probably headed for around $43 million domestically.  The first in the saga, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, opened with $5.5 million the weekend of 7.30.2004 (74% positive reviews at RottenTomatoes), ending with $18.3 million domestically and $5.7 million overseas.  Next, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay opened with $14.9 million the weekend of 4.25.2008 (53% positive reviews), finishing with $38.1 million domestically and $5.4 million overseas.   

New Films                        Critics    Opening  Domestic
November 4-6                     Positive   Weekend   Total*

Tower Heist             Uni  PG13  78%      $29.5     $ 92
A Very Harold & Kumar    WB  R     n/a      $16.5     $ 43

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 second weekend of Puss in Boots should be down a decent 30%, reflecting good word of mouth and catch-up business in the Northeast, where a very early snowstorm disrupted movie business — and the delivery of electricity — last weekend and into this week.   

Major Returning Films            Change     This    Domestic
November 4-6                    vs wknd 1  Weekend   Total*

Puss in Boots       DW/Par        -30%      $24.0     $128
Paranormal Activity 3  Par        -55%      $ 8.5     $117

In Time                Fox        -44%      $ 7.0     $ 28 
Footloose              Par        -34%      $ 3.7     $ 55
Real Steel            Sony        -32%      $ 3.5     $ 87
The Rum Diary      FilmDis        -41%      $ 3.0     $ 17
Ides of March       DW/DIS        -27%      $ 2.0     $ 42 
The Three Musketeers  Summ        -46%      $ 1.9     $ 20

Box Office Volume

For the past four years, the top 12 films in the comparable weekend have averaged $119 million total, ranking 27th of 52 weeks.  Last year this weekend’s total was $143 million (with three movies opening to a collective $98 million by serving different audiences and genre fans), and the same weekend in 2009 was $107 million.  This Friday-Sunday is looking like $103 million, down a withering 28% from this weekend last year and down 14% from the four-year average for this weekend.       

This Weekend Last Two Years

 Megamind PAR/ DW PG   
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $51  Actual: $46
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $163  Actual: $148
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $173
 Due Date WB R Robert Downey Jr Zach Galifianakis 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $33  Actual: $33
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $94  Actual: $100
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $111
 For Colored Girls LG R Kimberly Elise Janet Jackson 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $21  Actual: $19
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $42  Actual: $38
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $0

 A Christmas Carol DIS PG Jim Carrey  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $43  Actual: $30
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $122  Actual: $138
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $187
 The Fourth Kind UNI PG13 Milla Jovovich  
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $11  Actual: $12
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $26  Actual: $25
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $21
 The Men Who Stare at Goats OVERTURE R George Clooney Jeff Bridges 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $11  Actual: $13
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $38  Actual: $32
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $37
 The Box WB PG13 Cameron Diaz James Marsden 
 Opening Weekend — Forecast: $8  Actual: $8
 Domestic Gross — Estimate: $20  Actual: $15
 International — Estimate: n/a  Actual: $17

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 actuals), and Monday we will have the final weekend numbers.

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.