April 24, 2011

WEEKEND STUDIO ESTIMATES APR 22-24: A Return to the Box Office


Up nearly 40% from last year, this weekend is being fueled by returning family films like  Rio and Hop (legitimate hits) and moderate films like Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family and Water for Elephants.  The audience is returning to theaters in time for the start of the summer season.

The ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Final estimates now show that Rio should finish its run with $154 million and Hop should end up with $127 million.  As for the openers, Madea’s Big Happy Family (starring and produced, written and directed by Tyler Perry, pictured) is headed for $58 million, similar to Perry’s recent Why Did I Get Married Too? but far below the last Madea project, Madea Goes to Jail ($90 million).  Water for Elephants is headed for a final domestic gross of $42 million.  African Cats is on pace for a $20 million total.

Based on Friday and Saturday actual numbers and studio estimates for Sunday, Madea’s Big Happy Family opened with $25.8 million, averaging a robust $11,254 per theater at 2,288 theaters.  Water Elephants opened with $17.5 million, playing on 2,817 theaters and averaging $6,212 — a slightly above average performance.  African Cats opened at only 1,220 theaters and averaged $5,246 per theater (for a total of $6.4 million).  The per theater average for Cats is down from the estimate yesterday but still a hair above the $4,900 average number for all movies.

April 22-24, 2011                   Wknd     vs     Showbuzz
(millions)                         Studio   Last    Domestic
                                    Proj.   Wknd    Ultimate*
Rio                       (Fox)     $26.8   -32%      $154 ++
Madea’s Big Happy Family 
  (LG)     $25.8             $ 58
Water for Elephants      
(Fox)     $17.5             $ 42
(Uni)     $12.5   +17%      $127 ++
Scre4m                  (Weins)     $ 7.2   -62%      $ 48 —
African Cats              (Dis)     $ 6.4             $ 20
Soul Surfer               (Tri)     $ 5.6   -23%      $ 43
Insidious             (FilmDis)
    $ 5.4   -20%      $ 57
Hanna                     (Foc)     $ 5.3   -28%      $ 46
Source Code               (Sum)     $ 5.1   -18%      $ 58
Arthur                     (WB)     $ 4.1   -39%      $ 38

Note: The table above summarizes the weekend as of Sunday.  The first column (on which the table is sorted) displays the “studio projection” for each film, based on the Friday and Saturday actual numbers (and a studio-supplied estimate of Sunday).  The second column is the percent decline from the prior weekend.  The final column is a preliminary estimate of the ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Total Gross for the film’s complete run in North America.  A “++” indicates the Domestic number has been upgraded; a “–” indicates a downgrade. 

Total Weekend Volume

The Top 12 Films this weekend are looking like $124 million total, up almost 40% from the same weekend last year and up almost 50% (an amazing increase) from the 2007-10 average for the comparable weekend. 

Top 12 Films: Fourth Weekend in April
2011  $124  (+48% vs 2007-10 average; +39% vs 2010) 

Avg   $ 84  
            Movies Opening That Weekend
2010  $ 90  Back-Up Plan $12, The Losers $9, Oceans $6 

2009  $104  Obsessed $29, Fighting $11, The Soloist $10, Earth $9
2008  $ 80  Baby Mama $17, Harold & Kumar Escape $15,Deception $2
2007  $ 62  The Invisible $8, Next $7, Condemned $4

The Week Ahead

Opening next week are Fast Five (action sequel) from Universal, Prom (comedy-drama) from Disney, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil (animation) from Weinstein, and Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (horror comedy) from Freestyle Releasing.  Look for Fast Five to make the most noise and ignite the entire weekend.  Also, Rio should continue to do well.  These strong films will be enough to fuel increase from the same weekend last year when A Nightmare on Elm Street opened with $33 million and Furry Vengeance struggled with a little more than $6 million.  A positive weekend would be the third in a row, and as movies do well they provide a platform for trailers of upcoming films, creating a cycle of success for future weekends and the summer season itself.  Of course, people need to want to see the summer movies, but the stage is being set for a fair test.

On Monday we will have the final, official numbers for the weekend (actual numbers, no estimated Saturday or Sunday numbers), and on Tuesday look for the updated international numbers for films currently in release. 

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.