August 28, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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>Based on Friday and Saturday box office (and estimated Sunday numbers), The Help continues at #1, down an impressive 29% from last weekend.  All the openers are very weak, with per theater numbers well below average.  However, the theater counts come with a big asterisk.  The counts are accurate for Friday, but the Saturday counts are 10-20% lower as many theater chains closed their doors in the areas impacted by Hurricane Irene.  Of course, Irene was a bit of a bust in terms of damage, but the precautionary closings will have some impact on the grosses.  Of course, The Help managed to do just fine, so the bad performance of the openers might have more to do with low movie quality than the quasi-fury of Mother Nature.  The weekend overall is now looking like it will be down 23% from this weekend last year, and the full week (Monday-Sunday) is down 19% from the same week last year.      

The ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Final estimates now show that the openers are headed for:  Colombiana ($28 million), Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark ($23 million), and Our Idiot Brother ($24 million).  Spy Kids: All the Time in the World is still headed for $32 million, while Conan the Barbarian has been downgraded to $20 million and Fright Night has been downgraded slightly to $20 million.  The Help has been upgraded yet again to $142 million, while Final Destination 5 is on pace for $44 million and 30 Minutes or Less for $38 million.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes is stabilizing at $176 million domestically.             

Based on Friday and Saturday actual numbers and studio estimates for Sunday, Colombiana will average a below average $3,940 per theater at 2614 theaters (for $10.3 million from Friday-Sunday).  Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark opened with a $3,150 average at 2,760 theaters ($8.7 million).  Our Idiot Brother will average a weak $2,580 at 2,555 theaters ($6.6 million for the weekend).   

The third week decline for The Help (-29%) is another very good performance, however.  The second weekend film wilted between 51% and 69%, not a good showing at all.      

August 26-28, 2011                  Wknd     vs     Showbuzz
(millions)                         Studio   Last    Domestic
                                    Proj.   Wknd     Final* 

The Help               (Dis/DW)     $14.3   -29%      $142
Colombiana               (Sony)     $10.3             $ 28
Don’t Be Afraid Dark  (FilmDis)     $ 8.7             $ 23
Rise of Planet of Apes    (Fox)     $ 8.6   -46%      $176
Our Idiot Brother        (Wein)     $ 6.6             $ 24
Spy Kids 4               (Wein)     $ 5.7   -51%      $ 32
The Smurfs               (Sony)     $ 4.8   -38%      $140
Fright Night              (Dis)     $ 3.0   -63%      $ 20
Conan the Barbarian        (LG)     $ 3.1   -69%      $ 20
Final Destination 5        (WB)     $ 2.4   -68%      $ 44

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.  

Limited Releases 

Opening this weekend on the indie circuit (partial results):
Higher Ground (drama) should average $7,630 at 3 theaters
Brighton Rock (period drama) should average $3,135 at 11 theaters
— Redemption Road (drama) should average a woeful $791 at 26 theaters
Suing the Devil (comedy/drama) at 14 theaters
Chasing Madoff (documentary) at 9 theaters
(drama) at 7 theaters
— Buzzkill (comedy) at 1 theater

Total Box Office Volume

The Top 12 Films this weekend are looking like $73 million total, down 23% from the same calendar weekend last year when Takers, The Last Exorcism and Avatar: Special Edition opened.  

 Top 12 Films: Weekend #34
     Volume     (millions)
2011  $ 73  (
-22% vs 2007-10 average; -23% vs 2010) 

Avg   $ 94
            Movies Opening That Weekend
2010  $ 95  Takers $20, Last Exorcism $20, Avatar: Special $4    

2009  $110  Final Destination $27, Halloween 2 $16
2008  $ 74  Babylon AD $9, Traitor $8, Disaster Movie $6
2007  $ 97  Halloween $26, Balls of Fury $11, Death Sentence $4

Next Weekend

Opening next week are Apollo 18 from Weinstein, Shark Night 3D from Relativity, and The Debt from Focus (on Wednesday).  Those movies will be compared to The American ($13 million opening weekend), Machete ($11 million) and Going the Distance ($7 million).  

To see the original Weekend Predictions click here.  International numbers will be posted as soon as possible, and Monday we will have official numbers for the Friday-Sunday domestic grosses.

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.