September 18, 2011


>Based on Friday and Saturday box office (and estimated Sunday numbers), The Lion King returned to theaters 17 years later — in 3D no less — and scored a solid #1 for the weekend.  Drive opened okay, while Straw Dogs and I Don’t Know How She Does It were very quiet arrivals.  Conatagion fell to #2, but with a fairly small second-week decline, its final domestic gross has been upgraded.  The weekend overall is now looking like it will be down marginally from this weekend last year.      

The ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Final estimates now show that the openers are headed for:  The Lion King in 3D ($117 million), Drive ($42 million), Straw Dogs ($19 million), and I Don’t Know How She Does It ($11 million).  Contagion has been upgraded to $84 million, while Warrior has been downgraded a touch to $19 million.  The Debt is holding steady at $34 million, and Colombiana is still headed for $39 million.  The Help is locking in on an extremely good $168 million.             

Based on Friday and Saturday actual numbers and studio estimates for Sunday, The Lion King in 3D will average $12,600 per theater at 2,330 theaters (for $29.3 million from Friday-Sunday).  Drive opened with a soft $3,800 average at 2,886 theaters ($11.0 million). Straw Dogs opened with a weak $2,100 average at 2,408 theaters ($5.0 million).  I Don’t Know How She Does It will average a lame $1,800 at 2,476 theaters ($4.5 million for the weekend).   

The second week decline for Contagion (-35%) paved the way for an increase in the estimated final domestic gross, and the other declines for the holdovers were in the normal range for each genre (with the exception of The Help which had its usual low decline).      

September 16-18, 2011               Wknd     vs     Showbuzz
(millions)                         Studio   Last    Domestic
                                    Proj.   Wknd     Final* 

The Lion King in 3D       (Dis)     $29.3             $117
Contagion                  (WB)     $14.5   -35%      $ 84+
Drive                 (FilmDis)     $11.0             $ 42
The Help               (Dis/DW)     $ 6.4   -28%      $168

Straw Dogs               (Sony)     $ 5.0             $ 19
I Don’t Know How She Does(Wein)     $ 4.5             $ 11
Warrior                    (LG)     $ 2.8   -47%      $ 19-
The Debt                (Focus)     $ 2.9   -38%      $ 34

Rise of Planet of Apes    (Fox)     $ 2.6   -32%      $183

Colombiana               (Sony)     $ 2.3   -42%      $ 39

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 to come):

— Restless (Sony Pictures Classics) opened with a weak $3,500 average at 5 theaters

Total Box Office Volume

The Top 12 Films this weekend are looking like $85 million total, down 3% from the same calendar weekend last year when The Town and Easy A opened but up 2% from the typical total for this weekend the last four years.   

Top 12 Films: Weekend #37
     Volume     (millions)

2011  $ 85  (
+2% vs 2007-10 average; -3% vs 2010) 

Avg   $ 83            Movies Opening That Weekend
2010  $ 87  The Town $24, Easy A $18, Devil $12    
2009  $ 87  Cloudy Chance Meatballs $30, The Informant! $10.5

2008  $ 76  Lakeview Terrace $15, My Best Friend’s Girl $8
2007  $ 80  Resident Evil Extinction $24, Good Luck Chuck $14


Next Weekend

Opening next week are Dolphin Tale from Warner Brothers, Abduction from Lionsgate, Moneyball from Sony, and Killer Elite from Open Road Films.  Those movies will be compared to Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ($19 million opening weekend), Legends of the Guardians ($16 million), and You Again ($8 million). 

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.