September 4, 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 yet again, down only 2% from last week.  This is really getting to be a tired headline, but with the feeble crop of recent releases The Help is just taking full advantage of the situation.  The weekend overall is now looking like it will be even with this weekend last year.      

The ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Final estimates now show that the openers are headed for:  The Debt ($37 million), Apollo 18 ($19 million), and Shark Night 3D ($18 million).  Colombiana has been upgraded to $40 million), while Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark has been upgraded a touch to $26 million as has Our Idiot Brother  to $30 million.  Spy Kids: All the Time in the World is still headed for $36 million.  The Help has been upgraded yet again to a very impressive $155 million.             

Based on Friday and Saturday actual numbers and studio estimates for Sunday, The Debt will average $5,300 per theater at a low 1,826 theaters (for $9.7 million from Friday-Sunday).  Apollo 18 opened with a weak $2,614 average at 3,328 theaters ($8.7 million).  Shark Night 3D will average only $3,079 at 2,806 theaters ($8.6 million for the weekend).   

The fourth week decline for The Help (-2%) is almost unprecedented, and the other declines for the holdovers were lower than normal because of the Irene-impacted weekend last week.      

September 2-4, 2011                 Wknd     vs     Showbuzz
(millions)                         Studio   Last    Domestic
                                    Proj.   Wknd     Final* 

The Help               (Dis/DW)     $14.2   – 2%      $155+
The Debt                (Focus)     $ 9.7             $ 37
Apollo 18                (Wein)     $ 8.7             $ 19
Shark Night 3D            (Rel)     $ 8.6             $ 18
Colombiana               (Sony)     $ 7.4   -29%      $ 40
Rise of Planet of Apes    (Fox)     $ 7.8   -12%      $181
Our Idiot Brother        (Wein)     $ 5.2   -26%      $ 30

Don’t Be Afraid Dark  (FilmDis)     $ 4.9   -42%      $ 26
Spy Kids 4               (Wein)     $ 4.6   -23%      $ 36   
The Smurfs               (Sony)     $ 4.0   -16%      $143

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): — Seven Days in Utopia (drama) averaged a soft $2,203 at 561 theaters
— Saving Private Perez (foreign) averaged $4,161 at 161 theaters
— A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (comedy) at 143 theaters
— Bodyguard (foreign) at 89 theaters
— Bol (drama) at 38 theaters
— Love Crime (foreign) at 5 theaters
— Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (foreign) at 3 theaters

Total Box Office Volume

The Top 12 Films this weekend are looking like $81 million total, flat versus the same calendar weekend last year when The American, Machete and Going the Distance opened.  

Top 12 Films: Weekend #35
     Volume     (millions)
2011  $ 81  (+16% vs 2007-10 average; -0% vs 2010) 

Avg   $ 69            Movies Opening That Weekend
2010  $ 81  The American $13, Machete $11, Going Distance $7    
2009  $ 81  All About Steve $11, Gamer $9, Extract $4
2008  $ 50  Bangkok Dangerous $8

2007  $ 65  3:10 to Yuma $14, Shoot ‘Em Up $6

Next Weekend

Opening next week are Contagion from Warner Brothers, Warrior from Lionsgate, and Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star from Sony.  Those movies will be compared to Resident Evil: Afterlife ($27 million opening weekend).  

In case you missed them, click to see this week’s Weekend Predictions and Update.  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.