September 25, 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 Lion King is holding on to the #1 spot, but Moneyball and Dolphin Tale are very close behind (both just over $20 million for the weekend).  The weekend overall is now looking like it will be up a strong 20% from this weekend last year.      
The ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Final estimates now show that the openers are headed for:  Moneyball ($70 million), Dolphin Tale ($90 million), KIller Elite ($25 million), and Abduction ($26 million).  The Lion King in 3D has been upgraded a bit to $124 million, while Drive is still headed for $39 million.  Straw Dogs has been downgraded to $12 million, and I Don’t Know How She Does It to $9 million.  Contagion is on track for $82 million.             

Based on Friday and Saturday actual numbers and studio estimates for Sunday, Moneyball will average $6,900 per theater at 2,993 theaters (for $20.6 million from Friday-Sunday).  Dolphin Tale will open with a $5,800 average at 3,507 theaters ($20.3 million). Killer Elite opened with a weak $3,200 average at 2,986 theaters ($9.5 million).  Abduction will average $3,600 at 3,118 theaters ($11.2 million for the weekend).   

The second week decline for Lion King (-27%) is terrific by any standard and allowed for an increase in the estimated domestic final gross.      

September 23-25, 2011               Wknd     vs     Showbuzz
(millions)                         Studio   Last    Domestic
                                    Proj.   Wknd     Final* 

The Lion King in 3D       (Dis)     $22.1   -27%      $124+
Moneyball                (Sony)     $20.6             $ 70
Dolphin Tale               (WB)     $20.3             $ 90
Abduction                  (LG)     $11.2             $ 26
Killer Elite         (OpenRoad)     $ 9.5             $ 25
Contagion                  (WB)     $ 8.6   -41%      $ 82
Drive                 (FilmDis)     $ 5.8   -49%      $ 39
The Help               (Dis/DW)     $ 4.4   -32%      $168

Straw Dogs               (Sony)     $ 2.1   -59%      $ 12
I Don’t Know How She Does(Wein)     $ 2.0   -53%      $  9

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 Box Office Volume

The Top 12 Films this weekend are looking like $109 million total, up 20% from the same calendar weekend last year when Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Legends of the Guardians opened.   

Top 12 Films: Weekend #38
     Volume     (millions)

2011  $109  (
+30% vs 2007-10 average; +20% vs 2010) 

Avg   $ 84            Movies Opening That Weekend
2010  $ 91  Wall Street 2 $19, Legends of the Guardians $16    

2009  $ 83  Surrogates $15, Fame $10, Pandorum $4
2008  $ 88  Eagle Eye $29, Nights in Rodanthe $13, Fireproof $7
2007  $ 76  Game Plan $23, The Kingdom $17


Next Weekend

Opening next week are What’s Your Number? from Fox (Anna Faris comedy), Dream House from Universal (Daniel Craig thriller), 50/50 from Summit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Seth Rogen comedy/drama), and Courageous from Sony (Christian drama).  Those movies will be compared to The Social Network ($22 million in its first wide-release weekend), Case 39 ($5.4 million), and Let Me In ($5.1 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.