October 2, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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Based on Friday and Saturday box office (and estimated Sunday numbers), Dolphin Tale (in its second week) moves into the #1 spot.  Look out for a boatload of TV commercials trumpeting this feat to keep the momentum going.  Not far behind is Moneyball, also in its second week, with a slightly higher weekend drop but better prospects midweek when the grownups take over the nation’s theaters.  50/50 and Courageous are the best of the new openers, with each almost hitting a very mediocre $9 million opening (although Courageous did it at about one-third the theaters as 50/50 did).  Box office volume in total is about 6% above the same weekend last year.      
The ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Final estimates now show that the openers are headed for:  50/50 ($34 million), Courageous ($29 million), Dream House ($15 million), and What’s Your Number? ($13 million).  Moneyball has been upgraded a bit to $75 million, while Dolphin Tale was downgraded to $78 million.  KIller Elite is still headed for $26 million, and Abduction has been been raised a touch to $28 million.  The Lion King in 3D has been downgraded a bit back to $118 million, while Drive is still headed for $37 million.               

Based on Friday and Saturday actual numbers and studio estimates for Sunday, 50/50 will average $3,600 per theater (a below average mark) at 2,458 theaters (for $8.85 million from Friday-Sunday). Courageous will open with a solid $7,600 average but at only 1,161 theaters ($8.80 million). Dream House opened with a weak $3,100 average at 2,661 theaters ($8.21 million).  What’s Your Number? will average a very bad $1,900 at 3,002 theaters ($5.60 million for the weekend).   

The second week decline for Dolphin Tale (-26%) is superior to that for Moneyball (-36%), but the Brad Pitt baseball movie outgrosses the family film during the week.  That has kept the two grosses to date extremely close (Dolphin Tale $37.5 million vs Moneyball $38.5 million), and more important the estimated domestic final grosses are very close (see table below).        

Sep 30-Oct 2, 2011                  Wknd     vs     Showbuzz
(millions)                         Studio   Last    Domestic
                                    Proj.   Wknd     Final* 

Dolphin Tale               (WB)     $14.2   -26%      $ 78-
                (Sony)     $12.5   -36%      $ 75+

The Lion King in 3D       (Dis)     $11.1   -50%      $118-

50/50                  (Summit)     $ 8.8             $ 34
Courageous               (Sony)     $ 8.8             $ 29
Dream House               (Uni)     $ 8.2             $ 15
What’s Your Number?       (Fox)     $ 5.6             $ 13
Abduction                  (LG)     $ 5.6   -48%      $ 28
Killer Elite         (OpenRoad)     $ 4.9   -48%      $ 26
Contagion                  (WB)     $ 5.0   -40%      $ 79

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 $91 million total, up 6% from the same calendar weekend last year when The Social Network opened wide.     

Top 12 Films: Weekend #39    
             Volume   Movies Opening Each Weekend (millions) 2011  $ 91 

Avg   $ 85   

2010  $ 86  Social Network $22, Case 39 $5, Let Me In $5    
2009  $ 92  Zombieland $25, Toy Story 3D $12, Invention Lying $7

2008  $ 95  Beverly Hills Chihuahua $29, Nick & Norah’s… $11
2007  $ 67  Heartbreak Kid $14, The Seeker: Dark Rising $4

Next Weekend
Opening next week are The Ides of March from Sony (George Clooney-Ryan Gosling thriller) and Real Steel from Disney (Hugh Jackman action drama).  Those movies will be compared to Life As We Know It ($14.5 million opening weekend), Secretariat ($12.7 million), and My Soul to Take ($6.8 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.