Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Box Office Blather: Princess Dividends and Per Screen Averages

The box office for New Year's weekend was little changed from Christmas weekend when Jeff Bridges double dipped and I had a creepy 90s flashback (that whole post still applies) so instead of sharing their grosses in that banal way you can get anywhere, let's share their gross minus their budget. This is an inexact science for sure. It doesn't include the $$$ of worldwide grosses but it also doesn't include the $$$ of advertising costs so we like it as a vague snapshot of how the movies are doing.

Top Ten Box Office
key: red (budgets way too big) black (passed their budget) green (heading towards significant profits.)
  1. Little Fockers + $2 million (second week)
  2. True Grit + $48 million (second week)
  3. Tron Legacy -$39 million (third week)
  4. Yogi Bear - $15 million (third week)
  5. Chronicles of Narnia -$69 million (fourth week)
  6. The Fighter + $21 million (fourth week)
  7. Tangled - $93 million (sixth week - not as disastrous as it looks since Disney is its own franchise. People really like this gargantuanly expensive movie so it might restore some faith in the faltering "brand" and help the next movie. Plus it adds another "princess" to their merchandise line. Ka-ching!)
  8. Gulliver's Travels -$85 million (second week)
  9. Black Swan + $34 million (fifth week)
  10. The King's Speech + $7 million (sixth week)
This is far less depressing than just regular ol' box office reporting right? The good movies aren't as expensive to make and they're making significant money. [Tangent: Let True Grit (review) and Black Swan (plentiful posts) be a lesson to filmmakers and studios: these movies look sensational and feature movie stars. How on earth is your movie so much more expensive?]

One more list. How about the best per-screen averages? Naturally this favors movies in very few theaters that have withheld themselves for several months of buzz whilst waiting for Golden Globe and Oscar fever to kick in. From my throne armchair that looks like distributors just throwing money away while people talk about product they can't spend money on for 3 to 12 months. This only increases the likelihood of piracy and/or likelihood that people might be sick of you in the abstract when you're finally available for tangible purchase. Yes, I live in NYC and seeing movies is easy but I remember quite well what a trial it was before I moved here. I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block.

That list goes like so...

Top Per Screen Average
  1. Blue Valentine (4 theaters) $48,000+ (debut)
  2. Country Strong (2 theaters) $20,000+ (2nd week)
  3. Another Year (6 theaters)  $18,000+ (debut)
  4. Somewhere (8 theaters) $17,000+ (2nd week)
  5. The Illusionist (3 theaters) $15,000+ (2nd week)
  6. The King's Speech (700 theaters) $11,000+ (6th week)
They must be partying at the Weinstein Co. right now (#1 and #6)

I can't fathom why Country Strong, built to appeal to an enormous market of people who love country music, didn't just open wide? If the film isn't very good -- which they keep saying -- why not make all your money up front before word of mouth doesn't kick in? Naturally this chart is very good news for The King's Speech since it's already gone wide and it's still filling plentiful seats wherever it plays. But here's the sad news: It's rough going out there for Rabbit Hole which has only a $4,000+ average on 34 screens in its 3rd week. Now that's a better number than most of the top ten movies but it's not generally enough to get distributors excited about spending more money to release you winder. Sniffle. Rabbit Hole is not half as depressing as Blue Valentine so if the "depression" factor is keeping people away, they're being silly. It's a really good movie. Why can't Nicole catch a break? Sigh.

What did you spend your money on over New Year's? (I mean, besides booze)

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