Daily Box Office Analysis
By David Mumpower
June 27, 2012

Wander into the forest and follow the shiny lights. What a great message for the children.

The list of movies that have earned $600 million domestically grew by 50% yesterday, and so this seems like the perfect time to debut the 2012 edition of BOP’s Daily Summer Box Office column.

The film in question is obviously The Avengers, which garnered just under $1.0 million yesterday. In its 54th (!) day of release, the comic book blockbuster is still safely holding down a spot in top ten at #7. With $600.4 million in the coffers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will have passed the original theatrical total of Titanic by the time you read this. Of course, James Cameron’s ship-crash classic cheated earlier this year when it was re-released into theaters. Because of this, The Avengers will not be usurping Titanic’s position as the second biggest domestic release of all time.

Even so, Joss Whedon’s masterpiece is holding impeccably,down only 19% weekend to weekend and 15% Tuesday-to-Tuesday. Just as we discussed in an edition of Shop Talk last month, early summer vacation days are affording viewers an opportunity to watch The Avengers for the first time…or the 17th. I projected a final take in the $625 million rage at that time. If Earth’s Mightiest Heroes continual to perform this well, that’s a reasonable result and possibly even a worst case scenario one.

As we have seen with The Hunger Games, exhibitors will give these Tentpole blockbusters every opportunity to keep their venues in lieu of new product. The reason for this is that exhibitors get a higher percentage of the take for an older film, and The Avengers still has one of the top five per-location averages in the top ten.

Box office analysis is predicated upon the philosophy of out with the old and in with the new, though. The Avengers continues to be a jaw-dropping triumph, but this week’s primary stories are Brave, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Well, Brave is the primary story while the others have already been rendered relative afterthoughts.

Yesterday, Brave was the number one film in North America for the fifth consecutive day. This places it only 16 days behind The Avengers! It…won’t get there. I’m not going to bury you with math in every column this year (Sorry, fellow math geeks. You’re welcome, everyone else!). Suffice to say that this is a better performance than last year’s Cars 2 in terms of actual dollars as well as depreciation relative to opening weekend performance.

Brave earned $8.93 million as opposed to Cars 2’s $7.09 million. Brave’s Tuesday box office reflects 13.5% of its weekend total whereas Cars 2 managed only 10.7%. Brave is doing a lot better than Cars 2. We can conclude this from the fact that the opening weekend difference between the movies was less than $200,000. After five days, the gap has already expanded to $4 million. In other words, these films performed the same on opening weekend, but Brave is averaging almost $2 million better a weekday thus far. There is a wow factor to that stat.

Brave still has some work to do if it is to catch Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted to become the top animated movie this summer. After 13 consecutive days in first place (remember that Prometheus outperformed Madagascar 3 on opening day), the latest DreamWorks Animation movie briefly fell to third place behind last weekend’s two strongest openers. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter has quickly fallen by the wayside in terms of its domestic performance. This leaves Madagascar 3 as the clear cut back-up choice in theaters at the moment. Another $3.2 million yesterday gives the family comedy a running tally of $163.4 million. It appears all but certain to become the top grossing performer in the series, at least domestically.

For its part, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter earned $2.03 million yesterday, which is, believe it or not, a modest increase from Monday. Already down to third place, the gothic history lesson is closer to fourth place than second. With only $20.24 million in the coffers in North America, this movie is going to have to earn a lot of money abroad to justify its rather hefty production budget. People on this side of the Atlantic have soundly rejected the film.

The news could be worse, though. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World RISES a spot to get back into the top ten. Yes, after four days in theaters, it had already fallen out of the top ten. This says all we need to say about the Steve Carell comedy’s popularity. Its combined total for Monday and Tuesday is – I kid you not - $1.01 million. With only $4.83 million in the bank thus far, one of my favorite movies of 2012 (I expect it to finish in my top ten for the year) will be lucky to escape double digits before exhibitors give away its venues to other movies that people actually want to see.

Combined revenue for the top ten yesterday was a shade under $20.5 million. If we remove Brave’s $8.9 million from the equation, the other nine movies managed only $11.6 million. As we evaluate the summer, what you will come to understand is that this is a pathetic overall performance. Then again, common sense probably told you that the rest of the top ten should be earning more than $1.3 million each. I will discuss this more tomorrow, but the takeaway is that 50% of the top ten is comprised of box office disappointments. And I am not including Prometheus in that group so you may view it as 60%. The divide between the haves and have-nots is rather dramatic right now.