Puss in Boots Climbs Tower for Repeat Win
By John Hamann
November 6, 2011
The positioning for the November sweepstakes started this weekend, as two comedies threw their hat into the pre-Thanksgiving ring. Last year's first big opener in November, Megamind, debuted with $46 million, and by the time the long, lucrative Thanksgiving weekend came around, it still earned $17.3 million over the five-day frame, despite having to work against Harry Potter and the debut of Tangled (with five-day grosses of $75 million and $68 million respectively). This weekend, openers are Tower Heist, with Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy (amongst many others) and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, a film I would have released after Thanksgiving. Both of these films are looking to repeat the success of last year's Due Date, which somehow managed to earn more than $100 million after opening over the first weekend of November.
Our number one film of the weekend is neither Tower Heist or Harold and Kumar 3, though. Instead, it's Puss in Boots – and what a weekend it had. After opening softly over the Halloween weekend to $34.1 million (and me deriding the studio for releasing it on that weekend), Puss in Boots held spectacularly, earning $33 million, and dropping only 3%. We know that movies for kids hold well – especially good films like Puss in Boots – but the fact that this movie didn't really drop at all has to be a huge win for the folks at Paramount and DreamWorks Animation.
When a movie costs $130 million to make and opens to the amount Puss did, it has to work very hard to earn profit – almost four times its opening weekend just to MATCH the production budget. It can be argued that had Puss in Boots crept up to that $130 million mark, overseas grosses would have held the profit, however with this hold, nerves will be soothed at the DreamWorks offices, even on the domestic front.
The argument can still be made that Puss in Boots got out of the gate a weekend early; however, I don't think it will continue to be considered as the worst scheduling move ever. We can give that crown back to High School Musical 3, which scheduled its second frame over Halloween weekend, when October 31st landed on a Friday. This hold changes Puss in Boots from a $100 million film into at least a $130 million film, which is simply a huge difference. When How to Train Your Dragon opened to a much lower than expected $43.7 million in March 2010, box office analysts howled at the low score, and it still dropped 34% in its second weekend. It was the holds afterward that made it the $217 million earner it became. Over the next few weekends leading up to the five-day Thanksgiving frame, Puss will have to face off against only Happy Feet Two on the 18th (the original opened in 2007, and failed to earn $200 million despite the lucrative Thanksgiving/Christmas release pattern), which will help it earn more, but then it will have to combat three kids openers over turkey weekend. Currently, Puss in Boots has taken in $75.5 million, and I believe it should earn at least $130 million domestically, and then dominate overseas.