Daily Box Office Analysis

By David Mumpower

July 17, 2012

This really is starting to look like low-rent Madagascar.

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Ice Age: Continental Drift was at least theoretically the big winner at the box office last weekend with a final take of $46,629,259. This amount sounds nice on paper until we consider that it barely surpasses the original Ice Age’s debut of $46,312,454; it also falls well short once we factor in box office inflation. Then again, this is an increase of almost 12% from Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which opened to $41,690,382. What we can learn from the above is that Ice Age movies ordinarily debut in the $41-$47 million range with Ice Age: The Meltdown proving itself as the strong exception at $68,033,544.

In other words, the opening weekend of Ice Age: Continental Drift was predictable to the point of boring. From here, what we should anticipate is a movie that winds up between $150 and $175 million. I realize that Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs technically opened lower than this yet wound up with domestic revenue of $196,573,705. The difference is that the last Ice Age movie was a week of July 4th release. Over the last couple of weeks I chronicled why this creates heavier frontloading than usual. Also, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs already had $25 million prior to its opening weekend. So, this is a revenue gap Continental Drift is unable to bridge.

Consider the parameters above, we are now informed enough to evaluate the first weekend of Ice Age: Continental Drift. And the news is not good. The movie managed only $5,263,877 yesterday, which is only 11.3% of its opening weekend. For comparison, Brave’s first weekday holdover was 13.5%. If you want to hear some positives, it is better than Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which held only 9.9%; Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted managed 10.5%. Due to the holidays and the early June vs. mid-July differences, however, these are not the best comparisons. Brave works better and it falls far short in this regard.

What is odd about this entire discussion is that we all know that it hardly matters, as strange as that sounds. Ice Age 4 has already earned $339 million overseas. It appears like a lock for $600 million internationally, negating the importance of its domestic take at least somewhat. We’ve known since Ice Age tore up the global box office that this would be the case for its sequel. For whatever reason, this concept defies language barriers.

Having acknowledged the elephant in the living room, what I will say with confidence is that Ice Age is not showing signs of tremendous staying power. To the contrary, it could feasibly slip to second place by the end of the week. The best case scenario is that it narrowly maintains its lead for the next three days as people wait for the much bigger (and costumed) elephant in the living room to arrive just after midnight on Friday.


The Amazing Spider-Man finished second again yesterday .This is its holding area since the arrival of Ice Age: Continental Drift. I mentioned in the most recent column that the expected landing area for its Friday box office would be in the range of $10.6 million and that it should earn $35 million over the entire weekend. This is effectively what transpired as the fourth Spider-Man title earned $10.2 million on Friday and wound up with a suspicious $34.6 million. I say suspicious because I also mentioned the other day that Sony would exaggerate the total if at all possible to claim $200 million through Sunday. This is exactly what transpired.

On Monday, The Amazing Spider-Man grossed $4,353,626, down 59% from Sunday. More importantly, this is a fall of 42% from last Monday, a bit better than I had expected. Its daily holds thus far are strong enough that $275 million is still a distinct possibility.

As I mentioned the other day, the rest of the top ten this week is even weaker. When multiple new releases enter the marketplace, this usually strengthens the overall depth of the top ten. When only one new release debuts, the ordinary declines that impact titles already in release leads to decreased revenue overall. To wit, only half a dozen movies earned over a million dollars domestically on Monday. And we may be down to 5 by Thursday, depending on how well Savages holds from here. This marketplace needs Batman even more than Gotham City does.

Combined revenue for the top ten yesterday was only $18.8 million, a 7% drop from last Thursday. The addition of a major new release was negated by the lackluster debut of Ice Age: Continental Drift. Once again, box office should increase today, decline a bit on Wednesday and still more on Thursday. This presumes that The Dark Knight Rises will not report box office for Thursday. I have to add this caveat since The Amazing Spider-Man snuck in $900,000 worth of revenue prior to midnight. If the final Nolan/Batman movie does the same, the numbers will be much (much, much, much) larger.



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