Weekend Wrap-Up

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

September 30, 2012

We hope he's teaching her the Lunch Lady song.

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In order to create realistic buzz in the Internet era, Universal controlled the product by limiting the supply. This will heighten demand next week as the zealous fans spend the next few days gloating about the fact that they have seen a movie that no one else has. Those who have not had the opportunity will feel a heightened sense of purpose to mirror this experience. And if this process feels vaguely familiar to you, it should.

This is exactly the methodology through which critics have become an important part of movie marketing. They (well, we) see a film first, they praise it and that increases consumer demand. In the social media era, everyone has an important voice; Universal Pictures has become the first studio to mine this knowledge and transform it into extraordinary box office. Get used to this premise. Now that the business model has proven effective, it will be duplicated again and again in the same way that Wednesday releases have become a staple of the release schedule.

Seventh and eighth place go to two movies that opened in the top two spots a couple of weekends ago. With original animated fare available for families, Finding Nemo 3D declines 57% as it falls to $4.1 million over the weekend. The Pixar classic re-release has added an additional $36.5 million to the coffers for Disney, which means that its overall domestic total is now up to $376.2 million. Resident Evil: Retribution comes up in eighth place, holding true to the franchise tradition of opening strong and then going into free fall for the remainder of release. Retribution earned $3 million this weekend, a drop of 55% from the previous frame. Its domestic total is $38.7 million, but the real money for this franchise comes from international box office, and Retribution is no exception. It has earned $137 million in overseas venues so far.

The Master continues to hold on to a spot in the top ten, meaning that we have consecutive finishers from guys named Paul Anderson. This more critically acclaimed and awards-worthy release had a weekend total of $2.7 million, but the Weinstein Co. has to be somewhat concerned that it fell 45% even as it added another 68 venues. From the comments we’re seeing, this appears to be a film that will have critical appeal but may be a head scratcher for the masses, which would account for the early enthusiasm from audiences that has fallen off as its somewhat limited target audience got out to see it quickly.


Rounding out the top ten is the final new wide release of the week, Won’t Back Down. The Maggie Gyllenhaal/Viola Davis teaching drama earned an estimated $2.7 million in 2,515 locations. This represents a disastrous per venue average of $1,074. Movies about teachers have proven to be successful in the past in instances such as Dangerous Minds, Lean on Me, Dead Poet’s Society, Mr. Holland’s Opus and Mona Lisa Smile. Alas, the unmistakably preachy nature of the trailers proved unattractive to consumers already tired of the recent media coverage of the Chicago teachers’ strike.

Critics were unkind to Won’t Back Down, as only 33% enjoyed the film. That number drops to 18% for “Top Critics.” This is a film few people will remember a year from now. The good news is that the budget is modest at $19 million. The bad news is that it’s not going to come anywhere close to making that money back.

Overall, the top 12 earned a strong $108.4 million, up 20.9% from last year's $89.6 million. Next weekend is poised to be a juggernaut as Pitch Perfect expands to 2,700 locations (probably more now), while Taken 2 and the previously mentioned Frankenweenie debut.

Top Weekend Box Office for 9/28/12-9/30/12 (Estimates)
Rank Film Distributor Estimated Gross Weekly Change Running Total
1 Hotel Transylvania Columbia Pictures (Sony) $43,000,000 New $43,000,000
2 Looper Sony/Columbia $21,200,000 New $21,200,000
3 End of Watch Open Road $8,000,265 - 39% $26,168,897
4 Trouble With the Curve Warner Bros. $7,530,000 - 38% $23,726,000
5 House at the End of the Street Relativity $7,154,000 - 42% $22,224,969
6 Pitch Perfect Universal $5,212,600 New $5,212,600
7 Finding Nemo 3d WALT DISNEY $4,100,000 - 57% $36,500,000
8 Resident Evil: Retribution Sony/Columbia $3,000,000 - 55% $38,700,000
9 The Master The Weinstein Company $2,745,000 - 37% $9,633,070
10 Won't Back Down Twentieth Century Fox $2,700,000 New $2,700,000
11 Dredd Lionsgate $2,280,000 - 64% $10,864,607
12 The Possession Lionsgate $1,441,000 - 45% $47,490,318
  Also Opening/Notables
  The Other Dream Team The Film Arcade $22,714 New $22,714
  The Perks of Being a Wallflower Summit Entertainment $1,137,300 +398% $1,462,139
  Diana Vreeland: the Eye Has To Travel Samuel Goldwyn $95,200 + 49% $198,045
  My Uncle Rafael Rocky Mountain $40,318 - 63% $177,364
  Detropia Loki Films $28,050 - 15% $178,613
  Lawless The Weinstein Company $861,000 - 62% $36,270,640
  ParaNorman Focus Features $787,369 - 66% $53,941,338
  The Bourne Legacy Universal Pictures $786,920 - 51% $111,704,075
Box office data supplied by Exhibitor Relations
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