By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
September 30, 2012
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.
||Columbia Pictures (Sony)
||End of Watch
||Trouble With the Curve
||House at the End of the Street
||Finding Nemo 3d
||Resident Evil: Retribution
||The Weinstein Company
||Won't Back Down
||Twentieth Century Fox
||The Other Dream Team
||The Film Arcade
||The Perks of Being a Wallflower
||Diana Vreeland: the Eye Has To Travel
||My Uncle Rafael
||The Weinstein Company
||The Bourne Legacy
Box office data supplied by Exhibitor Relations