Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two indie films to keep eyes on

Watched two of the better films of the year today: The Hurt Locker and (500) Days of Summer. Although two could hardly be more different in terms of subject matter and tones, both have gotten excellent reviews and are among the shortlist of candidates from the summer to have awards aspiration down the road. This makes their respective box office runs exciting to track.

The Hurt Locker
Week 1: $145,352, 4 theaters, $36,338 PTA
Week 2: $131,202, 9 theaters, $14,578 PTA
Week 3: $641,168, 60 theaters, $10,686 PTA
Week 4: $740,224, 94 theaters, $7,875 PTA
Week 5: $1.4m, 238 theaters, ~$6,000 PTA
Total so far: $4m

Due to its subject matter, The Hurt Locker is no doubt the harder sell of the two, as viewers have shown significant reluctance to see movies of Iraq war in theaters. The PTA decline in the second weekend despite not increasing many theaters only added to the worry. The good thing is that the WOM appears to finally take over and is steering it toward a long and healthy run. After four more weeks, its PTA is still holding above $5K, while the film has expanded to more than 200 theaters. It should be able to take $2m a week for the next month or so, and $20m total is definitely within reach.

(500) Days of Summer

Week 1: $834,501, 27 theaters, $30,907 PTA
Week 2: $1.6m, 85 theaters, ~$19,000 PTA
Total so far: $3m

(500) Days of Summer first jumped into people's radar at Sundance. Critics were hailing its original screenplay, especially for the genre of romantic comedy, and Fox Searchlight has become a pro in promoting such a film, both awards and box office wise, as seen from their past success in Juno and Little Miss Sunshine. This one won't break $100m, but $50m is a possibility, given the robust PTA it has received the first two weekends. It's tracking similarly to Little Miss Sunshine so far, and the key factor will be if it could expand to as widely as LMS did, over 1,000 theaters. If it gets stuck in the 800 range as Garden State was, it could stop before reaching $40m. Currently I'm thinking $45m.

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