Saturday, November 28, 2009

China Weekly Box Office (11/16 - 11/22): 2012 was unstoppable

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)ChangeTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. 2012146m ($21.38m)+67.8%233m ($34.13m)
2. Panda Express (熊猫大侠)10m ($1.46m)New10m ($1.46m)
3. Mars Baby (火星没事)4.6m ($0.67m)New4.6m ($0.67m)
4. Michael Jackson's This Is It (就是这样)1.8m ($0.26m)-71.0%48.0m ($7.03m)
5. Astro Boy (阿童木)1.15m ($0.17m)-67.1%45.5m ($6.66m)
6. The Robbers (我的唐朝兄弟)1.0m ($0.15m)New1.0m ($0.15m)
7. Knowing (神秘代码)0.9m ($0.13m)-86.4%31.9m ($4.67m)

(Using exchange rate of 1 yuan = $0.14647)

I expected 2012 to show an increase for the full week since the opening week contained only 3 days with a Friday release, but a jump of 68% indicates some excellent word-of-mouth among Chinese viewers, and reaching $50m is now all but a certainty. I'm seeing a $55m finish with a possibility to become only the second Hollywood movie ever (after Transformers 2) to reach 400m yuan, or $58.6m.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Nov 27 - 29)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. The Twilight Saga: New Moon49.0-65.7%
2. The Blind Side27.5-19.4%
3. Old Dogs24.5$7,150 average
4. 201217.7-33.0%
5. Ninja Assassin14.5$5,790 average
6. A Christmas Carol13.5+10.0%
7. Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire11.5+5.7%
8. Planet 5110.5-14.6%
9. The Fantastic Mr. Fox10.5$5,160 average
10. The Men Who Stare at Goats1.3-54.1%

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Nov 20 - 22)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. The Twilight Saga: New Moon105.0$26,000 average
2. 201227.0-59%
3. The Blind Side18.3$5,900 average
4. A Christmas Carol14.2-36%
5. Planet 5111.5$3,800 average
6. Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire9.0+53%
7. The Men Who Stare at Goats3.0-49%
8. Michael Jackson's This Is It1.9-63%
9. Paranormal Activity1.8-55%
10. Couples Retreat1.8-57%


As we enter one of the most exciting November weekends in recent memory, a number of records, both positive and negative, are poised to be broken, almost all thanks to New Moon. The unstoppable latest Twilight installment has been selling out shows left and right, from coast to coast (and internationally), since the tickets became available three months ago. Even though we are no longer in the summer, the midnight record of $22m established by Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix just 4 months ago looks as good as gone. The question now is if it could have a strong enough showing for the rest of Friday to challenge The Dark Knight's opening day record of $67m. My feeling is the matinee business, while no doubt robust, will not be as spectacular as The Dark Knight was given it is November. A breakdown of $25m midnight + $37m the rest of the day is more likely. That would give it a $62m total for the second biggest and biggest non-summer Friday ever.

Not counting midnight, the first Twilight dropped 27% on Saturday from its opening day. New Moon could see a somewhat softer loss due to more spillover business from Friday, but sub-20% remains unrealistic. A 25% decline would give it a $28m Saturday and 55% drop overall from Friday, a record for a Saturday drop when it does not fall on Christmas Eve. That would put it on track for a $105m weekend, the biggest ever for November and an increase of 50% over its predecessor.

Was going to write more about this unique weekend which overall will be the busiest November weekend ever, but the very annoying toothache is taking away most of my concentration, and I'll have to take care of that first. Apologize here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

China Weekly Box Office (11/09 - 11/15): 2012 Annihilated Competition

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)ChangeTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. 201287m ($12.74m)New87m ($12.74m)
2. Knowing (神秘代码)6.6m ($0.97m)-54.5%31m ($4.54m)
3. Michael Jackson's This Is It (就是这样)6.2m ($0.91m)-61.2%46.2m ($6.77m)
4. Astro Boy (阿童木)3.5m ($0.51m)-55.1%44.3m ($6.49m)
5. My Airhostess Roommate (恋爱前规则)2.7m ($0.40m)-41.3%7.3m ($1.07m)
6. The Message (风声)2.6m ($0.38m)-63.9%216.6m ($31.73m)
7. Radish Warrior (倔强萝卜)2.5m ($0.37m)-48.5%21.5m ($3.15m)
8. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (地铁惊魂)1.7m ($0.25m)-60.5%30m ($4.39m)
9. Visitors from the Sui Dynasty (隋朝来客)1.65m ($0.24m)+3%3.2m ($0.47m)

(Using exchange rate of 1 yuan = $0.14648)

With all the promotions and plot connection, 2012 was expected to big in China, but the real numbers are still jaw-dropping. The opening is the biggest for November by far, and although it only ranked 4th for the year (a testament on how much the market is growing), the other three - Transformers 2, The Founding of a Republic, and Red Cliff Part II - all had extra days for the first week. More impressively, Sunday was actually its biggest day with 33m yuan, 20% better than Saturday's take. With the rest of November empty, look for some strong holds the next couple of weeks. It's definitely on a trajectory to a $40m+ total, and even $50m could be possible too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Nov 13 - 15)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. 201268.0$20,000 average
2. A Christmas Carol19.5-35%
3. The Men Who Stare at Goats6.6-48%
4. Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire6.0+220%
5. Michael Jackson's This Is It5.0-62%
6. The Fourth Kind5.0-59%
7. Paranormal Activity4.0-52%
8. Couples Retreat3.9-36%
9. Law Abiding Citizen3.7-38%
10. Pirate Radio3.3$3,700 average
11. The Box3.2-58%


1. All the elements look perfect for 2012. The market is quite empty, as for only the second time in the past six years, we did not have a $40m opener on the first weekend of November. Director Emmerich has a consistent track record box office wise, especially when come to disaster movies. Sony moved the tentpole out of July to make it stand out, and other studios scrambled out of the way accordingly. The poll numbers and interests level, as well as the equivalent deduction from early strong oversea returns, are all pointing to a minimum of $60m start. Could it become the highest non-Harry Potter opener in November, currently held by The Incredibles ($70.5m)? Definitely, although it is somewhat surprising to see a theater count of only 3,404, low for a blockbuster of this size in today's standard.

2. Originally released as The Boat That Rocked in U.K. and elsewhere, Pirate Radio is finally coming to the states more than half a year later. Focus Feature asserted it will be a good counter programming to 2012, but the argument does not hold much water considering the film is rated R, and 2012 covers most of the audience it appeals to. To Focus' credit, they have given it a good marketing push by attaching the trailer to a lot of movies, but that only got Taking Woodstock, a film of many resemblance, to a $3.5m opening. Expect a similar gross here.

3. We knew Precious was going to have a gigantic per-theater-average last weekend, but few thought $100K was possible with 18 theaters. Now its buzz is really taking off, Lionsgate is pouncing on it by accelerating the speed of expansion to 174 locations on Friday. Although two completely different films, it starts to remind me of Paranormal Activity. Lionsgate is carefully picking the initial set of markets, and the screen allocations per theater is astounding. In the San Francisco area, it is receiving 3-4 screens on average, on par with what Paranormal Activity got when it expanded to over 100 locations for the first time. It gives confidence that the average per theater will remain high. It may not challenge PA's insane $49K average in 160, but maintaining over $30K should be achievable, if not likely.

4. After a subdued opening of $30m, A Christmas Carol really took advantage of Veterans Day and showed its run will be more akin to The Polar Express than Where The Wide Things Are, the dark theme notwithstanding. A 35% drop will push its total to $60m and make it on a trajectory to $150m. With its quirky humor, The Men Who Stare at Goats is receiving a reaction similar to The Informant's and should follow similar path as well, although 2012 could eat away a bigger portion of the audience this weekend.

5. The other two openers from last weekend will likely retreat at a much larger pace with 2012 looming and their own mediocre word-of-mouth. In fact, "mediocre" would be a kind understatement for The Box, as it earned a CinemaScore of F to join a small list of films which included The Bug, Wolf Creek, and Solaris remake. On the other side, The Fourth Kind exhibited its frontloadedness with a opening Fri-to-Sat decline. Veterans Day also helped to push some of their remaining gross forward by a couple of days. Look for both to drop close to 60%.

6. Although few observers ever believed This Is It was going to be a strictly two-week engagement, the film will suffer the similar syndrome that Toy Story 3D and Hannah Montana's concert movie experienced when they extended beyond the original schedules: a harsh drop right after. Hannah Montana saw little Friday increase and nosedived 67%, while Toy Story 3D, with better conditions and daily numbers, failed to escape from a 60%+ decline as well. The one advantage This Is It has is a much higher degree of theater saturation (still in over 3,000 screens), so more people could have an opportunity to realize it is remaining in theaters. On the other hand, it also has to face a much bigger and direct competition in 2012. The two could balance each other out, leaving it to have a drop of the same magnitude.

7. After a magnificent month-long run that pushed it to the brink of $100m, Paranormal Activity has begun to slow down, but it could have enough left to make a run at $120m, while Couples Retreat and Law Abiding Citizen, two of the leggiest films of the recent weeks, should continue their stay in the top 10.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

China Weekly Box Office (11/02 - 11/08)

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)ChangeTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Michael Jackson's This Is It (就是这样)16m ($2.34m)-33.3%40m ($5.86m)
2. Knowing (神秘代码)14.5m ($2.12m)+46%24.4m ($3.57m)
3. Astro Boy (阿童木)7.8m ($1.14m)-48%40.8m ($5.98m)
4. The Message (风声)7.2m ($1.05m)-44.6%214m ($31.35m)
5. Radish Warrior (倔强萝卜)4.85m ($0.71m)-40.9%19m ($2.78m)
6. My Airhostess Roommate (恋爱前规则)4.6m ($0.67m)New4.6m ($0.67m)
7. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (地铁惊魂)4.3m ($0.63m)-49.4%28.3m ($4.15m)
8. Visitors from the Sui Dynasty (隋朝来客)1.6m ($0.23m)New1.6m ($0.23m)
9. Rogue (逃出鳄鱼岛)1.1m ($0.16m)-68.6%22.6m ($3.31m)

(Using exchange rate of 1 yuan = $0.1465)

This Is It repeated on a quiet weekend, as theaters are taking a breather before 2012 invades this week. Not a great hold for TII considering it's 7-day total this time comparing to 5 days the opening week. Look like it will top out at 60m yuan. Astro Boy has done fine, but it was expected due to the character's popularity in China. The domestic breakout of the fall, The Message, became one of the rare Chinese films released outside the busy seasons of winter and summer to cross 200m yuan. The Founding of a Republic, the other domestic notable of the past couple of months, finally dropped out of the chart to finish with 420m yuan, unable to surpass Transformers 2's record of 430m.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Nov 6 - 8)


MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. A Christmas Carol44.0$12,000 average
2. The Men Who Stare at Goats14.0$5,700 average
3. Michael Jackson's This Is It12.0-48%
4. The Fourth Kind10.0$3,950 average
5. Paranormal Activity9.0-45%
6. The Box7.0$2,650 average
7. Law Abiding Citizen4.6-38%
8. Couples Retreat4.4-32%
9. Where the Wild Things Are3.0-49%
10. Saw VI2.1-60%
-. Precious1.1$60,000 average


1. It appears that Christmas-themed movies are getting released earlier and earlier. This time A Christmas Carol is moving the calendar all the way up to the first weekend of November. Studio is not banking on huge openings for such films, but rather looking to take advantage of the persistent holiday spirit from Thanksgiving through the end of the year. The Polar Express, also directed by Robert Zemeckis, is one of the most successful examples by making over $160m total in its initial run after grossing only $30.6m in its first five days. Zemeckis' follow-up, Beowulf, did not possess the same appeal and was unable to repeat the same success. A Christmas Carol, by comparison, has advantages over both: a classic source material, over 2,000 3D screens plus 181 IMAX auditoriums, and an utter lack of competition in the market. Having Jim Carrey is just an icing on the cake. A $35m+ opening is all but assured, with breaking $40m a highly likely proposition.

2. George Clooney carried two films into Toronto International Film Festival and was one of its biggest stars. This week we will get to see one of the efforts, albeit the lesser-reviewed one. The Men Who Stare at Goats may not have the title to attract the viewers, but it does boast a strong lineup of male stars that should bring in plenty of older audience. It won't reach the height of Burn After Reading, which also had Brad Pitt with Coens at the helm, but outgrossing The Informant should not be a problem.

3. The other two new wide releases of the week will be competing for the similar demographics. Neither is expected to challenge the No. 2 position, but between them, Milla Jovovich's The Fourth Kind, being a more straight forward thriller with a more identifiable star for its demo, appears be in a better position. The Box, on the other hand, could have been better suited to stay at its original slot of the Halloween weekend, although the online signs are not terrible. Look for the former to make around $10m while the latter gets stuck in the high single digit.

4. The general audience will have plenty of options to choose from this weekend, but for Oscar watchers, the eyes will be squarely focusing on one film, Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire. The darling of the early festival season has practically locked up a Best Picture nomination, and this will be many's first opportunity to see why. With only 18 theaters, a $60K per-theater-average is a reasonable expectation.

5. Most thought Michael Jackson's This Is It would start strong and die off quickly, but the film is exhibiting the exact opposite pattern. The Wednesday-to-weekend multiplier of 3.1 is quite good, especially considering Saturday was depressed by Halloween. It will still show some frontloadedness, and there is a chance that its Friday increase this week will not be as good, but it will definitely not crash the way Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers' respective concert movies did. In fact, it could very well avoid a 50% drop.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

This Is It's First Week in China

24m yuan in the first five days, or $3.5m. One factor to consider is that H1N1 flu broke out in several major cities in China. Not only some schools were shut down, entertainment venues were also affected as people still remember SARS quite vividly. If the external environment improves, along with excellent word-of-mouth, This Is It could see some healthy legs and break $10m.