Tuesday, March 30, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (3/22 - 28): Excellent start for Alice in Wonderland

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Alice in Wonderland(爱丽丝梦游仙境)67m ($9.81m)New52,2101,420,39467m ($9.81m)
2. Just Another Pandora's Box(越光宝盒)45m ($6.59m)-19.6%43,2961,395,348101m ($14.80m)
3. Avatar(阿凡达)10.3m ($1.51m)-61.9%5,118175,7971.3223b ($193.70m)
4. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief(波希杰克逊与神火之盗)6.5m ($0.95m)-59.4%12,969209,88028.1m ($4.12m)
5. Gamer(天地逃生)6.0m ($0.88m)+9.1%11,751199,33511.5m ($1.68m)
6. Sherlock Holmes(大侦探福尔摩斯)2.4m ($0.35m)-62.5%5,25474,11973.8m ($10.81m)
7. Big Soldiers(大兵小将)0.45m ($0.066m)-82.7%1,85916,703151.65m ($22.22m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.14649)

Before Avatar, a 3-day 67m yuan opening would have been universally praised as excellent for Alice in Wonderland, but now somehow many local articles chose to focus on the fact it did not get anywhere near Avatar's figure. In reality, Avatar has not changed the era we are in overnight, and although it demonstrated the market's potential in China, no film will come near its vicinity any time soon. 200m yuan ($29m) total, a number Alice is on target to surpass, remains a tough benchmark where only certain number of films will achieve in a given year and should be celebrated. $40m (273m yuan) is also not out of the question with the holding power of 3D/IMAX.

Given the intricate dynamic of screen allocations in China, it is not surprising to see Avatar drop as big as it did, even though part of me still hoped for a better hold so that $200m would remain attainable. Now it is looking at a $195-197m finish.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Ten Most Impressive Box Office Runs of 2000s (No. 9)

9. The Ring (2002)

Achievements:
  - 8.60 overall multiplier
  - Biggest Horror Remake ever ($129.1m)

The opening was strong but nothing extraordinary, and even though there were signs of positive word-of-mouth, a CinemaScore of B- seemed to contradict that notion. Then somehow, some way, it went on a six-week stretch that is as impressive as any films ever had, especially when we take its genre into consideration. Let's review what The Ring did:

  Weekend 2 - a tiny 7.4% drop in PTA even as it expanded 33% in theaters, resulting in a 23.1% increase; it had to face direct competition from Ghost Ship, not to mention Jackass was also focusing on the male demo
  Weekend 3 - another sub-10% drop (-8.1%) in PTA while adding 6.6% more in locations
  Weekend 4 - dropped 17.9% in average and just 14.4% overall even as 8 Miles exploded to a $51.2m start
  Weekend 5 - suffered its biggest drop to date, mainly due to Harry Potter 2's opening, but the still excellent 31.2% decline was the second best in the top 10 for non-expanding films, behind only My Big Fat Greek's Wedding
  Weekend 6 - started losing some theaters but continued to hold its PTA well, down only 22.2%, as Die Another Day, another male-targeted PG-13 film, joined the market
  Weekend 7 - lost 27.2% of its theaters, but the average barely budged at all (-4.3%)

All in all, by the end of its 7th weekend, The Ring had made $119.8m in total for a multiplier of 7.98. The run would have been magnificent for any movie, but for a horror film, a genre known for large declines and short legs, it is downright stunning.  It is essentially The Sixth Sense of the decade (although The Sixth Sense still had a far more awesome run with a bigger opening and an even better multiplier).  It also helped pave the road for future Japanese Horror Remake such as The Grudge.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Ten Most Impressive Box Office Runs of 2000s (No. 10)

10. The Hangover (2009)

Achievements:
  - Biggest R-rated comedy, breaking Beverly Hills Cop's 25 years record (by 18.1%)
  - 3rd biggest R-rated film ever behind The Passion of the Christ and Matrix Reloaded
  - 3rd biggest opening for an R-rated comedy behind Sex and the City and American Pie 2
  - Best overall multiplier for a R-rated film with $35m+ opening (6.17)

Predictions Comparison (opening):
  - BOG: $23m; BOM Derby: $25.4m; mine: $30m

The Hangover was expected to be a sleeper hit of last summer after the enthusiastic feedback from early screenings, but even the most optimistic predictions didn't have it open to $45m. $30m+ was already considered daring as it didn't have the star power of Wedding Crashers or Judd Apatow's involvement in Knocked Up and Superbad. Little, whether it's the director, cast, or plot itself, suggested a start near the level of American Pie 2, the sequel to a beloved original, was possible. In retrospect, the opening is indeed the most stunning figure of its entire run.

However, it doesn't mean the legs are anything less than magnificent. It is true that Wedding Crashers had an almost identical 6.17 multiplier, but it was never a given The Hangover could duplicate the feat. After all, few other R-rated raunchy comedies, regardless how well liked, exhibited such endurance, e.g. Knocked Up - 4.85, The 40-Year-Old Virgin - 5.11, American Pie - 5.48. One could also make a valid argument that the competition The Hangover had to face was tougher than Wedding Crashers', as The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Year One, Transformers 2, and Public Enemies were all targeting the male demographics. Instead, it had 5 weekends in the first 9 where it dropped less than 21%, and for the entire 28 weeks where actual data is reported, it did not have a single weekend drop over 44.02%. It in fact had one more $1m+ day (57, including 52 straight) than Shrek 2 did even though it opened 58.4% lower.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Mar 26 - 28)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. How to Train Your Dragon47.0$11,590 PTA
2. Alice in Wonderland16.2-52.6%
3. Hot Tub Time Machine16.0$5,810 PTA
4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid13.0-41.2%
5. The Bounty Hunter10.8-47.8%
6. Green Zone3.4-44.4%
7. She's Out of My League3.4-41.4%
8. Shutter Island2.8-40.9%
9. Repo Men2.6-57.6%
10. Avatar2.2-45.4%

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Ten Most Impressive Box Office Runs of 2000s (Runner-ups)

When I began compiling the list of potential candidates, I decided to first write down the films that immediately came to mind without peeking at the data and then went through each year's chart in more details to catch those worthy contenders I had overlooked. Somewhat to my surprise, I narrowed the field down to 12 films rather quickly. Ranking the remaining 12, however, turned out to be a far tougher task. The film I ranked 12th could easily be in the top 5 from someone else's perspective, with reasons that are just as valid or compelling. In the end, I put a little more weight on how a film outperformed the expectation, how much it stands when comparing to other similar films, how well we could explain its run afterward, and how difficult it is (or has been) to duplicate such a run. So here we go.


12. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

Achievements:
  - Remains the biggest documentary film of all time with a $119.2m total (450% over the then record holder Bowling for Columbine and still 54% over the current runner-up March of the Penguins)
  - The only documentary to reach No. 1 or gross over $20m on a weekend
  - Had the highest per-theater-average for a wide release playing in fewer than 3,000 locations ($27,558 PTA in 868 theaters)

Predictions Comparison (opening):
  - BOG: $15m; BOM Derby average: $10.7m; myself: $15m

The stats are astounding for a documentary, and the degree it shattered the previous record is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, ever for any genre. However, there were signs of a possible breakout performance, especially after it won Cannes. The topic was timely, and the generated controversy was being covered by all sorts of magazines. Some articles were quick to compare it with The Passion of the Christ, even though the comparison was more made regarding to the controversy instead of box office. Brandon Gray from Box Office Mojo in fact predicted $20.8m for its opening. Nonetheless, it remains true that few others predicted a $20m+ start, and the film's total has not come close to be challenged by another documentary since. March of the Penguins, with its family-oriented nature and good release strategy, finished a distant 42m behind.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (3/15 - 21): Avatar's reign ended

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Just Another Pandora's Box(越光宝盒)56m ($8.20m)New27,7001,714,63556m ($8.20m)
2. Avatar(阿凡达)27m ($3.96m)-15.6%8,533442,9861.312b ($192.19m)
3. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief(波希杰克逊与神火之盗)16m ($2.34m)+185.7%20,869519,31121.6m ($3.16m)
4. Sherlock Holmes(大侦探福尔摩斯)6.4m ($0.94m)-64.4%7,732198,32671.4m ($10.46m)
5. Gamer(天地逃生)5.5m ($0.81m)New6,345178,1665.5m ($0.81m)
6. 7th Grade Civil Servant(特工强档)3.0m ($0.44m)-69.1%7,073106,23215.0m ($2.20m)
7. Kandidaten(迷魂陷阱)2.6m ($0.38m)-13.3%6,60287,4835.6m ($0.82m)
8. K-20:Legend of the Mask(变相黑侠)2.6m ($0.38m)-48.0%7,42488,6467.6m ($1.11m)
9. Big Soldiers(大兵小将)2.6m ($0.38m)-80.9%5,47389,102151.2m ($22.15m)
10. Hot Summer Days(全城热恋)1.0m ($0.15m)-85.7%2,51833,266127.5m ($18.68m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.146492)

Just Another Pandora's Box had an excellent opening for this time of the year, especially considering the 56m yuan was the total over 4 days as it opened on Thursday. It will have no problem surpassing 100m yuan even with pretty mediocre word-of-mouth and could reach as high as 150m yuan.

Avatar finally relinquished the throne after 10 weeks, but given it has been extended indefinitely, $200m remains a real possibility. The key would be how many screens it will lose to Alice in Wonderland on Friday, in particular the IMAX ones. Even though there are only 12 or 13 IMAX screens (a couple were added last month) available in China, they alone accounted for 30-40% of the gross the last couple of weeks.

Considering it opened on a Sunday, thus making the weekly comparison be between a full 7-day week and a single day, Percy Jackson had a terrible hold. It will likely finish short of $6m.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Mar 19 - 21)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Alice in Wonderland40.5-35.3%
2. The Bounty Hunter21.0$6,830 PTA
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid12.5$4,060 PTA
4. Repo Men8.5$3,370 PTA
5. Green Zone7.8-45.5%
6. Avatar5.0-23.4%
7. She's Out of My League5.0-48.9%
8. Shutter Island4.8-41.0%
9. Our Family Wedding4.5-41.0%
10. Remember Me3.5-56.7%

1. Alice in Wonderland will win the 3rd weekend in a row for sure. The real question is if it could break $40m. From the daily analysis it looks very possible. Both the Sat-to-Sat and Sun-to-Sun drops last week hovered around 40%, and the midweek hold would almost always be better this week than the last. Friday increase will be lower since many college students have the entire week off due to spring break, but it is offset by the smaller Monday decline. St. Patrick's Day suppressed Wednesday's gross, so it could be very well looking at a 10-15% increase on Thursday, then a reasonable assumption for the weekend would produce something like 4.71*1.125*2.2*(1+1.5+1.5*0.65) = $40.5m.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (3/8 - 14): 10 straight weeks at No. 1 for Avatar

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Avatar(阿凡达)32m ($4.69m)+39.1%3,791601,9561.285b ($188.23m)
2. Sherlock Holmes(大侦探福尔摩斯)18m ($2.64m)+5.9%16,098565,85965m ($9.52m)
3. Big Soldiers(大兵小将)13.6m ($1.99m)+4.6%14,675458,530148.6m ($21.77m)
4. 7th Grade Civil Servant(特工强档)9.7m ($1.42m)+321.7%14,354336,33812.0m ($1.76m)
5. Hot Summer Days(全城热恋)7.0m ($1.03m)-26.3%8,865220,889126.5m ($18.53m)
6. Back in Time(古墓迷途)5.7m ($0.84m)+338.5%8,103198,4677.0m ($1.03m)
7. Ne te retourne pas(不要回头)5.7m ($0.84m)+338.5%8,384191,2117.0m ($1.03m)
8. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief(波希杰克逊与神火之盗)5.6m ($0.82m)New3,229172,7865.6m ($0.82m)
9. K-20:Legend of the Mask(变相黑侠)5.0m ($0.73m)New5,691164,9075.0m ($0.73m)
10. Kandidaten(迷魂陷阱)3.0m ($0.44m)New3,50099,2063.0m ($0.44m)
11. 14 Blades(锦衣卫)2.5m ($0.37m)-50%144.5m ($21.17m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.146505)

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Most Impressive Box Office Runs of 2000s (Overview)

With Avatar ending the decade on an extremely high note and carrying the momentum all the way through the first part of 2010, it seems appropriate to take a pause and look back at some of the most extraordinary box office runs of the last 10 years (there have been some excellent discussions going on at World of KJ forum). Before I reveal my top 10 choices, let's start with some basic data on the decade's box office. Even though the importance of foreign markets has surged in recent years, I will focus on the U.S. domestic performances first as it allows a more consistent analysis with a single release for each film and no exchange rate fluctuation on the currency.

Breakdown by Gross

Total Gross# of Films
$700m+1
$500-700m1
$400-500m4
$300-400m17
$200-300m46
$100-200m177


Breakdown by Years

Year$100m+$200m+$300m+$400m+$500m+$700m+
20002230000
20012062000
20022473100
20032963000
20042463100
20051981000
20061961100
200728114000
20082963110
200932103211

In the course of next couple of weeks, I will list 10 films which I consider had the most impressive box office performances of 2000s (again domestic only), along with a couple of runner-ups. Discussions and rebuttals are certainly welcome. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Mar 12 - 14)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Alice in Wonderland60.0-48.3%
2. Green Zone17.5$5,830 PTA
3. She's Out of My League12.0$4,060 PTA
4. Remember Me11.0$4,970 PTA
5. Our Family Wedding9.0$5,610 PTA
6. Shutter Island7.9-40.3%
7. Cop Out4.9-47.3%
8. Brooklyn's Finest6.0-55.1%
9. Avatar5.5-32.3%
10. The Crazies3.5-50.6%

Alice in Wonderland shocked many with its gigantic $116.1m opening, but what surprised me the most is its internal multiplier. Even though I am fortunate to be among the few who foresaw its $100m potential, my daily breakdown was more along the line of 39-36-25. Given that we are still in March, I thought it could achieve a small Friday-to-Saturday increase without counting the midnight gross, but certainly did not expect a bump even when it is included. Considering the film earned around $5m during midnight, the real Saturday increase was in fact over 20%, and the overall IM for the weekend would be 3.1, an excellent figure for a Tim Burton film. Furthermore, with an A- from CinemaScore and A- at Yahoo, the word-of-mouth also does not appear to be as mediocre or divided as initially anticipated. Then there is the 3D/IMAX factor, which has shown to help stabilize a film's descent at the box office. The only 3D releases to drop over 50% on its second weekend so far are a R-rated horror film (My Bloody Valentine) and two concert movies (Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana). With a $6.77m Wednesday, it needs 150% Wed-to-Fri jump and 3.6 IM to avoid a 50% drop. By comparison, Monsters vs. Aliens had 192% and 3.7 respectively, so it is definitely achievable. When all said and done, look for Alice to have a hold right around what Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (-49.7%) and Corpse Bride (-47.6%) experienced.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (3/1 - 7): the weakest frame of the year by far

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Avatar(阿凡达)23m ($3.37m)-60.3%8,500385,5821.253b ($183.54m)
2. Sherlock Holmes(大侦探福尔摩斯)17m ($2.49m)-43.3%18,487548,74147m ($6.89m)
3. Big Soldiers(大兵小将)13m ($1.90m)-66.7%16,810431,750135m ($19.77m)
4. Hot Summer Days(全城热恋)9.5m ($1.39m)-66.1%12,314299,779119.5m ($17.50m)
5. 14 Blades(锦衣卫)5m ($0.73m)-66.7%7,653159,337142m ($20.80m)
6. All's Well Ends Well 2010(花田喜事2010)3.2m ($0.47m)-73.3%6,135108,47458.0m ($8.50m)
7. 72 Tenants of Prosperity(72家租客)3.1m ($0.45m)-68.0%3,725103,05833.1m ($4.85m)
8. 7th Grade Civil Servant(特工强档)2.3m ($0.34m)New1,61319,7842.3m ($0.34m)
9. True Legend(苏乞儿)?
10. Back in Time(古墓迷途)1.3m ($0.19m)New1,52835,8421.3m ($0.19m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.146503)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscar Winners Predictions

Might as well:

Best Picture - The Hurt Locker
Best Director - Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Best Actor - Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Best Actress - Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress - Mo'Nique, Precious
Best Original Screenplay - Inglourious Basterds
Best Adapted Screenplay - Up in the Air
Best Editing - The Hurt Locker
Best Cinematography - The Hurt Locker
Best Art Direction - Avatar
Best Costume Design - Bright Star
Best Makeup - Star Trek
Best Visual Effects - Avatar
Best Sound - The Hurt Locker
Best Sound Editing - Avatar
Best Original Score - Avatar
Best Original Song - "The Weary Kind," Crazy Heart
Best Animated Feature - Up
Best Foreign Language Picture - A Prophet
Best Documentary - The Cove
Best Documentary Short - China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
Best Animated Short - A Matter of Loaf and Death
Best Live Action Short - Miracle Fish

Friday, March 5, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Mar 5 - 7): Alice poised to shatter the March opening record

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Alice in Wonderland100.0$26,820 PTA
2. Shutter Island13.0-42.6%
3. Cop Out8.8-51.7%
4. Brooklyn's Finest8.0$4,130 PTA
5. The Crazies7.5-53.3%
6. Avatar6.5-52.4%
7. Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief5.0-47.8%
8. Valentine's Day4.3-52.5%
9. Dear John2.5-48.0%
10. Crazy Heart2.0-18.7%

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is obviously the most relevant comparison for Alice in Wonderland, as it represents director Tim Burton's previous collaboration with Johnny Depp to bestow his own fingerprint on a classic fairy tale. Here is the comparison of their respective Box Office Mojo poll numbers:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (2/22 - 28): The post-holiday week

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Avatar(阿凡达)58m ($8.50m)-40.8%13,747995,0241.23b ($180.17m)
2. Big Soldiers(大兵小将)39m ($5.71m)-41.8%27,1291,239,275122m ($17.87m)
3. Sherlock Holmes(大侦探福尔摩斯)30m ($4.40m)New16,580949,06630m ($4.40m)
4. Hot Summer Days(全城热恋)28m ($4.10m)-42.9%20,898858,632110m ($16.11m)
5. 14 Blades(锦衣卫)15m ($2.20m)-46.4%13,420472,143137m ($20.07m)
6. All's Well Ends Well 2010(花田喜事2010)12m ($1.76m)-52.0%11,515408,58054.8m ($8.03m)
7. 72 Tenants of Prosperity(72家租客)9.7m ($1.42m)-35.3%6,463326,26930.0m ($4.39m)
8. True Legend(苏乞儿)7m ($1.03m)-59.8%8,411223,42846.9m ($6.87m)
9. Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf 2(喜羊羊与灰太狼之虎虎生威)4.7m ($0.69m)-72.3%7,843176,957125m ($18.3m)
10. Arthur et la vengeance de Maltazard(亚瑟和他的迷你王国2)1.05m ($0.15m)-69.1%2,50940,8244.45m ($0.65m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.146503)

A few notables:

1. Avatar led for the 8th straight week and upped its record-setting admissions count to 24,347,117.

2. Two more local films, Big Soldiers and Hot Summer Days, joined the 100m yuan club.

3. Sherlock Holmes had an average opening and will be struggling to make 100m yuan.

4. Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf 2 finished its run with 125m yuan, a 50% increase from its predecessor.