Tuesday, August 31, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (8/23 - 8/29): mediocre opening for The Last Airbender

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. The Expendables(敢死队)90m ($13.24m)+23.3%54,5792,802,865163m ($23.98m)
2. The Stool Pigeon(线人)32m ($4.71m)New24,5841,006,92232m ($4.71m)
3. The Last Airbender(最后的风之子)23m ($3.38m)New18,797672,51423m ($3.38m)
4. Shrek Forever After(怪物史莱克4)22m ($3.24m)-62.1%15,132494,71580m ($11.77m)
5. Aftershock(唐山大地震)12m ($1.77m)-65.7%11,435337,932641m ($94.57m)
6. Adventure of the King(龙凤店)11m ($1.62m)-26.7%13,297355,52625m ($3.68m)
7. Love In Disguise(恋爱通告)5.8m ($0.85m)-80.7%7,445198,35852.8m ($7.77m)
8. Curse of the Deserted(荒村公寓)2.4m ($0.35m)-83.2%3,67382,02322.9m ($3.37m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.1471)

Excellent for The Expendables, and it will pass 200m yuan either this weekend or sometime next week. Inception will hit all films pretty hard and likely prevent it from getting to 250m. Still, one of the big successes of the year.

The second place turned out to be a surprise, as good word-of-mouth propelled The Stool Pigeon over The Last Airbender, and it was not a close contest, even though the latter had an extra day. Don't expect any legs for The Last Airbender either, and it should finish short of 40m yuan.

Shrek Forever After dropped hard, but it came as no shock because the film was released on a holiday Monday and had 7 full days for its opening week. Then The Last Airbender took away a lot of its 3D screens on the second go-around. It probably won't reach 100m yuan now.

A benchmark is also out of reach for Aftershock after last week's decline: $100m. It is losing the IMAX screens to Inception on Wednesday and should finish short of 650m yuan.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Aug 27 - 29)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Takers15.7$7,100 PTA
2. The Last Exorcism15.5$5,400 PTA
3. The Expendables9.0-47.0%
4. Eat Pray Love7.8-35.6%
5. Nanny McPhee Returns6.0-28.6%
6. The Other Guys5.8-42.7%
7. Inception5.2-33.7%
8. Vampires Suck5.0-59.0%
9. Avatar: Special Edition4.8$5,900 PTA
10. The Switch4.8-43.1%
11. Lottery Ticket4.6-56.8%
12. Piranha 3D4.0-60.4%

The battle of Takers and The Last Exorcism somewhat reminded the weekend of Four Brothers/The Skeleton Key five years ago, where Four Brothers surged past all expectations to become a surprise winner of that frame. Takers will likely not reach similar height, especially with fewer theaters, but the urban demographics is severely under-served this summer, and the tracking many times underestimated action films that targeted the demo. In fact, Takers' pre-release tracking was quite similar to what Brooklyn's Finest, which opened to $13.4m, and it has a better breakdown in Box Office Mojo poll. Despite of the poor reviews, a $15m+ opening is very much achievable, and that could be enough to win the weekend over The Last Exorcism.

Avatar: Special Edition is the wild card of the weekend. Re-release within a year or so of the original release and with blue-ray/DVD already available for several months tends to not do well, and some, like The Passion Recut ($0.224m opening in 957 theaters), failed spectacularly. However, James Cameron's films have shown the ability to not follow the rules. The advance sales are quite good, but the question is how much walk-in business it will get. My thinking is that it will have one of the highest, if not the highest, ratio of advance-ticket vs. walk-in buyers we have seen, because people who are interested in seeing the film this time mostly belong to two groups: 1) die-hard fans, who will buy tickets in advance regardless; 2) folks who missed out watching it in IMAX or 3D, and they certainly wouldn't want to risk making the same mistake again of having the show sold out and not being able to get in. For the rest of the mass, those families or friends who are casually deciding what movie to check out this weekend, the chance of picking Avatar over all the new films on the spot is small. Overall, the IMAX attendance should be strong, possibly on the level of The Polar Express' first re-release ($18,518 average in 66 IMAX screens), but 3D screens will see much more subdued business. Don't be surprised if IMAX format accounts for 40% or more of the gross.

With many schools starting earlier this week, the Friday increases for holdovers will see significant improvement if there are little changes in external factors (e.g. screen count, level of direct competition), and Saturday will be better by 10-20 percentage points too, although 40%+ decline will now become the norm for Sunday. Films which are on their third week or after should generally experience better weekend holds than their respective Wed-to-Wed holds. However, some will face a tougher task as both new openers are targeting mainly males and having only a PG-13 rating, not creating much chance for either sneak-in or spillover business. Specifically, look for Piranha 3D, Vampires Suck, and Lottery Ticket to get hit the hardest due to direct competition and mediocre word-of-mouth. Nanny McPhee and Eat Pray Love, on the other hand, are in the best position to stabilize well, with the former potentially seeing a sub-30% drop like Shorts did this weekend last year.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (8/16 - 8/22): The Expendables reigned supreme

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. The Expendables(敢死队)73m ($10.74m)New26,7182,206,10473m ($10.74m)
2. Shrek Forever After(怪物史莱克4)58m ($8.53m)New28,8061,282,61858m ($8.53m)
3. Aftershock(唐山大地震)35m ($5.15m)-41.7%23,985977,107629m ($92.81m)
4. Love In Disguise(恋爱通告)30m ($4.41m)+76.5%22,487997,00847m ($6.92m)
5. City Under Siege(全城戒备)18m ($2.65m)-53.8%16,045572,88388m ($12.97m)
6. Curse of the Deserted(荒村公寓)14.3m ($2.10m)+130.6%12,887483,43420.5m ($3.02m)
7. Adventure of the King(龙凤店)14m ($2.06m)New12,431443,03714m ($2.06m)
8. Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec(阿黛拉的非凡冒险)7.0m ($1.03m)-60.0%6,490234,58452.5m ($7.74m)
9. The Emerald And The Pearl(翡翠明珠)6.2m ($0.91m)+82.4%6,048297,7749.6m ($1.41m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.1471)

A fantastic start for The Expendables. It had a second-best opening of the year for a foreign film, behind you-know-who and ahead of Alice in Wonderland (67m yuan) and Iron Man 2 (60m). Alice, with the help of 3D, finished with a 3.34 multiplier, while Iron Man 2 stopped at 2.88. The latter would put The Expendables' total at 210m yuan, but with fewer summer weekdays and films such as The Last Airbender and Inception waiting to open this week and next, it could experience shorter legs. Still, 200m yuan total will be a fantastic achievement. Jet Li is certainly a draw, but more importantly, I believe the nostalgic factor is playing a big role in the film's success, as 25-35 year old males in China grew up watching Stallone and Schwarzenegger when the first batch of Hollywood films was imported. It's similar to why Transformers films were so successful in that sense.

Shrek Forever After opened on Monday, so it had the full week to make the 58m, and over the weekend it got hit pretty hard by The Expendables in term of screens. However, the performance remains excellent, especially when one considers none of the previous Shrek films broke 13m yuan total in their respective releases. It should finish close to what Toy Story 3 earned (111m).

Lastly, Aftershock survived the new openers fine and is still on track for $100m.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Aug 20 - 22)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. The Expendables15.3-56.1%
2. Vampires Suck14.5$4,870 PTA
3. Eat Pray Love13.1-43.3%
4. Nanny McPhee Returns11.9$4,500 PTA
5. The Other Guys9.9-43.1%
6. Lottery Ticket9.7$4,920 PTA
7. Piranha 3D9.3$3,700 PTA
8. Inception6.7-40.6%
9. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World5.1-51.9%
10. The Switch4.5$2,600 PTA

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (8/9 - 8/15): A day of mourning on Sunday

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Aftershock(唐山大地震)60m ($8.84m)-50.0%40,5421,631,214594m ($87.66m)
2. City Under Siege(全城戒备)39m ($5.75m)+25.8%32,6811,251,20370m ($10.33m)
3. Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec(阿黛拉的非凡冒险)17.5m ($2.58m)-37.5%16,866588,63145.5m ($6.72m)
4. Love In Disguise(恋爱通告)17m ($2.51m)New12,242549,98317m ($2.51m)
5. Curse of the Deserted(荒村公寓)6.2m ($0.91m)New4,553203,2126.2m ($0.91m)
6. OceanWorld 3D(深海探奇)4.7m ($0.69m)-52.5%5,475115,11120.7m ($3.05m)
7. The Emerald And The Pearl(翡翠明珠)3.4m ($0.50m)New3,544109,5713.4m ($0.50m)
8. Seven Arhat(七小罗汉)2.8m ($0.41m)-53.3%3,20489,28523.1m ($3.41m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.1474)

One factor to note is that Sunday was a national day of mourning in China for the victims of landslide that killed more than 1,200 people in the country's northwest, and all entertainment venues were shut down, so the box office was essentially depressed by a day. Adding that this Monday was Chinese Valentine's Day, we could expect the holds to be quite strong for the current week. The releases of Shrek Forever (8/16) and The Expendables (8/20) will also add to the fireworks.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Aug 13 - 15)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. The Expendables32.0$9,790 PTA
2. Eat Pray Love22.0$7,140 PTA
3. The Other Guys16.5-53.6%
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World14.0$4,970 PTA
5. Inception12.0-35.2%
6. Step Up 3D7.5-52.6%
7. Despicable Me6.7-27.8%
8. Salt6.0-45.0%
9. Dinner for Schmucks5.0-51.8%
10. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore3.6-47.8%

The Expendables has good tracking numbers: 33 from Major Theater Chain and low-to-mid 30s from Reel Source. Its Opening Weekend figure at the Box Office Mojo poll is 20% stronger than what A-Team had, putting the weekend gross at $31m, so the range of $30-35m appear solid for its opening. The R-rating won't be much of a hindrance since it appeals mostly to the older audience anyway. Don't expect much leg from the film though.

Sony/Columbia is hoping to replicate the success of Julie & Julia with Eat Pray Love; however, the early reviews indicate at least matching the former's legs is unlikely. For the opening weekend, it does have an advantage of being in 464 additional theaters, as well as having a best-selling source material and the comeback story of Julia Roberts. The advance sales have also been stellar. On the other hand, its BOM poll (9.5% OW and 10.5% SiT) is not as strong as what we saw from Julie & Julia (11.7% and 13.9%) or The Time Traveler's Wife (12.1% and 15.1%), so a breakout of over $25m looks unlikely. Combining all of the signs, I will put its opening figure on the low-20s.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is looking very much like Kick-Ass, except with worse signs. The Opening Weekend number in the BOM poll is 31% weaker (23.4% vs. 34.1%), and it is also weaker than Snakes on a Plane's 29.5%. One difference is that Scott Pilgrim is rated PG-13 while the other two have the R-rating, and that could help, especially with a R-rated, male-oriented film opening at the same time. The twitter count is simply massive, but I do see an extremely high, possibly record-high, ratio with its pure focus to the online crowd. It will also be quite frontloaded, and a 20%+ Saturday decline is not unreasonable even with good word-of-mouth given that we are still in summer. The screen allocation looks worrisome with most theaters giving it only a single screen, so I will stay somewhat conservative and say $6m Friday for a $14m weekend.

The stiff competition will cause The Other Guys to drop hard, but it won't be as big as what the movie did to Dinner for Schmucks last frame due to better word-of-mouth and the fact that The Expendables is rated R. The R-rating could also help a number of holdovers in the top 10, such as Inception and Salt, by creating potential sneak-in business.

Both the first two Step Up films dropped around 50% on their second weekend (50.8% and 49.2%), but the original one benefited from a 7% increase in theater count, while opening on Thursday helped stabilize the sequel's hold. The third one does also have a couple of positive factors: 3D and the lack of new direct competition, as it appeals mainly to the under-25 female crowd; however, a bigger first Saturday decrease than the original indicates even if the positive factors between the films offset each other, it should still decline more than what the first film experienced.

The best hold in the top 10 will belong to Despicable Me because it no longer has to deal with the loss of 3D screens or any new competition for the family audience. Expect a Friday jump of over 45% and a sub-30% drop overall.

On a side note, it is kind of weird to not have a horror movie anywhere in sight on a Friday the 13th weekend.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (8/2 - 8/8): Aftershock three-peated

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Aftershock(唐山大地震)120m ($17.72m)-48.7%68,0223,218,020534m ($78.82m)
2. City Under Siege(全城戒备)31m ($4.58m)New16,267960,94231m ($4.58m)
3. Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec(阿黛拉的非凡冒险)28m ($4.14m)New20,138938,65228m ($4.14m)
4. OceanWorld 3D(深海探奇)9.9m ($1.46m)+62.3%9,411239,82516.0m ($2.36m)
5. My Belle Boss(我的美女老板)6.1m ($0.90m)+27.1%10,302208,12010.9m ($1.61m)
6. Seven Arhat(七小罗汉)6.0m ($0.89m)-38.8%6,532313,49920.3m ($3.00m)
7. The Haunting Lover(等着你回来)3.1m ($0.46m)-38.0%5,807108,9248.1m ($1.20m)
8. Di Yi Shu Ji(第一书记)2.8m ($0.41m)-12.5%722111,9106.8m ($1.00m)
9. Knight & Day(危情谍战)2.3m ($0.34m)-67.1%3,14369,90890.9m ($13.41m)
10. Toy Story 3(玩具总动员3)1.5m ($0.22m)-50.0%2,35966,137110.9m ($16.34m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.1477)

The HongKong police film City Under Siege had an excellent start, especially considering it opened on Friday. The starpower of Aaron Kwok and Shu Qi definitely helped, and it should have no problem reaching the 100m yuan benchmark. Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec opened on Tuesday and earned the highest opening week ever for a French film. The word-of-mouth is fine but nothing extraordinary. Should be on its way to a 70-80m yuan total.

On the holdovers front, Aftershock became the biggest Chinese film ever and only the second film to cross 500m yuan. However, the hold itself was merely OK and not strong enough to make $100m (680m yuan) total a lock yet. With competition intensifying in the upcoming weeks, it could see more drops around 50%. Still, it became the biggest Chinese film ever OceanWorld showed the staying power of both 3D and the documentary genre and should continue occupying a spot in the top 10 for a few weeks, while Knight & Day and Toy Story 3 are reaching the end of their runs.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Aug 6 - 8)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. The Other Guys35.0$9,590 PTA
2. Inception19.0-30.9%
3. Step Up 3D16.0$6,570 PTA
4. Dinner for Schmucks12.9-45.2%
5. Salt11.0-43.5%
6. Despicable Me10.7-31.1%
7. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore6.9-43.8%
8. Charlie St. Cloud5.1-58.8%
9. Toy Story 33.5-31.7%
10. The Kids Are All Right3.0-14.9%

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (7/26 - 8/1): strong second week for Aftershock

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Aftershock(唐山大地震)234m ($34.54m)+30.0%89,2546,268,416414m ($61.1m)
2. Seven Arhat(七小罗汉)9.8m ($1.45m)+117.8%9,549313,49914.3m ($2.11m)
3. Knight & Day(危情谍战)7.0m ($1.03m)-56.3%6,903209,33088.6m ($13.07m)
4. OceanWorld 3D(深海探奇)6.1m ($0.90m)New3,981137,8536.1m ($0.90m)
5. The Haunting Lover(等着你回来)5.0m ($0.74m)New6,393174,3985.0m ($0.74m)
6. My Belle Boss(我的美女老板)4.8m ($0.71m)New4,832161,0734.8m ($0.71m)
7. Di Yi Shu Ji(第一书记)3.2m ($0.47m)+400%727127,4904.0m ($0.59m)
8. Toy Story 3(玩具总动员3)3.0m ($0.44m)-51.6%2,35966,137109.4m ($16.12m)
9. Tang Bo Hu Dian Qiu Xiang 2(唐伯虎点秋香2)3.0m ($0.44m)-75.0%5,13596,93054.0m ($7.97m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.1476)

Aftershock continued to completely dominate the headlines. In fact, it received more admissions than what Avatar got on its sophomore week; only the lower average ticket price prevented it from claiming the largest second week ever (Avatar earned 1m yuan more). It is already a lock to pass 2012 to become the second biggest film ever in China, and with admissions already over 10m, it also possesses a great shot at surpassing Titanic for the 2nd place on the admissions chart (Avatar, of course, claims both records and will not be threatened in any way). Even with three new releases, no other film got more than 10,000 showings for the entire week, and with a weak August slate, Aftershock could see more solid holds and get to 700m+ yuan total.