Tuesday, September 28, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (9/20 - 26)

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen(精武风云·陈真)82m ($12.23m)New49,3472,506,11282m ($12.23m)
2. Inception(盗梦空间)67m ($10.00m)-9.46%33,3781,971,748354.65m ($52.48m)
3. The Love of the Hawthorn Tree(山楂树之恋)48m ($7.16m)+6.67%39,7621,460,74293m ($13.84m)
4. The Sorcerer's Apprentice(魔法师的学徒)10.5m ($1.57m)-47.5%11,966348,60556.5m ($8.38m)
5. Hu Wang Gui Lai(虎王归来)2.1m ($0.31m)New4,22084,2962.1m ($0.31m)
6. Track Aduowan(举起手来2)1.6m ($0.24m)-44.8%2,88664,9877.9m ($1.17m)
7. Shrek Forever After(怪物史莱克4)0.65m ($0.097m)+22.6%86820,01889.88m ($13.23m)
8. The Expendables(敢死队)0.46m ($0.61m)-88.8%1,34214,424213.06m ($31.90m)
9. Taste of Spring(大劫难)0.36m ($0.054m)-40.0%5113,6931.64m ($0.24m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.1492)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Sep 24 - 26): Wall Street 2, Legend of the Guardians, You Again, The Virginity Hit

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps30.0$8,415 PTA
2. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole25.0$6,993 PTA
3. The Town16.0-32.8%
4. You Again14.0$5,495 PTA
5. Easy A9.6-45.9%
6. Devil4.3-65.0%
7. Resident Evil: Afterlife4.2-58.0%
8. Alpha and Omega4.1-55.0%
9. Takers1.6-47.1%
10. Inception1.3-33.9%
-. The Virginity Hit0.3$429 PTA


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is looking strong everywhere: Major Theater Chain tracking had its opening at low 30s; the BOM poll (20.2% Opening Weekend + 20.1% Sometime in Theaters with 1,208 votes as of this writing) is 15-20% stronger than what 21, a film with similar feel that opened to $24.1m, received, while the twitter activity correlates to indicate a $10m opening day is indeed in play; and finally, Fandango reported outstanding advance ticket sales. Being a sequel could mean higher upfront awareness and thus inflate the numbers a little, but it appears to stand a solid chance at earning $30m this weekend.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is not doing too bad itself, especially considering that being an animated film gives it an advantage in having a good internal multiplier. Last weekend Alpha and Omega surged 80% on Saturday and had a 3.98 IM, and in general, animated features released in fall would jump 60% or more on Saturday and achieve a 3.7+ IM, so Legend of the Guardians does not need that big of a Friday to gross over 20m this frame. Its advance sales have also been solid, while the BOM poll (16.7% OW + 17.4% SiT) is a tad stronger than what Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (13.9% and 17.5% respectively) had. However, we should take into the account that director Zack Synder (300, Watchmen) does enjoy a bigger online following than usual animated film directors. It will not win Friday, but the battle for the other two days will be fierce. At the minimum, we will have two openers making over $20m on a September weekend for the first time ever.

You Again is a funny case. It has very low number of tweets, but on the other hand, all the BOM polls it appears in are super strong. Other than a mechanical error or sudden influx of female users at BOM, it is hard to find a reasonable explanation to reconcile the two, so in this case, I will resort to more of a gut feeling. The trailer is effective, the cast is bigger than what When in Rome had, and Betty White is ubiquitous at the moment. The only drawback is that it comes at the heels of Easy A, but the latter, while enjoying good word-of-mouth, did not break out nearly as much as some of us expected. Overall, there is little reason to believe it won't beat When in Rome's $12.4m start.

The last "wide" release of the week, The Virginity Hit, is also one of the least anticipated films in some time. Sony tried to build a grassroot, word-of-mouth campaign by having sneaks in selected college towns since Sep 10th, but as LA Times mentioned, it failed to generate much interest even from its prime demographics, and with mediocre feedbacks, those screenings in fact hurt its earning potential this weekend by draining its audience ahead of time. The BOM poll is strikingly similar to what another flopped Sony release, The Brother Solomon (also R-rated and from September), got, and the extra advance screenings could make this film do even worse. I personally checked its tweets count for the last couple of days, and the number didn't exceed 200 per day, very dismal since it will surely have one of the highest ratios we have seen with the limited theater count and its appealed demo. Don't see it having a per-theater-average over $500.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (9/13 - 19): Inception three-peated

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Inception(盗梦空间)74m ($10.99m)-31.8%45,1182,146,794287.65m ($42.48m)
2. The Love of the Hawthorn Tree(山楂树之恋)45m ($6.68m)New36,5081,348,54745m ($6.68m)
3. The Sorcerer's Apprentice(魔法师的学徒)20m ($2.97m)-23.1%27,043647,24946m ($6.81m)
4. The Expendables(敢死队)4.1m ($0.61m)-67.2%11,126128,084212.6m ($31.29m)
5. Track Aduowan(举起手来2)2.9m ($0.43m)-14.7%6,197116,0466.3m ($0.93m)
6. The Stool Pigeon(线人)0.82m ($0.12m)-80.5%3,13226,77952m ($7.65m)
7. Aftershock(唐山大地震)0.65m ($0.097m)-65.8%1,86519,631648.65m ($95.70m)
8. Taste of Spring(大劫难)0.6m ($0.089m)-14.3%9124,0191.3m ($0.19m)
9. Ice Kacang Puppy Love(初恋红豆冰)0.57m ($0.085m)-28.8%3,53822,6160.57m ($0.085m)
10. Shrek Forever After(怪物史莱克4)0.53m ($0.079m)-72.1%1,29415,35389.23m ($13.13m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.1485)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Sep 17 - 19): Easy A, The Town, Devil, Alpha and Omega

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Easy A25.0$8,754 PTA
2. The Town16.0$5,592 PTA
3. Devil16.0$5,694 PTA
4. Resident Evil: Afterlife9.6-64.0%
5. Alpha and Omega6.7$2,552 PTA
6. Takers3.2-43.6%
7. The American2.7-52.4%
8. The Other Guys2.0-40.3%
9. Going the Distance1.8-52.5%
10. Machete1.7-60.4%

It appears to have become a tradition to release four new films wide targeting various demographics on this September weekend. Last year, the four movies opened to $55.7m combined, but only Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs really excelled with a $30.3m start, while the gross was more evenly distributed in 2008, as the four took in $62.9m without anyone breaking $20m. This year will be likely be somewhere in between. There is one clear dud among the new releases, but the other three could all do solid to great business.

There are reasons to believe any of the top 3 could win the weekend: The Town has very positive reviews and excellent advance sale figure from Fandango; Devil has a short runtime and Universal's aggressive marketing. However, to me, Easy A will be the clear winner of the frame because it has one advantage of the others: the utter lack of competition. The market has been saturated with R-rated as well as male-oriented films in the past month, and there has not been one targeting teenage girls basically since Eclipse. The trailer is effective, the campaign is more than adequate, and the buzz is building up fast. This could be another Dear John type of breakout, except it also has good reviews to boost, which could help attract older women and extend its legs. Here are some actual numerical evidence:

Tracking
Major Theater Chain - $25m, ReelSource - low-teens; we know when MTC is that much higher than RS, 90% of the time the film will be much closer to MTC's number, if not 20%+ larger.

Box Office Mojo poll
Easy A - 14.6% Opening Weekend, 14.1% Sometime in Theaters, 38.2% Never
The House Bunny - 7.8% OW, 9.1% SiT, 51.5% Never, $14.5m opening
Sydney White - 4.5% OW, 5.4% SiT, 65.3% Never, $5.2m opening

The poll comparison also suggests it will open significantly higher than what The House Bunny did.

The main obstacle facing The Town is the R-rating, as there had nothing but R-rated wide releases in the last couple of weeks. The reviews will help bring in the older audience; on the other hand, they did not exactly assist Gone Baby Gone. The tracking put its start at around $15m, while the advance sales are indicating something bigger. Look for a result in between.

Devil's problem is M. Night Shyamalan and how viewers will react to seeing his name, even though he is not the director this time. When I saw the film's earlier trailer in theater, the audience either sneered or shook their head when his name showed up. It may not be a general representation of all reactions, but from the fact that Universal took his name off the later TV spots, it appears they have the same concern too. Still, the premise is intriguing, and it could perform similarly to what past films that dealt with confined space had done (Phone Booth - $15.0m, Red Eye - $16.2m).

There isn't much to say about Alpha and Omega except that it will not gross double-digit this weekend, and with Legend of the Guardians next on its heels, its stay at the theaters will be short. Last weekend may have been a better choice to release the film, even if it means it had to deal with another 3D movie.

With the new releases hogging the screens, the holdovers will experience somewhat large declines in general, especially R-rated movies. Also noticed Going the Distance and The Other Guys are sharing one screen or with another film in some instances, so their per-theater-averages could suffer as a result.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (9/6 - 12): Inception crossed 200m yuan

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Inception(盗梦空间)108.5m ($16.03m)+3.19%50,5013,134,026213.65m ($31.49m)
2. The Sorcerer's Apprentice(魔法师的学徒)26m ($3.84m)New19,884818,12426m ($3.84m)
3. The Expendables(敢死队)12.5m ($1.85m)-62.1%21,626385,208208.5m ($30.68m)
4. The Stool Pigeon(线人)4.2m ($0.62m)-71.0%9,743130,69351.2m ($7.53m)
5. Track Aduowan(举起手来2)3.4m ($0.50m)New5,330131,0713.4m ($0.50m)
6. Aftershock(唐山大地震)1.9m ($0.28m)-61.2%4,21354,535648m ($95.60m)
7. Shrek Forever After(怪物史莱克4)1.9m ($0.28m)-72.1%3,42049,62188.7m ($13.05m)
8. The Last Airbender(最后的风之子)1.11m ($0.16m)-82.9%2,44229,67130.61m ($4.50m)
9. Adventure of the King(龙凤店)0.83m ($0.12m)-76.3%2,94427,39229.3m ($4.31m)
10. Ice Kacang Puppy Love(初恋红豆冰)0.8m ($0.12m)New3,80027,9520.8m ($0.12m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.1477)

One rather interesting thing happened late yesterday, when the official report suddenly updated Inception's opening week figure to 105.15m yuan. In fact, the data for all the films were adjusted, including the number of showings and admissions (the updated numbers). Regardless of the reason, it is a welcome development and makes the number more inline with the original deduction.

As expected, The Sorcerer's Apprentice did not put much of a dent into Inception's dominance. The competition will get tougher this week with Zhang Yimou's latest film The Love of the Hawthorn Tree, but it is a romantic comedy and appeals more to the female audience. Inception could very much three-peat, and crossing $50m later this month should not be an issue.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Sep 10 - 12)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Resident Evil: Afterlife30.4$9,500 PTA
2. The American6.2-53.0%
3. Takers6.0-44.8%
4. Machete5.1-55.3%
5. The Expendables3.7-44.1%
6. Going the Distance3.5-49.2%
7. The Last Exorcism3.2-56.4%
8. The Other Guys3.1-41.4%
9. Inception3.0-34.4%
10. Eat Pray Love2.8-41.7%

It is shaping up to be a rather mundane weekend, with only one R-rated film opening wide on the historically weak post Labor Day weekend. However, Resident Evil is no stranger to this frame. Six years ago, Apocalypse opened to $23.0m, at the time the biggest start ever for the post Labor Day weekend. Now Afterlife is ready to retake the claim, currently held by The Exorcism of Emily Rose's $30.1m, with help from 3D screens. One may argue that 3D is currently suffering from some backlashes, as more viewers become reluctant to pay the extra cost when many films are post converted only, but Afterlife is a little different. It is the first live-action film since Avatar that is directly shot in 3D, and being a non-family affair could also alleviate the fatigue factor since it is easier for individuals to afford the added cost comparing to a full family.

The Final Destination looks to be a good comparison for Afterlife, as it was also the fourth installation of the franchise and the first to be released in 3D. Let's use Box Office Mojo polls as a measuring stick. There The Final Destination improved upon its immediate predecessor with 21.1% Opening Weekend interest vs. 16.3%. It was also released in 8.37% more theaters, and that resulted in a 43.0% increase in the opening weekend figure ($27.4m vs. $19.2m). On the Resident Evil front, Afterlife shows 29.5% Opening Weekend, comparing to 25.8% for Extinction, and it has a theater count increase of 13.3%. Deducting from these data gives Afterlife just a hair over $30m and a new record for this weekend.

Holdovers normally experience large declines this frame since last Sunday was heavily inflated by the holiday, but with only one new wide release and it being R-rated again, we could see a few drop in the low-40s or even mid-30s, like Inception (The Dark Knight declined only 36%). With schools having started and NFL season returning, we will begin seeing typical fall weekend pattern: big Friday and Saturday increases, but also much heavier Sunday drops.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

China Weekly Box Office (8/30 - 9/5)

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Inception(盗梦空间)105.15m ($15.46m)New43,9112,982,322105.15m ($15.46m)
2. The Expendables(敢死队)33m ($4.85m)-63.3%38,1411,025,163196m ($28.83m)
3. The Stool Pigeon(线人)14.5m ($2.13m)-54.7%21,238468,16447m ($6.91m)
4. Shrek Forever After(怪物史莱克4)6.8m ($1.00m)-69.1%8,608164,33086.8m ($12.77m)
5. The Last Airbender(最后的风之子)6.5m ($0.96m)-71.7%9,998197,38829.5m ($4.34m)
6. Aftershock(唐山大地震)4.9m ($0.72m)-59.2%7,727141,575645.9m ($95.29m)
7. Adventure of the King(龙凤店)3.5m ($0.51m)-68.2%7,663114,94228.5m ($4.19m)
8. Love In Disguise(恋爱通告)2.0m ($0.29m)-65.5%4,58370,20054.8m ($8.06m)
9. Curse of the Deserted(荒村公寓)0.75m ($0.11m)-68.8%1,97926,72823.65m ($3.48m)
(Source, 1 chinese yuan == $0.1470)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday Update for Inception in China

LA Times first reported the $13.6m figure for Inception's 5-day opening, and the number was echoed by mtime.com (China equivalent of IMDb) when it showed 93m yuan ($13.7m). These remain estimates, as the final actual will be reported tomorrow by the official agency in China, but it looks like the figure won't deviate much from that. The discrepancy from what was deducted using the crowd reports and the theater chain returns from the major cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou likely means it didn't perform as strongly in the smaller cities and rural areas, causing the biggest cities accounted for a bigger percentage of the market share. It is an excellent opening nonetheless, and 300m yuan still looks good given the word-of-mouth.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Inception in China Update: around 16m yuan on Wednesday and 30m yuan after 2 days

Still not official yet, but should be much closer than what my original deduction of early returns showed since it comes from calculation based on two major theater chains in Shanghai and Canton.  The 5-day projection will come down a notch, but the weekend does appear strong and has been picking up stream rapidly, with Saturday looking to exceed what A Simple Noodle Story earned on the same day.  Considering A Simple Noodle Story made 101.32m yuan over its first 4 days, I would expect Inception's 5 day total to fall between 100m and 120m yuan.

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Sep 3 - 6)

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Machete17.0$6,370 PTA
2. The American15.6$5,530 PTA
3. Takers11.3-44.9%
4. Going the Distance11.0$3,630 PTA
5. The Last Exorcism8.1-60.2%
6. The Expendables6.2-34.9%
7. Eat Pray Love5.3-22.2%
8. The Other Guys4.9-22.0%
9. Inception4.3-11.8%
10. Nanny McPhee Returns3.8-19.4%

The American earned $1.67m on its opening Wednesday, which may feel weak at first glance, but it is in fact a norm for Wednesday openers on Labor Day frame to not start out strong while come back to have a respectable weekend.  Here are the Wednesday-to-4-day-weekend multipliers of past such films since 1999:

Traitor - 12.63
Balls of Fury - 8.35
The Constant Gardener - 11.79
Vanity Fair - 10.45
Chill Factor - 13.57
Outside Providence - 11.51

Despite the OK reviews from critics, The misleading marketing campaign is creating some poor word-of-mouth from the general viewers, and Clooney's presence could increase the degree of frontloadedness.  Still, I would not expect its multiplier to be lower than Balls of Fury's given its adult-oriented nature.  A 9-9.5 multiplier would put its 4-day gross at $15-16m and 6-day total at $18-19m.

Could Machete beat The American for the weekend?  The film presents a very interesting case: on one hand, The tracking from Major Theater Chain was strong, and the Box Office Mojo poll is not shabby either; but on the other hand, director Robert Rodriguez has a much larger ratio of online following vs. general public awareness, and the failure of Grindhouse remains fresh in our minds.  My personal feeling is that the action/adventure genre could offset some of the online inflation and alleviate the level of frontloading.  Expect it to win Friday comfortably with $5m before falling back to make the weekend result much closer, as The American's IM will be quite a bit better, but I do believe it will stay ahead in the end.

Does not look like there will be a breakout for Going the Distance.  The BOM poll is right in the neighborhood of what She's Out of My League and My Best Friend's Girl, two other R-rated romantic comedies, had.  A similar $3m Friday would yield around $11m for the long weekend, echoing what the tracking indicated earlier this week.

The Last Exorcism has been mirroring Halloween 2's dailies very closely and is on track for a 65%+ drop over the 3-day portion even with holiday's help.   It should also experience the heaviest Monday decline.  Takers will hold better, but without any theater expansion (Sony missed an opportunity here) and a B CinemaScore, it is unlikely to prevent a 50%+ drop for the 3 days.  One piece of good news for the holdovers is that all three openers are rated R, while most of them are less restricted.  This could create sneak-in business as history has shown the direct competition hurts the most when it comes from film with the same rating, but it could in fact help when the new release is more restricted.  Also the family films will see the best holds on Labor Day Monday.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Early Opening Day Verdict on Inception in China: Superb

From all the reports I have been reading on various Chinese forums, in particular Baidu Tieba, I feel comfortable to put Inception's opening day at around 20m yuan, +/-5%.  It looks to have 85-95% of The Expendables' opening Friday's admissions, but with the benefit of 14 IMAX screens, the gross should be right on par.  It may not look very earth-shattering like Avatar's 33m yuan opening Monday, but it is in fact a remarkable number considering this is a non-summer Wednesday where school just got started, and people normally are not in the mood to rush out seeing films.  A 20m yuan start would mean a 120m+ opening five days (e.g. 20 + 16 + 25 + 38 + 30), and with the type of legs I expect it to achieve, 400m yuan ($58.8m) looks very much achievable.  Stay tuned.