Monday, May 30, 2011

China Weekly Box Office (5/16 - 5/22): Hollywood films continue to dominate as Pirates 4 claimed the biggest opening of the year

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides(加勒比海盗4)149m ($22.95m)New42,5053,685,382149m ($22.95m)
2. Fast Five(速度与激情5)68m ($10.47m)-56,0092,141,732136m ($20.94m)
3. Thor(雷神)17m ($2.62m)-71.2%23,721464,35496m ($14.78m)
4. Life is a Miracle(最爱)15.8m ($2.43m)-53.5%31,373497,48149.8m ($5.23m)
5. A Beautiful Life(不再让你孤单)7.7m ($1.19m)+16.7%18,265241,91014.3m ($2.21m)
6. Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends - The Movie(宇宙英雄之超银河传说)7.6m ($1.17m)-46.5%14,042257,53921.8m ($3.36m)
7. Rio(里约大冒险)1.5m ($0.23m)-72.2%2,14938,392138.5m ($21.27m)
8. The Lost Bladesman(关云长)1.02m ($0.16m)-84.8%4,37032,005159.72m ($24.60m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1540)

May keeps heating up.  The pattern has been one Hollywood release a week, and each one has surged past what the previous one achieved.  To put On Stranger Tides' performance into perspective, let's recap how the previous three installments of the franchise had done in China:

The Curse of the Black Pearl - 27m yuan total
Dead Man's Chest - not released
At World's End - 45m yuan opening 6 days, 125m yuan total, the 7th biggest film of the year in China

On Stranger Tides opened on Friday to 36m yuan, and then had excellent Saturday increase to achieve a 4.14 IM, surpassing the 3rd's total in merely three days.  It is also the first May release ever to gross over 100m yuan in its first 3 days.  Further breakdown shows 70% of the gross came from 3D, and 6.2% from IMAX.  As for its long term prospect, Kung Fu Panda 2 will no doubt provide stiff competition, but it should have no trouble crossing 350m, with 400m yuan ($60m) a realistic possibility.

Fast Five held up quite well against the onslaught of Pirates 4, while Thor did not and will only crawl past 100m yuan, a disappointment considering it would just be 5 times its opening day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Memorial Weekend Box Office Predictions (May 27 - 30): The Hangover Part II, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Tree of Life

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. The Hangover Part II95.0$26,279 PTA
2. Kung Fu Panda 270.0$17,834 PTA
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides48.0-46.8%
4. Bridesmaids17.0-18.6%
5. Thor9.5-38.5%
6. Fast Five7.0-33.8%
7. Rio3.0-36.0%
8. Priest2.4-49.5%
9. Jumping the Broom2.3-37.9%
10. Something Borrowed2.2-37.4%
-. The Tree of Life0.52$130,000 PTA

The Hangover, IMO, had one of the most impressive box office performances in the last decade. Both of its opening and legs are simply stunning. So naturally the expectations for the sequel are high. For comparisons, Shrek achieved a 6.32 multiplier and then saw Shrek 2 opened to 155% higher; Pirates of the Caribbean: 6.04 multiplier for the first film, 191% improvement in opening for the sequel. Using them as cues, if this had been a traditional weekend with Friday launch, we could have easily been looking at a $110m+ opening.

The R-rating does present some challenge for The Hangover that Shrek or Pirates did not have to worry about, but this is as close to a 4-quadrant film as a R-rated movie could get, and the signs so far are not disappointing: ~75,000 tweets from Monday to Wednesday, 41.7% Opening Weekend interests at Box Office Mojo poll, $125m tracking from Major Theater Chain, and 82% of advance sales at Fandango as of 4pm on Wednesday. Look for Part II to start with a massive $35m on Thursday, but then decline gradually each day over the long weekend, king of similar to what Sex and the City 2 experienced (although unlikely to match its severity), for a $130m total across the first 5 days.

Kung Fu Panda 2, on the other hand, is seeing a mixed picture. On first glance, it should easily improve upon the first film's opening given the good word-of-mouth, 3.58 multiplier despite good competition, and the new 3D format. However, the marketing has been somewhat lazy and is not providing people additional excitement to return except to say "look, we're back!" That has led to weak tracking ($76m from MTC) and advance sales (only 2% as of 4pm on Wednesday), although the general interests appear to be there with ~12,000 tweets in the first three days of the week and 31.8% OW from BOM poll. Balancing them out, we could see a $10m Thursday, then another $70m over the next 4 days as the film will certainly have better internal multiplier than The Hangover Part II, for a 5-day total of $80m.

After Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris set the arthouse on fire last weekend with a $100K per-theater-average in 6 theaters, Terence Malick will attempt to replicate the success with his The Tree of Life, and the bet is the film will perform even better in the PTA department, especially now it won Palme d'Or. The long term prospect is more murky since the reviews indicate, unsurprising given Malick's history, it is not made for the broader audience.

Even if Kung Fu Panda 2 turns out to perform a little worse than expected, we will still have the strongest one-two punch ever for Memorial weekend. In fact, they, along with the strength from holdovers, will likely be enough to make this the biggest Memorial weekend ever, surpassing 2007 when the 3 big three-quals - Pirates 3, Shrek 3, and Spider-Man 3 - carried the top 12 to a combined $246.3m.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (May 20 - May 22): Pirates of the Caribbean 4

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides99.0$23,827 PTA
2. Bridesmaids19.0-27.6%
3. Thor18.5-46.7%
4. Fast Five11.0-46.2%
5. Priest5.5-63.1%
6. Rio5.3-36.0%
7. Something Borrowed3.7-46.2%
8. Jumping the Broom3.0-57.5%
9. Water for Elephants2.6-38.1%
10. Soul Surfer1.2-34.3%

Predicted daily breakdown for Pirates of the Caribbean 4:

Midnight - $3m
Friday - $35m
Saturday - $35m
Sunday - $26m

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

China Weekly Box Office (5/9 - 5/15): Fast Five battles Thor

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Fast Five(速度与激情5)68m ($10.47m)New37,5992,102,65968m ($10.47m)
2. Thor(雷神)59m ($9.08m)+195%52,3091,640,33979m ($12.16m)
3. Life is a Miracle(最爱)34m ($5.23m)New39,5781,059,85034m ($5.23m)
4. Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends - The Movie(宇宙英雄之超银河传说)14.2m ($2.19m)New11,749474,59814.2m ($2.19m)
5. The Lost Bladesman(关云长)6.7m ($1.03m)-86.6%18,455197,407158.7m ($24.44m)
6. A Beautiful Life(不再让你孤单)6.6m ($1.02m)New9,614200,0606.6m ($1.02m)
7. Rio(里约大冒险)5.4m ($0.83m)-79.2%5,914109,157137m ($21.04m)
8. A Chinese Fairy Tale(倩女幽魂)3.5m ($0.54m)-85.4%36,443726,392141m ($21.70m)
9. The Next Three Days(危情三日)1.1m ($0.17m)-91.5%3,66335,78322.9m ($3.53m)
10. The Detective 2(B+侦探)0.73m ($0.11m)-93.9%3,22823,58622.73m ($3.50m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1539)

The only previous Fast and Furious installment to be released in China was the 4th one, which got 29m yuan in total. Fast Five beat it in two days. It will likely be frontloaded, with Pirates 4 and Kung Fu Panda 2 waiting in the wing. Still, it should reach $20m+ total and could beat Thor.

Don't be fooled by the 195% increase by Thor; the weekly figure is actually slightly lower than I expected (predicted 60m+ yuan). Fast Five appears to steal its thunder quite a bit, and the 3D screens will be in serious jeopardy the next couple of weeks, so the legs could be short from this point on.

Zhang Ziyi's latest film, Life is a Miracle, is a tough film to sell, as the AIDS subject remains relatively taboo in China. However, the great reviews from early screenings helped increase the awareness, as well as the presence of Ziyi and Aaron Kwok. Even though a film started on Tuesday seldom reaches 3 times the opening week figure by the end of its run, Life is a Miracle stands a chance with its good WOM and smaller initial built-in audience, putting 100m yuan in play.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (May 13 - 15): Bridesmaids, Priest

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Thor32.0-51.3%
2. Fast Five18.3-43.6%
3. Priest16.7$5,831 PTA
4. Bridesmaids15.0$5,142 PTA
5. Something Borrowed8.0-42.6%
6. Jumping the Broom7.0-54.0%
7. Rio5.5-35.3%
8. Water for Elephants3.5-42.3%
9. Madea's Big Happy Family1.9-54.5%
10. Soul Surfer1.3-43.7%

Great, Blogger came back, but lost my previous "Early Weekend Forecast" post. Oh well, for people who have read it, you probably noticed the change in my Bridesmaids prediction since Wednesday. I upped it due to improvement at both BOM poll and Twitter as well as good advance sales. Another breakdown of interest for each quadrant also showed it's appealing almost exclusively to women, and that makes the online figures more impressive when you compare them with other R-rated comedies with female leads.

Look like I'm one of the few to still have some faith in Priest. Legion remains the closest comparison to me, and Priest's foreign launch in Russia and Spain mirrored what Legion had. It is looking at 5,000+ tweets from Monday to Thursday, and I just can't forecast a ratio higher than what Resident Evil: Afterlife, which is a sequel and also in 3D, had, so a $6m minimum on Friday seems to be assured.

Giving Thor a 48-49% drop without midnight, similar to what Iron Man achieved. Don't see it reaching Star Trek's 42.8% level.

The WOM for Fast Five should kick in after the natural frontloadedness faded away, and it will reflect on this weekend's hold, especially with not much new competition nor event like losing IMAX screens. It is also one of the few films in the top 10 to not get a boost from Mother's Day. X-Men Origins: Wolverine improved from 69% drop on the sophomore weekend to 44.3% on its third, and there is no reason why Fast Five could not duplicate similar performance.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Early Weekend Forecast: around $10m for Bridesmaids, $16-18m for Priest

Bridesmaids:

MovieOW GrossBOM Poll: OWBOM Poll: SiT
Wedding Crashers$33.9m17.2%23.6%
Knocked Up$30.7m21.0%22.4%
The 40-Year-Old Virgin$21.4m16.4%21.2%
Forgetting Sarah Marshall$17.7m26.9%17.9%
Get Him to the Greek$17.6m14.6%15.6%
MacGruber$8.5m13.0%14.3%
Bridesmaids?11.5%13.4%

Bridesmaids is the first Judd Apatow film to have women as the main targeted audience, and because of that, we could expect the raw numbers to be worse in the BOM poll as BOM users are mostly young males. However, it is still a Apatow-produced, R-rated raunchy comedy, with Saturday Night Live connection from Kristen Wiig, so there are overlaps with all of the films listed above, and receiving the worst set of numbers among them is definitely not promising.

Movie# of TweetsOpening FridayRatio
Hot Tub Time Machine8,122$4.55m1,785
Get Him to the Greek7,545$6.3m1,198
MacGruber5,878$1.6m3,674

There is a reason to think Bridesmaids would have a lower ratio due to its appeal to women, but Sex and the City 2 had a ratio of 4,400, so that alone doesn't guarantee a lower ratio, at least a drastically lower one. A 1,000+ ratio remains very plausible, and with the film struggling to reach 4,000 tweets from Monday to Thursday, we are looking at a sub $4m Friday.

Tracking
ReelSource - mid-teens
Major Theater Chain - 11

Having ReelSource dropping from the $20m+ several weeks ago to mid-teen may not mean much itself, but then MTC came in more than 25% worse and significantly increased the odd of the film not opening to $11m.

The problem for Bridesmaids is that there appears to be a large disconnect between the audience it tries to appeal to (women) and the demo a R-rated raunchy comedy typically attracts, and instead of getting both, it has generated little interest in either. An opening on par with The Sweetest Thing and The Banger Sisters appears likely. The film does possess one thing in its favor: Reviews, but I'm not sure it will have enough time for the expected great word-of-mouth to help the legs, if the opening is low enough.

Priest:

MovieOW GrossBOM Poll: OWBOM Poll: SiT
Resident Evil: Afterlife$26.7m30.5%15.2%
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans$20.8m15.1%12.8%
Legion$17.5m11.8%17.2%
Daybreakers$15.1m16.5%19.2%
Ultraviolet$9.1m14.3%14.1%
Priest?13.3%14.6%

The Opening Weekend percentage for Priest is quite solid, especially considering its PG-13 rating. Ultraviolet does represent a caution, but the presence of Milla Jovovich inflated online polls. Legion seems to be the closest comparison, and Priest's numbers are on par with it.

Movie# of TweetsOpening FridayRatio
Legion3,890$6.7m581
Daybreakers5,130$5.9m869
Resident Evil: Afterlife10,195$10.9m935

Priest is also on track to get 4,000 tweets by the end of Thursday, but its ratio will not be close to 1,000. The PG-13 rating tends to help reduce the ratio for horror films, so I expect its ratio to be in the 600 range.

Tracking
ReelSource - 20
Major Theater Chain - 18

Pretty close between the two, so we could not really deduct much more information from them.

Friday the 13th should also help Priest's opening day while lowering the internal multiplier. A breakdown of $7m Friday and $17m weekend feels reasonable at this point.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

China Weekly Box Office (5/2 - 5/8): Thor opened on Sunday; Rio marched on

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. The Lost Bladesman(关云长)50m ($7.70m)-51.0%63,7241,444,669152m ($23.41m)
2. Rio(里约大冒险)26m ($4.00m)-7.1%19,862637,723131.6m ($20.21m)
3. A Chinese Fairy Tale(倩女幽魂)24m ($3.70m)-40.7%36,443726,392137.5m ($21.16m)
4. Thor(雷神)20m ($3.08m)New10,118519,61520m ($3.08m)
5. The Next Three Days(危情三日)13m ($2.00m)+47.7%19,891404,35421.8m ($3.36m)
6. The Detective 2(B+侦探)12m ($1.85m)+20.0%22,180366,63622m ($3.39m)
7. The Eagle(迷踪:第九鹰团)4.8m ($0.74m)+29.7%10,610151,4678.5m ($1.31m)
8. Sucker Punch(美少女特攻队)1.6m ($0.25m)-64.4%2,17135,91446.2m ($7.09m)
9. A Chinese Ghost Story(倩女幽魂87版)1.35m ($0.21m)-10.0%4,86641,7922.85m ($0.44m)
10. Kong Long Bao Bei(恐龙宝贝)1.28m ($0.20m)-20.0%3,86649,8012.88m ($0.45m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1540)

Don't let the number or ranking fool you with Thor. It is a very good start because the 20m yuan all came from one day. The opening day is the second best of the year, narrowly behind Shao Lin's 21m. Last year Iron Man 2 opened on Friday and grossed 60m yuan over its first three days, so Thor's start is comparable. Look for 60m+ this full week.

Another mighty great hold for Rio. Definitely having the best legs of any films so far this year, and it still has a couple of more weeks to run before Kung Fu Panda 2 hit.

China Weekly Box Office (4/25 - 5/1): May Day holiday

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. The Lost Bladesman(关云长)102m ($15.71m)New72,8913,031,203102m ($15.71m)
2. A Chinese Fairy Tale(倩女幽魂)40.5m ($6.24m)-44.5%49,7981,210,400113.5m ($17.46m)
3. Rio(里约大冒险)28m ($4.31m)+3.7%19,648710,119105.6m ($16.21m)
4. The Detective 2(B+侦探)10m ($1.54m)New11,598303,39810m ($1.54m)
5. The Next Three Days(危情三日)8.8m ($1.36m)New8,800274,9148.8m ($1.36m)
6. The Warring State(战国)4.6m ($0.71m)-80.8%13,980135,97376.6m ($11.75m)
7. Sucker Punch(美少女特攻队)4.5m ($0.69m)-75.7%9,390125,73344.6m ($6.84m)
8. The Eagle(迷踪:第九鹰团)3.7m ($0.57m)New5,088115,1213.7m ($0.57m)
9. Kong Long Bao Bei(恐龙宝贝)1.6m ($0.25m)New3,23661,6331.6m ($0.25m)
10. A Chinese Ghost Story(倩女幽魂87版)1.5m ($0.23m)New3,25547,3031.5m ($0.23m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1540)

Monday, May 9, 2011

China Weekly Box Office (4/18 - 4/24): the remake of A Chinese Ghost Story expectedly dominated; Rio continued the march to 100m yuan

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. A Chinese Fairy Tale(倩女幽魂)73m ($11.22m)New65,9792,076,22273m ($11.22m)
2. Rio(里约大冒险)27m ($4.15m)-3.6%24,135688,95177.6m ($11.90m)
3. The Warring State(战国)24m ($3.69m)-50.0%42,041700,93472m ($11.04m)
4. Sucker Punch(美少女特攻队)18.5m ($2.84m)-14.4%32,852565,57640.1m ($6.15m)
5. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart(单身男女)4.9m ($0.75m)-65.0%11,089147,73897.2m ($14.78m)
6. Armored(激战运钞车)4.5m ($0.69m)-56.3%12,554150,30015m ($2.30m)
7. Mr. & Mrs. Single(隐婚男女)1.25m ($0.19m)-74.0%4,66042,56013.85m ($2.11m)
8. He-Man 2(硬汉2)0.54m ($0.083m)-70.0%2,29718,91423.54m ($3.60m)
9. Red(赤焰战场)0.42m ($0.065m)-83.8%1,63814,53632.52m ($4.97m)
10. The Frightening Night(夜惊魂)0.26m ($0.040m)-1,1698,6987.4m ($1.13m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1537)

China Weekly Box Office (4/11 - 4/17): The Warring State and Sucker Punch opened; Rio steady

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. The Warring State(战国)48m ($7.35m)New52,2241,430,70048m ($7.35m)
2. Rio(里约大冒险)28m ($4.29m)+23.9%28,228722,76750.6m ($7.75m)
3. Sucker Punch(美少女特攻队)21.6m ($3.31m)New21,904658,73721.6m ($3.31m)
4. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart(单身男女)14m ($2.14m)-68.9%22,944422,19592.3m ($14.03m)
5. Armored(激战运钞车)10.3m ($1.58m)New21,838341,51110.5m ($1.61m)
6. Mr. & Mrs. Single(隐婚男女)4.8m ($0.73m)-38.5%13,011155,23912.6m ($1.92m)
7. Battle: Los Angeles(洛杉矶之战)4m ($0.61m)-85.2%8,975121,839235m ($35.84m)
8. Red(赤焰战场)2.6m ($0.40m)-86.3%6,88178,67632.1m ($4.91m)
9. He-Man 2(硬汉2)1.8m ($0.28m)-86.2%6,50957,14223m ($3.52m)
10. The Law Of Attraction(万有引力)0.98m ($0.15m)-57.4%4,45628,9053.28m ($0.50m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1531)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (May 6 - May 8): Thor, Something Borrowed, Jumping the Broom; Happy Mother's Day!

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Thor63.0$15,929 PTA
2. Fast Five33.0-61.7%
3. Something Borrowed10.6$3,650 PTA
4. Rio8.3-43.9%
5. Jumping the Broom8.0$3,931 PTA
6. Water for Elephants6.5-30.4%
7. Madea's Big Happy Family3.9-60.4%
8. Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil2.4-41.6%
9. Soul Surfer2.2-34.7%
10. Prom2.0-57.6%

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Will Fast Five reach $200m domestically?

MovieOpening WeekendOverall GrossMultiplier
The Fast and the Furious$40.1m$144.5m3.60
2 Fast and 2 Furious$50.5m$127.2m2.52
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift$24.0m$62.5m2.60
Fast and Furious$71.0m$155.1m2.18

Fast Five needs a 2.39 multiplier to reach $200m. From first glance, it appears in general, the series is on a downwarding trend in term of overall multiplier, and it will be difficult for Fast Five to get there.  However, there are several good reasons to believe the film will reverse the trend and improve upon the multiplier from the previous film Fast and Furious.

Release date: Fast Five is three weeks closer to May and will see its weekdays benefit more from colleges being over in a couple of weeks, as by then it should still be earning over $15m for the weekend.

IMAX: The holding power of IMAX is well known, and it accounted for 10% of Fast Five's opening frame.  To demonstrate how much it would help stabilizing a film's hold, let's suppose the non-IMAX portion of the gross drops 60% on the second weekend and the IMAX portion drops 25%, the sophomore take would be 83.6*0.9*0.4 + 83.6*0.1*0.75 = $36.4m, or a 56.5% decline overall, a 3.5 points improvement over the non-IMAX drop.  In fact, the Sunday itself, which Universal is projecting a 37.3% drop from Saturday, could go up with actual due to IMAX help (and if it does, the required multiplier will be lowered).

Word-of-mouth and Demographics: it received an A CinemaScore and skewed older comparing to Fast and Furious with 48% over 25 years old.  Both factors could have accounted for the improved Saturday hold.  It dipped only 1.5% from Friday when we exclude the midnight, much better than Fast and Furious's 14% drop.  For a fifth film, that is a very good sign.

Competition: The films in May that could be considered competition include Thor, Priest, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, and The Hangover Part II.  The first three are in 3D, and the last one is rated R, so there is a room for Fast Five on each upcoming weekend.

With all these advantages, I believe Fast Five will get the multiplier needed to pass $200m, and if it appears the film will need a bit extra kick, Universal does have another weapon in late July: Cowboys & Aliens. Through double-featuring and/or other means, look for Fast Five to jump that weekend, strong enough to milk another $1m or so toward the total gross from that point on.