Thursday, June 30, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Jul 1 - 3): Transformers 3, Larry Crowne, Monte Carlo

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon75.0 (3-day) / 90.0 (4-day)$18,700 PTA
2. Cars 231.0-53.1%
3. Larry Crowne14.0 (3-day) / 17.0 (4-day)$5,090 PTA
4. Bad Teacher14.0-55.7%
5. Super 88.5-29.3%
6. Mr. Popper's Penguins7.0-31.0%
7. Green Lantern7.0-61.2%
8. Monte Carlo6.0 (3-day) / 7.0 (4-day)$2,500 PTA
9. Bridesmaids3.5-33.5%
10. Midnight in Paris3.4-18.5%
11. X-Men: First Class3.3-50.6%
12. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides3.1-37.1%

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Transformers 3: Another Shrek Forever After?

Just came back from watching Transformers 3 on XD 3D, and do want to get my opening week predictions on it out before any real numbers trickle in, so not much time to write detailed thoughts. However, I can't highly recommend enough on reading what Shawn wrote on the topic, as I happen to agree with many aspects of his outstanding analysis. My Shrek Forever After reference in the title may surprise some, as the two franchises have number of notable differences such as the genre and the fact that Shrek had an extra film in the middle and thus was not coming off its peak when Shrek 4 rolled around, but they also share some significant similarities, e.g. the mediocre word-of-mouth the previous film received, as well as the one area I would like to highlight: rhetoric from the pre-release chatters. On the week of Shrek 4's release, many refused to acknowledge the weak advance sales and Internet signs were reasons to worry about its potential performance, pointing out that the "same" scenario occurred for the previous two films. The infamous overreactions to Shrek 2's opening day made people believe the franchise was immune from any comparison. I am noticing the same line of defense is being used now with Transformers, as it is argued that Transformers 2 attracted many walk-in business and didn't see screens selling out until late, so it will happen again to 3, and there is nothing to be concerned about. However, the fact remains the advance sales for this one are slow even comparing to the second film, the buzz is not nearly as big due to the previous WOM, and we could easily observe a good percentage of loss in admissions. By all accounts, this one will be better received, so like Shrek Forever After, it could improve the overall multiplier and finish a bit closer to the expected result.

Here is my daily breakdown:

Tues previews - $5m (don't think it has been promoted enough to generate the awareness needed to challenge double digits; being almost exclusively on 3D and IMAX screens also limit the screen counts for the previews)
Wednesday - $40m
Thursday - $20m (-50%)
Friday - $25m (+25%)
Saturday - $26m (+4%)
Sunday - $24m (-8%)
Monday - $15m (-37%, July 4th is not the best holiday for movies, as family and friends will gather for barbeque and see the fireworks)

3-day (7/1 - 7/3) - $75m
4-day - $90m
6-day + Tues - $155m

Friday, June 24, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (June 24 - 26): Cars 2, Bad Teacher

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Cars 258.0$14,095 PTA
2. Bad Teacher24.0$7,871 PTA
3. Green Lantern17.5-67.1%
4. Super 813.5-37.1%
5. Mr. Popper's Penguins11.0-40.4%
6. X-Men: First Class7.0-41.3%
7. The Hangover Part II6.0-40.4%
8. Bridesmaids5.5-22.5%
9. Kung Fu Panda 24.5-50.2%
10. Midnight in Paris4.1-16.1%

Pixar has been as rock solid as it gets both critically and box office wise. Cars 2 already broke the first trend, becoming the worst reviewed Pixar film by far with 39% at Rottentomatoes (5.6 average) and a 58 score at Metacritic, and it is in real danger of becoming a box office disappointment as well. However, the disappointment there will not necessarily be in term of raw gross, but rather relative to many's initial expectations of $80m+ opening arisen from the original's 4.06 multiplier, 15m DVD copies, countless merchandise sales, the good wills obtained from the later Pixar hits, and the additional 3D surcharge. Unfortunately, 3D has shown to become a burden for many films this year, as families are getting more reluctant to pay the premium, and the surcharge could barely cover the loss in admissions, if at all.

As we are getting closer to the release, more signs are indicating a lower opening. At Box Office Mojo, it is clinging to an opening weekend percentage of 30%, lower than original Car's 34.6% or even Ratatouille's 34.4%, which translated to the slowest start of any Pixar's films since A Bug's Life with $47m. Another comparison would be against Kung Fu Panda 2, another 3D animated sequel that opened to $47.7m from a 31.2% OW interest at BOM poll. Considering the much stronger online fanbase Pixar has tends to inflate such polls, one could see why Cars 2's prospect is taking a serious hit. Look for a $21-22m Friday, but a weaker IM will prevent it from reaching $60m for the weekend.

On the opposite side, the signs for the other wide opener, Bad Teacher, appear rather solid. Both the BOM poll and number of tweets for the week outpaced comparable films such as Get Him to the Creek, I Love You Man, and The Ugly Truth. A $20m+ start should be no problem.

There are several ways to look at Green Lantern's daily figures, and none promises even an average sophomore hold by the genre's standard. By Wednesday, it already lost 81.7% of its opening Friday's audience, worse than The Incredible Hulk's 79.0% and Rise of the Silver Surfer's 79.7%, barely ahead of Hulk's 82.1%. Its Tues-to-Wed drop of 21.4% was the worse of the day by a while, as only 3 other films reported had double-digit declines. As for how it will perform this weekend, Hulk increased the smallest on Friday with 39.6% followed by a 3.31 IM, Silver Surfer 59% and 3.20 IM, The Incredible Hulk 59.1% and 3.32 IM. A similar performance would give Green Lantern a $5.5m Friday for a $17-18m weekend.

Super 8 was assisted by Father's Day last weekend, but it will also face less competition this time around, not to mention that Bad Teacher being rated R could provide some sneak-in business. Good word-of-mouth should also help Mr. Popper's Penguins to have a steady hold.

When WALL-E opened 3 years ago, it caused Kung Fu Panda to increase only 11.2% on Friday. With bigger theater drop (-27.2%) and the continuing loss of 3D screens, looks for Kung Fu Panda 2 to have an even smaller jump. A Thurs-to-Friday decline is certainly not out of question either.

Despite the new competition from Bad Teacher, Bridesmaids should continue its amazing march toward a 6+ multiplier. After all, it handled The Hangover Part II just fine. The film in fact saw a Wed-to-Wed increase in PTA this week, so another weekend of $2,700 PTA could be in store.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

China Weekly Box Office (06/13 - 06/19): Beginning of the Great Revival, the most hyped domestic release of the summer, opened

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Beginning of the Great Revival(建党伟业)110m ($17.00m)New76,7063,053,011110m ($17.00m)
2. Kung Fu Panda 2(功夫熊猫2)59m ($9.12m)-53.5%55,4571,531,671524.5m ($80.94m)
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides(加勒比海盗4)28m ($4.33m)-52.5%28,176759,219462m ($71.21m)
4. Fast Five(速度与激情5)16m ($2.47m)-38.5%15,770489,596249m ($38.36m)
5. Skyline(天际浩劫)8.5m ($1.31m)-64.6%15,474274,54749.2m ($6.28m)
6. Na igre 2(超能游戏者)4.3m ($0.66m)-30.6%12,235149,15010.5m ($1.62m)
7. Love Finally(男得有爱)2.3m ($0.36m)New6,18279,7782.3m ($0.36m)
8. No. 32, B District(B区32号)1.4m ($0.22m)-77.4%4,30947,61914.1m ($2.18m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1545)

On one hand, there really isn't anything wrong with a 5-day 110m yuan start; on the other hand, Beginning of the Great Revival has been hyped so much, with studio stating 800m yuan total being the goal and Chinese government clearing everything out of the way to help, such a number does feel a letdown for its backers and a victory for people tired of government-promoted propaganda. With a start a little worse than what The Founding of a Republic had and little reason to watch it twice unless being forced to, it is unlikely to even reach 400m yuan total.

Facing the onslaught of Great Revival, the top three Hollywood films of the year in China all held up fine, highlighted again by Fast Five's sub-40% drop, simply amazing given it doesn't have the luxury of 3D screens that the other two have. These three look to finish with $90m, $75m, and $40m respectively.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Father's Day Weekend Box Office Predictions (Jun 17 - 19): Green Lantern, Mr. Popper's Penguins

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Green Lantern49.0$12,841 PTA
2. Super 821.5-39.4%
3. Mr. Popper's Penguins16.0$4,793 PTA
4. X-Men: First Class12.5-48.2%
5. Kung Fu Panda 211.5-30.5%
6. The Hangover Part II10.0-43.4%
7. Bridesmaids7.5-25.5%
8. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides7.0-36.0%
9. Midnight in Paris5.0-14.2%
10. Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer3.0-50.6%

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

China Weekly Box Office (6/6 - 6/12): Kung Fu Panda 2 and Pirates 4 both crossed 400m yuan

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Kung Fu Panda 2(功夫熊猫2)127m ($19.60m)-44.8%89,0343,314,196465.5m ($71.82m)
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides(加勒比海盗4)59m ($9.10m)-26.3%44,2441,533,662434m ($66.88m)
3. Fast Five(速度与激情5)26m ($4.01m)-7.7%22,331795,350233m ($35.89m)
4. Skyline(天际浩劫)24m ($3.70m)+43.7%32,566770,71240.7m ($6.28m)
5. Na igre 2(超能游戏者)6.2m ($0.96m)New11,462212,5126.2m ($0.96m)
6. No. 32, B District(B区32号)6.2m ($0.96m)-4.6%13,808209,03512.7m ($1.96m)
7. Case Sentitive(敏感事件)1.5m ($0.23m)New6,64653,6091.5m ($0.23m)
8. Sui Sui Qing Ming(岁岁清明)0.95m ($0.15m)+137.5%58043,2481.35m ($0.21m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1543)

Helped by the Dragon Boat Festival on Monday and the lack of major openers, the holdovers had another outstanding week. Kung Fu Panda 2 could still reach 600m yuan ($92m), although $100m appears unlikely now, while Pirates 4 should finish around $75m. Out of all the films, Fast Five may in fact have had the most surprising run, as it looks to finish with 250m yuan and a 3.68 multiplier from its opening weekend. The week represented a short calm before the next storm; on Wednesday, the biggest Chinese film of the summer, Beginning of The Great Revival, will officially start, with the stated goal of reaching 800m yuan ($123m) final gross.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Jun 10 - 12): Super 8, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer, Midnight in Paris

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Super 825.0$7,400 PTA
2. X-Men: First Class23.0-58.3%
3. Kung Fu Panda 216.0-33.0%
4. The Hangover Part II15.0-52.2%
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides11.5-35.9%
6. Bridesmaids9.5-21.1%
7. Midnight in Paris6.5+134.7%
8. Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer3.3$1,300 PTA
9. Thor2.5-41.2%
10. Fast Five3.4-43.1%

After watching Super 8 with friends on Thursday night in a half-empty IMAX theater - Metreon in San Francisco, a place where such a film should have been very popular, I am more than convinced of a sub-$30m opening, and in the mean time, I could also understand why Paramount has had great trouble selling the film to the general audience. It is simply not an easy movie to sell, and keeping the plot rather secretive may have been the best approach anyway since there really isn't much in the film to make people excited. It does not feel like a big summer movie, nor did it purposely try to be one. The story could feel slow for viewers who were expecting a lot of actions going in (there aren't many), and some parts could be too scary for the younger audience. The expectations after the initial teaser were just unrealistic in retrospect. I also no longer feel confident about its long term legs, as a CinemaScore of B- would not surprise me. It is not a film where friends will tell each other that they have to see it, and crossing over to attract the female audience could be proven to be difficult.

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer has not seen much promotion from Relativity, and it is reflected on both the online activities and advance sales. The Box Office Mojo poll of 1.5% Opening Weekend interest is one of the worst ever even for a genre that is known to have weak figures there, and historically, once the OW% dips below 2%, a sub-$2K PTA becomes likely.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

China Weekly Box Office (5/30 - 6/5): Kung Fu Panda 2 took advantage of International Children's Day

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Kung Fu Panda 2(功夫熊猫2)230m ($35.51m)+112.0%104,2856,133,843338.5m ($52.22m)
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides(加勒比海盗4)80m ($12.35m)-45.2%49,6002,105,263375m ($57.78m)
3. Fast Five(速度与激情5)28m ($4.32m)-34.9%23,264865,265207m ($31.88m)
4. Skyline(天际浩劫)16.7m ($2.58m)New15,795526,81316.7m ($2.58m)
5. No. 32, B District(B区32号)6.5m ($1.00m)New9,954219,6686.5m ($1.00m)
6. Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends - The Movie(宇宙英雄之超银河传说)4.4m ($0.68m)+120.0%6,671159,76728.2m ($4.35m)
7. Life is a Miracle(最爱)2m ($0.31m)-67.7%7,66971,45458m ($6.49m)
8. A Beautiful Life(不再让你孤单)0.87m ($0.13m)-74.4%4,01631,48718.57m ($2.90m)
9. Xi Bai Po(西柏坡)0.41m ($0.063m)New69530,8500.55m ($0.085m)
10. Sui Sui Qing Ming(岁岁清明)0.4m ($0.062m)New39119,6170.4m ($0.062m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1544)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Jun 3 - 5): X-Men: First Class

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. X-Men: First Class61.0$16,754 PTA
2. The Hangover Part II34.0-60.6%
3. Kung Fu Panda 225.0-47.5%
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides20.0-49.8%
5. Bridesmaids12.0-27.5%
6. Thor5.2-45.5%
7. Fast Five3.4-47.0%
8. Midnight in Paris2.4+24.4%
9. Jumping the Broom0.9-50.6%
10. Something Borrowed0.8-57.0%

We are seeing mixed signs for X-Men: First Class. On the positive side, the Box Office Mojo poll is excellent with 57.6% Opening Weekend, on par with Wolverine's 57.4%. However, BOM poll has become more inflated for films targeting younger males since 2 years ago. The movie is also receiving some of the better reviews of the year for a wide release with 86% at Rottentomatoes, and that could help attract back some of the more reluctant fans. On the other hand, an average of 7.4 there and a 66 from Metacritic indicate most reviews are just positive instead of outright raves. In addition, the stigma from poor word-of-mouth received by the previous two entries of the series (2.28 multiplier for The Last Stand and 2.11 for Wolverine) remains strong. As Batman Begins demonstrated, the initial reboot could see more subdued opening but better legs after the WOM spread, and the second film after the reboot is the one to truly take advantage and bring back all the fans and then some. On the Twitter front, it showed good result on Wednesday, but a 40,000 tweets still only point to a $25m Friday start, as its ratio will certainly be bigger than what Thor (1,184) had and closer to Iron Man 2's level (1,858). Given this is in June and the consistent level of frontloadedness for X-Men films, the internal multiplier should not be higher than 2.5.

As expected, The Hangover Part II has seen steady declines each day since its opening, and it is looking at a sizable sophomore drop. If it follows Knocked Up's equivalent Wednesday-to-weekend multiplier, it will earn $34m this frame; if it follows The Hangover's trajectory, $31m; Get Him to the Greek, $28m. The Hangover Part II is released a week earlier than those three films, so it could enjoy a bigger Friday increase as not all students are off from school yet, but on the other hand, outside Get Him to the Greek, which had to deal with combined $81m from The Karate Kid and The A-Team, the other two did not face as severe a competition as The Hangover Part II will from X-Men: First Class. A 60% loss in attendance feels reasonable.

More surprisingly, Kung Fu Panda 2 has not enjoyed good daily holds either. After being down 6% from Madagascar on Friday, it was an alarming 21% worse on Wednesday. Friday increases for animated films in early June have been steady in the past: Up - +111.9%, Shrek the Third - +111.3%, Over the Hedge - +107.2%, and Madagascar - +122.2%, so the likelihood of having a much stronger jump for Panda 2, something it would need to avoid a 45% drop from last weekend, is small. It is shaping up to be quite a disappointing run domestically for the film, although internationally it is a totally opposite story and should be more than good enough to see the third installment green-lighted.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

China Weekly Box Office (5/23 - 5/29): Kung Fu Panda 2 scored the biggest opening day ever

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides(加勒比海盗4)146m ($22.48m)-2.0%81,1223,780,424295m ($45.43m)
2. Kung Fu Panda 2(功夫熊猫2)108.5m ($16.71m)New32,2962,844,036108.5m ($16.71m)
3. Fast Five(速度与激情5)43m ($6.62m)-36.8%36,9631,352,201179m ($27.56m)
4. Life is a Miracle(最爱)6.2m ($0.95m)-60.8%18,196204,68856m ($6.18m)
5. A Beautiful Life(不再让你孤单)3.4m ($0.52m)-55.8%10,664110,35317.7m ($2.73m)
6. Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends - The Movie(宇宙英雄之超银河传说)2m ($0.31m)-73.7%5,74870,92123.8m ($3.67m)
7. Thor(雷神)2m ($0.31m)-88.2%4,22759,34798m ($15.09m)
8. Rio(里约大冒险)0.32m ($0.049m)-78.7%5209,373138.82m ($21.32m)
9. Where Are You From?(你是哪里人)0.3m ($0.046m)New1,61311,3550.3m ($0.046m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1540)

Given the popularity the first Kung Fu Panda enjoyed in China (38m yuan opening week, 186m total), the expectations were high for the sequel. 300m yuan total felt certain, and Internet chatters were debating if 400m is possible. The gigantic opening just moved the bar higher. Panda 2 set the biggest opening day ever with 54m yuan ($8.3m), although it's not the biggest single day gross ever since most films don't open on the most lucrative day of the week, Saturday. Then it barely dropped on Sunday. 3D screens accounted for 72% of the gross, and IMAX accounted for 4.6%. With China celebrating International Children's Day on June 1st, expect good dailies this week where a 250m yuan ($38.5m) second week is quite possible, and the target for the total became 600m yuan, with $100m (650m yuan) in sight as well.

Since Panda 2 opened on Saturday, Pirates 4 had some breathing room for most of the week and took advantage. It should start decelerating more from this point on, but 400m yuan looks certain. Fast Five continued to hold well and should break 200m within a week or two. Thor, on the other hand, is crashing toward the finish line and may in fact miss 100m yuan.