Friday, August 26, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Aug 26 - 28): The Help will be No. 1 again over Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Colombiana, and Out Idiot Brother

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. The Help15.5-22.6%
2. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark11.0$3,986 PTA
3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes10.5-34.9%
4. Colombiana9.0$3,443 PTA
5. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World7.0-39.9%
6. Our Idiot Brother6.0$2,348 PTA
7. The Smurfs5.2-33.4%
8. Fright Night3.8-50.7%
9. Conan the Barbarian3.8-62.1%
10. Final Destination 53.6-53.3%

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

China Weekly Box Office (08/15 - 08/21): Overheard 2 built on the original's success with a gangbuster opening

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. The Smurfs(蓝精灵)82m ($12.83m)-10.9%48,3692,157,327174m ($27.23m)
2. Overheard 2(窃听风云2)79m ($12.36m)New45,9062,330,38379m ($12.36m)
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2(哈利波特7(下))55m ($8.61m)-56.3%48,4541,452,720371.5m ($57.91m)
4. Transformers: Dark of the Moon(变形金刚3)41m ($6.42m)-46.8%33,1991,009,8521.051b ($163.29m)
5. Season of the Witch(女巫季节)13.2m ($2.07m)New15,177426,90813.2m ($2.07m)
6. Yang Shan-zhou(杨善洲)13m ($2.03m)-27.8%6,848408,03558.4m ($9.10m)
7. Treasure Hunt(无价之宝)8.2m ($1.28m)New13,016267,7118.2m ($1.28m)
8. Shen Zhou 11(飞天)7.4m ($1.16m)-19.6%3,839235,06948.8m ($7.60m)
9. Beginning of the Great Revival(建党伟业)7.2m ($1.13m)-22.6%3,259213,967385.33m ($59.63m)
10. Oceans(海洋)6.2m ($0.97m)+210%8,153197,3898.2m ($1.28m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1565)

Hong Kong police films have always been a popular genre in China, but only a few of them received good word-of-mouth, with Infernal Affairs being the most well-known example. Overheard became another one in 2009 and was able to turn a 24m yuan start into a 89m yuan total. Building upon that success, Overheard 2 roared to a 79m yuan 4-day opening. The WOM again appears good, and it should top 200m yuan in the end.

The Smurfs had a solid hold on its sophomore week. 3D family films tend to experience good late legs, so a $40m+ total looks likely. For the big two, Transformers 3 continues to be on track for a $170m finish, while Deathly Hallow Part 2 should gross close to $65m.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

China Weekly Box Office (08/08 - 08/14): The Smurfs entered the frame to battle Harry Potter and Transformers with a strong start

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2(哈利波特7(下))126m ($19.72m)-33.9%82,9893,294,979316.5m ($49.30m)
2. The Smurfs(蓝精灵)92m ($14.40m)New42,7052,336,21192m ($14.40m)
3. Transformers: Dark of the Moon(变形金刚3)77m ($12.05m)-53.9%51,1011,871,6571.01b ($156.87m)
4. Yang Shan-zhou(杨善洲)18m ($2.82m)+5.9%7,705540,05445.4m ($7.07m)
5. Legend Of The Moles-The Frozen Horror (摩尔庄园冰世纪)10.3m ($1.61m)New15,838367,22510.3m ($1.61m)
6. Beginning of the Great Revival(建党伟业)9.3m ($1.46m)+36.8%3,535246,815378.13m ($58.50m)
7. Shen Zhou 11(飞天)9.2m ($1.44m)-16.4%4,217284,60041.4m ($6.44m)
8. L-O-V-E(爱到底)3.6m ($0.56m)-52.0%11,390123,79611.1m ($1.72m)
9. No Limit(无极限之危情速递)3.3m ($0.52m)New7,941112,2063.3m ($0.52m)
10. Seer(赛尔号)2.9m ($0.45m)-77.2%9,531106,65642.6m ($6.61m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1565)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Aug 19 - 21): Fright Night, Spy Kids 4, Conan the Barbarian, and One Day

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. The Help20.6-20.9%
2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes15.5-44.3%
3. Fright Night14.0$4,496 PTA
4. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World11.0$3,338 PTA
5. Conan the Barbarian10.5$3,482 PTA
6. The Smurfs7.9-42.5%
7. Final Destination 56.8-62.3%
8. 30 Minutes or Less5.5-58.7%
9. One Day5.5$3,200 PTA
10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 24.0-44.8%

Don't really have much time to analyze all the numbers in details as I just got back from a 3-day family vacation to Lake Tahoe. Basically going with my original instinct that all openers will underperform, and The Help will have a Bridemaids type of hold with its A+ CinemaScore. Nothing in the past several days, from the daily figures, the polls, as well as the advance sales, has changed my feeling. By late August, the top 12 will normally see their gross combined drop to $110m or lower. With July and the first couple of weekends in August being as robust as they are, we are due for a fallback where the new openers are not appealing enough to generate much excitement. Fright Night is the only one with upside potential, as it has gathered good reviews and delivered decent numbers at Box Office Mojo poll.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Aug 12 - 14): The Help, Final Destination 5, 30 Minutes or Less, Glee

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes26.2-52.2%
2. The Help21.0$8,363 PTA
3. Final Destination 520.0$6,339 PTA
4. 30 Minutes or Less15.0$5,194 PTA
5. The Smurfs13.0-37.2%
6. Glee The 3D Concert Movie10.0$4,902 PTA
7. Cowboys & Aliens7.0-55.5%
8. Crazy, Stupid, Love.6.9-42.6%
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 26.8-45.4%
10. Captain America: The First Avenger6.2-52.4%
11. The Change-Up5.1-62.3%

The Help was off to an excellent start on Wednesday, grossing $5.5m. Here are the opening-day-to-opening-weekend multipliers for some of the past August Wednesday openers:

Vampire Sucks - 3.04
Pineapple Express - 1.92
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 - 1.86
Tropic Thunder - 3.97
World Trade Center - 4.20
The Princess Diaries 2 - 2.71
Freaky Friday - 3.70

The popularity of the book could mean some frontloadedness, but the appeal to older females and African American demo could in turn offset the effect. Another important factor to note is that the film received an A+ CinemaScore. In most circumstances, CinemaScore isn't necessarily a reliable tool of judging the audience's reaction, but when it reaches A+ (or below B on the opposite end), it definitely means something. The film is a crowd-pleaser, and we could be witnessing a The Blind Side (another A+ CinemaScore recipient) type of run brewing, albeit on a smaller scale since the opening would not be as large. Look for a Wed-to-OW multiplier in the upper half of what those other films listed received. Then it could have an overall multiplier of 6 for a $130m+ total.

Final Destination is one of the very rare franchises to see each of the new films improve upon its predecessor in term of opening, with the last one setting new height of $27.4m thanks to 3D screens. However, the environment is not as friendly this time around. The interest appears lower, as indicated by the Box Office Mojo poll: its 15.3% OW is a few levels below The Final Destination's 21.1% and even a little lower than Final Destination 3's 16.3%. The popularity of 3D has also declined significantly since two years ago. While 3D screens accounted for 70% of The Final Destination's opening gross, they will not touch 50% for FD5. As a result, a start closer to the third one's $19.2m is more likely.

30 Minutes or Less is the second collaboration between director Ruben Fleisher and actor Jesse Eisenberg, after the success of Zombieland. Eisenberg has become more well known after his Oscar-nominated turn in The Social Network, but we are reaching a serious level of comedy fatigue, as it is the 7th R-rated comedy of the summer. Last weekend, The Change-Up suffered and opened to a underwhelming $13.5m. While 30 Minutes or Less has better BOM poll numbers (13.9% OW vs. 9.6%), I would not expect a much stronger start, especially since it has to face Final Destination 5, a direct competition.

Glee is the wild card of the weekend. Unlike other 3D concert movies such as Justin Bieber, Jonas Brothers, or Miley Cyrus, Glee is an ensemble from a popular TV show and doesn't offer one star with a rabid fanbase. The question remains how many regular viewers of the free show will turn up to see the movie. Sill, with 2,040 theaters, it doesn't require a big percentage of them to achieve double-digit.

Unless the word-of-mouth carries The Help to an even more potent weekend, Rise of the Planet of the Apes should have no trouble claiming the pole position again. However, the midweek so far has not indicated a splendid sophomore hold is in play, as its Tuesday and Wednesday holds were not much different from what Captain America and Cowboys & Aliens got. With better WOM and two new R-rated films creating sneak-in business, its Friday should be strong, likely over 70%; then a 3.3 IM will put its weekend around $26m. That would still be plenty good for a $50m+ opener.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

China Weekly Box Office (08/01 - 08/07): Deathly Hallows Part 2 overcame Transformers 3 and set a new opening record for Harry Potter film

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2(哈利波特7(下))190.5m ($29.58m)New67,9074,720,019190.5m ($29.58m)
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon(变形金刚3)167m ($25.94m)-53.9%87,8163,954,553933m ($144.82m)
3. Yang Shan-zhou(杨善洲)17m ($2.64m)+107.3%6,684527,29527.4m ($4.25m)
4. Seer(赛尔号)12.7m ($1.97m)-53.0%28,942488,46139.7m ($6.16m)
5. Shen Zhou 11(飞天)11m ($1.71m)-26.7%3,946312,23332.2m ($5.00m)
6. L-O-V-E(爱到底)7.5m ($1.16m)New9,778238,7017.5m ($1.16m)
7. Beginning of the Great Revival(建党伟业)6.8m ($1.06m)+235.0%2,348193,401368.83m ($57.04m)
8. Mysterious Island(孤岛惊魂)3.1m ($0.48m)-43.6%6,517105,47889.3m ($13.83m)
9. The Wages of Sin(水落石出)2.3m ($0.36m)New4,09175,6572.3m ($0.36m)
10. Xiang Xiao Qiang Yi Yang Huo Zhe(像小强一样活着)2.1m ($0.33m)+75.0%6,28082,2563.3m ($0.51m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1553)

Harry Potter is one of the rare foreign franchises to see every single film of the series released in China. The first 7 films grossed around 600m yuan combined, with the last one setting both the opening weekend high of 81m yuan and the total high of 205.18m. With the way Hollywood films have performed this summer, the expectations were certainly high for its finale, and it did not disappoint. It started out with 48.8m yuan ($7.58m) on Thursday and then grossed another 141.7m yuan ($22m) over the weekend, an improvement of 75% over Part 1. In just 5 days, it will surpass Part I's total. However, it did receive some help that escaped the previous one: Chinese Valentine's Day on Saturday, which propelled the Saturday earning to 65m yuan, accounted for 34% of the first four days' total. This will make the overall multiplier smaller than Part 1's 2.53. 400m yuan is no sure thing yet.

Transformers 3 had an expected hold against Harry Potter, but it is decelerating pretty fast, and with The Smurfs opening this Wednesday, it looks to finish short of 1.1b yuan ($170m). Still a mind-blowing total.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Weekend Box Office Predictions (Aug 5 - 7): Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Change-Up

MoviePredicted Gross (m)Change
1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes34.0$9,320 PTA
2. The Smurfs19.0-46.6%
3. The Change-Up16.05,493 PTA
4. Cowboys & Aliens15.6-57.2%
5. Captain America: The First Avenger12.6-50.7%
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 211.9-45.9%
7. Crazy, Stupid, Love.11.8-38.2%
8. Friends with Benefits4.9-47.2%
9. Horrible Bosses4.2-41.6%
10. Transformers: Dark of the Moon3.2-47.4%

Comparing to what I observed on Tuesday night, the signs for Rise of the Planet of the Apes have generally improved, while the ones for The Change-Up have gotten a bit worse. Apes saw the opening weekend interests at BOM poll strengthen to 35.8%, its Twitter traffic exploded on Thursday to finish with over 14,000 tweets Monday-to-Thursday, and a daily average of +2,100 "Want-to-see" ratings at Flixster. However, as you may have noticed, my prediction actually went down from the initial one I gave. The reason is that even with the improved numbers, it remains mediocre for a film of the sci-fi genre with built-in audience. The # of votes at Flixster could reach 30,000 by Friday (currently at 27,778 as of 10:53pm PST Thursday night), but it is still closer to Super 8 than to Cowboys & Aliens, and it should most likely have a higher votes-to-opening-weekend ratio than the former. The advance sales have not been strong either, as it accounted for only 15% of the sales on Fandango by Thursday afternoon. Overall, I feel a $12-13m Friday is in store for a $33-35m opening frame. It would need to rely on its good word-of-mouth to leg out a $100m+ total.

The reviews for The Change-Up have really gone south (25% with 51 reviews at Rottentomatoes), and the interests look to be dipping as well. The BOM poll currently stands at 9.8% OW and 15.4% Sometime in Theaters. On the Flixster front, it only gained around 900 new votes a day to put its count so far at just above 15,000, so it may not catch Crazy, Stupid, Love, and for a R-rated comedy vs. CSL's PG-13 rating, that is not promising as The Change-Up will definitely end up with a higher ratio. A $6m Friday and an IM a bit worse than Friends with Benefits' will yield a $16m weekend.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

First Looks at This Week's Openers: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Change-Up

Let's take a look at where the numbers stand at the moment for this week's two openers:

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Tracking - Major Theater Chain: 46; ReelSource: mid-to-high 50s
BOM Poll - 34.4% Opening Weekend, 26.1% Sometime in Theaters, 12.7% Never; 1,181 users
Tweets - 1,550 on Monday
Flixster - # of "Want-to-see" Ratings: 23,576

My feeling after looking at these figures? Not promising.

1. Tracking: historically, when what MTC reported is significantly lower than RS', there is a good chance that the final actual will be lower than MTC's number, sometimes by a similar percentage. If that happens, it will put Apes' opening weekend at around $37m.

2. BOM poll: the OW percentage is on par with what Cowboys & Aliens got, and Sometime in Theaters % is lower.

3. Tweets: with its Monday start, it could reach 10,000 tweets total for the first 4 days of the week, but not much higher, and a lower number around 9,000 is also possible. I expect the ratio to be in the 700-1,000 range, so a $15m+ opening day looks unlikely.

4. Flixster: Cowboys & Aliens ended up with around 40,000 want-to-see ratings by its opening Friday, while Super 8 had close to 27,000. From my observation, the number doesn't actually increase dramatically during the week before a film opens, so Apes will most likely finish between the two, but closer to Super 8.

So overall, with the way it stands now, I will go out on a limb and call a sub-$40m opening on Rise of the Planet of the Apes, or more precisely, something close to what Cowboys & Aliens and Super 8 opened to. The good reviews could bring in some late deciders, but them alone won't make a big difference this weekend.

The Change-Up

Tracking - Major Theater Chain: 12; ReelSource: almost mid-teen
BOM Poll - 10.0% Opening Weekend, 15.6% Sometime in Theaters, 37.0% Never; 1,095 users
Tweets - 740 on Monday
Flixster - # of "Want-to-see" Ratings: 13,265

Initial feeling? Mixed but positive.

1. Tracking: so what history says when both tracking firms produce similar numbers? The actual could go anywhere. We have seen films greatly overachieve (e.g. The Smurfs: $20m from both MTC and RS, $35.6m actual) or underachieve, or hit the number they were predicting. As a result, I do not put much weight on tracking when they are close.

2. BOM poll: the OW% is 25% weaker than Bridemaids, 22% weaker than Friends with Benefits, but on par with No Strings Attached.

3. Tweets - Monday was a little weak, but it is rebounding nicely on Tuesday, making 5,000 tweets from Monday to Thursday likely. I do not foresee a ratio higher than 900, so $6m+ looks to be a good bet.

4. Flixster - Crazy, Stupid, Love had around 16,000 votes by Friday, while Friends with Benefits got to 19,000. The number for The Change-Up puts it on pace to join them right in the same neighborhood.

So overall, only the tracking is saying a sub-$15m, while the others are indicating a $17-19m start, and in this case, I am trusting the latter.

China Weekly Box Office (07/25 - 07/31): Transformers 3 had $118.9m after 11 days

MovieWeekly Gross (yuan/dollar)Change# of showingsadmissionsTotal (yuan/dollar)
1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon(变形金刚3)362m ($56.22m)-10.4%145,3418,678,973766m ($118.88m)
2. Seer(赛尔号)27m ($4.19m)New27,218960,17027m ($4.19m)
3. Shen Zhou 11(飞天)15m ($2.33m)+177.8%4,489423,48921.2m ($3.29m)
4. Yang Shan-zhou(杨善洲)8.2m ($1.27m)+272.7%3,544279,67210.4m ($1.61m)
5. Mysterious Island(孤岛惊魂)5.5m ($0.85m)-65.0%11,274188,67986.2m ($13.35m)
6. Wu Xia(武侠)4.3m ($0.67m)-73.1%8,223128,896172.3m ($26.66m)
7. Guo Ming Yi(郭明义)2.5m ($0.39m)+38.9%1,26678,9144.3m ($0.67m)
8. Beginning of the Great Revival(建党伟业)2.03m ($0.32m)-59.4%2,20082,958362.03m ($55.98m)
9. The Seal of Love(秋之白华)2m ($0.31m)New6578,6782.6m ($0.40m)
10. Treasure Inn(财神客栈)1.8m ($0.28m)-67.9%1,92346,427103.4m ($16.00m)
(Source, 1 Chinese Yuan == $0.1553)

This is an excellent hold by Transformers 3, better than both of the first two films' second week holds (-17% and -16.2% respectively, although the second one started on a Wednesday instead of Thursday). 74.6% of the total gross so far came from 3D, while IMAX accounted for 8.9%. The film did start losing some steam later in the week, and with the Harry Potter finale opening on Aug 4th, expect it to experience a heftier decline this week, probably in the 50% range or higher. Still, it should have no trouble clearing 1b yuan in several weeks.