March 28, 2010

Jack-in-the-Box Office for the weekend of March 26-28

With controversies about ticket prices and theater counts dominating the conversation within the industry and echoed throughout theaters across the country this weekend, once again analysts look to the Box Office to find….nothing terribly shocking.

“How to Train Your Dragon” opened with $43 million this weekend, after Paramount went to war against the rest of the world to wrestle 3-D and Imax screens from “Alice in Wonderland” and “Avatar”, and then went on the defensive to lower expectations of the film’s potential Box Office as to make this number as appear as impressive as possible.

Although the film should ultimately turn a profit on its $165 million budget after all is said and done, with “How to Train Your Dragon” out this week and “Clash of the Titans” out next week, the industry will likely continue to feel the crunch of too many 3-D and Imax movies released too quickly at ticket prices that are becoming less affordable. While the premium ticket prices for Imax and 3-D showings used to drive up the Box Office numbers for films showing in those mediums, it appears the higher ticket prices (ranging generally from two to five dollars) across the country this weekend may have slayed “How to Train Your Dragon”, though good word-of-mouth keeps its hopes for the coming weeks alive, with the impact that loosing 3-D and Imax screens to “Clash of the Titans” could have remains the question pivotal to its success.

“Alice in Wonderland” played well in it fourth weekend, despite its loss of 3-D and Imax screens, and likely stole some business from “How to Train Your Dragon”. Tim Burton’s film made another $17 million to bring its domestic total to $293 million, and its worldwide total to $656 million. As the film has a $200 million budget, it may be the most profitable film of the year so far.

In third place was the opening weekend of the ribald sci-fi comedy “Hot Tub Time Machine” starring John Cusack. Though the film opened with $13 million, much like other films with lukewarm openings in recent weeks, the film could easily turn a profit on its $36 million budget in the coming weeks, especially when foreign grosses come in.

An example of this is “The Bounty Hunter” which opened below expectations last weekend but has now turned a profit in the worldwide market. The film came in fourth place this weekend with $12 million, bringing its domestic total to $38 million. Though so far it had made little abroad ($7 million) that brings the film’s total to $46 million worldwide, ahead of its $40 million dollar budget.

Rounding out the top five is “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” which took in another $10 million. While others have been quick to point to its drop in the Box Office from last weekend (due to losing screens and splitting the audience with “How to Train Your Dragon), the film had a $15 million budget and low expectations due to not having any name actors. The film’s $35 million domestic total is already more than impressive to those who released it at Fox and to those who follow the Box Office.

In other opening weekend news, Atom Egoyan’s sexually-charged thriller “Chloe” took in an impressive-but-not-outstanding $1 million this weekend in limited release. Its worldwide total is now over $3 million, but what makes this most impressive is that the film’s entire $15 million budget was made back by selling the foreign distribution rights, so any money the film makes from now on is pure profit.

Also opening strongly, with $33,100 on five screens is “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” the documentary about the transitional period in the Disney organization that lead to films such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King”. In addition to strong word of mouth, the success of this film in limited release suggests bigger success in the weeks to come.

The film that won the per-theater-average race this weekend was “Lbs.” which made $10,900 on one screen.

What did you see this weekend? How do you feel about the state of Imax and 3-D technology at the movies? Have the higher ticket prices affected your filmgoing?

We at the Awards Circuit always love to hear from you, and as always, we look forward to seeing you at the movies.

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