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Box Office Recap: ‘The Avengers’ Made a Good Deal of Money! Part Duh


The Avengers‘” domestic gross dropped 50 percent this weekend. Oh well, what are you gonna do? You can’t win ‘em all and other cliches. Hold on a moment, I’m receiving word from staff mathematicians that a 50 percent drop from $207 million is still over $100 million. I hereby retract my first two sentences. Oh, and for those of you that didn’t get it, the title is a pun. I like puns.

Yes, “The Avengers” made a lot more money this weekend. Surprise! Last week, the film broke a whole bunch of records, it had the largest opening weekend in history, set new highs for Saturday ($69.7 million) and Sunday ($50.1 million), and had the highest ever per-theater average for a nationwide release with $46,057. It also reached $100 million, $150 million, and $200 million faster than any other movie. That trend continued this weekend, as the film had the best second weekend ever, trouncing “Avatar’s” $75.6 million, setting new highs for eight, nine, and ten-day grosses, and becoming the fastest film to reach $300 and $350 million.

Last week, the top weekend market share for a single film was just about the only record “The Avengers” didn’t break. The film’s $207 million was 83.1 percent of the total weekend gross, just behind “Spider-Man 3′s” 83.3. percent. However in its second week “The Avengers” took 64 percent of the total gross, the nineteenth highest figure of all time. “Spider-Man 3″ only took a measly 60.4 percent in its second week. That’s not even in the top 20. Take that Parker!

Anyway, with “The Avengers” raking in so much cash, there wasn’t a whole lot of room left for other movies, even new ones, and especially bad ones. I’m talking to you, my imagined personification of Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows.” You suck. I’m looking down at you just like you’re looking down at that Troll doll, and so is everyone involved in the making of “The Avengers.”

“Dark Shadows” looks especially bad when compared to the opening weekends of other recent Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaborations. The film’s $28.8 million is less than a quarter of “Alice in Wonderland’s” $116.1 million and barely half of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s” $56.2 million. Furthermore, my staff mathematicians are joking about how well those numbers work together, 29 goes into 116 four times and 28 goes into 56 twice. I told those nerds to shut up.

In other news, “Think Like a Man” continues to plow forward, bringing in $6.3 million this weekend and raising its total gross to a relatively impressive $89.1 million. Likewise “The Hunger Games” made $4.4 million, bringing its total to $386.9 million. Of course, the film will inevitably yield 2012′s top spot to “The Avengers” by next weekend.

Here are the results for this week’s top 10 at the box office:

Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume

1. The Avengers, 2/4,349, Disney/Marvel Studios, $103.2 million, $373.2
2. Dark Shadows, 1/3,755, Warner Bros., $28.8.
3. Think Like a Man, 4/2,052, Sony, $6.3 million, $81.9 million.
4. The Hunger Games, 8/2,531, Lionsgate, $4.4 million, $386.9 million.
5. The Lucky One, 4/2,839, Warner Bros., $4.1 million, $53.7 million.
6. The Pirates! Band of Misfits, 3/3,079, Sony/Aardman, $3.2 million, $23.1 million.
7. The Five-Year Engagement, Universal, 3/2,569, $3.1 million, $24.4 million.
8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 2/178, Fox Searchlight, $2.7 million, $3.7 million.
9. Chimpanzee, 4/1,559, Disney, $1.6 million, $25.6 million.
10. Girl in Progress, 1/327, $1.4 million.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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Box Office Preview: ‘Dark Shadows’ and, well, that’s it

There’s only one movie seeing a wide release this week. I happen to think that’s because studios knew how successful “The Avengers” was going to be and were afraid to challenge it, even in its second week. Probably a smart move, the superhero flick is still going strong and continues to smash records. Yes, that’s a pun.


Dark Shadows

Here we have another Tim Burton film in which Johnny Depp plays a suspiciously pale, but ultimately endearing character. You know, sort of like “Edward Scissorhands,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Alice in Wonderland,” I’m sure you get the picture. Oh, Helena Bonham Carter’s in it too. Surprise!

In “Dark Shadows,” Depp plays Barnabas Collins, a wealthy playboy in 18th century Maine. Barnabas makes the mistake of breaking the heart of one Angelique Bouchard, played by Eva Green. It turns out Angelique is a witch, and she seeks revenge by turning Barnabas into a vampire and burying him alive.

Barnabas is inadvertently released in 1972 by a group of workmen who quickly become his first victims. He quickly returns to his old home, the now dilapidated Collinwood Manor, where some distant relatives reside. The family’s fishing business has been bankrupted by competition from the equally immortal Angelique.

The time period was likely chosen because the soap opera the film is based upon ran from 1966-1971. As such, I imagine the film will combine Burton’s signature macabre humor with a whole lot of “look, it’s the ’70s! Also, I’m a vampire!” jokes. I also imagine such a routine will get tiresome quickly. Critics who have actually seen the movie (mostly) agree, “Dark Shadows” is currently sitting at a 44 rating on the Tomatometer, although no concensus has been formed yet.

If you’re going to see one and only one film this weekend, I reccommend “The Avengers.” Yes, even if you’ve already seen it. That said, if you’re a big fan of Burton’s work, especially his collaborations with Depp, you’ll likely enjoy “Dark Shadows” as well.

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Directors Guild and Visual Effects Society Nominations

Historically, the Directors Guild nominations, and even the actual awards, have tended to correlate with the Oscars both for Best Picture and Best Director to some degree. Now that the Oscars have ten nominations, that might dilute things a bit. Even so, I think it’s fair to say that the this year’s five nominees have excellent shots at getting a Best Director nomination and are close to a lock for Best Picture nominations.

cecil_b_demille

The nominees are: Darren Aronofsky for “Black Swan,” David Fincher for “The Social Network,” Tom Hooper for “The King’s Speech,” Christopher Nolan for “Inception,” and David O. Russell for “The Fighter.” Among the directors excluded who made films a lot of people are pulling for are two women: Lisa Cholodenko of “The Kids Are All Right” and Debra Ganik of “Winter’s Bone.” As Anne Thompson points out, the Guild has been slightly more open to nominating women than the Academy in the past. On the other hand, after last year’s big win for Kathryn Bigelow, it’s possible some of the pressure is off, or not.

Though it’s not as earth shaking, we movie fans like our movie special effects and the Visual Effects Society has made their nominations. No big surprises here either as the nominees for the movie with best effects are “Inception,” “Iron Man 2 ,” “Tron: Legacy,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.” I think it’s fair to say that visually stunning “Inception” should have the lead here, but we’ll see. In animation the nominees are: “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Toy Story 3,” “Tangled,” “Shrek Forever After,” and “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.”

The complete lists of award nominations, including a huge list from the VSA, are after the jump.

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2010 Year End Movie Review: Jason Zingale

Every year has its share of good movies and bad movies, but in 2010, the good ones were especially good and the bad ones sucked more than they usually do. And then there were the ones that fell somewhere in between – films that a lot of us were looking forward to seeing that didn’t pan out quite like we’d hoped. But there was nothing more destructive to cinemas this year than the onslaught of 3D, with studios hell-bent on trying to convince moviegoers that it was the future of movies. Sorry to say, but it was a gimmick in the 50s, a gimmick in the 80s, and it’s a gimmick today, not to mention a giant scam. Nevertheless, the good far outweighed the bad, with new films from innovative directors like Christopher Nolan, Edgar Wright and Danny Boyle, and what’s shaping up to be one of the most exciting Best Picture races in years. That’s not to say that all of my choices are necessarily award-worthy, but in a perfect world, they would be.

Best Movies of 2010

1. “The Social Network

It might sound a bit contrived to say that a movie can define an entire generation, but in the case of “The Social Network,” I honestly believe it. There have been plenty of films made about corporate empires built on ruined friendships, broken promises and massive egos, but never has one hit so close to home as the story of Mark Zuckerberg and the rise of Facebook. It’s not just a product of our time, but something that directly affects the everyday lives of people all around the world. Interesting stuff no matter how you spin it, but David Fincher takes what could have been a boring courtroom drama and turns it into a wildly entertaining character study filled with some of the zippiest and cleverest dialogue that Aaron Sorkin has ever written. There’s not a weak link in the cast – from major players like Andrew Garfield and Armie Hammer, to Rooney Mara’s brief (but important) appearance as one of Zuckerberg’s pre-Facebook girlfriends – but it’s Jesse Eisenberg’s star-making performance as the socially inept whiz-kid that makes “The Social Network” the year’s most enthralling film.

the_social_network

2. “Inception

It’s hard not to be envious of a filmmaker like Christopher Nolan, because the guy is only 40 years old, hasn’t made a single bad movie yet, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Though it might have seemed virtually impossible to outdo “The Dark Knight,” Nolan’s seventh feature is better in just about every way – from its incredibly complex and original mind trip of a story, to the stunning visual effects and outstanding ensemble cast. “Inception” is the kind of film that only gets better with each new viewing, and though everyone may have their own theory about the ending (you could ask just about anyone whether or not it fell and they would immediately know what you were talking about), the real delight is watching the journey that leads us there. There are so many memorable moments that it’s hard to keep track, but the last 40 minutes are particularly spellbinding as Nolan manages to juggle four different dream states without tripping once. Can we just give the man his Oscar already?

inception

3. “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Edgar Wright wasn’t exactly a household name prior to directing “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” but that will hopefully all change with this wildly ambitious action-comedy that pretty much rewrites the rules on comic book movies. It’s been said that mimicry is the highest form of flattery, and if that’s the case, then Bryan Lee O’Malley must be blushing, because the film adaptation of his six-volume comic series is not only incredibly faithful to the story, but its quirky humor and breakneck pacing as well. The ensemble cast is terrific (from a pitch-perfect Michael Cera in the title role, to bubbly newcomer Ellen Wong), the fight sequences are playfully unique, and you’d need a Rolodex just to keep track of all the clever pop culture references that are crammed into the script. It’s like dying and going to geek heaven.

scott_pilgrim

4. “127 Hours

Aron Ralston’s incredible story of survival may not exactly sound like the feel-good movie of the year, but despite all the attention that was placed on the dreaded amputation scene, there’s a really positive message coursing throughout the film. It’s not necessarily something you’ll notice the first time you watch it, either. In fact, while I was engrossed by Ralston’s perseverance during my first viewing (his know-it-all selfishness may have gotten him into the mess, but it’s also what got him out of it), it wasn’t until I saw it a second time that I truly appreciated how much the film is bursting with life. There aren’t too many actors that could have played Ralston without coming off as smug, but James Franco brings an Everyman quality to the role that wins you over immediately. And if he’s the heart and soul of the movie, then Danny Boyle is the brain, interweaving memories/daydreams/hallucinations of Ralston’s family and lost love as he tries to free himself from the boulder. This could have been a really dull film, but under Boyle’s direction, it’s an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experience.

127_hours

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The Golden Globes nominations — gee whiz

Okay, so we know the Golden Globes are strange.

Nikki Finke will give you a vision of low-rent corruption that, for all I know, is entirely true. It sure seems to match the often bizarre-to-inexplicable nominations and awards at times. One thing is sure, few of us will ever let the Globes live down that infamous 1982 award to Pia Zadora when she won “New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture” award for a movie called “Butterfly.” People make fun of the fact that the less than superb actress won the award, but it’s a lot more shocking when you consider that her competition was probably two of the more exciting movie performances of the entire 1980s, Howard E. Rollins in “Ragtime” and, more famously, Tim Hutton in “Ordinary People.” I guess they split the pro-talent vote. The category was dead within two years.

Meanwhile back here in 2010, the dramatic “Best Picture” list is mostly in line with the movies that are generally getting a lot of awards and nominations, though I’m sure people will have the usual disagreements. (I know I do). Also, no big surprise, “The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech” did very well in the nominations. “The Fighter” and “Inception” also got a bit of a boost that might Academy voters keep them in mind as Oscar dark horses.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in

This year’s “Comedy or Musical” Best Picture category is, however, a real doozy. It really looks like the foreign press thinks that comedies don’t really have to be good to be nominated; it’s a sort of twisted semi-reverse snobbery. I know reviews and awards are not the same, but the critically drubbed “The Tourist” got a “Fresh” rating of 07% from “Top Critics” and 20% from critics overall at Rotten Tomatoes. Could the reactions of Hollywood Foreign Press members be that different from domestic press?

I know there’s been some quibbling about whether it qualifies as a “Comedy.” That doesn’t really bother me. I’m sure it’s trying to be funny and probably has a happy ending. That makes it a comedy in my book, though not necessarily a good one. Also, I have nothing against contrarians who laud movies others deride, but the Hollywood Foreign Press isn’t some group of freethinking cinephiles in the tradition of Pauline Kael and Manny Farber.

Cher and Stanley Tucci dish about awards in As for the other films in the category, only “The Kids Are All Right” has been generating the kind of overall appreciation that makes it awards material. “RED” is a reasonably well-liked, successful film, but this will probably be it’s only award nomination outside of genre-specific groups. “Alice in Wonderland” did very well but got a “meh” critical reaction overall and will probably get some technical Oscar nominations. “Burlesque” is a movie that people barely liked as a sort of guilty pleasure and pretty clearly is only on the list because the Golden Globes people really want Cher and Christina Aguilera to drop by.

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It’s your barely pre-Memorial Day weekend end of week movie news dump (updated)

And that’s only “pre” on the West coast. Anyhow, thing are going to get a lot less verbose from me over the next few days and I’m in a relatively laconic mood tonight, so enjoy the relative brevity to come.

*  “The Hobbit” remains in suspended animation because of MGM’s fiscal limbo, says Guillermo del Toro. Anne Thompson has some added details on the possible future of MGM, such as it is.

Johnny Depp in * “Alice in Wonderland” just crossed the $1 billion mark. Mike Fleming speculates that this might might make Johnny Depp — say it like Dana Carvey’s impression of Mickey Rooney now — the biggest star in the wooorld. If true, the questionable virtues of playing it artistically safe look ever more questionable.

* Interviews with remarkable men: Michael Caine and an extremely funny George Romero in Vanity Fair plugging his new “Survival of the Dead” which is a very limited release right now. Definitely read the Romero whose zombies, we must repeat, never ate brains and, since everyone else is doing it anyway, is working on his own zombie novel. And, yeah, someone is working on “Night of the Living Dead” musical for Broadway, but Romero’s smart enough to stay off of that particular gravy train.

* I’ve never seen them, and they’re not available on DVD, but the autobiographical dramas by Terrence Davies, “Distant Voices, Still Lives” and “The Long Day Closes” have an incredible reputation among critics and others. Davies is coming back with an adaptation of a play by Terrence Rattigan, “The Deep Blue Sea.”  This will be the first movie adaptation of a play by the English writer since David Mamet’s perfectly swell — and, believe it or not G-rated — 1999 version of “The Winslow Boy.”

* “Lost Boys 3” starring the late Corey Feldman doing a Batman-style raspy voice. I don’t even begin to know what to think. [Update: I obviously made a mistake here last night. Mr. Feldman is still, I'm happy to say, very much with us. See comments.]

* He didn’t make many movies, but RIP Gary Coleman anyway. Be sure and check out Will Harris’s terrific remembrance a couple of posts below this one.

* Action-meister Luc Besson is letting members of the French-speaking public become “producers” of an upcoming movie. The first ten-thousand participants will have their names in the credits. Talk about film-making by committee.

* It’s TV but this is too close to home to ignore…the cast of the upcoming HBO TV show starring Diane Keaton and directed by Bill Condon which is not about Nikki Finke just keeps getting better. Recent additions include Ellen Page and Wes Bentley.

* As part of a lame maneuver to try and do and end-run around critics on behalf of what surely seems to be a lame movie, alleged actor Ashton Kutcher is claiming that he’ll pirate and release — all on his own of course — the first ten minutes of his upcoming and pretty lame looking “Killers.” Spare me. Truly.

* If you live in the movie capital, things tend to get a bit quiet over holiday weekends like Memorial Day. It can be kind of nice. Not like the beautiful short below by Ross Ching, but not completely removed from it either. Strangely enough given the impossibility of what’s being shown, this, by the way, is one of the closer depictions of how L.A. actually looks to a native like me.

Running on Empty from Ross Ching on Vimeo.

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A trailer for a Sunday morning/afternoon: “The Kids Are All Right”

It’s a little sad that what appears to be a really entertaining social comedy with two genuine superstars, a leading man who deserves to be one, and another possible emerging young superstar or two is considered an “indie” flick. Anyhow, “The Kids Are All Right” brings us staid and affluent same-sex parents Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. They find their peace interrupted when Mark Ruffalo turns up as the fun-loving, ne’er do well biological father of their teenage children, played by Mia Wasikowska of ”Alice in Wonderland” and Josh Hutcherson of “The Bridge to Terabithia” and the upcoming “Red Dawn” remake.

Except for the lesbian part and the artificial insemination part, this could easily have been an “A” Paramount production in 1951 with, say, Jean Arthur and Rosalind Russell as the two mommies, Robert Mitchum as the bio-dad, and Liz Taylor and maybe Dean Stockwell as the kids. Oh, well.

A big h/t to Dustin Knowles of Pajiba. And, yeah, if I was going to have two mommies, Ms. Bening and Ms. Moore would work for me, too.

Also, of course, this isn’t the first movie with this title, give or take and “L” and a space.

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Midweek movie news

Getting a bit of an early start and catching up with some news we didn’t discuss yesterday.

* In terms of raw cash, the movies had a record March this year, largely thanks to those inflated, and then extra-inflated, ticket prices for “Alice in Wonderland” in 3-D. We’ll see how long this lasts.

Alice in Wonderland

* RIP Corin Redgrave, of one of the world’s great acting families.

* Reading this Nikki Finke item about what sounds like the increasingly fraught auction of MGM, it really does make it seem like a million years ago when MGM was the absolute epitome, for better and for worse, of Hollywood power.

* I’m breaking a confidence here with this super-secret Twitter leak by Jon Favreau, but it appears that Harrison Ford will be in “Cowboys and Aliens.”

* Universal, which hasn’t exactly been rolling in cash lately, has pulled the plug on “Cartel.” It would have been a remake of the fact-based Italian mafia thriller from 1993, “La Scorta,” set admidst Mexico’s drug wars. Josh Brolin was set to play the lead. Mike Fleming doesn’t specifically mention insurance or the cost of security, but considering the topic and what’s been going in throughout Mexico — apparently including Mexico City where the film was to be shot — it must have been through the roof.

* Master cinephile blogger Dennis Cozzalio checks in and brings word of some cool film fests.

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Easter Bunny brings pagan box office bounty for “Clash of the Titans,” Tyler Perry, Dreamworks Animation, and Miley Cyrus

Liam Neeson looks disappointed at his share of the grosses for Performing completely as expected and discussed previously here, Warner Brothers’ “Clash of the Titans” earned a technically record-breaking estimated $61.4 million over this Easter holiday weekend as recorded by Box Office Mojo. I say “technically” of course because ticket prices have been skyrocketing for sometime now. So, while it says something that audiences are still willing to pay the increasing freight in the face of a not so great, but perhaps gradually improving, economy, I personally get a bit irritated with this constant trumpeting of broken records.

Still, as much as this reminds of me of ultra-geek baseball stats, I can’t ignore that the past Easter weekend record holder was, as per Anne Thompson’s resident box office guru, Anthony D’Alessandro, 2006′s “Scary Movie 4″ at $40.2 million. I’m no math whiz, but I don’t think ticket prices have gone up by quite a third since then. So, it’s definitely a strong performance for the critic-proof, mythological monster-heavy sword & sandals fantasy remake. However, executives who will use the performance to bolster arguments for retrofitting yet more movies to 3-D might want to examine the trends a bit more closely.  D’Allesandro remarks:

In a last-minute post-production business move that paid off, Warner Bros. decided to 3D-ify Titans, stirring debate among critics and fans that retrofitted visual fare just doesn’t cut it.  No matter if you agree with Zeus or Hades on the dimensional debate, Titans played fine with all audiences, earning 52% of its B.O. from 1,800 3D huts.

Well, yes, but it appears to me that all that discussion about the relative quality of 3-D processes filtered out to the general public. 52% isn’t bad, of course, especially considering the brutal competition for screens. However, compare that to the numbers provided last week by the L.A. TimesBen Fritz.  80% of  the grosses for the technologically game-changing “Avatar” made using 3-D cameras, have come from 3-D and 70% for another 3-D film shot with conventional cameras, “Alice in Wonderland,” which got less criticism for its after-the-fact 3-D. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m guessing that Tim Burton‘s visuals are generally pretty stunning however you slice them and, though some have been certainly been critical, it probably helped that he at least knew the film would be presented that way while he was making the film, unlike “Titans” director Louis Leterrier.

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“How to Train Your Dragon” wins the box office race; “Hot Tub Time Machine” is all wet compared to “Alice”

how_to_train_your_dragon_001

Yes, no gigantic surprises as the combination of family appeal, outstanding reviews, good word of mouth, the 3-D inflationary spiral, and a sufficient number of theaters in which to milk it, made for a solid opening for the weekend’s most high profile new release. To be specific, as per Box Office Mojo‘s handy dandy weekend chart, the 3-D animated “How to Train Your Dragon,” netted an estimate of $43.3 million for Dreamworks/Paramount and enjoyed the highest per-screen average of any film released this week on more than one screen, and it was on 4,055 of them. It’s a result not far from what was expected earlier.

Some may find this a slightly below-par opening. True to form in the ever-spinning world of Hollywood PR, some executive for a rival studio complimented the film but told Nikki Finke it tracked badly — and some day I’m going to learn exactly what that means — because it “lacked comedy,” which confuses me deeply. I mean, the trailer made me laugh. I guess he means it lacked a poop-eating joke or something. Anyhow, Ms. Finke is quite correct that, given the good word of mouth and the coming school holidays it should enjoy “good multiples.”

Meanwhile, Anthony D’Alessandro, Anne Thompson’s resident box office guru, has this to add:

While some box office analysts are crying foul that this figure reps a paltry opening weekend, particularly for a 3D film saddled with an estimated $165-million budget, these claims overlook the fact that animation films are a different breed at the box office than run-of-the-mill features.  Toons have longer legs, making anywhere from 30-35% of their total domestic haul in their opening weekend, whereas the average bow reps 50%.

In other words, do not cry for the filmmakers or Dreamworks. They’re going to do fine.

And, though their film is out of the top spot, neither should you shed a tear for Disney or Tim Burton even if “Alice in Wonderland” is out of the #1 spot. They had a terrific three week run at the top spot and this week’s second place estimate of $17.3 million is not too shabby either.

John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Lizzy Caplan, and Clarke Duke suffer past shock in On the other hand, the melancholy clowns of “Hot Tub Time Machine” led by John Cusack, Rob Cordry, the always hilarious Craig Robinson, and Clarke Duke, could perhaps benefit from a bit of sympathy. The comedy from MGM, currently on the auctioneer’s block, earned an estimated $13.65 million.

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