North American box office: ‘Wild Things’ goes wild

Where does the week go?

1. Where the Wild Things Are: $32.7 million (NEW)
2. Law Abiding Citizen: $21 million (NEW)
3. Paranormal Activity: $19.6 million (NEW in wide release; up 148% over last week’s limited release)
4. Couples Retreat: $17.2 million (2nd week; drops 50%)
5. The Stepfather: $11.6 million (NEW)

actual numbers, not estimates
The numbers look encouraging — the overall box office was up a whopping 38 percent over the same weekend last year, setting a new record for the time of year — but you barely need to scratch the surface to see that things may not be as hunky-dory as they seem. While the actual weekend numbers for Wild Things was up a little over the Sunday estimates for the three-day opening, Paranormal Activity, Couples Retreat, and The Stepfather were all significantly overestimated, which means that word of mouth was worst on these flicks than the studios anticipated. The estimates for Activity and Retreat were off by more than half a million each, and Stepfather was off by close to a million. That’s not good, and doesn’t bode well for these films next weekend.

Still, things aren’t so bad, particularly for Activity, which earned its millions from only 760 locations — that’s almost as small as a release can be and still be called “wide” — and enjoyed the best per-screen average of the weekend, by far: $25,813. (The Chilean film The Maid was second, earning $17,036 on one screen in New York, followed by An Education — $12,882 on each of 19 screens — A Serious Man — $10,275 on each of 82 screens — and then Wild Things, earning $8,754 at each of its 3,735 locations.)

Milestones this weekend: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs passed $100 million, and so has now earned back its production budget; Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself passed $50 million (there’s no reported number on its budget yet). Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince finally squeaked past $300 million in North America, though actually that happened a couple weeks ago and I failed to notice; worldwide, it’s getting close to a cool billion in box-office takings. With a reported budget of $250 million — which really is outrageous; no movie should cost so much — and who knows what kind of marketing costs, it needed to be that kind of blockbuster just to break even. The Hangover has now passed $275 million, but it cost only $35 million to make. That is some serious ROI.

I’m sorta delighted to see that the reprehensible I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, which had initially been slated for a release that would start limited and go wide, never got wider than 266 theaters, and this past weekend declined to only 132, at which it earned a collective $56,000 — the film is clocking in at only a cumulative $1.3 million, and isn’t likely to go much higher than that. It’ll probably do better on DVD, when its intended audience can enjoy beer and pot as movie concessions, which would have been tougher to do at the multiplex.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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Thu, Oct 22, 2009 5:02pm

Well, I’m not going to help the numbers much ’cause I’m off to see Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story tonight. I think I’ll go and see An Education this weekend, or Bright Star or both. One of the reviews of Amelia I read said that Eccleston is sexy and intense as Noonan…what a surprise…and I just might have to see it after all. I was bored by the trailer and wasn’t planning on seeing it. Now, though…

What are you going to see?

Fri, Oct 23, 2009 11:53am

oooh! is Eddie Izzard a live show? (i *love* the Izzard); he’s supposed to be appearing here (NYC) in January.

An Education is high on my list too.