PRIEST, a western-fused post-apocalyptic thriller, is set in an alternate world -- one ravaged by centuries of war between man and vampires. The story revolves around a legendary Warrior Priest from the last Vampire War who now lives in obscurity among the other downtrodden human inhabitants in walled-in dystopian cities ruled by the Church. When his niece is abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, Priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out on an obsessive quest to find her before they turn her into one of them. He is joined on his crusade by his niece's boyfriend, a trigger-fingered young wasteland sheriff, and a former Warrior Priestess who possesses otherworldly fighting skills.
||May 13th, 2011 (Wide) by Sony Pictures|
||August 16th, 2011 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment|
||PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, disturbing images and brief strong language.|
(Rating bulletin 2164, 3/23/2011)
||Government Corruption, Rescue, Independent/Other Comics, Dystopia, Returning Soldiers, War, Kidnap, Revenge, Vampire, Religious, 3-D|
|Source:||Based on Comic/Graphic Novel|
|Production Method:||Live Action|
||Screen Gems, Michael De Luca, Stars Road Entertainment, TokyoPop|
While Rio fell to third place on the DVD sales chart this week, it remained in first place on the Blu-ray sales chart with 70,000 units sold and $1.40 million in sales. Its totals reached 1.58 million units sold and $34.63 million in total sales.
As bad as it was on the DVD sales chart this week, it was worse on the Blu-ray sales chart. The best new release was a catalog title for a direct-to-DVD sequel, which is a terrible sign. As for the only bit of bright news on the chart, Rio returned to first place with 69,000 units / $1.48 million for the week and 1.51 million units / $33.23 million after four.
Despite only managing fourth place on the DVD sales chart this week, Priest opened on top of the Blu-ray sales chart with 187,000 units / $4.24 million. Its opening Blu-ray ratio was 49% and this is great news for upcoming summer blockbusters, as it suggests they could break 50%.
There were six new releases to chart this week, but none were able to push Rio out of top spot. The film sold an additional 361,000 units lifting its running tally to 2.58 million units / $38.67 million after three weeks of release.
It's a deceptively busy week, as there are several significant releases hitting the home market on Tuesday. However, most of these are wide releases that flopped, to one degree or another. In fact, one of the best selling releases of the week is Jane Eyre, an early success story in limited release. When a limited release could conceivably lead the way in sales... well, that's a sure sign of weakness in the overall market. As for the best release of the week, that would have to go to The Big Lebowski Limited Edition Blu-ray Digibook. The latest season of Dexter would come close, but while the show is great, the releases are not Pick of the Week material.
We had a reason to celebrate this weekend as On Stranger Tides had the best opening of any film so far in 2011, even if it was a little weaker than expected. This helped the overall box office grow nearly 20% from last weekend to $167 million, which is 12% higher than the same weekend last year. Year-to-date, 2011 is still behind 2010 by $3.65 billion to $4.13 billion, but the gap is down to 11.6% and the box office is moving in the right direction.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but so far 2011 has been a terrible year at the box office. Granted, the past month or so have been better, but if we were to extrapolate the total box office based on how we've done so far, we'd have the worst year in a decade in terms of dollars, and way longer than that in terms of tickets sold. This really should change this weekend with the release of On Stranger Tides, which should earn more than Shrek Forever After, last year's number one film, with relative ease. In fact, it might earn more than the top five combined did last year.
Fast Five remained in top spot on the international chart with $58.34 million on 8,819 screens in 61 markets for totals of $272.24 million internationally and $441.93 million worldwide. The film's only major market opening was in China, where it grabbed $9.1 million, which was easily enough for first place. It remained in first place in France ($4.97 million on 500 screens) and in Mexico ($4.77 million on 1,003) while it now has $15.17 million and $17.22 million in those two markets respectively. Its biggest market so far has been Russia, where it has earned $27.39 million after three weeks of release, including $2.53 million on 752 screens this past weekend. At this point, $600 million worldwide is becoming very likely, even with few additional markets left to open in. In fact, its next major market is Japan, but it doesn't open there till October.
A stronger than expected hold by Thor and a better than expected debut by Bridesmaids helped 2011 earn a surprise win in the year-over-year comparison. Granted, with an overall haul of $140 million, it was 16% lower than last weekend, but it topped the same weekend last year... By less than $1 million. Hey, a win is a win and I'll take it. Year-to-date, 2011 is still behind 2010 by $500 million at $3.44 billion to $3.94 billion, but we could see that gap close next weekend.
A bigger-than-expected opening for Bridesmaids gave the market a welcome shot in the arm this weekend, according to studio estimates. While the comedy didn't top the weekend, it did top most predictions (although C.S. just about nailed it in his Friday column) with an estimated debut of $24.4 million, continuing an excellent run for Universal after a long stretch of under-performance. Thor remained top of the chart though, and will drop a respectable 47% according to Paramount's figures. That puts it on track for about $170 million in total, which isn't bad for the first outing in a franchise, although hardly record-breaking.
With no blockbuster releases this weekend, Thor seems set to repeat at the box office champion. This will likely result in a pretty big decline from last weekend's total box office, and there's almost no chance the box office will keep pace with last year. Hopefully next weekend things will turn around.
Thor has to deal with direct competition and the Fanboy Effect this weekend. On the positive side, it also has strong reviews and neither of the new films are expected to be monster hits. The combination of factors makes a 50% drop-off likely, while a fall as much as 60% would not be a large surprise.
Fast Five expanded worldwide and stormed into first place with $85.77 million on 7,363 screens in 58 markets for a total of $184.54 million internationally and $324.32 million worldwide. This is the biggest international weekend for an Universal film ever, just edging out King Kong's debut. It opened in 44 markets, finishing in first place in all of them. Highlights include France with $9.13 million on 500 screens, Mexico with $6.99 million on 1,743, Brazil with $4.85 million on 517, and Italy with $4.78 million on 533 screens over the weekend and $7.04 million in total. Meanwhile, the film held onto first place in Russia with $5.15 million on 1,100 screens over the weekend for a massive total of $22.64 million after two and it also repeated on top in Germany with $4.61 million on 645 screens over the weekend for a total of $16.72 million, also after two. Finally, the film completed the hattrick in Australia, leading the way for the third weekend in a row, with $1.97 million on 349 screens over the weekend lifting its total to $23.11 million. Fast Five doesn't have many more markets left to open in, but it is already an overwhelming success, so the studio should be ecstatic, so much so that extending the franchise is practically guaranteed at this point.
Summer is officially upon us and after a depressing start to the year, we finally have some reason to be optimistic. April produced a few films that were stronger than expected and the last three weekends have produced wins in the year-over-year comparison. Granted, 2011 is a long way from matching 2010's pace, but if we can earn a few more wins this month, we could be in good shape going forward. In comparison with last May, the month starts off slowly this year, but comes on really strong by the end and looks much healthier overall. In fact, last May there were only three films to make more than $100 million at the box office. (Granted, two others came very close.) This year there are four films that might open with more than $100 million. Right now 2010 has about a $500 million lead on 2011, but hopefully by the end of the month that lead will be down to $300 million.
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