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Winning the Battle but Losing the War

March 14th, 2011

While Battle: Los Angeles easily won the race at the box office this weekend, that was practically the only bit of good news, as it was the only film in the top five to top expectations. Overall the box office pulled in $129 million, which was 3% lower than last weekend and 12% lower than the same weekend last year. On the other hand, this is actually better than average for the year so far. Year-to-date, 2011 is just over 20% behind last year's pace at $1.85 billion to $2.33 billion.

As expected, Battle: Los Angeles earned first place during its opening weekend, but it was a little bit more robust at the box office, taking in $35.57 million. With a target audience that tends to have a short attention span and reviews that suggest repeat viewing won't be likely, it probably won't have the legs needed to reach $100 million at the box office, which is how much it reportedly cost to make. This means it will need strong international and home market sales to break even, while a sequel seems unlikely.

Rango was solid in second place with $22.60 million, which was within a rounding error of Thursday's predictions. Meanwhile, it's running tally hit $68.21 million putting it on pace to reach $100 million sooner rather than later, which is enough to call it a qualified success. It did cost a bundle to make (reported at $135 million) despite being called a "smaller film" by Gore Verbinski. So it will need strong international and home market sales to break even. Since it is a family film, the latter is likely. But as a Western, it might not do well in international markets that don't have a history of these films.

On the other hand, Red Riding Hood was a disappointment bringing in $14.01 million during its opening weekend. With reviews that are just a hair above disastrous, it could collapse next weekend. There is some good news, namely its production budget appears to be on the lower end of estimates, so it could break even, eventually.

The Adjustment Bureau was helped out by a more mature target demographic plus reviews that were among the best of any wide release this year. It was down 45% to $11.60 million for the weekend, giving it $38.59 million after two. At this pace, it will have little trouble matching original expectations, which will make profitability a solid goal.

That same can't be said of Mars Needs Moms, which flat out bombed. Despite earning the best reviews of the three wide releases, it earned just $6.91 million, which was barely enough to keep it above the Mendoza Line. I don't think that will really matter and the movie could be all but gone from theaters by the time April begins.

Looking in on the Sophomore Class, Beastly held on okay, despite direct competition. It was down 49% to $5.02 million over the weekend for a total of $16.81 million after two, putting it on pace to match original expectations, more or less. Take Me Home Tonight collapsed, down 63% to $1.27 million over the weekend for a total of just $5.89 million after two. By Friday it could be all but gone from theaters.


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Filed under: Weekend Box Office, Beastly, Rango, Battle: Los Angeles, Mars Needs Moms, The Adjustment Bureau, Take Me Home Tonight, Red Riding Hood