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Weekend Wrap-Up: Dark of the Moon Shines Brighter than Expected

July 6th, 2011

There was mostly good news over the Independence Day long weekend, with the number one film topping expectations. However, while Transformers: Dark of the Moon set records, it was the only film to surpass Thursday's predictions by any serious degree. The total box office take was $202 million over three days and $241 million over four, but the lower-than-expected Monday numbers meant that, while the combined take from Friday to Sunday for all films was up 15% from last weekend and 7% from last year, over four days, 2011 was down 4% compared to last year. I think we can conclude 4th of July fireworks had a lot to do with this.

After Wednesday's numbers came in, many were crowing that Transformers: Dark of the Moon had broke records. But it was records like biggest opening day of the year, which is hardly that impressive. (Especially since it is likely that record will be broken in just a couple of weeks.) Breaking an all-time record is something to brag about. Being the biggest film in a bad year is not. (Attendance is still down nearly 10%.) However, despite reviews that are weak, even for a summer blockbuster, the film grew in strength as the weekend wore on and it managed the biggest Independence Day weekend. Its three-day take of $97.85 million and four-date take of $115.89 million were both records, topping Spider-Man 2's 2004 performance, while over six days the film has already earned $180.65 million. It even saw growth from Friday to Saturday, which was unexpected and could be a good omen going forward. Even so, there is a chance it has already made more than half of what it will finish with, but even if that's true, it is still a financial success and while some of the people responsible for making the film will not continue with the franchise (oh please, oh please, oh please!) I can't image there won't be a fourth installment within a few years.

Cars 2 was able to hit $100 million over the weekend, but that's where the happy news ends. Over the three-day period, the film was down 60% to $26.27 million, while adding in Monday it only made $31.63 million for a running tally of $122.56 million. Unless it bounces back over the summer, and the reviews suggest that might be difficult, it could become the weakest Pixar movie of all time.

Bad Teacher took third place and it wasn't as close as expected, even though the film didn't live up to expectations. During its sophomore stint, it managed $14.51 million / $17.26 million giving it a total of $62.71 million. It has already made more than enough to cover its $19 million production budget, while it could show a profit before taking into account international and home market revenue. That is impressive, but after falling more than 50% during the three-day weekend, $100 million will be a lot more difficult to get to.

Larry Crowne was a disappointment with just $13.10 million from Friday through Sunday and $16.10 million if you include Monday. It had the weakest reviews of the three wide releases this weekend, which does explain some of the weakness at the box office, but one would think Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts should still sell more tickets than this. There is a small glimmer of hope, and that's the target audience. Since the film is aimed at a more mature target audience, there is a chance they were reluctant to go to the theaters during opening weekend and compete with the crowds rushing to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Perhaps if the film drops 40% next weekend, that will be at least partially confirmed.

Super 8 secured the final spot in the top five with $7.92 million over the three-day weekend and $9.53 million over four. It was able to cross $100 million before the weekend and with a production budget of just $50 million, which is low compared to most summer blockbusters, it has already made enough to cover initial expenses. Even if it struggles internationally, it will break even during its initial push on the home market.

The final new release of the week was Monte Carlo, which placed sixth with $7.45 million / $8.59 million. This is within a rounding error of Thursday's prediction, but on the high side, so that's good news. On the other hand, it is still a rather weak opening. The film actually earned the best reviews of the three wide releases this weekend, although they were still mixed. It seems for every bit of good news, there's equal amount of bad news. But bottom line, the film only cost $20 million to make, so by the time its done its initial push into the home market, it should start showing a profit for the studio.

One last box office note, Green Lantern crossed $100 million over the weekend. While this is a major milestone, the film cost $200 million to make, so unless it is a much larger hit internationally and on the home market, it won't show a profit in any reasonable amount of time. There's still talk of a possible sequel, but I think that's just an attempt at face saving. You might hear a bit about a script being in development, then talk of scheduling problems among the cast, then nothing.


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Filed under: Weekend Box Office, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Green Lantern, Cars 2, Bad Teacher, Monte Carlo, Larry Crowne, Super 8