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Weekend Wrap-Up: Contagion is Catchy, the Rest of Box Office Is Sick

September 12th, 2011

The weekend after the Labor Day long weekend is often the worst weekend of the year, and that appears to be the case this time around. No film matched Thursday's predictions, although a couple came relatively close, like Contagion. Unfortunately, the rest of the new releases really bombed and most of the holdovers fell significantly more than expected. This led to the box office falling 24% from last weekend to just $82 million. This is the lowest it's been all year, and lower than last year, but by less than 1%. Unless next weekend will be even worse, and it is almost hard to imagine that as a possibility, this will be the lowest point for the year. On the other hand, there's a chance that we don't dip below this level for a long, long time, if ever. Given population growth and inflation, hitting these low points are less likely each year.

Contagion rode excellent reviews, and a total lack of competition, to an easy first place win. There is some bad news, as it wasn't quite able to live up to expectations with $22.40 million. This is still more than double Steven Soderbergh's last outing and one of the top 20 biggest September weekends of all time. Assuming it didn't cost an unreasonable amount to make, and it does well internationally, it could break even sometime on the home market.

The Help fell a little faster than expected, down nearly 40% to $8.93 million over the weekend. However, with $137.33 million after a month of release, the studio has to be overjoyed at this result.

Warrior earned third place, but with only $5.24 million over the weekend, it made barely half of the weekend prediction. Its per theater average isn't disastrous, but it certainly isn't enough to convince many theater owners to give it a chance, so expansion is out of the question. That said, given its reviews hopefully its word-of-mouth will help it on the home market. Maybe eventually it will earn back its reported $30 million production budget.

On the other hand, The Debt also had surprisingly strong reviews, but that didn't seem to help it at the box office. It fell more than 50% to just $4.77 million over the weekend for a total of $21.87 million after two. At this rate, getting to $30 million might be tough.

Colombiana returned to the top five just beating out Rise of the Planet of the Apes $3.95 million to $3.89 million. On the other hand, the latter's running tally is much higher at $167.85 million to $29.73 million.

Moving further down the chart, we find Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, which opened in 15th place with just $1.42 million in 1500 theaters. To put this into perspective, this is less than The Smurfs made in their seventh weekend of release and it had a lower per theater average than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 managed in its ninth weekend of release. And with no positive reviews, it's highly unlikely it will perform any better on the home market.

And then there's Creature. I'm not sure when the decision was made to open this film in wide release instead of limited release, but it wasn't made well enough in advance for the studio to promote it. The film only managed $331,000 in 1,507 theaters for an average of $220. This is lower than Delgo's debut, and that was historically bad. Its reviews won't help going forward, and I think that at this point, the best the film can hope for is fading out of people's memories before it hits the home market. Being treated as a direct-to-DVD release six months from now might be better than being remembered as a massive box office bomb.

Looking in on the sophomore class, Shark Night 3D fell to seventh place, plummeting 59% to just $3.41 million over the weekend. After ten days of release, the film has earned just $14.67 million. Apollo 18 suffered an even greater week-to-week decline down 67% to just $2.85 million over the weekend and $14.94 million after two. At least the film was very inexpensive to make.


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Filed under: Weekend Box Office, The Debt, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, Warrior, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Colombiana, Contagion, The Help, Apollo 18, Shark Night 3D, Creature