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Hornet is in the Green, But Dilemma has Problems

January 18th, 2011

2011 continues its trend of performing pretty well against 2010, if you ignore Avatar. This time last year, Avatar earned just over $40 million at the box office over the three-day weekend. This weekend 2011 was behind 2010 by just under $40 million over the same period. (You get a similar result if you look at the four-day numbers.) One could look at this as a small victory, as Avatar is such a rare commodity that it is unfair to expect the box office to compensate for that. However, there are a number of points that makes that thinking dangerous. First of all, even taking out Avatar, 2011's growth is not enough to keep pace with inflation. Secondly, without Avatar as competition, The Book of Eli probably would have earned at least a few million more, as would the rest of the box office. Thirdly, 2011 lost over the four-day weekend by a margin of $210 million to $159 million, which means there were about 7 million fewer people at theaters this weekend, which means there were 7 million fewer people seeing trailers, posters, etc. for upcoming films, and the box office can hardly afford missing out on that much free advertising. Finally, already 2011 is behind 2010 by nearly $200 million, at $798 million to $601 million, and if the conventional wisdom becomes, "2011 will be a disaster at the box office", it will take something special to overcome that negative buzz. And quite frankly, I don't see anything really special hitting theaters till the fall, and by then it will be too late.

Now that we are all thoroughly depressed at the state of the box office, we get to the good news. The Green Hornet beat expectations, even if it was by a tiny margin. Over the three-day portion of the weekend, the film pulled in $33.53 million. Add in Monday and it managed an opening of $40.01 million. Depending on how well it manages to hold on over the coming weeks, this might be enough to reach $100 million in total, which would be a pleasant surprise. Its reviews are better than average, especially for this time of year, but the century mark is still going to be tough to get.

On the other hand, The Dilemma struggled, a lot. It earned just 25% positive reviews, and took in just $17.82 million / $20.52 million during its opening. It barely made more over four days than it was predicted to make over three. This is the weakest opening for a Vince Vaughn wide release since Old School, while Kevin James has never had a live action film open this poorly.

True Grit fell to third place, but with $11.00 million / $13.13 million, its performance was better than expected. So far the film has made $128.34 million and it is well on its way to $150 million in total. If it can pick up an Oscar nomination or two, or more, it should remain in the top five for a couple more weeks. While if it wins a few Oscars, it might even last long enough to top the Coen Brothers' previous best by more than $100 million.

Another Oscar contender, The King's Speech, was a surprise entry in the top five with $9.19 million / $11.27 million over the weekend for a total of $46.80 million. With a Golden Globe win under its belt, it will have little trouble getting to $50 million by the weekend, while $75 million in total is the low end of long-range expectations. This might be enough to show a profit, before taking into account international and home market revenue.

Black Swan remained in fifth place with $8.34 million / $10.15 million over the weekend for a total of $75.02 million. It also won a Golden Globe over the weekend, which should help it next weekend. Meanwhile, it has at least three Oscar nominations that are practically a lock, while it could earn as many as ten nominations when they are announced this time next week. Even if its performance is a little on the low end, it should be enough to help push it over $100 million at the box office.

Neither of last week's new releases were able to repeat in the top five with Season of the Witch barely landing in the top ten with $4.61 million over the three-day weekend. Including Monday, it made $5.42 million, which was only enough for 11th place, while it has $18.91 million in total. Country Strong was right behind with $3.68 million / $4.38 million over the weekend for a total of $13.99 million. At least with it will match its production budget shortly.


Filed under: Weekend Box Office, The Green Hornet, Season of the Witch, True Grit, Black Swan, The King’s Speech, Country Strong, The Dilemma