SUNDAY AM, 4TH UPDATE: My sources tell me that Pixar’s heroine-in-the-highlands Brave will open to around $66.7M this weekend with $24.5M for Friday and $23.5M for Saturday. So it’ll be an easy #1 this weekend – incredibly, Pixar’s 13th straight first place finish which is a tour de force for John Lasseter. That’s better than where DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted opened two weeks ago for distributor Paramount ($60.3M) but the threequel is holding at #2. (Talk about pent-up demand for kid movies!) Looks like concerns that Bravewould only appeal to girls and their mothers were way overplayed. The toon hit all audiences, with 57% under age 25 and 43% over 25. Males were 43%, females 57%. Then again, every Pixar 3D movie has opened to at least $60M. Plus, this is a giant release into 4,164 theaters, 2,790 of which are 3D shows, which is the highest count for a Pixar film thus far and the third highest for any Disney release. Interesting how this is Pixar’s first female lead and Disney’s first anti-princess toon bringing the studio into the 21st Century. Audiences responded with CinemaScores of straight ‘A’s. Disney hosted a global junket in Scotland where Brave is set, plus the red-headed heroine Merida is already doing meet-and-greets in both U.S. Disney parks. Voice Talent included Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson under the direction of Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman (who also did the story) and co-director Steve Purcell. Screenplay credit went to Andrews, Chapman, Steve Purcell, and Irene Mecchi. The producer was Katherine Sarafian, and executive producers were John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter.
Internationally Brave will have a slow rollout, with Japan and Latin America opening in July and in most European markets in August (delayed because of the EuroCup and Olympics). It opened day and date in only 10 territories representing about 17% of the foreign market and made $13.5M. So the global cume is now $80.2M. Domestically, this was the 2nd highest June animation opening in industry history (and Disney history, obviously) behind Toy Story 3.
Also just as interesting is the untested mash-up genre. But Twentieth Century Fox’s R-rated Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (in 3,106 theaters) only came in 3rd. My sources keep lowering their opening weekend estimate: now it’s $16.5M after a flat $5.6M Friday and flatter $6M Saturday after audieces gave the pic only a ‘C+’ CinemaScore. That didn’t bode well for word of mouth.. That’s about where tracking was showing and Fox was dreading for the 3D horror thriller. Friday’s number included $701,261 in midnight screenings from 1,168 locations. This Lincoln: Vampire Hunter high-concept/no-stars pic did only slightly better than the openings of Tom Cruise’s PG-13 Rock Of Ages and Adam Sandler’s R-rated That’s My Boy which both flopped last weekend. Remember that Fox bought the mash-up package for $69M with most elements attached like producer Tim Burton and director Timur Bekmambetov who used their own money to buy scripter Seth Grahame-Smith’s bestselling book. (Only Hollywood would defile the reputation of one of America’s greatest Presidents…) Fox’s only reticence was the first dollar gross request which initially was just north of 25%. So the final $deal was rich but “it was bought as one of those packages that we agreed to pay the price and blackens if we greenlighted it and dated it immediately,” a Fox exec explained to me. But the studio, led by production president Emma Watts, thought it had a major tentpole teed up that only cost $75M all in. That’s probably no longer the case.
From the start, the conceit that an axe-throwing Abe Lincoln had an untold story intertwined with vampires was ridiculous – I watched this project unspool with incredulity — and ultimately proved too hard to swallow for mass audiences. But Twentieth won the project after a hard-fought auction that included Sony and Paramount and Universal and Summit. Mashups were seen as Hollywood’s Next Big Thing and every studio was impressed with the whole pitch as well as the prospect of having the next directorial effort by Bekmambetov and a take honed by Burton. In light of the
up-and-down tracking and box office this summer, Fox quickly became realistic about the pic’s prospects. Here’s the problem, however: if original live-action movies like this and others keep not doing well, and especially those movies where the moguls have shown a willingness to take chances, then audiences can’t criticize Hollywood for an unimaginative diet of sequels and prequels and reboots. Because that’s all filmgoers seem to want and obviously to deserve.
Focus Features’ offbeat Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (in only 1,618 theaters) from writer-director Loraine Scafaria starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley finished 10th today. It posted $1.2M Friday and $1.5M Saturday for a very disappointing $3.8M weekend opening. “It did not experience the anticipated Saturday box office boost and continued to generate modest results. The film’s gross came in under projections for the weekend,” a Focus exec noted to me. It didn’t help that audiences gave it a near-disastrous ‘C+’ CinemaScore which would hurt word-of-mouth. its moviegoers skewed female and older and white and educated – 56% female, 56% over age 35, 76% Caucasian, and 62% college degree. I, for one, am tired of Carell’s shtick. And someone should tell Knightley that acting isn’t all about not brushing one’s hair.
Overall the weekend looks like $165M, which is -6% from last year. Here’s the Top Ten based on weekend estimates:
1. Brave (Pixar/Disney) 3D NEW [4,164 Theaters]
Friday $24.5M, Saturday $23.5M, Weekend $66.7M
2. Madagascar 3 3D (DreamWorks Anim/Paramount) Week 3 [3,920 Theaters]
Friday $6.1M, Saturday $7.7M, Weekend $20.2M, Cume $157.5M
3. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 3D (Fox) NEW [3,108 Theater]
Friday $6.3M, Saturday $5.6M, Weekend $16.5M
4. Prometheus 3D (Fox) Week 3 [2,862 Theaters]
Friday $2.9M, Saturday $3.9M, Weekend $10.0M, Cume $108.5M
5. Snow White & The Huntsman (Universal) Week 4 [2,919 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Saturday $3.3M, Weekend $8.0M, Cume $137.0M
6. Rock of Ages (New Line/Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,470 Theaters]
Friday $2.5M, Saturday $3.1M, Weekend $8.0M (-45%), Cume $28.7M
7. That’s My Boy (Sony) Week 2 [3,030 Theaters]
Friday $2.4M, Saturday $2.8M, Weekend $7.9M (-41%), Cume $28.1M
8. Marvel’s The Avengers 3D (Disney) Week 8 [2,230 Theaters]
Friday $2.0M, Saturday $2.8M, Weekend $7.0M, Cume $598.2M
9. Men In Black 3 3D (Columbia/Sony) Week 5 [2,462 Theaters]
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.3M, Weekend $5.6M, Cume $163.3M
10. Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (Focus) NEW [1,625 Theaters]
Friday $1.2M, Saturday $1,5M, Weekend $3.8M