The 35th annual People’s Choice Awards were handed out on January 7, 2009. A complete list of film nominees, with winners in bold, follows below.
Favorite Action Movie:
The Dark Knight
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Source: People’s Choice Awards
Fast cars and comedy stars make their way into North American multiplexes on Friday hoping to shake things up after Iron Man‘s sheer dominance of the box office over the past week. Warner Bros. unveils its family actioner Speed Racer while Fox counters with its anti-romantic comedy What Happens in Vegas starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher which targets young adults. Neither is expected to steal away the crown from Tony Stark,
however they will provide some variety to the marketplace and try to keep the new summer season moving along. With three strong players, look for the box office
to outperform last year’s webslinger-led frame.
From the small screen to the big, Speed Racer zooms into theaters this weekend hoping to tap into nostalgia on its way to building an audience. The PG-rated film
is from The Wachowski Brothers and is their first non-Matrix directorial effort in 12 years. This time the boys are going after young kids and their parents plus the cult following that the Americanized version of the popular Japanese cartoon series has built up over the decades. Emile Hirsch stars as the title character and is joined by Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Christina Ricci, and Matthew Fox.
Speed Racer offers amazing visuals that fans will want to catch on the big screen. Plus there are no films out there for younger children except for the PG-13 Iron
Man which is playing very broadly. But the Mach 5 crew has an uphill battle as awareness is not too high and current tracking data suggests that excitement levels
aren’t so high. And that flying iron guy is certainly going to be tempting to the family audience even though technically it’s not a kidpic. Speed Racer may also
struggle with word-of-mouth as adult fans may find it too corny and childish while parents might feel many elements are a bit too racy for little kids. Long-term
prospects are also shaky as Disney’s rival PG flick The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian opens seven days later and is based on a property that is significantly more popular. Racing into 3,606 locations, Speed Racer could make off with around $32M.
But a big problem with the marketing is with the television spots as the film is much funnier than the ads make it seem. Diaz is usually a pretty bankable draw at the box office, especially in comedies, and Kutcher lends some weight of his own too. Audiences may be interested in seeing the chemistry between the blonde superstar and the boy toy of her Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle co-star Demi Moore. Plus Mother’s Day weekend could add some business from adult women looking for something to see that speaks to them. Iron Man probably won’t be it. Most female-skewing comedies have opened in the $14-18M range over the past couple of weeks. Entering 3,208 theaters, What Happens in Vegas will probably score a bigger opening and debut with about $20M.
In 2002, Spider-Man shattered the all-time opening weekend record and then went on to decline by only 38% to $71.4M in its sophomore frame. The following year, X2: X-Men United fell 53% in its second try playing out more like a sequel. Iron Man is more likely to mirror the Wolverine flick despite the positive buzz. Megahits just don’t hold on like the first webslinger pic anymore. Iron Man could see its sales get chopped in half leaving Paramount with roughly $49M this weekend. That would make the cume surge to $171M after ten-plus days of play.
Made of Honor could see its sophomore drop cushioned a bit by Mother’s Day. Recent declines for comedies aimed at the same audience have been 38% for Forgetting Sarah Marshall and 42% for Baby Mama. Look for Patrick Dempsey to snuggle into that range and see a 40% slip. That would give Sony’s romantic comedy about $9M and a mediocre ten-day tally of $27M.
Universal’s Baby Mama has been holding up pretty well and a 35% decline would give the surrogate motherhood pic $6.5M and a total of $41M.
LAST YEAR: For the second weekend in a row, Spider-Man 3 ruled the box office taking in $58.2M boosting the ten-day cume to a jaw-dropping $240.2M. The Sony megahit fell a steep 62% but still managed to be the only film to attract double-digit millions. Opening in second was the horror sequel 28 Weeks Later with $9.8M for Fox while Universal bowed its dramedy Georgia Rule in third with a dismal $6.8M. Final grosses reached $28.6M and $19.1M, respectively. Paramount’s hit thriller Disturbia starring Spielberg‘s favorite new kid ranked fourth with $4.7M and a slim 19% dip. The comedy Delta Farce flopped debuting in fifth with just $3.4M for Lionsgate with an average of under $1,800. A $8.1M final resulted.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
A hero flies into North American multiplexes aiming to kickstart what should be an explosive summer movie season. Paramount’s Iron Man is first up to bat this year and is ready to rock the box office and get moviegoers back into the theaters after a lackluster spring season. As a non-sequel, it won’t reach the dizzying heights of last May’s trio of threequels, but the comic book flick will create a new franchise and give audiences starving for excitement something to rally behind. Sony offers an alternative in the form of the wedding-themed romantic comedy Made of Honor which hopes to play to an older and more female crowd. The overall box office will be nowhere near the towering levels of last year when Spider-Man 3 shattered the all-time opening weekend record, but the summer movie season will still get off to a solid start nonetheless with many more blockbusters right around the corner.
Marvel Studios unveils its first self-financed film with Iron Man which stars Robert Downey Jr. as billionaire playboy Tony Stark who becomes the metal-clad super hero after a near-death experience. The PG-13 film also stars Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges while Gwyneth Paltrow snags the coveted ‘and’ credit. Directed by Jon Favreau, the action film will play to a broad audience although males should outnumber the ladies. The Iron Man character is not as universally known as Spider-Man or Superman so many moviegoers may wait on the sidelines at first. But the comic crowd is big enough that those with a sense of urgency will power the film to stellar numbers this weekend. The marketing push from Paramount and from the film’s promotional partners has been loud and aggressive.
The first weekend of May represents one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on the calendar. History has shown that the right tentpole film can pull in astounding amounts of money given the public’s hunger for a great event film coupled with the fact that no other big movies are out yet. With all other summer contenders still on deck, a film can grab that fourth or fifth screen within a multiplex to absorb all consumer demand upfront. Studios plant their flags early to scare away the competition which is why it should come as no surprise that Fox has already claimed the frame next year for its X-Men Origins: Wolverine while Disney will get May 2010 going with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Opening weekend grosses for the biggest early May blockbusters that kicked off the summer before last year include $114.8M for 2002’s Spider-Man, $85.6M for 2003’s X2: X-Men United, and $68.1M for 2001’s The Mummy Returns. All those films were effects-driven action titles that faced zero competition when they debuted and seized control over the maximum possible screens within multiplexes. At today’s ticket prices, those figures would be roughly $135M, $97M, and $82M respectively. Iron Man is in a similar situation as it has a built-in audience even though it’s not a sequel.
Many in the media have speculated that this week’s release of the Grand Theft Auto IV video game will soften Iron Man‘s opening weekend potential because of the vast overlap in audiences. While some small impact may be felt, this should not be too much of an issue since the super hero film is a must-see event movie and fans will find the time to go and see it over the weekend.
Critics have been praising Iron Man as well as its star and director. Strong reviews certainly can’t hurt, but they do not necessarily indicate how big of a blockbuster this will be. The nation’s top critics are mostly in the over-40 demographic which is certainly not the major group that buys tickets for these kinds of movies. So just because Richard Roeper gives a thumbs up, it doesn’t mean that the 15-year-old in Atlanta, the 20-year-old in Phoenix, or the 25-year-old in St. Louis will be satisfied with the product. Sure Downey’s acting is solid as usual, but the film does not pack as much action as fans are expecting and that could hurt in the long run.
Adding to the mix on opening weekend are the early previews that begin at 8pm on Thursday night. Hardcore fans will no doubt rush out to these shows and open up seats over the Friday-to-Sunday period to others who are not in as much of a rush. Last May ahead of the Memorial Day holiday session, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End pulled in a gargantuan $13.2M from its heavily-advertised Thursday night shows starting at the same time. Given the higher anticipation levels and the later date when more college students were on break, that figure will not be matched by Iron Man. Transformers also launched a night early with 8pm shows last July taking in $8.8M on a Monday when students of all ages were out of school. Tony Stark may also come in lower than that figure too given the calendar differences.
Blasting off in more than 3,800 theaters, Iron Man could open to about $77M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and around $83M when adding in Thursday night grosses.
Dempsey has a chance to test his solo starpower at the box office now that’s he’s risen to stardom again thanks to Grey’s Anatomy. However female starpower is lacking as Monaghan is no major draw. Bad reviews will turn away some folks too. Competition will come mostly from Universal’s pair of hit comedies Baby Mama and Forgetting Sarah Marshall which are both pulling in healthy numbers simultaneously. Honor‘s overall marketing push has been strong and has targeted women effectively. Long-term prospects could be iffy given the debut next week of What Happens in Vegas starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher. But for now, a solid second place opening right behind the main guest of honor seems appropriate. Entering 2,729 theaters, Made of Honor could collect around $14M this weekend.
Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay scored a solid debut but will face a sharp decline because of the new super hero flick. Plus as a sequel, much of the total audience showed up early. Still by the end of its first full week in theaters it should beat out the $18.2M take that its predecessor Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle earned in its entire theatrical run. Sales could fall by 55% to around $7M putting New Line and Warner Bros. at $26M in ten days.
Universal’s breakup comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall has been holding up well so a 35% drop could be in order. That would give the R-rated hit $7M for the frame and lift the cume to $45M. The Jackie Chan–Jet Li adventure The Forbidden Kingdom should fall harder and decline by 50% to roughly $5.5M. Total would climb to $47M.
LAST YEAR: Demolishing box office records, Spider-Man 3 kicked off the movie season with a jaw-dropping opening weekend gross of $151.1M smashing the all-time record and commanding a stunning 80% of all ticket sales in the marketplace. Sony’s global blockbuster went on to capture $336.5M domestically making it the top-grossing film of 2007, but also the lowest-grossing installment in the webslinger franchise. Overseas was a different story as its international total of $555M and worldwide sum of $892M were both the best in Spidey history. A few scraps were left over for the other films led by three-time chart-topper Disturbia which ranked far back in second with $5.8M. Rounding out the top five were Fracture with $3.7M, The Invisible with $3.3M, and Next with $2.9M. The female-skewing new release designed as counter-programming was the Warner Bros. flop Lucky You which bowed poorly in sixth with $2.7M on its way to a pitiful $5.8M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
The females beat the males this week as Baby Mama outdueled Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay for the top spot at the box office in this, the final weekend before the summer movie season kicks off.
Former SNL Weekend Update co-anchors, and current BFF’s, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler‘s Baby Mama found its way to top of the charts this weekend, taking in an estimated $18.2M. The female buddy comedy about Poehler becoming a surrogate mother for Fey, averaged a strong $7,184 per screen for Universal.
Landing in second place was the male buddy comedy Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, which smoked up an estimated $14.5M this weekend, in one of the last releases for New Line Cinema. In 2004, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle opened with a disappointing $5.5M on its way to a $18.2M final gross. Its sequel, after 4 years of gaining a cult following, nearly hit that amount in its first weekend.
Third and fourth places went to last weekend’s numbers one and two. In third was the battle of the martial arts experts, The Forbidden Kingdom. Falling 47.5% from last weekend, the Lionsgate film brought in $11.2M, according to estimates, bringing its total to $38.3. Look for a final gross in the $55M range. Fourth place went to another Universal comedy, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which slipped 38% to $11M, according to estimates, bringing its cume to $35.1M. Look for a final gross in the same $55M range.
Fox and Sony controlled the rest of the top 10, with three titles each. In fifth place for a second consecutive weekend was the family adventure Nim’s Island, which had the best hold in the top 10, dipping only 20% for an estimated $4.5M this weekend. Its cume now stands at $39M after four weeks.
Sony’s triumverate of films landed in the six to eight spots. Leading off was the PG-13 horror film Prom Night, which fell 49% from last weekend to an estimated $4.4M, bringing its cume to $38.1M. In seventh was the surprisingly strong 21 which fell only 27.5% this weekend, taking in an additional $4M in chips, according to estimates. Its total now stands at a very solid $75.8M. Crashing and burning into eighth was 88 Minutes . The Al Pacino-led thriller fell 48% from last weekend’s debut to an estimated $3.6M. Its total stands at $12.6M with not much more left in the bucket. Look for a final gross in the $15M range.
Spending a seventh week in the top 10, and landing at number nine was the Fox animated hit Horton Hears a Who, which took in $2.4M according to estimates, falling 31% from last weekend. Its cume now stands at a towering $147.9M. However its reign as the top grossing film of 2008 will come to an end very shortly. And rounding out the top ten was Fox stablemate Deception which landed with a thud and earned an estimated $2.1M this weekend, for a per theater average of a dismal $1,114. Look for a quick trip to the DVD aisles for this one.
The top ten films grossed $76.2M which was up 34% from last year when Disturbia took its third trip to number one with $9M; and down 11% from 2006 when RV debuted in the top spot with $16.4M.
This week at the movies, we have expecting ladies (Baby Mama, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler), on-the-lam stoners (Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, starring John Cho and Kal Penn), and embroiled bankers (Deception, starring Hugh Jackman and Ewan McGregor). What do the critics have to say?
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle was a delightful surprise — a stoner comedy that made more than a few trenchant points about American race relations. The critics say Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay has plenty of laughs, but is shorter on smarts than its predecessor. In Guantanamo, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) attempt to smuggle a bong onto a flight to Amsterdam, and are subsequently accused of a terrorist plot; the pair go on the run from the law, encountering babes, marijuana, and Neil Patrick Harris along the way. The pundits say this lowbrow, un-P.C. comedy has its moments, but the easy charm and originality of the original is missing. It’s currently at 54 percent on the Tomatometer. (Check out RT’s interview with John Cho here.)
You know exactly what you’re getting with a title like Deception: an expendable potboiler with inexplicably big names attached to it. Ewan McGregor stars as a Wall Street banker who is invited into an ominous sex club by his friend (Hugh Jackman), only to become a suspect in a woman’s (Michelle Williams) disappearance. Critics say this limp thriller’s major flaw is its obsession with piling inane plot twists and turns, most of which can be easily deduced well before they arrive. At 13 percent, Deception is all smoke and mirrors.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Without the King, a documentary about Swaziland, the world’s last absolute monarchy, is at 100 percent.
Bomb It, a doc about graffiti artists from around the world, is at 78 percent.
Standard Operating Procedure, Errol Morris‘ examination of Abu Ghraib, is at 76 percent.
Roman de Gare, the new thriller from Oscar-winning director Claude Lelouch, is at 75 percent.
Then She Found Me, Helen Hunt‘s directorial debut, is at 64 percent.
Two new buddy comedies enter the marketplace during the final weekend of the spring box office hoping to cash in on what business is left in the last week before Iron Man flies into theaters kicking off the summer blockbuster season. Targeting women is Baby Mama starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler while males get John Cho and Kal Penn reuniting in Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. Adding to the mix is the less commercial dramatic thriller Deception boasting a dynamic duo of its own – Hugh Jackman and Ewan McGregor. The overall box office will easily outperform last year’s comparable frame which was one of the worst in all of 2007.
After finding success as a lead in the sitcom world, Tina Fey heads to the movie biz as the headliner in Baby Mama with frequent collaborator Amy Poehler at her side. The PG-13 film finds a successful and uptight businesswoman hiring a free-spirited underachiever to be the surrogate for her baby. Adult women over 30 will be the main audience here but male appeal is not so lacking though. Fey and Poehler have built up a fan following over the years since their Saturday Night Live days and aim to prove that it’s not just men that come out of that camp to become box office stars.
Competition will be a factor as the second weekend of Universal’s other adult-skewing comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall will tap into much of the same folks. And though it’s a different kind of comedy, Harold & Kumar will have some level of impact too with those looking for a laugh. But reviews for Mama have generally been good plus the clever title and decent starpower will help pull in ticket buyers. Its strategic opening night slot at the Tribeca Film Festival this week also helped to generate lots of extra press. Debuting in 2,542 theaters, Baby Mama could open to roughly $13M this weekend.
Lionsgate may see sales get sliced in half for the ancient Chinese tale leaving a $11M gross and a ten-day tally of $38M. Universal will not have it totally easy though. Competition from the weekend’s new comedies, especially from studio stablemate Baby Mama, will cut into the numbers. Still, the well-liked Sarah might drop 40% to about $10.5M and push the cume to $35M after ten days.
Prom Night should suffer another sizable drop in its third killing. The Sony thriller looks to fall by 50% to around $4.5M and lift its 17-day sum to $38M.
LAST YEAR: It was the only weekend of 2007 when no film broke the $10M mark as studios refrained from opening any good films for fear of being pulverized a week later by the arrival of Spider-Man 3. By default, Disturbia claimed a third session at number one grossing $9M and dipping just 31% for Paramount. Of the new releases, Buena Vista’s horror pic The Invisible fared best with a mild $7.7M debut in second place. Paramount’s Nicolas Cage actioner Next limped into third with just $7.1M giving the action star one of his worst debuts ever. Final grosses reached $20.6M and $18.2M, respectively. New Line’s crime thriller Fracture followed in fourth with $6.8M while Paramount’s comedy hit Blades of Glory rounded out the top five with $5.2M. Late April spring cleaning also saw the dumpings of The Condemned ($3.8M opening, $7.4M final) and Kickin’ It Old Skool ($2.5M, $4.5M) into the multiplexes.
Author: Gitesh Pandya www.boxofficeguru.com