SUNDAY CENTS: Wonder toys

Posted by · 4:57 pm · June 20th, 2010

*All historical figures cited are adjusted to today’s dollars.

As it turns out, Armond White was unable to convince most Americans to not see “Toy Story 3.” Pixar’s eleventh animated feature became their highest debuting in history with a $109.0 million weekend. That also makes it the third biggest June debut and third biggest animated debut of all time, while instantly placing it in pole position to wind up the most successful film of the summer.

Maybe it was the 3D, maybe it was the weak market, or maybe it was nostalgia for Jim Varney but the film was able to one up the $89.8 million debut of “Toy Story 2,” although its $27,100 per theater average is virtually identical to the figure posted by its predecessor. Reviews amongst those who don’t receive weekly death threats are universally positive and this should have the staying power to flirt with $400 million by the end of its run.

Are we looking at the second threequel to get a Best Picture nomination and the first without similar recognition for the previous installments? In a word, yes.

Megan Fox, thanks for playing the working actress game. Please collect your things on the way out and turn off the lights. “Jonah Hex” comes in at eighth with $5.1 million for the weekend. Warner Bros. is trying to tell us that the budget was $35 million, which is about as believable as any Megan Fox performance. But let’s play along. It’s still a catastrophic, pathetic result for the film and the studio.

Maybe releasing a trailer before three weeks ago would have helped. Maybe pumping some money into any advertising would have helped. Maybe not making a movie that requires the audience to stare at a disfigured face the whole time would have helped (I guess it didn’t hurt “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.” Snap! Send hate mail to chartigan@incontention.com). Maybe just not making an atrocious piece of junk would have helped. But hindsight is 20/20. I think the film will be lucky to finish in double digits.

“The Karate Kid” held up reasonably well with a 48% drop to $29.0 million. In the face of blockbuster kids competition, it’s another huge win for Sony’s little film. It’s already breezed to $106 million, which “Robin Hood” is still huffing and puffing to try and get to.

“The A-Team” fell 46%, a figure which falls straight into the could-have-been-worse pile for Fox. It still hasn’t cracked $50 million, but it looks a whole lot better standing next to “Jonah Hex” now.

The only other performance worth noting in the top 10 is the bizarre hold for “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.” The Jake Gyllenhaal adventure fell only 19% with little to no explanation. Did a Ben Kinglsey sex tape leak and nobody tell me?

In limited release, “Cyrus” had a phenomenal start for Fox Searchlight. On four screens in three days, it earned $180,000, which is more or less the total gross for each of the Duplass Brothers’s first two films. I still think their style is a little too esoteric for the Academy but if anybody can turn these grosses into some kind of Screenplay nomination (the token bone tossed to interesting, independent fare), it’s Fox Searchlight.

“I Am Love” also had a decent start with $125,000 from eight screens. Magnolia doesn’t have the pull to get any kind of awards traction going for Tilda Swinton so the superfans who comment here regularly shouldn’t get too excited.

The Los Angeles Film Festival started this week and I’ve been busy supporting friends with films. You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled on the festival circuit to try and see Brett Haley’s “The New Year,” but Aaron Katz’s “Cold Weather” will be coming to the big screen and VOD through IFC Films so be sure to check that out when it does.

What did you guys see? That toy thing right? If you saw “Prince of Persia,” explain yourself. Here are this week’s top grossing films courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:




→ 30 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

30 responses so far

  • 1 6-20-2010 at 5:33 pm

    Amir said...

    love the joan rivers comment!

  • 2 6-20-2010 at 5:44 pm

    James D. said...

    “Reviews amongst those who don’t receive weekly death threats are universally positive”

    White Russian came out of my nose after reading that one.

  • 3 6-20-2010 at 6:01 pm

    Jim T said...

    Chad – Go to Germany again or Joan will find you! :p

  • 4 6-20-2010 at 6:08 pm

    steve said...

    Hey this would be the third threequel to get nominated. The Godfather 3 and Return of the King

  • 5 6-20-2010 at 6:14 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Indeed you’re right Steve

  • 6 6-20-2010 at 6:26 pm

    Adam Smith said...

    OK, so we’ve hit the landmarks of a sequel winning Best Picture, and a threequel winning. The final frontier: the first Best Picture-winning squeakquel.

  • 7 6-20-2010 at 6:30 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    Return of the Jedi wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. Neither was Empire for that matter (or shame).

  • 8 6-20-2010 at 6:36 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    Ah haha I’m a dork. Carry on.

  • 9 6-20-2010 at 6:38 pm

    hopeless pedant said...

    Cyrus was a very solid opening – double Winter’s Bone, for example – but not sure phenomenal doesn’t overstate things. It is about the same gross Ghost Writer had in its opening weekend in four NY/LA theatres – and again, it was good. But these are mid-level grosses for what a good specialized film should do.

    The interesting news is the number of specialized films out there that are doing OK or better – Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Secret in Their Eyes, City Island leading the way. This is very unusual for this time of the year.

    Winter’s Bone expanded quickly with a $9000 PSA in something like 40 theates – again, OK, but it really is going to need to hold up with WOM if it is going to break through. My guess is that this will end up being perceived as at least a mild disappointment.

  • 10 6-20-2010 at 7:03 pm

    j said...

    A total of 5 sequels have been nominated; three preceded by BP winners and then a franchise culminating with a BP winner.

  • 11 6-20-2010 at 7:38 pm

    Leocdc said...

    Which are the 5 movies? I’d really like to know :D

  • 12 6-20-2010 at 8:01 pm

    James D. said...

    Godfather II, III, Two Towers, Return of the King, and…what else? I wanted to say Before Sunset, but that is only in my dreams.

  • 13 6-20-2010 at 8:11 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Silence of the Lambs?

  • 14 6-20-2010 at 8:12 pm

    Danny King said...

    I saw “Marmaduke” three times on Friday, followed by one showing of “Prince of Persia” on both Saturday and Sunday.

    In all seriousness, though, I was too busy to see anything this weekend. I did re-watch the first two “Toy Story” movies, so I will be seeing “Toy Story 3” tomorrow night…in 2-D.

  • 15 6-20-2010 at 8:12 pm

    Erik said...

    I’m pretty sure that the fifth sequel is The Bells of St. Mary’s in 1945, which was a sequel to Going My Way.

  • 16 6-20-2010 at 9:30 pm

    hopeless pedant said...

    Parts 2 and 3 of LOTR weren’t sequels really; they were part of one ten hour film that was written in full and mostly filmed before the first film was released. Far different from Godfathers 2 & 3 or the few other true sequels that were nominated for BP.

  • 17 6-21-2010 at 12:45 am

    red_wine said...

    Pixar films never make as much money as they could or as much they are supposed to make. Toy Story is the golden goose of the Pixar house, their most celebrated title, even then it is no match for Iron Man, Transformers, Ice Age (3), Shrek, Alice, maybe even Potter & Twilight franchises. Also I never get Pixar’s world wide release strategy. They never have blanket releases around the world like Twilight or Potter or Avatar and therefore loose some of their business to piracy and dwindling interest.

    Also I find movie-budgets today shocking. Karate Kid is a smash because it is a 40 million dollar movie, but Pop & SatC are clunkers because of their budget. Even A Team, a buddy-buddy action movie, cost 110 millions, I wonder how do the studios green-light such films.

  • 18 6-21-2010 at 12:55 am

    Glenn said...

    I’ve had the flu all week so I stayed in and watched (mostly) bad 1980s horror movies (that I’d never seen before, so I wasn’t just being sadistic). I did see “Toy Story 3” and “I Am Love” last Tuesday though and both are excellent. Highly recommended.

  • 19 6-21-2010 at 6:07 am

    JJ said...

    Well, $100 budget or not, Sex 2 has already made over 250 worldwide and is still go-go-going. Persia, well, it’ll get well over the $300 hump, but it’s budget is listed as $200 mill. That isn’t great.

  • 20 6-21-2010 at 6:08 am

    JJ said...

    Do numbers like that ensure that a Persia sequel will not be made?

  • 21 6-21-2010 at 6:36 am

    sam said...

    Like sex and the city — which lists its budget at 100 million not 200. , Prince of Persia is doing gangbusters internationally — like over 200 million with sex probably gonna meet that as well — so I don’t know if a sequel will be made for either of them, but they have made their money back and that is not including any dvd sales, etc.

  • 22 6-21-2010 at 7:01 am

    A.J said...

    Perhaps Prince of Persia was the go to for sold out Toy Story 3 shows?

  • 23 6-21-2010 at 8:11 am

    Adam M. said...

    Oh wise box-office guru Chad, or anyone else who might know this: how much of a film’s total gross actually ends up going back to the distribution and production companies? I always see people commenting on how a given film has to reach its budget in box-office grosses in order to make a profit–but surely not all of the grosses are pocketed, right? What about exhibitors and taxes and all that? And I also know most film budgets receive tax rebates, so do we just assume that the markdown on either side (the budget/the gross) is roughly the same, and then treat them as equitable figures? Enlighten, s’il vous plait?

  • 24 6-21-2010 at 9:48 am

    hopeless pedant said...

    The US industry average is that roughly 50% of theatre ticket sales goes to the distributor, 50% stays with the exhibitor. The latter of course retains all concessions income.

    Distributors pay for nearly all advertising and most film shipping charges as well as for the cost of the prints.

    Film rental varies based on several factors:

    1) whether the cost is determined before the movie opens or after the fact (most of the time it is preset)

    2) if preset, the advance anticipation has an impact – Toy Story 3 would be set higher than Get Him to the Greek, so the top films tend to have higher rentals; sometimes this can benefit an exhibitor is a film does better than expected, like Karate Kid, or if a film does much less well than expected, the exhibitor is stuck with the higher terms

    3) Preset can mean either one % for all weeks, or a higher % for earlier weeks, in which case a film that holds well does better for exhibitors whose share of the revenue increases later in the run

    4) The majors get better terms than the independent and specialized companies

    5) Caveat for Oscar months – return or holdover weeks of nominated films often are renegotiated for as low as 30% for the distributor

    People hear sometimes that a distributor gets 90% of the the ticket sales. This never happens – there is a device used (much less commonly these days) where an distributor gets 90% of the gross above a certain pre-established level if it is higher than the minimum % of the week – for example, a theatre retains the first $10,000 of gross, the distributor gets 90% of the overage (so for example if a film grosses $30,000, the distributor would get $18,000, that is, 90% of the $20,000 difference between $10-30,000.

    Hope this helps. But if you go by the general rule, think 50%. But Avatar got more, Hurt Locker got less.

  • 25 6-21-2010 at 10:03 am

    Hans said...

    PoP probably won’t get a sequel. The Golden Compass eeked out only $70 mil in the states but nearly $400 mil worldwide on a $180 mil budget and the Subtle Knife was never made (a damn shame, too).

  • 26 6-21-2010 at 10:38 am

    red_wine said...

    PoP makers had all been saying smiling complacently before the opening of the movie “we’ll make another one if the audience accepts us”, that basically means a Bruckheimer production with cheap thrills, sure its gonna be a smash and we want a franchise.

    But the audience has clearly not ‘accepted’ them, and there can be no justification for a sequel.

  • 27 6-21-2010 at 9:08 pm

    Jim said...

    Legs are the name of the game for pretty much all Pixar films. Their average multiplier is 4.2, and their only 2 films not to get a multiplier of 4+ is The Incredibles with I thik 3.7 and Wall-E 3.5 (funny since most producers would kill to have that kind of multiplier).

    The near universal adoration towards Toy Story 3 from critics and moviegoers pretty much ascertains a multiplier of at least 4. Heck, a 3.5 multiplier gives it 380mil plus already. 400mil domestic is pretty much sewn up.

  • 28 6-22-2010 at 12:07 am

    j said...

    Yeah I don’t think Lambs can really count since it had approximately zero carryover in cast or crew from Manhunter.

  • 29 6-22-2010 at 3:03 pm

    j said...

    Hmm only 51% drop from Sunday to Monday, vs., say, 73% Shrek 3.