Battling the likes of Chalet Girl, The Lincoln Lawyer and Anuvahood this weekend we had The Devil Inside, 21 Jump Street, We Bought and Zoo and Contraband vying for box-office supremacy.
But who won, lost, underachieved and flat-out flopped this week?
The Winner – The Devil Inside
Working from a production budget said to be around the £700,000 mark and with a huge chart topping weekend in the US in the bag The Devil Inside has wiped it’s horribly stern face and then some. Panned by critics and heckled by audiences for what sounds to be one of the most frustrating endings in history the film avoided the bad buzz that it apparently deserved by not screening for the press until the day of release.
It’s an evident success for what is sadly an ever-increasing practice. Through some masterful PR work the real story here is how a film released over two month after the US release (accompanied by a less than awesome 7% on Rotten Tomatoes) has magically managed to get £1,988,461 from a startlingly efficient use of 377 sites.
The key is surely the strong genre overtones targeted firmly at the public’s apparent post-Paranormal Activity thirst for low budget found footage shocks. Rest assured the film will not be troubling the upper echelons of the chart come next week though with a steep fall off in revenue even over such a short time period as the weekend past. Even so, no matter how it got there or whether it deserves it, The Devil Inside is a great piece of hit and run money making and it’s hard not to root for a film that has managed to de-throne a release that cost 250 times more than it’s meagre self.
Speaking of which:
The Loser – John Carter
Opinion may be somewhat divided and verging on the underwhelmed but subjective issues aside it’s the cold hard cash (or lack thereof) that will constitute John Carter’s legacy. Along with Mars Needs Moms it looks set to be one of the biggest box-office bombs of recent years.
Suffering from bad word of mouth and a wave of bad publicity mostly related to its humungous $250 million+ budget the press are jumping all over Andrew Stanton’s business nightmare as it sinks inexorably into cult obscurity. However, the use of such language may lead one to believe that it’s made absolutely nothing. On the contrary, John Carter cleared the $100 million mark on it’s opening weekend and still managed to push well toward 7 figures in its second week in the UK with £965,946 from 452 sites.
It’s not really failed to pack them in then it’s just failed to pack everyone in. With such a decadently huge budget you really need to be the next Avatar or Inception. Essentially you need repeat viewings, good reviews and above all a hell of a lot of hype. Where Disney’s reported $100 marketing budget was thrown away is anyone’s guess.
The money behind the money pit will probably be looking on forlornly next week at Twilight stop-gap and inevitable successor The Hunger Games (which has already sold out 2000 screens in the US alone) as it surfs on a wave of pubescent expectation, the strength of the IP itself and a great marketing campaign straight into the number one slot for what will surely be a couple of weeks at least. Watching the way that Lionsgate have gone about promoting it has been a lesson in controlled hype and one which is now 100% guaranteed to pay off handsomely. Disney could learn a thing or two (although the fact they’re probably still turning a profit this quarter tells you something about the resources and nous they have over there in their recently blind-sided ivory spires).
The Overlooked – In Darkness/Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
It’s always a shame when a great piece of arthouse cinema gets overlooked but that seems to be what has happened with Agnieszka Holland’s Oscar nominated In Darkness. It’s per screen average from an ambitious 47 sites doesn’t make for great reading with overall takings struggling at £90,558. Given hope by Britain’s not inconsiderable Polish cinema-going public the film has fallen short of expectations both because of Polish competition in the form of Kac Wawa (taking £41,274 from 42 sites) and some good old fashioned bad arthouse turnout.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia has also been generating some great press but predictably didn’t trouble the charts with its small opening of 14 sites. Nevertheless a total of £35,117 is decent screen for screen offering a glimmer of hope that if they show good films a discerning audience will come.
The Veterans – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel/The Woman in Black/The Muppets
Even though it’s been a struggle for John Carter and many films this year there are a couple of success stories scattered about. This week the top 10 holds 3 of this year’s exclusive £10 million+ club (the only other member of which seems to be War Horse but it’s early days yet) and with the exception of The Muppets they are all very British affairs. We’ve got the old guard giving it their all in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Hammer finding success again with The Woman in Black and back in January a very British cast and story with the Spielberg helmed War Horse. After the success of The King’s Speech last year it does increasingly seem that the early months belong to the Brits and jolly proud of that we should be too.
Also Ran – 21 Jump Street/We Bought a Zoo/Contraband
Back in the 80’s the TV show 21 Jump Street propelled a young Johnny Depp into the teen idol stratosphere (something he and John Waters most definitely managed to ruin), 25 years on and teen idol Channing Tatum and non-so teen idol Jonah Hill are back and have taken £1,556,039 from 389 sites and a clutch of good reviews. Not bad and apparently well deserved.
On the other hand the true A-Listers haven’t really performed this week. First up and fifth on the chart we have Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson in Cameron Crowe’s rose-tinted We Bought a Zoo which has garnered a decent £850,651 from 428 sites. It may have an absolutely terrible title and a high level cast that one would expect larger returns from but the film seems to have performed as lukewarmas it was reviewed so all in all a fair result.
Another high level underperformer is Marky Mark Wahlberg who may have had higher hopes for Contraband which sits precariously under the zoo with a highly tepid opening of £683,654 from 412 sites. That sort of per-screen for an opening really doesn’t bode well for next week, especially with the chart wrecking ball that is currently readying itself for impact:
The film adaptation of the mega-selling books series The Hunger Games is out and will demolish any semblance of balance in the top 10. It’s going to be a top-heavy week as the film will of course be raking it in at an apocalyptic rate of knots.
On the less predictable side there are the strategically male oriented releases of Act of Valour and Wild Bill, a chalk and cheese match up of American patriotism and UK cockney geezerishness.
The US import Act of Valour arrives after an effective US marketing campaign that saw it take $64 million on a budget of $12 million. It is to all intents and purposes a film with all of the subtlety one would expect from a sledgehammer to the retinas. On the plus side for your beleaguered eyes it does look startlingly well shot, on the downside it’s all American and flag-wavy. It’s gone down a storm in The States but it’s surely going to struggle over here in good ol’ blighty.
Alternatively our representative in this trans-Atlantic testostathon is Dexter Fletcher’s directing debut Wild Bill which stars Charlie Creed-Miles and has been getting some decent press (albeit mostly constituted by the lads mag 4 star default for films in which the cast predominantly speaks in cock-er-ny accents).
UK Top 10 Films:
- The Devil Inside, £1,988,461 from 377 sites (New Entry)
- 21 Jump Street, £1,556,039 from 389 sites (New Entry)
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, £1,530,112 from 479 sites. Total:£13,855,438
- John Carter, £965,946 from 452 sites. Total: £3,812,377
- We Bought a Zoo, £850,651 from 428 sites (New Entry)
- Contraband, £683,654 from 412 sites (New Entry)
- The Woman in Black, £544,636 from 384 sites. Total: £20,473,795
- This Means War, £431,648 from 321 sites. Total: £4,502,928
- The Muppets, £395,549 from 481 sites. Total: £15,799,885
- Safe House, £268,288 from 282 sites. Total: £6,779,478
Other New Releases:
- In Darkness, £90,558 from 47 sites
- Kac Wawa, £41,274 from 42 sites
- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, £35,117 from 14 sites
- Bill Cunningham New York, £9,979 from 5 sites (+ £3,197 previews)
- The Other Side of Sleep, £1,375 from 3 sites
- How to Re-establish a Vodka Empire, £844 from 3 sites
- Booked Out, £223 from 1 site
Top Film This Time Last Year: Rango