Abduction box office: Taylor Lautner thriller flops – but it could have been far worse
Sept. 26 late afternoon update: Trailing The Lion King 3D, Brad Pitt’s Moneyball, and Dolphin Tale, Taylor Lautner’s first solo starring vehicle, Abduction, grossed $10.9 million at 3,118 North American (U.S. and Canada only) locations according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com. The John Singleton-directed thriller’s per-theater average was a limp $3,504.
But then again, Lautner’s Abduction movie received horrible reviews – 0 percent approval rating among rottentomatoes.com‘ “top critics” – while the Twilight Saga star is an as yet unproven leading man. In these circumstances, a $10.9 million opening is actually not that bad.
Lautner should thank his female fan base: Women represented about 68 percent of those in attendance at Abduction screenings, an unusually high percentage for an action flick.
Chances are Abduction will fail to match – let alone recover – at the domestic box office its reported $30–$35 million price tag (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses), though Lautner’s international Twilight Saga fans should help to narrow that gap. I should add that at Deadline.com, Nikki Finke claims that the amount Lionsgate spent on Abduction‘s marketing was one quarter of what Sony and Warner Bros. spent on, respectively, Moneyball and Dolphin Tale.
In addition to Lautner, Abduction features Lily Collins, Sigourney Weaver, Maria Bello, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s Michael Nyqvist, and Alfred Molina. Shawn Christensen penned the screenplay. Lautner’s father, Dan Lautner, was one of the film’s producers.
At no. 5 this past weekend, the action/thriller Killer Elite, starring Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, and Clive Owen, opened with $9.4 million, averaging $3,131 at 2,986 theaters. Now, unlike Abduction, Killer Elite is an undeniable flop from the get-go. Statham is an established action star whose latest movies have opened within the $11–$12 million range, while Gary McKendry’s remake of Sam Peckinpah’s 1975 thriller starring James Caan and Robert Duvall cost a reported $70 million. Open Roads Films is the Killer Elite’s North American distributor.
Previous post (Sept. 26 early afternoon)
As listed on the (so far incomplete) Box Office Mojo chart, Weekend‘s closest competitor this weekend (Sept. 23-25) at the U.S. and Canada box office was Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam Twenty, which is screening at seven locations. After blowing off some box office steam when it opened last Tuesday, Crowe’s documentary earned an estimated $89,500 this weekend, averaging $12,786 per location.
Pearl Jam Twenty was followed by Marc Forster’s Machine Gun Preacher, starring Gerard Butler and Michelle Monaghan. Released by Relativity, the $30 million-budgeted actioner raked in a disappointing $44,000 at 4 sites, averaging $11,000 per site. Kathy Baker and Michael Shannon are others in the cast.
Also worth noting, Chris Evans has gone from red-white-and-blue shining hero in Captain America: The First Avenger to red-white-and-blue lawyer/drug addict in Puncture. The result was $35,700 at 4 sites, and a modest per-theater average of $8,925. Directed by Adam Kassen and Mark Kassen, Puncture also features Vinessa Shaw, Aliens’ Michael Biehn, Dolphin Tale‘s Austin Stowell, and Richard Burton’s daughter Kate Burton.
Sept. 23–25 weekend box office: Disney’s The Lion King 3D pulled in $21.9 million in North America this past weekend according to box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo. Originally released in 1994, The Lion King has by now become a 2011 sleeper hit. The animated feature directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff was down only 27 percent from last weekend – the lowest drop-off rate on the North American top-twelve chart. Partly thanks to the 3D surcharges, The Lion King also boasted the highest per-theater average among the top twelve films: $9,412.
After ten days, The Lion King has added $61.5 million to its already impressive box office cume. In fact, with $676.3 million, The Lion King is now no. 20 on the inflation-adjusted chart of the all-time domestic top grossers. Just this weekend, it surpassed both Walt Disney’s Fantasia and barely edged out George Lucas’ Stars Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. In terms of actual number of tickets sold, however, The Lion King should still be behind both movies, as its latest big-screen incarnation has the advantage of revenue-boosting 3D surcharges.
By next weekend, it’ll end up ahead of both the Dustin Hoffman-Anne Bancroft-Katharine Ross 1967 blockbuster The Graduate and the Steven Spielberg sci-fi/horror thriller Jurassic Park. Indeed, The Lion King may even get to surpass the Spielberg-Harrison Ford adventure-actioner Raiders of the Lost Ark. Next in line is the Paul Newman-Robert Redford Oscar-winning comedy caper The Sting. For the time being, Richard Marquand’s Return of the Jedi, James Cameron’s Avatar, and William Wyler’s multiple Oscar-winner Ben-Hur seem “safe.”
The Lion King features songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, in addition to the voices of Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Irons, Nathan Lane, Robert Guillaume, Moira Kelly, Rowan Atkinson, and Cheech Marin.
Note: The Lion King has not surpassed the original Star Wars, as reported in the original version of this post. Not even close. As a commenter pointed out (see below), Star Wars remains no. 2 on Box Office Mojo’s inflation-adjusted all-time chart.
Behind The Lion King 3D, Bennett Miller’s baseball drama Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Robin Wright, collected $19.5 million at 2,993 North American locations this past weekend (Sept. 23-25) according to box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo. That’s $1.1 million less than Sony Pictures’ estimates released yesterday.
With its $19.5 million, Moneyball would have ended up in third place for the weekend if it weren’t for the fact that Warner Bros. also way overestimated the box office take of its 3D “family” movie Dolphin Tale. Directed by Charles Martin Smith, and featuring Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Morgan Freeman, Austin Stowell, Frances Sternhagen, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, and Kris Kristofferson, Dolphin Tale took in $19.15 million at 3,507 locations. That’s $1.05 million less than originally estimated.
In sum: contrary to the studios’ Sunday estimates, neither Moneyball nor Dolphin Tale – despite the latter’s 3D surcharges – managed to crack the $20 million mark.
One of the best reviewed releases of the year, Moneyball ultimately opened with a good – though hardly outstanding – figure for an “adult” movie. For comparison’s sake: at about the same time last year, David Fincher’s widely acclaimed The Social Network brought in $22.4 million at 2,771 sites on its debut weekend, while Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, which was greeted by mixed reviews, collected $19 million at 3,565 sites.
It remains to be seen whether Moneyball will go the way of The Social Network (domestic $97 million; worldwide $224.9 million) or Money Never Sleeps (domestic: $52.5 million; worldwide $134.7 million). Domestically, solid reviews and awards-season buzz may place Moneyball closer to The Social Network; internationally, the picture is much fuzzier. Brad Pitt is a major plus, but baseball is a major minus.
Despite its Best Picture Oscar nod and the presence of Kevin Costner, Field of Dreams’ overseas take was about one third of its domestic box office gross back in 1989. Despite the presence of Tom Hanks (and to a lesser extent Geena Davis and Madonna), A League of Their Own earned $24.9 million abroad vs. $107.5 million domestically in the early 1990s. Featuring Dennis Quaid, The Rookie raked in $75.6 million in the U.S. and Canada, but a dismal $5 million abroad about nine years ago. And finally, Dennis Dugan’s 2006 baseball flick The Benchwarmers went on to gross $59 million domestically but only $5.1 million internationally.
Moneyball was written by The Social Network‘s Aaron Sorkin and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s Steven Zaillian, from a “story” by Stan Chervin based on Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. In addition to Brad Pitt, Robin Wright, and Jonah Hill, Moneyball also features Chris Pratt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Stephen Bishop. The likely Oscar contender’s distributor is Columbia/Sony Pictures, the same company that brought you The Social Network.
As for Dolphin Tale, brought to you by some of the same people behind the sleeper blockbuster The Blind Side, it probably failed to perform as well as its “inspirational” predecessor – which, without 3D surcharges, opened with $34.1 million, in late 2009 – because it lacked Sandra Bullock or box office friendly facsimile. Morgan Freeman’s anti-Tea Party remarks in all likelihood had nothing to do with Dolphin Tale‘s slightly below-par performance; Freeman made his remarks on Friday and the film was up 70 percent on Saturday and 8 percent (compared to Friday) on Sunday.
Directed by Charles Martin Smith, the star of the 1983 nature drama Never Cry Wolf, Dolphin Tale has a solid 88 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics. The cast includes Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Austin Stowell, Frances Sternhagen, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Kris Kristofferson, and Morgan Freeman.
At no. 5, the action/thriller Killer Elite, starring Jason Statham and Robert De Niro, opened with $3.5 million and may reach $10 million by Sunday evening. I’m willing to bet that Abduction will remain ahead of Killer Elite for the weekend; we’ll find out if I’m right on Sunday morning, when weekend estimates are released.
Taylor Lautner’s solo starring debut, Abduction, collected around $4 million on Friday. Despite the mostly horrible reviews and the fact that Lautner is an as-yet unproven leading man, the John Singleton-directed thriller is expected to reach at least $11 million by Sunday evening. If estimates are correct, that’s more than what the widely acclaimed Drive earned last weekend in spite of the presence of Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan.
Weekend box office. (Image: Tom Cullen and Chris New.) Weekend, writer-director Andrew Haigh’s gay love story featuring Tom Cullen and Chris New, scored the highest per-theater average this weekend (Sept. 23-25) at the North American box office.
Sept. 26 update: Writer-director Andrew Haigh’s gay love story Weekend brought in $27,245 – about 8 percent above Sunday estimates – at the North American box office according to actuals found at boxofficemojo.com. Currently screening at one single New York City location, the Sundance Selects-distributed Weekend scored by far the highest box office average per theater this past weekend (Sept. 23–25). Set in Nottingham, Weekend features Tom Cullen and Chris New as two gay men who, during a long weekend, discover that a one-night stand has been transformed into something more profound. US-based reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Whether that’ll translate into some form of awards-season recognition remains to be seen, as truly small films – as opposed to “small” films featuring Hollywood stars and that are heavily marketed by the “indie” arms of the big studios – rarely receive much love from critics and awards-giving groups and organizations. Gay-themed films, in particular, no matter how worthy, tend to be overlooked. Also, the fact that Weekend is British-made makes things more difficult at both the Spirit Awards and the Gotham Awards, which focus on American-made productions.
Weekend movie per-theater average
Screening at one New York City theater, the Sundance Selects-distributed Weekend – which, by the way, has nothing to do with Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967 film of the same name – grossed an estimated $25,200 according to Box Office Mojo. For the mathematically challenged: $25,200 at one theater equals a $25,200 per-theater average.
In Weekend, Tom Cullen and Chris New are two gay men who discover that a one-night stand has metamorphosed into something more profound. The British, independently made romantic drama has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Haigh’s movie, in fact, has a 96 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes’ critics, with Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir calling it “one of the bravest, most honest and most accomplished stories of gay love and sex ever rendered on film.”
So, Weekend is unquestionably a critical hit, but was its North American debut a box office hit as well? Well, considering that it’s a niche, low-budget movie with no box office names in front or behind the camera, a $25,200 per-theater average on opening weekend – even if only at one movie house – isn’t bad at all, especially if the theater question is the usual small arthouse establishment. Having said that, one should remember that all things being equal, the fewer the number of theaters showing a film, the higher the per-theater average should be.
Gay movie romance at the box office
For comparison’s sake: back in January 2004, C. Jay Cox’s Latter Days, another small gay romantic drama featuring little-known players Steven Sandvoss and Wes Ramsey, averaged $14,310 (approx. $18,350 today) at four locations. At one site in March 2008, Jonah Markowitz’s generally well-received Shelter, a gay-surfer love story featuring Trevor Wright and Brad Rowe, collected only $3,464 at one single theater. (Perhaps as a result of good word-of-mouth, the following weekend Shelter‘s average increased to $4,701 after the film expanded to six locations.)
To date, Weekend has won Best Film jury awards at the Nashville Film Festival (in addition to a Best Actor win for Tom Cullen), Los Angeles’ Outfest, and Toronto’s Inside Out Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Weekend was also the audience winner at the SXSW Film Festival (in the Emerging Visions sidebar) and the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
Weekend opens in the Los Angeles area (West Hollywood, Pasadena, Santa Monica) next Friday. The UK release is scheduled for Nov. 3.
Thanks to The Lion King 3D, the top ten movies on the North American box office chart were up an impressive 33 percent compared to the previous weekend. That’s the largest increase since the up 72 percent registered when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 came out on the July 15–17 weekend, and the fourth highest weekend-to-weekend increase so far in 2011.
Though it performed far better than expected when early, rough box office estimates came out on Friday evening, The Lion King failed to reach the $35 million some had been expecting by Saturday. Disney’s animated blockbuster took in $30.2 million at 2,330 locations, averaging a remarkable – for a rerelease – $12,941 per theater.
As per Box Office Mojo, The Lion King‘s adjusted-for-inflation domestic gross currently stands at $645.4 million, placing it at no. 22 among the top domestic grossers of all time. Three days ago, The Lion King was on the no. 25 slot. It has since surpassed the adjusted box office take of Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins, Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump, and Marlon Brando’s The Godfather. By next Monday, The Lion King will probably be ahead of Disney’s Fantasia as well.
Looks like James Cameron’s Oscar-winning 1997 romantic melodrama Titanic is the next major 2D-to-3D “old” movie conversion to hit North American screens. Those wishing to check out a three-dimensional version of the killer iceberg can do so in early April 2012. However, to the best of our knowledge the Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet liaison will remain one-dimensional.
Scratch early, rough box office estimates for Disney’s 3D version of The Lion King. After collecting an estimated $8.8 million on Friday, Sept. 16, in North America, the 1994 blockbuster could bring in as much as $35 million by Sunday evening as per Box Office Mojo. That’s more than twice what prognosticators had been expecting a day or so ago. Who said 3D was dead?
When it first came out in June 1994, The Lion King went on to gross $312.9 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to approximately $459.7 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $772.6 million. In 2002, an IMAX release brought in another $15.7 million. As per Box Office Mojo, The Lion King’s adjusted-for-inflation domestic gross currently stands at around $615 million, placing it at no. 25 – between Robert Stevenson’s Mary Poppins and Randal Kleiser’s Grease – among the top domestic grossers of all time.
By Sunday evening, The Lion King will also have surpassed two Best Picture Oscar winners: Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972), starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Diane Keaton, and another 1994 release, the Robert Zemeckis-directed Tom Hanks vehicle Forrest Gump.
Don’t be too surprised if by the end of its 2011 run, The Lion King finishes up ahead of fellow Disney animated feature Fantasia, George Lucas’ first Star Wars, and the Dustin Hoffman-Anne Bancroft-Katharine Ross 1967 blockbuster The Graduate, which earned director Mike Nichols an Academy Award.
Depending on their contracts, some fat residual checks will be handed out in the not-too-distant future to voice performers Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Irons, Nathan Lane, Robert Guillaume, Moira Kelly, Rowan Atkinson, and Cheech Marin. For their song/music compositions, Elton John and Tim Rice should be getting some even fatter checks in the mail as well. Unless, that is, they have direct deposit set up.
Directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff.
The no. 2 spot this weekend is supposed to belong to either Contagion or newcomer Drive (86 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics). Initially expected to gross around $10 million, Drive may reach $12–$13 million by Sunday evening. More accurate predictions will become available once the R-rated drama’s evening screenings are tallied.
Directed by this year’s Cannes Film Festival Best Director winner Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive stars Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, and veteran Russ Tamblyn (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, West Side Story).
Fourth and fifth place at the weekend box office will go to two other new entries: I Don’t Know How She Does It and Straw Dogs. Both are expected to open with underwhelming figures in the $7–$8 million range.
I Don’t Know How She Does It is a Sarah Jessica Parker comedy directed by Douglas McGrath (Emma, Nicholas Nickleby) and written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, Morning Glory). Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Christina Hendricks, Kelsey Grammer, and Seth Meyers costar. I Don’t Know How She Does It has a disastrous 14 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics.
Directed by Rod Lurie (The Contender), and starring James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Stellan Skarsgård, Dominic Purcell, James Woods, and Laz Alonso, Straw Dogs is a remake of Sam Peckinpah’s violent – and controversial – 1971 drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George. Reviews have been mostly mediocre, with a 48 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics.
Remember, these are are early, rough estimates. Friday studio estimates will come out Saturday morning. Weekend estimates will be released Sunday morning. Weekend box office actuals will come out on Monday.
Weekend movie image: Glendale Picture Company | Sundance Selects.
Abduction movie image: Lionsgate.
Moneyball movie image: Melinda Sue Gordon | Columbia TriStar | Sony Pictures Releasing.
Dolphin Tale movie image: Jon Farmer | Warner Bros.