'Super 8' Box Office: Overperforming

by Zac Gille
Kyle Chandler, Super 8
Kyle Chandler in J.J. Abrams' Super 8

June 12

If studio estimates are correct, J.J. Abrams' Super 8, a Spielbergian horror flick co-produced by Steven Spielberg himself, performed better than expected at the North American box office this weekend (June 10-12), raking in $38 million – including $1.5 million from Thursday sneak/midnight screenings – at 3,379 locations, according to estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Starring Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, and Noah Emmerich, Super 8 averaged a solid – though hardly outstanding – $10,950 per-theater. Three years ago, Cloverfield, a horror flick co-produced by Abrams and directed by Matt Reeves, opened (in January) with $40.05 million, averaging $11,744 per site. Cloverfield went on to gross $170 million worldwide. Also, in August 2009 Neill Blomkamp's extremely well-received (and more adult-oriented) horror-sci-fier District 9 opened with $37.35 million, averaging $12,251 per location. District 9 went on to gross $210 million worldwide.

Even without taking inflation into account, Super 8 has taken off at a slower pace than either Cloverfield or District 9. Unless Abrams' film gets strong word-of-mouth, it seems unlikely Super 8 will match the performances of either one of the two aforementioned films – even though it has more at stake.

Cloverfield and District 9 reportedly cost $25 million and $30m, respectively; Paramount claims Super 8 cost $50 million – though many are skeptical about that seemingly much-too-modest figure. Internationally, Super 8 has taken in $6.7 million in a handful of territories. Worldwide total: $44.7 million.

Photo: Super 8 (François Duhamel / Paramount Pictures).

Lucas Till, X-Men: First Class
Lucas Till, X-Men: First Class

Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Lucas Till, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Kevin Bacon, and Nicholas Hoult, X-Men: First Class scored $25 million in second place at North American box office this weekend (June 10-12), according to estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Despite its relatively modest opening and the fact that the Matthew Vaughn-directed adventure-sci-fier held up well throughout the week, X-Men: First Class was down 55 percent from last weekend. For comparison's sake: Down 69 percent, X-Men Origins: Wolverine took in $26 million on its second weekend two years ago, while the original X-Men was down 57 percent.

X-Men: First Class' domestic total: $98.89 million. It'll surely pass the $100 million milestone on Monday. Worldwide: $223.09 million. Cost: $160 million.

At no. 3, The Hangover Part II brought in $18.5 million (down 41 percent). The Todd Phillips comedy starring Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Justin Bartha passed the $200 million milestone on Friday. The Hangover 2, in fact, is now the highest-grossing 2011 release at the domestic box office, having surpassed Justin Lin's Fast Five. The Hangover 2's total: $216.56 million. Worldwide: $431.36 million. Cost: $80 million.

At no. 4, Kung Fu Panda 2 took in $16.63 million (down 30 percent). The animated actioner features the voices of Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, and Gary Oldman. Total: $126.9 million. Worldwide: $331.9 million. Cost: $150 million.

Starring Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Claflin, Ian McShane, and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Rob Marshall's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides added $10.84 million (down 40 percent) at no. 5. Total: $208.77 million. With $886.77 million worldwide, On Stranger Tides is by far the biggest 2011 release to date. Cost: $150 million.

At no. 6, Kristen Wiig's Bridesmaids pulled in $10.15 million, down a minuscule down 16 percent. Total: $123.9 million. Cost: $32.5 million.

Photo: X-Men: First Class (Murray Close / 20th Century Fox).

Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, Beginners
Ewan McGregor, Mélanie Laurent, Beginners

Starring Ewan McGregor, veteran Christopher Plummer, and Inglourious Basterds' Mélanie Laurent, writer-director Mike Mills' dramatic comedy Beginners offers a portrayal of various personal relationships, both romantic and familial. Plummer is the older man who, in his mid-70s, comes out to his son (McGregor) and embarks on a relationship with a younger man (Goran Visnjic). Illness, however, interferes with his newfound freedom.

This past weekend (June 10-12), Beginners earned $243,000 at 19 North American theaters, up 72 percent from the previous weekend after adding 14 locations. The per-theater average of this Focus Features release was $12,793. Although that is a good figure, it isn't an outstanding one. In other words, although there's room for expansion, it doesn't look like Beginners will get to play in hundreds of theaters. Total after 10 days: $453,000. Budget: $3.2 million.

Photo: Focus Features

Laramie Eppler, Brad Pitt, Tye Sheridan in Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer opened poorly with only $6.26 million, landing at no. 7 at the North American box office this weekend (June 10-12) according to estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Screening at 2,524 theaters, Judy Moody averaged a meager $2,483 per site.

Reportedly budgeted at $20m, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer was directed by John Schultz, and stars Jordana Beatty and Heather Graham. This adaptation of a popular book series was distributed by Relativity Media, but produced and marketed by Smokewood Entertainment as per The Hollywood Reporter.

At no. 8, Woody Allen-Owen Wilson's Midnight in Paris brought in $6.14 million (+122 percent), after expanding from 147 to 944 locations. Though beginning to show signs of “expansion fatigue,” Midnight in Paris' per-theater average was a good $6,511. Total: $14.22 million. Cost: $30 million. (More on Midnight in Paris' box office performance – and how it compares to Allen's past films – in an upcoming post.)

Rounding out the top twelve were:

  • Kenneth Branagh-Chris Hemsworth's Thor with $2.37 million (down 44 percent).Total: $173.6 million. Worldwide: $431.6 million. Cost: $150 million.
  • Paul Walker-Vin Diesel's Fast Five with $1.71 million (down 46 percent). Total: $205.08 million. Worldwide: $583.38 million. Cost: $125 million (official); $175 million (unofficial).
  • Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain, with $875,000, up 42 percent after expanding from 20 to 47 theaters. Still in limited release, The Tree of Life boasted by far the highest per-theater average among the top twelve films, $18,617. Next Friday, Malick's cosmic family drama will expand to 114 locations. Total: $2.41 million. Worldwide: $13.41 million. Cost: $32 million.
  • Jesse Eisenberg-Anne Hathaway's Rio with $681,000, down a mere down 8 percent despite the loss of 164 venues. Total: $137.79 million. Worldwide: $464.39 million. Cost: $90 million.

Gone from the top twelve were Ginnifer Goodwin-Kate Hudson's Something Borrowed with $124,000, Reese Witherspoon-Robert Pattinson's Water for Elephants, and Paula Patton-Angela Bassett's Jumping the Broom. Water for Elephants will likely reenter the top twelve during the week, as Rio, much like every other kiddie flick, loses steam on weekdays.

Among the top twelve movies (barring newcomers Super 8 and Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer), The Tree of Life, as mentioned above, boasted the highest per-theater average, $18,617. Fast Five had the lowest, $1,290.

Also among the top twelve, X-Men: First Class posted the highest weekend-to-weekend drop-off rate, down 55 percent; Rio posted the lowest, the aforementioned down 8 percent. Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life were the only two movies to be up, up 122 percent and up 42 percent, respectively.

Revenues were down about 7 percent compared to last year.

Photo: The Tree of Life (Merie Wallace / 20th Century Fox)

June 11

Elle Fanning, Super 8
Elle Fanning, Super 8

Directed by Star Trek's J.J. Abrams, co-produced by Steven Spielberg, and featuring Noah Emmerich, Kyle Chandler, and Elle Fanning, the retro horror flick Super 8 is expected to gross $35 million over the weekend – not including $1.5 million earned at sneak previews on Thursday – after collecting about $12 million on Friday according to early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com.

If that figure is correct, Super 8 will open at the higher end of expectations despite a somewhat underwhelming Thursday midnight performance at more than 1,000 locations. Even so, a movie topping the box office chart with only $35 million means things have slowed considerably this weekend.

As per those early estimates, X-Men: First Class is down quite a bit after holding up remarkably well throughout the week. The adventure sci-fier starring Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence brought in an estimated $7.5 million (down 65 percent) on Friday. It's expected to earn $23 million (down 58 percent) by Sunday evening.

As predicted, Todd Phillips' widely panned comedy The Hangover Part II has already passed the $200 million milestone in North America. Not only that, its estimated $6 million on Friday propelled The Hangover 2 to the very top of the 2011 North American box office chart – with a cume of $204 million. Former champ Fast Five is now no. 2. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is no. 3.

And then people complain that Hollywood movies are repetitive, derivative, unimaginative. Even though that seems to be exactly what the average moviegoer wants.

Remember, those are early, rough estimates. Official Friday estimates will come out Saturday morning; weekend estimates on Sunday. Weekend box office actuals will be released on Monday.

Photo: Super 8 (François Duhamel / Paramount Pictures)

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