Friday Estimates

Friday Box-Office: 'Super 8' Opens Strong With $12.2 Million

Would you call this overperforming?

Super 8 Poster

So, apparently the $12.2 million Super 8 brought in on Friday is being referred to by most as the film "overperforming". Nikki Finke at Deadline writes, "It's encouraging to see an original summer movie overperforming at the North American box office as well as receiving an overall 'B+' CinemaScore." I don't really see this as much of an overperformance, though I guess since tracking had it in the low 30s for the weekend this is an overperformance if we want to get technical about it.

Also, to that "original" comment, considering this is a film everyone has pretty much agreed is writer/director J.J. Abrams biting off the films of Steven Spielberg I guess I am alone in thinking it isn't necessarily all that much of an "original" film, even though I acknowledge it is, by definition, "original".

Alternatively, it is nice to see a film like this doing well, a film that doesn't have any name actors and is simply a good time at the cinema, marking what most of us used to equate with summer blockbusters. As far as that $12.2 million number is concerned, that does not include the $1 million the film made from sneak previews on Thursday, but does include the $500,000 it made from midnight screenings. Taking that into consideration, we're looking at somewhere around a $33.5 million opening for a film budgeted at a reported $50 million. However, I have to wonder how much money was spent on marketing. I have seen commercials all over the place lately and Paramount sprung for a Super Bowl commercial for this bad boy. Also, how do you guys see this one playing overseas?

In second is Fox's X-Men: First Class, which won the weekend last week with $55.1 million. After $7.6 million on Friday, I'd say we're looking at about $25 million for the weekend, signaling a 54.6% dip. However, this seems like the kind of film that could maintain something like 30-35% drops after this second weekend and have a few good weekends in a row, that is, if Green Lantern wasn't releasing next weekend, which is now the superhero film I believe will end up making the most this summer if it is good in any kind of way.

The week's other newcomer, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer, managed a meager $2.2 million on Friday for what will probably be around a $5 million weekend. I was talking with someone about this one and they believe it's harder to sell a film like this to young girls whereas it is easier to sell a film like Diary of a Wimpy Kid to young boys. Does that sound about right to you? I have no idea since I haven't seen either.

Elsewhere, Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris expanded to 944 theaters and brought in $1.5 million and will likely see about $6 million for the weekend for a $6,355 per theater average. Not too shabby, bringing the film's domestic cume to $14.1 million, but he still has a ways to go to match the $23 million both Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Match Point brought in over the last few years.

Lastly, The Tree of Life brought in $229,000 from 47 theaters on Friday. The film still hasn't opened here in Seattle, though it finally arrives next week and I just might have to give it another look. I think it's time.

The complete Friday top ten is listed below and I will be back tomorrow with a complete wrap-up.

  1. Super 8 - $12.2 million
  2. X-Men: First Class - $7.6 million
  3. The Hangover Part II - $5.7 million
  4. Kung Fu Panda 2 - $4.6 million
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - $3.1 million
  6. Bridesmaids - $3 million
  7. Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer - $2.2 million
  8. Midnight in Paris - $1.5 million
  9. Thor - $673,000
  10. Fast Five - $512,000
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  • Rick

    Green Lantern may do well in the US, but internationally, I fear for its haul in Europe at least, where I keep a movie related website, and Green Lantern has been tracking about half the interest of Super 8.

    They both have about the same European release date, as far as I know (varies by country).

    I'm rooting for both to do well here, but the numbers speak in favor of Super 8.

  • John PT

    Green Lantern is going to bomb.

    41/105

  • Rashad

    From the Deadline link:

    "The studio also claims it spent a below-the-norm $25M on marketing."

  • Topy

    They couldn't have spent a large sum of money for marketing.

    As for Green Lantern, it's gonna be tough to predict that one. I mean, I'm sure it won't have a drop like Watchmen, but I don't think it has what it takes to beat Thor.

    Ryan Reynolds will grab the girls' attention, so a date movie plus fanboy rushes will probably propel this film to a $50M-$60M opening. But who knows? Maybe Super 8 will pull off an Avatar.

    • Stiggy

      I guess you guys think Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively will prevent Green Lantern from being this year's Golden Compass (Stateside at least).

  • Chad

    I don't see what makes you say that The Green Lantern will make the most out of the superhero movies. I could easily see it finishing behind Thor, Xmen, and Captain America. Reynolds has the most star power out of any of those movies technically, but among guys - the majority of people who go to see comic book movies - it's not like he is very popular. I think Captain America has built up more interest than The Green Lantern has, and I think Xmen should hold up pretty well too. Personally I don't know anyone who is really excited about the Green Lantern.

  • Colin

    Given that it was tracking in the 25 to 30 million range I would say that this is an overperformance. Look back on True Grit, a film that most thought would top out at 20 million and it made roughly four or five million more than that and everyone cheered with excitement. Not that they didn't have good reason to, it was good to see a quality film perform well. That doesn't seem to happen often enough. So yes I would call this a nice overperformance.

  • AJ

    I wouldn't even call it a strong opening, myself, let alone an over-performance. I don't think studios shell out the money for a Superbowl ad to advertise a film they expect to be a quiet little earner. Also, a B+ isn't exactly a strong Cinemascore ranking, nor is the 82% this film has at RT a tidal wave of critical support. This film seems to have struck a chord with many, however, since all of these things seem to be given the most generous spin possible wherever I look.

    Not that this is a bad thing... It's kind of nice to see Hollywood without the claws out. Still, it is kind of odd.

    WB seems to be shoveling money hand over fist into the Green Lantern marketing campaign, trying to make up for the slow start. It's going to succeed on opening by sheer force of studio will (and a bunch of life-long DC comic fans who have been waiting to see some hero other than Batman or Superman get a chance), but I expect it'll come in between Thor and Wolverine for opening weekend, at best. Where it goes from there will depend on whether it's actually any good.

  • Winchester

    It may not have a tidal wave of support but it's RT score is a few points ahead of Fast Five and Thor and nearly 50 points better than Pirates of the Caribbean. It's also, however, a few points lower than X-Men: First Class.

    Cinemascores seem to be odd things as well, True Grit recieved an overall B+ and look how well it ended up doing both financially and critically.

    I'd call it an opening that's pretty much where I expected it to be numerically, but whether it's soft or strong can ultimately be argued both ways. For a film heavily pushed using the name Spielberg and Abrams, one might have expected more.................for a film that no-one knew anything else about until mostly hours before it was released, it might be viewed as better than it could have gone, even with a wide release.

    Another factor will be what the film really cost. Paramount is sticking to it's guns on $50 million budget and $25 million P&A and if there's any number I would really doubt it would be the P&A spend. That seems too low indeed when Superbowl ads are factored. I won't see the film until August thanks to it's release pattern and then I'll probably have a better opinion on whether it looks like the $50 figure seems right (on the plus side it has a totally no-name cast, so there were no ten, twenty million dollar paychecks for any of the actors which is a saving). But then I've seen films with budgets listed at $200 million and wondered what exactly the money went on (Quantum of Solace for a start) when I saw the film.

    With that opening, it could make it past $100 million, or it could end up where Battle: Los Angeles did in the low 80s. That's where the interest in subsequent weekend holds will be.

    As for Green Lantern, I still have absolutely zero interest in seeing the film but I can only speak for myself. Online, I don't read an overwhelming majority of people wanting to see it, nor does everyone want to skip it. It's about half and half. WB have certainly definitely spent a fortune on it (both production and P&A) and they will get a big OW just by sheer force of marketing. But I don't know what sort of OW would qualify it as a hit. I can't see it doing hugely better than Thor though. But it might.

    I'm not sure I can see why it will be the biggest grossing superhero film of the year yet, but sure, one of them has to and it won't be 'X-Men', so there's only this and Captain America left. It might just by luck of the draw when the dust settles.

    • AJ

      The True Grit comparison that the studio has brought up themselves somewhat aligns with my point... That was a film that actually had a tidal wave of critical support, with 96% critical approval at RT and was constantly being placed in awards contention or on critics year's best lists throughout its run. That the opening night audience struggled with it enough to only rate it a B+ seems understandable despite the critical acclaim which drove it's eventual box office success.

      Super 8, by comparison, doesn't tower over other films in terms of critical acclaim. This summer has already offered more positively reviewed films than panned films,, and Super 8 is pretty much right in the middle of them. (I will admit that it likely has more positive reviews that would count as "raves" than some of the other summer films, however.) Combined with the somewhat lackluster B+ audience score and decidedly average box office for a special-effects featuring alien monster flick, it just seems odd to me to see it treated so reverently.

      Actually, the comparison that seems the most interesting to me is the one that the film itself is trying the hardest to evoke: is it at all fair to compare the success of Super 8 against something like E.T., which also featured a child cast and no big stars? If not, what are the factors that keep Abrams from playing in the same ballpark with Spielberg?

      • Winchester

        It might depend on what films you're referring to that place Super 8 in the middle - out of this summer's major releases so far (by which I'm assuming post-'Fast Five' and certainly 'Thor') it's current 82% is beaten only by the 87% of 'X-Men: First Class'. There are some films released earlier than that which are higher, and some more limited releases sure, but then they are not Summer films. If you could name the films you refer to obliquely, perhaps that might provide some idea of what exactly you're comparing it to, because looking at the things, it actually appears to be in the upper tier so far.

        One also, I think has to weigh up the effect of the advertising and branding - 'Fast Five', 'Pirates 4' all had built in audiences, and marketing that gave plenty away about what one was getting (assuming anyone already didn't with these two films) and even 'Thor' had it's own preset audience with 'The Avengers' plan and it's comic book history. These films didn't have tidal waves of critical support either (whatever that precisely means anyway) but they had recognition and an audience ready for them.

        'Super 8' had none of these things (even the Superbowl ad didn't reveal a whole lot) and actively promoted secrecy (probably not really required since I doubt there's anything that surprising in it anyway) about itself, from an enigmatic title, no names etc

        'Super 8' is launching on almost the same weekend as 'E:T' did in 1982, so it might be mildly interesting to see what the adjusted opening weekend of E:T ($11 million on about a thousand locations then vs what looks like $33-$35 million on about 3300 today) would be and see how wide of each other they are (in attendance, probably a good bit), but I don't think anyone would be expecting 'Super 8' to play like 'E:T' did then. That long play factor is what they are trying to replicate, but even at that it's not commonly how films work anymore.

        Is it fair to compare two films separated by 29 years? I really don't know if it is, but I have no doubt at all that some will. By that measure, 'Super 8' would likely be deemed a failure in comparison no matter what it earns overall...............but I'd suspect that's what those doing the comparison would be seeking to do in the first place.

      • Winchester

        Now that's interesting................the PTA's for E:T and Super 8 are (in unadjusted terms) very, very close.

        Does that mean anything? Who knows, I'll observe it anyway.

      • AJ

        I was counting Kung Fu Panda 2 and Bridesmaids among the summer releases (as I can't think of any reason why they wouldn't), both of which scored higher than Super 8 along with X-men... All of them in the 80% range, followed closely by Fast Five and Thor in the high 70's. Out of all the wide releases in the states starting with Fast Five, only Pirates and the Hangover haven't been solidly in the positive range. Out of the six praised summer films on RT, Super 8 comes in 4th. That's pretty much the middle of the pack... Which is to show that it's been a fairly entertaining summer so far.

      • Winchester

        Fair enough if you want to count kids/family animation as well - I confess I wasn't because I would never tend to incorporate them as part of the main Summer line-up.

        I'd compare animation to other animation and live-action with live-action myself, and I'm not sure if comedies tend to be counted either (although if one wanted to and thus throw in The Hangover, Part 2 that would also be coming in vastly below Super 8's score).

        Of course, I'm not actually sure there's a hard and fast rule either about what to include..................

  • AJ

    Oh, I knew when I made the comparison that Super 8 will likely never match E.T. In terms of box office impact. I don't think anyone could expect it to. The question that interests me is why? What advantage did Spielberg have? Was E.T.'s advertising somehow significantly different than what Abrams tried with this film? Personally, I think the "secret" nature of the film's advertising has been overstated. I feel like they tried to tell us just as much about the nature of the film as we knew about E.T. Going in, but then perhaps, being on the Internet, I had a better grasp on it than the general populace.

    The whole thing surprises me, as people are acting like everything about Super 8 is unprecedented or at least could never be expected to be succeed, and yet the film is so obviously tailored after one of the most successful films in history. So why should we have assumed it wouldn't do better?

    • Winchester

      I'd think the way that films and studios operate these days is an obvious part of the answer.

      Obviously, E:T didn't open to massive numbers in 1982 either (I may be off, but when I experimented with Box Office Mojo's converter I got E:T's opening to come in at around $29 million or so in today's money, but someone else may have a better way of calculating it to get something more accurate, so it's merely an indicator) but films weren't expected to then.

      Theatre counts were nothing like they are today, and having a film that opened slow, low and then built up word of mouth over the following weeks and months was the way in the 80s. Some of the 80s highest grossers had very low (by today's standards) openings, including fare such as Fatal Attraction and Top Gun. Then, E:T ended up in release for 52 weeks - that rarely ever happens today. Avatar might have come close but that was also a rarity. The structure is completely different. A major film today is usually built to hoover up as much as it can in it's first 3/4/5 days of saturation release and then having holds is less of a priority. In that sense, Super 8's pre release strategy may not have been unprecedented, but it certainly a major film's strategy hasn't particularly been done this way for a very long time.

      Now I have no idea what the marketing for E:T was like in 1982, I'm way too young for that.

      What did Spielberg have? He had nothing until it came out and then it became a complete phenomenon that no-one could have seen coming. Was it the script? The direction? The cast? Some magical combination of all the rest came to be and made a phenomenon in that film. You can homage that all you want, but the audience of 29 years ago isn't the audience of today, so no - I don't actually believe such comparable success was in any way guaranteed with Super 8. It still won't even come close.

      (I realise you probably know all this, but just on the off chance I'm saying it anyway).

      Something else could be that today's younger audience are perhaps disconnected from the young Spielberg who made these 70s/80s era films and having been fed endless generic superhero films and Micheal bay flicks to go ape over instead might mean that the main audience for this film would have been people in their 30s and even 40s. Kids don't really do 'wonder','innocence' and 'mystery' so much anymore.............they can find everything out on their iPhone in three seconds. The idea of the film wouldn't necessarily mean anything to them, which again raised a question mark over whether they would be interested in seeing it.

      Although exit polling suggests it turns out they might have.

    • AJ

      Well, if I did the math correctly, then E.T.'s opening adjusts to around $31.6m, so Super 8 has it beat out of the gate. It's the insane legs that gave E.T. it's success (the opening weekend was just 3.3% of the final take), so perhaps that is indeed the only advantage Spielberg had back then, and you do need major stars to open better.