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NORTH AMERICA: 4-Day Estimates: 'The Butler' Moves into First with $20.0M; After Leading 3-Day Frame 'One Direction: This Is Us' Slides to Second for the 4-Day with $18.0M; 'Instructions Not Included' A Major Surprise with $10.0M (6th Update) on August 30, 2013

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Monday Update: After placing in a close second for the three-day frame with $14.88 million, Lee Daniels' The Butler is estimated to lead the four-day holiday frame with $20.01 million. The four-day take for the awards season hopeful from The Weinstein Company was up a strong 21 percent over last weekend's three-day take. The Butler has grossed $79.28 million through 18 days of release and is now running 13.5 percent ahead of the $69.82 million 18-day take of 42 earlier this year. Thanks to continued strong holding power, it will only be a matter of time before The Butler surpasses the $100 million domestic milestone.

Sony's One Direction: This Is Us continued to display early massive front-loading on Sunday. As a result, the film's three-day take ultimately came in below earlier estimates at $15.8 million. While that was enough to hold onto first place for the three-day frame, the film's four-day estimate of $18.0 million places it in second for the long weekend. The four-day take of This Is Us was 42 percent softer than the $31.27 million four-day haul of 2011's Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and 39 percent stronger than the $12.97 million four-day start of 2009's Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. While One Direction: This Is Us opened towards the lower end of expectations this weekend, the film's front-loading towards Friday's performance obviously isn't a good sign going forward.

We're the Millers placed in third this weekend with respective estimated three-day and four-day takes of $12.68 million and $15.93 million. The four-day take for the Warner Bros. comedy was up a terrific 22 percent over last weekend. We're the Millers surpassed the $100 million mark on Friday and has now grossed $112.88 million through 27 days of release.

Lionsgate's Instructions Not Included continued to surprise in a big way on Sunday. The three-day take for the Eugenio Derbez comedy vehicle from Pantelion Films came in at $7.84 million, which exceeded Sunday's studio estimate. The film will finish in fifth for the four-day frame with an estimated $10.0 million. Playing in a modest 347 locations; Instructions Not Included earned a tremendous four-day per-location average of $28,818. Instructions Not Included received an A+ rating on CinemaScore and held up very well throughout the weekend; both of which are strong early signs for the film going forward. Lionsgate will expand the film into additional locations next weekend.

Meanwhile, the weekend's other major releases failed to make much noise. Warner's Getaway opened below its already modest expectations with a tenth place estimated four-day take of $5.53 million (from 2,130 locations). Focus' Closed Circuit grossed an estimated $3.14 million for the four-day frame (from 870 locations), which brings the film's six-day start to a soft $3.65 million. The Weinstein Company's The Grandmaster took in an estimated $3.12 million in four days (from 749 locations), bringing the film's eleven-day total gross to $3.32 million. Respective four-day per-location averages were $2,596 for Getaway, $3,607 for Closed Circuit and $4,168 for The Grandmaster.

This weekend's overall four-day box office total is on course to come in at just under $160 million.  That will easily set a new unadjusted box office record for Labor Day weekend.  The previous unadjusted record holder was Labor Day weekend of 2007 with an overall four-day take of $148.8 million.

Sunday Update: Sony's One Direction: This Is Us led the way this weekend with an estimated $17.0 million over the three-day frame. Sony's four-day estimate for the 3D concert documentary stands at $20.5 million, which places it in a tight race for first over the four-day frame with Lee Daniels' The Butler. Compared to previous concert documentaries, the three-day start of One Direction: This Is Us was 42 percent below the $29.51 million opening weekend take of 2011's Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and 36 percent ahead of the $12.51 million start of 2009's Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.

Due to their fan-driven nature, concert documentaries tend to be very front-loaded and One Direction: This Is Us clearly fit into that mold this weekend. After grossing $8.86 million on Friday (which included an estimated $2.7 million from late night Thursday shows), This Is Us fell a massive 54 percent on Saturday to take in $4.04 million and is estimated to increase slightly on Sunday to gross $4.1 million. That places the film's estimated three-day opening weekend to Friday ratio at 1.92 to 1.

This Is Us received a strong A rating on CinemaScore, which indicates that One Direction fans are liking the film in general, but that rating likely won't help the film's long-term prospects much given the extent of the film's early front-loading. The audience breakdown for One Direction: This Is Us skewed heavily towards female moviegoers (87 percent) and moviegoers under 17 (65 percent).

After topping the box office each of the past two weekends, Lee Daniels' The Butler fell one spot to take second place over the three-day frame with an estimated $14.74 million. The awards season hopeful from The Weinstein Company was down a slim 11 percent from last weekend, as the film benefited from continued strong word of mouth and from the Labor Day holiday this weekend. BoxOffice is currently projecting that The Butler will gross $20.0 million for the four-day weekend, which as mentioned, will place it in a tight race for first with One Direction: This Is Us over the four-day frame. With a strong $74.01 million 17-day total through Sunday, The Butler is currently running 7 percent ahead of the $69.01 million 17-day take of 42 earlier this year.

Warner's We're the Millers also continued to hold up nicely this weekend. The break-out comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis was down one spot and only 3 percent from last weekend to place in third with an estimated $12.61 million. In the process, We're the Millers surpassed the $100 million domestic mark this weekend (on Friday, the film's 24th day of release). The 26-day total for We're the Millers stands at an impressive $109.56 million. BoxOffice is estimating that We're the Millers will take in $16.2 million for the four-day weekend.

In a major surprise, Lionsgate's Instructions Not Included delivered the weekend's second largest debut with a fifth place estimated three-day start of $7.5 million. The Eugenio Derbez comedy vehicle from Pantelion Films earned a tremendous three-day per-location average of $21,614 from a modest 347 locations. Instructions Not Included registered the largest opening weekend ever for a Pantelion Films release, as it easily topped the $2.29 million debut of last year's Casa de mi Padre; and furthermore, is already the highest grossing film ever for Pantelion. Lionsgate's four-day estimate for the film is $9.3 million. Instructions Not Included received an A+ rating on CinemaScore and boasts an estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 3.90 to 1; both of which are strong early signs for the film going forward.

Warner's Getaway opened below its already modest expectations with a ninth place estimated three-day start of $4.51 million. The action crime film starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez averaged a very soft $2,115 from 2,130 locations. The opening weekend take of Getaway came in below the $4.86 million grossed by Spring Breakers during its first weekend of wide release (in 1,104 locations) earlier this year. BoxOffice is projecting a $5.6 million four-day start for Getaway. The film received a lackluster C+ rating on CinemaScore.

In moderate release, Focus' Closed Circuit and The Weinstein Company's The Grandmaster took in similar three-day grosses of $2.54 million and $2.45 million. While neither film made much noise this weekend, both films were able to claim higher per-location averages for the weekend than Getaway did. BoxOffice is currently projecting respective four-day takes of $3.25 million for Closed Circuit and $3.05 million for The Grandmaster.

In other box office news this weekend, Paramount's World War Z surpassed the $200 million domestic milestone, while Warner's Pacific Rim passed by the $100 million domestic mark.

Full three-day studio weekend estimates can be found here.

Saturday Update: Official studio estimates for Friday are in, and One Direction: This Is Us claimed first place for the day with $8.9 million. That figure includes $2.7 million from Thursday night shows. The film lagged behind Justin Bieber: Never Say Never's $12.4 million opening day in February 2011, but still performed much stronger than the $4.96 million first day take of 2009's Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. The One Direction flick's positive critical reception is also carrying over: its Flixster user score has increased to 79 percent (from a mid-60s anticipation level)--indicating positive word of mouth among the limited target audience. Domestically, This Is Us should pull in $21 million through Sunday and $25 million for the four-day weekend. BoxOffice projects a first place finish for both frames.

Lee Daniels' The Butler is projected to take second place for the holiday frame. Down just over 24 percent from last Friday, the word-of-mouth hit drama grabbed $3.62 million yesterday as it heads for $14.5 million over the three-day weekend and $19.5 million for the four-day frame.

Meanwhile, Getaway failed to gain traction in its debut. Audiences sent the thriller to a disappointing $1.42 million on Friday. Despite trying to bring in crowds young and old with Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez in starring roles, moviegoers are clearly signaling that they're burnt out on action flicks right now. With a low 53 percent Flixster user approval rating, a long run seems to be off the table. BoxOffice projects Getaway will take in $4.4 million through Sunday and $5.4 million by the end of Labor Day.

Closed Circuit added an estimated $750,000 on Friday, pushing its three-day total to $1.26 million. That pic should earn $2.7 million for the three-day weekend and $3.45 million for the four-day.

On to more encouraging news, Lionsgate's Instructions Not Included earns the "surprise of the weekend" award thanks to a strong $1.925 million opening day from just 347 locations. The dramedy, led by popular Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez, is proving to be a welcomed offering for Latino audiences over the holiday weekend. BoxOffice is projecting an impressive $5.5 million three-day weekend and $6.8 million four-day frame.

The Grandmaster is set to bring in $2.3 million through Sunday and $2.85 million over the four-day weekend. The Weinstein Company's release expanded into 749 theaters yesterday.

Friday Update #2: Sources tell BoxOffice that One Direction: This Is Us looks to be on pace for $18 million or so over the four-day holiday frame based on early Friday grosses. That's a solid start for the concert flick even though it won't match the $29 million tally Justin Bieber: Never Say Never managed over three days during its North American debut. This Is Us could have the last laugh though if it performs well overseas--a healthy haul in the UK is a given based on the band's origins--and ends up topping Never Say Never's $98.6 million global total. 

The Butler is looking like it will be #2. Official numbers are due tomorrow morning from The Weinstein Company.

Newcomers Getaway and Closed Circuit are looking anemic. Even though critics are ripping it shreds, Getaway looks poised to perform better over the four day frame with around $5 million. Closed Circuit should take in $4.3 million or so over the next four days.

Check back tomorrow for official studio numbers and updated projections. 

Friday Update: Sony reports that One Direction: This Is Us snagged $2.7 million from Thursday evening shows starting at 7 p.m. That's an impressive start considering that many teens are now back in school.

More coming soon...

Thursday Update: Fandango reports that One Direction: This Is Us leads daily ticket sales with an impressive 68% market share. To be fair, the teen-skewing flick won't face a whole lot of serious competition from other new films during the extended holiday frame. BoxOffice.com forecasts that fellow newcomers Closed Circuit and Getaway will come in under $10 million over four days. Closed Circuit posted only $248,704 on Wednesday, a weak start for a film that distributor Focus clearly doesn't have a lot of faith in. It'll be a close race between the boy band doc and Lee Daniels' The Butler for first place. We're the Millers is also still going strong. 

According to a Fandango survey of more than 1,000 One Direction ticket-buyers:

· 98% are female;

· 87% watched One Direction win at the Video Music Awards on MTV;

· 67% claim it's "very important" for them to see the movie in 3D;

· The majority surveyed said Harry Styles is their favorite One Direction member, with Niall Horan a close second.

 

ANALYSIS: Rock & Reel - One Direction and the Rise of the Concert Film on August 30, 2013

1d3dstill.jpgBy Daniel Loria

’N Sync was at the height of its fame in 2001. The band was coming off of the best-selling success of its album No Strings Attached during a time when record sales still mattered. The accompanying world tour had also been a hit, spawning an Imax version of one of the group’s sold-out shows in Detroit. ’N Sync: Bigger Than Live was released in the giant-screen format in 2001 as a 48-minute concert film. The movie grossed $44,082 in its opening weekend and topped out its theatrical run at $1.8 million. By the end of the decade, ’N Sync would no longer be releasing albums, and the music industry would be turned on its head. Concert movies, however, would be entering a new age of financial viability.

The rise of digital media completely changed the music industry. A byproduct of that transition was the added pressure on recording artists to increase the scope and length of their tours, adding performances to mitigate the losses resulting from the steep drop in album sales. Musicians faced the same challenge that exhibitors have dealt with for generations: how to sustain an industry amid the rise of new home-entertainment technologies. Concerts sought to reconnect the public with the excitement and spectacle of live music. 

The top five highest-grossing concert films of all time have been released over the past six years. The time frame directly aligns with the recession and postrecession era that followed the 2008 financial crash. The economic turmoil left families with a decrease in disposable income as the global economy struggled to reassert itself. A family outing to the closest venue for a big concert suddenly had the potential to become a burdensome expense. High ticket prices, transportation costs, parking, concessions, and merchandise could easily turn a family night out into an evening costing upward of $500.

Post-recession America has provided the perfect circumstances for concert films to find an audience. Families with children too young to attend live concerts and those who find it too expensive to attend the events can now enjoy a similar level of a concert’s excitement and spectacle at a fraction of the cost in their local movie theaters.

This isn't to imply that ticket sales for concerts have dipped since 2008, nor that concert films have in any way begun to supplant live music events. Concert movies have instead become a viable alternative for family entertainment and, for the first time in box office history, a potential source of significant profit for exhibitors, distributors, artists, and audiences.

Pop idols were born as soon as teenagers became a demographic of consumers with enough buying power to bring in profit for any company. If these artists could sell records, the assumption was that they could sell movies as well. The rise of the teenage consumer occurred throughout the 1950s, a period coinciding with the popular emergence of television and during the height of Hollywood’s studio system. This was a period when studios were in the business of making movies with a streamlined efficiency; studios had their own backlots, stables of screenwriters, and an ever-rotating talent pool of actors and directors on exclusive contracts. It didn’t really matter if Elvis could act or not, there was already a team on salary employed by the studio that could mold a project around the star.

These star vehicles saw minor changes as the film industry went through its own transformation over the subsequent years. The generations that followed came with their share of recording artists who attempted a transition to the silver screen. There are too many failures in this category to list, but several success stories have emerged, as in the case of artists like Barbra Streisand, Kris Kristofferson, Cher, Will Smith, and Mark Wahlberg. The most striking recent example comes with ’N Sync’s Justin Timberlake, who has spent the better part of the last decade on acting projects instead of a solo pop career that showed promise in 2006.

If the Spice Girls were formed in today’s media market, one has to wonder if something like Spice World would still get made. Pop stars have turned a corner thanks to the newfound box office viability of concert films; if the public loves to see these artists sing, does that mean they’re just as interested in seeing them act? A great Spice Girls concert can be a fun experience, even within a kitsch context, but a Spice Girls film can’t guarantee a good shelf life beyond a cult appreciation. Today’s concert films cut out the middleman of a screenwriter and rid themselves from the constraints of narrative cinema to give audiences a simpler product: pop stars doing what they do best.

Concert films are equally as enticing for producers and artists themselves. The entire shoot can be incorporated into an existing tour, requiring little extra effort or time from stars. No script development, no creative differences with directors, no time editing around a dramatic performance that doesn’t work on screen. The film’s theatrical release becomes a de facto global tour for recording artists without requiring any additional nights inside of a tour bus. The concert film has therefore become ingrained into a band’s marketing strategy. Morgan Spurlock, the documentary filmmaker of the product-placement satire The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, knows a thing or two about today’s nebulous line between a feature film and a marketing campaign. He is also the director and one of the producers of this summer’s biggest concert movie, One Direction: This Is Us. 

The success of recent music documentaries owes a lot to the rise of reality television as well. Live music had been a staple of network TV for years before the introduction of MTV shifted recording artists to cable television. The pop band explosion of the late ’90s used MTV’s popular after-school talk-show/music-video-countdown “Total Request Live” as a launching pad. The show was filmed at MTV’s Times Square studios with sweeping shots of screaming teenage fans holding homemade signs in support of their teen idols. TRL was cancelled in 2008 as MTV began to focus more on unscripted reality series like The Hills, the successful spin-off to the wildly popular Laguna Beach.

By that time, music performances had moved back to network television thanks to the success of Fox’s American Idol. The show came on as a summer replacement in 2002 and became a national phenomenon. Music performances on network television dominated watercooler chatter around the nation. Fox would continue to bank on this renewed interest in musical performances with Glee in 2009. That show went on to get its very own big-screen concert film in 2011, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie finished a limited release in North America with $11.8 million.

The Disney Channel took a cue from this trend when it premiered Hannah Montana in 2006. The show launched the music career of its star, Miley Cyrus, by focusing on the story of the day-to-day life of a tween pop star. It was only a matter of time before Cyrus became a star in her own right, free from her fictional alter ego. Disney banked on the popularity of the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana phenomenon with the 2008 film Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert. The movie broke records in limited release, grossing $65.3 million during its North American run. The Cyrus vehicle still holds the highest opening weekend of all time for a concert film with a $31.3 million debut.

Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert included an appearance by another band featured in Cyrus’ television show, the Jonas Brothers. The boy band trio would release a concert film of its own the following year, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. The project managed to become one of the most successful films in the genre after grossing $19.1 million in North America.

The success of these Disney releases motivated other studios to seek out similar projects of their own. Michael Jackson’s untimely death prevented the King of Pop from embarking on a comeback world tour. The rehearsal footage was edited into a concert documentary and released by Sony only four months after the singer’s death. This Is It grossed $72 million in North America and became the highest-grossing concert film of all time in the global box office, making $261 million worldwide.

It was only going to be a matter of time before other pop stars joined the act. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never was released in North America in 2011, becoming the highest-grossing concert film of all time domestically with a $73 million total in North America. Paramount distributed the 3D concert film, which went on to finish its theatrical run with a $98.4 million global cume.

The release of One Direction: This Is Us will come as an interesting closing chapter in a turbulent summer for Sony. The company will be hoping that One Direction: This Is Us can become its safest bet of the summer season: the band comes with an established legion of global fans, particularly the types of fans who go to movie theaters with their parents.

It makes sense that both the music and film industries are relying on spectacle to compete against emerging home-entertainment technologies. Exhibitors have been down this road before and are used to tapping into audience trends in their programming. It’s becoming easier to find screenings of live events simulcast in movie screens around the country, bringing a range of events from performances by New York’s Metropolitan Opera to the latest Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight to a theater near you.

Live events have the potential to become an important alternative for exhibitors. Speculation abounds in the cable television industry about a future where cord-cutting becomes commonplace, bringing down the subscriber count in the pay-television business. This provides an interesting opportunity for exhibitors, who could offer live events on a big screen at a fraction of the cost of a cable subscription or pay-per-view package.

While concert movies haven’t reached the blockbuster box office level of studios’ summer tentpoles, they provide the industry the simple alternative to produce a film with built-in audience awareness and a loyal fan base without going anywhere near the inflating budgets of recognizable franchises. The concert film’s box office revival is a testament to the resiliency of the silver screen amidst a changing media landscape.

New technology in the entertainment industry is discarding old business models as fast as it is creating new opportunities. Exhibitors have been able to thrive throughout all the changes in the film industry by consistently innovating and connecting with audiences’ tastes and viewing tendencies. Concert movies could be the first step for the big screen to go live in the near future.

A version of this article originally appeared in the August issue of BoxOffice Magazine.

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GLOBAL: 'Monsters University' Crosses $700M on August 29, 2013

MonstersUStill3.jpegMonsters University became the fourth Disney/Pixar to cross the $700 million mark on Thursday, joining Toy Story 3 ($1.063B), Finding Nemo ($922M), and Up ($731M) as one of the top grossing releases worldwide for the companies. Monsters University is expected to overtake Toy Story 3 as the biggest Pixar film of all time in China. 

Superman/Batman Movie Set To Film In Michigan on August 29, 2013

Is Michigan Hollywood's new backyard? 

It certainly seems like it these days. Michael Bay is currently shooting the next Transformers in Detroit, and now Zack Snyder will bring his Man of Steel sequel there as well. (See official press release below.)

The Untitled Superman/Batman Film will hit theaters on July 17, 2015.

The Michigan Film Office announced today that the next DC Entertainment Super Hero movie from Warner Bros. Pictures has been approved for a film incentive from the state.

The film, from director Zack Snyder, brings together the two greatest Super Heroes of all time-Superman and Batman-for the first time on the big screen. Production on the new film is expected to begin in metro Detroit and throughout Michigan sometime in the first quarter of 2014. Snyder is co-writing the story with David S. Goyer, who is writing the screenplay. Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder are producing the film, which will star Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane.

"This project will further strengthen the reputation of Michigan and metro Detroit as a premier film destination," said Margaret O'Riley, director of the Michigan Film Office. "We look forward to the spotlight shining on our incredibly talented workforce and the businesses that support our film industry here in Michigan."

"Detroit is a great example of a quintessential American city, and I know it will make the perfect backdrop for our movie," stated filmmaker Zack Snyder. "Detroit and the entire state of Michigan have been fantastic collaborators, and we are looking forward to working together on this film."

The as-yet-untitled feature film was awarded an incentive of $35 million on $131 million of projected in-state expenditures. The production is expected to hire 406 Michigan workers, with a full time equivalent of 426 jobs, plus an additional 6,000 man/days of extra work. The production anticipates using approximately 500 local Michigan vendors during the course of production and spending $5.1 million on local hotels, as well as an additional $3.5 million in out-of-town cast and crew per diem payments that will be spent in the local economy but which fall outside of the incentive program.

The incentive funding for the project will be allocated out of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget. However, any funding remaining from the budget at the end of the current fiscal year will be directed to offset the full incentive amount for this project.

 

FANDANGO TO ACQUIRE QUANTUM REWARDS, THE LEADING PROVIDER OF MOVIE TICKET-RELATED PROMOTIONS AND OWNER OF HOLLYWOOD MOVIE MONEY on August 28, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- In the midst of its biggest ticket-selling summer in company history, Fandango announced today it has entered into an agreement to acquire the business of Quantum Loyalty Solutions, Inc., the leading provider of movie ticket-related promotions and owner of Hollywood Movie Money, a trusted and widely recognized movie currency that is accepted at more than 36,000 screens nationwide. The acquisition of Quantum will accelerate Fandango's promotional movie ticket and gift card business, dramatically increasing the company's broad array of product offerings and marketing solutions for studios, exhibitors, advertisers, and promotional sponsors worldwide. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

For nearly three decades, Quantum has connected top brands with blockbuster movies through creative Hollywood Movie Money promotions and customer loyalty programs, centered on the moviegoing experience. Recent campaigns have supported some of the year's biggest films including "Iron Man 3," "Despicable Me 2," "Man of Steel," "Monsters University," "Fast and Furious 6," "Star Trek into Darkness," "The Heat" and others.

"The marriage of Quantum's promotions business and Fandango's ticketing platform will offer unprecedented new opportunities for studios, exhibitors and brands to engage with millions of moviegoers," said Paul Yanover, President of Fandango. "We look forward to working with the Quantum team to build on Hollywood Movie Money's momentum and help drive even more movie fans into theaters."

The union will make Hollywood Movie Money currency more convenient for consumers, as many rewards will now be redeemable through Fandango's website and mobile apps, visited by more than 41 million moviegoers each month. For the first time, consumers redeeming Hollywood Movie Money rewards will also be able to purchase additional movie tickets for their friends or family who are accompanying them to the theater.

Fandango provides online and mobile ticketing to more than 21,000 screens nationwide, more than 75% of U.S. theaters with advance ticketing capabilities. With the addition of Quantum, Fandango will have an unparalleled movie ticket promotion capability reaching over 95% of U.S. theaters, as well as many theaters in major international markets.

The acquisition follows Fandango's recent announcement that it signed its fifth new exhibitor this year, Pacific Theatres, expanding its Southern California footprint to cover 80% of theaters with advance ticketing capabilities. The other new exhibitor agreements include Muvico, Studio Movie Grill, Krikorian Premiere Theatres and Penn Cinema, in addition to Fandango's extension of its long-term partnership with Regal Entertainment Group, the nation's largest theater circuit.


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