GLOBAL: 'Godzilla' Takes Over China, Crosses $400M Worldwide on June 15, 2014

godzillaopening.pngGodzilla stomped through China in its opening weekend. The monster movie claimed a $36 million debut in the market en route to a $38 million weekend overeseas. IMAX screenings in China alone brought in over $4.5 million, too close to call to see if Godzilla broke the record for the biggest opening weekend on IMAX -a title currently held by the previous Hobbit film. The giant lizard has now grossed $248.3 million overseas and $440 million worldwide in his (her?) latest film.

Edge of Tomorrow continues to battle through the overseas markets, adding $37.4 million in its latest frame to reach a $181 million cume outside of North America. IMAX screenings contributed $3.4 million this weekend, bringing the film's global IMAX haul up to $22 million. Edge of Tomorrow has grossed $237.6 million worldwide.

Maleficent conjured up another $37.2 million from 53 territories during its third weekend overseas. The Angelina Jolie film is now up to $272.9 million outside of North America and has grossed a strong $436.4 million globally. Top markets for the Disney film include a surprisingly robust $36 million from Mexico, $32.2 million from Russia, $22.7 million from the UK, and $18.6 million from Brazil. Maleficent expands to China next weekend.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 took on a big expansion and played on 4,428 screens across 25 markets overseas. The film collected $24.8 million outside of North America to post a $26.5 million overseas cume and $76.5 million global haul on the weekend of its North American release. IMAX screenings worldwide contributed $2.1 million to that tally. The animated film expands to 28 markets next weekend.

22 Jump Street jumped to an $80.6 million global haul after the film's North American debut this weekend. The buddy comedy grossed an additional $6.9 million in its latest frame overseas to take its cume outside of North America to $20.6 million.

X-Men: Days of Future Past added $18.2 million to its overseas tally, taking its total outside of North America to $457.6 million. The film has grossed $663.5 million worldwide. China continues to lead all the overseas markets with a $111.8 million haul.

The Fault in our Stars added $16.4 million in its latest weekend overseas after expanding to 21 new markets. The drama is curerntly in release in a total of 37 markets outside of North America, where it is currently reporting a $39.3 million cume. The film has grossed $121.6 million worldwide, including a commanding performance in Brazil where it has occupied the #1 spot for two consecutive weeks.

Noah was just shy of cooling Frozen's hot streak in Japan, finishing in second place in its debut in the market with a $3.5 million bow from 338 locations. The Japanese premiere lifts Noah to a $251 million overseas total and $352.1 million worldwide cume.

Frozen held on to maintain the #1 spot in Japan for the 14th consecutive weekend, however, fighting off the Biblical epic by topping the box office yet again, this time with a $3.8 million haul. The animated hit is now up to $852 million overseas and $1.252 billion worldwide.

NORTH AMERICA: Studio Estimates: '22 Jump Street' Wins the Battle of the Sequels with $60.0M; 'How to Train Your Dragon 2' #2 with $50.0M on June 15, 2014


Sunday Update: Sony's 22 Jump Street won this weekend's box office battle with relative ease with an estimated first place debut of $60.0 million. The highly anticipated action comedy sequel starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum had been expected to find itself in a close battle for first place with How to Train Your Dragon 2. 22 Jump Street opened in line with its lofty expectations this weekend. The film opened an impressive 65 percent stronger than the $36.30 million debut of 2012's 21 Jump Street and 10 percent below the $66.41 million breakout debut of last year's World War Z. 22 Jump Street registered the second largest opening weekend ever for an R-rated comedy (behind only the $85.95 million opening weekend take of 2011's The Hangover Part II). The film had an especially impressive per-location average of $18,149 for the frame.

22 Jump Street debuted with $25.2 million on Friday (which included $5.5 million from evening shows on Thursday), declined 26 percent on Saturday to gross $18.75 million (the decline being quite understandable given the size of the film's Thursday night start) and is estimated to fall 14 percent on Sunday for a Father's Day gross of $16.05 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.38 to 1. While that ratio does indicate significant initial front-loading, the film is likely to be helped out going forward by strong word of mouth (it received an A- rating on CinemaScore and has been well received by critics) and by the relative lack of surefire blockbusters entering the marketplace over the next three weeks (with the one exception being Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction). 22 Jump Street was helped out greatly by having clear four-quadrant appeal. The audience breakdown for the film was split evenly between male and female moviegoers and skewed towards moviegoers under 25 (56 percent).

How to Train Your Dragon 2 took second place with an estimated $50.0 million. The 3D computer animated sequel from Fox and DreamWorks Animation debuted below pre-release expectations. The film's start was underwhelming, especially given that the film was widely expected to be among the summer's highest grossing films domestically. Holding power will now be even more important for How to Train Your Dragon 2 going forward and will ultimately determine whether or not the film's overall domestic performance is a disappointment. While How to Train Your Dragon 2 opened 14 percent ahead of the $43.73 million opening weekend take of 2010's How to Train Your Dragon, it debuted 39 percent softer than the $82.43 million start of last year's Monsters University.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 debuted with $18.5 million on Friday (which included a relatively large $2 million from evening shows on Thursday), declined 7 percent on Saturday to gross $17.18 million and is estimated to fall 17 percent to gross $14.33 million on Father's Day. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at a so-so 2.70 to 1. On the positive side of things, with strong early word of mouth (the film received a strong A rating on CinemaScore) and no new computer animated films entering the marketplace until Disney's Planes: Fire & Rescue arrives on July 18, odds are extremely strong that How to Train Your Dragon 2 will hold up very well going forward. The original film boasted an especially impressive total gross to opening weekend ratio of 4.98 to 1.

Disney's Maleficent continued to hold up relatively well this weekend with an estimated third place take of $19.01 million. The 3D fantasy blockbuster starring Angelina Jolie was down 45 percent from last weekend, which represented a very solid hold when considering the new direct competition the film faced from How to Train Your Dragon 2. Maleficent has grossed a strong $163.52 million through 17 days of release. That places Maleficent 34 percent ahead of the $122.06 million 17-day gross of 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman. With the debuts of both The Fault in Our Stars and How to Train Your Dragon 2 now out of the way, Maleficent has a strong chance of beginning to hold up even better than it already has going forward.

After a lackluster start last weekend, Warner's Edge of Tomorrow held up nicely this weekend with a fourth place estimated take of $16.18 million. The critically acclaimed sci-fi film starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt was down a healthy 44 percent from last weekend. The strong second weekend hold was much needed given the film's large price tag. Edge of Tomorrow has grossed $56.65 million through ten days of release. That places the film 13 percent behind the $65.09 million ten-day take of last year's Oblivion (which fell 52 percent in its second weekend to gross $17.80 million). With strong word of mouth and continued summer midweek business ahead, Edge of Tomorrow should continue to gain ground going forward in the comparison with Oblivion.

On the heels of last weekend's very strong first place start, Fox's The Fault in Our Stars tumbled four spots and 67 percent this weekend to place in fifth with an estimated $15.73 million. Despite good word of mouth, the low-budget drama starring Shailene Woodley had been expected to fall off sharply this weekend, due largely to the film's sizable built-in audience from the novel it was adapted from. In the larger picture, The Fault in Our Stars is still performing very well with a ten-day take of $81.70 million (especially with its low price tag in mind). With its expected large second weekend decline out of the way and continued strong summer midweek business likely ahead of it, The Fault in Our Stars could still stabilize going forward.

Fellow Fox release X-Men: Days of Future Past placed in sixth with an estimated $9.5 million. It appears that the positive word of mouth for the 3D superhero sequel may be starting to kick in at the box office, as the film was down just 37 percent from last weekend. The film also received some added help this weekend from the Father's Day holiday. X-Men: Days of Future Past surpassed the $200 million domestic milestone on Saturday (the film's 23rd day of release) and has grossed $205.94 million through 24 days.

Saturday Update: Sony reports that 22 Jump Street grossed a stellar $25 million on opening day, including Thursday's $5.5 million preview grosses. That blows away the first film's $13.2 million first day back in March 2012, while also topping the $19.6 million and $20.6 million respective bows of Neighbors and Ted. BoxOffice projects $63 million for the opening weekend as a whole.

Early word of mouth appears excellent with an "A-" CinemaScore and a strong 91 percent from Flixster's audience as of Saturday morning--significantly ahead of Neighbors's 80 percent score at the same point after release. Critics have also raved about the Phil Lord/Chris Miller-helmed sequel (their second flick this year after The LEGO Movie) with an 83 percent Rotten Tomatoes score--exceptional by comedy sequel standards. Rumor has it that the sequel's production budget clocked in around $50 million, meaning the film is well on its way to profitability in a very short of amount of time.

Meanwhile, Fox/DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon 2 claimed $18.5 million on Friday (including $2 million from Thursday). That's a bit shy of Madagascar 3's $20.7 million first day two Junes ago, and even further behind Monsters University's $30.5 million last year. However, neither of those films opened on Father's Day weekend. Additionally, initial word of mouth on Dragon 2 is excellent with the film garnering 92 percent scores from both Flixster audiences and Rotten Tomatoes critics. With the potential for some backloading toward Saturday and Sunday due to the family holiday, and the potential for long legs as the summer's only animated release until Disney's Planes sequel, Dragon 2 has an overall healthy outlook. For this weekend, BoxOffice projects $54 million.

Friday Update #2: Sources tell BoxOffice that 22 Jump Street is pacing for an impressive $60 million+ opening weekend based on Friday business thus far, while How To Train Your Dragon 2 is racing close behind with an eye toward $55-57 million this weekend.

Check back later for further updates on Friday projections, and Saturday morning for weekend projections based off official studio estimates.

Friday Update #1: Sources report that Sony's 22 Jump Street bagged an excellent $5.5 million from Thursday evening shows. That's a big start to the weekend ahead for the anticipated sequel, more than double the $2.56 million Thursday night start of Neighbors last month. Jump's nature as a sequel could result in more frontloading than that pic, but either way, Sony is set for a strong weekend ahead.

Meanwhile, Fox/DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon 2 earned a healthy $2 million last night. That compares favorably against the $2.6 million start of Pixar's Monsters University last June. The lower turnout could be written off by the lack of Pixar's faithful fan base for Dragon, but that's a solid start for the sequel.

Reviews and preliminary word of mouth are strong for both new openers, so you can expect a very busy Father's Day weekend ahead.

More to come...

BoxOffice Interview: Ellis Jacob, CEO and President, Cineplex Entertainment on June 14, 2014


By Daniel Loria

Canadian exhibitor Cineplex has been at the forefront of many of today's biggest innovations of the exhibition world. Ellis Jacob, CEO and president of leading Canadian exhibitor Cineplex, has been a fixture in the industry since joining the company in the late 1980s. BoxOffice spoke to Ellis Jacob ahead of ShowCanada to get his insights into the Canadian market, the importance of innovation, and the changing landscape of today's exhibition business.

Over the past few years, Cineplex has grown its market share in Canada to a spectacular 77 percent. What have been the drivers of this growth?

One of the things we as an organization have done is focused on trying to increase the incidence of people coming to the movies and increasing our attendance. The way we've done that is by focusing on the premium offerings that we have. If you compare us to the U.S. circuits, we derive a significant part of our revenue from these premium experiences.

If you look at the regular ticket price, a film in 2D at Cineplex today costs less than it did ten years ago. So our big focus has been on 3D, VIP, UltraAVX, IMAX, and all those different alternative ways of viewing. This weekend, when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 came out, we got over 70 percent of our revenue from premium offerings compared to 40 percent in the U.S. On an annualized basis, we ended 2013 with almost 40 percent of our box revenue coming from these premium offerings as compared to 3 percent six years ago.

What are the key differences you see between the U.S. market and the Canadian market?

The U.S. market has really been driven by increased box office pricing, and we've really focused more on giving the guest a better and broader experience and charging them only an increased price when the experience is different. We really haven't changed from our base ticket prices, whereas we charge a premium if you go to a 3D or VIP screening. There needs to be value for the price change.

In terms of our concession offering, we have always focused on total revenue per person, and our U.S. peers seemed to focus on gross margin and keeping that number as low as possible. As a result, their concession offerings tended to be core-soft drinks, popcorn, hot dogs, nachos, and select candy. At Cineplex, our approach is more akin to a food court offering, with numerous retail branded outlets offering everything from chicken tenders, burgers, and pizza to frozen yogurt, Tim Hortons doughnuts and coffee in addition to a wide range of candy and beverages. This way we earn more from each person even though our margins are a little lower.

Cineplex brought us the SuperTicket, a concept that has begun gaining traction in the United States. Could you tell us a bit about its results?

We started with Pacific Rim last summer with Warner Bros. and have done several films since then. We've seen continued improvement on the uptake on the SuperTicket. I think it will become more relevant as more and more studios start doing it, so the consumer knows that this is an offering they can avail themselves. I think it's a fantastic model where individuals can watch the movie at the cinema and also get a digital download. As you can see, other circuits have started doing it as well. One of the advantages for us is when the SuperTicket is purchased, you are actually depositing the SuperTicket in the Cineplex Locker, which we've created compared to other circuits where they need to use a third party service for their download.

We also have a digital rental program that we launched, "$2.50 Tuesdays," that allows people to match up what we do at the cinemas by being able to rent a movie for $2.50. It's all about innovating so the guest can think of Cineplex as the place to go when you think about movies.

Has the SuperTicket been a successful vehicle to drive your VOD efforts?

We have the SCENE loyalty program where we now have 5.6 million members. So one out of seven Canadians are members in our loyalty program. That gives us phenomenal data that allows us to communicate with them for things like the SuperTicket and VOD. What we know now are consumer habits, and we can basically link up with that particular guest for that movie or for another movie that's coming out. And it also allows us to sell them library titles that other exhibitors can't. There's a lot of runway in this business and it's a business that I think complements our existing services. It's a new business for us, and I see it becoming a "bricks-and-clicks" business in the long-term.

EJ-Cineplex.pngYou decided to go with your own in-house online ticketing service, where customers can buy a ticket to see a film at one of your theaters-or at any of your competitor's locations. How did you decide on this strategy?

We started with our own online ticketing many years ago. We were trying to create a destination where Canadians could find tickets by just going to our website. We have a geo-targeted app that will tell you the closest theater [for the film], whether it is a Cineplex theater or not. Fortunately, most of them are Cineplex.

Today we have more than 9 million people who have downloaded our app; 25 percent of Canada's population has our app, and we are now the ninth most popular mobile app in the country.

At the end of the day, we wanted it to be seamless for our guests so that whenever Canadians thought about movies, they'd go to the Cineplex app or website. That was the whole reason driving the decision [to open ticketing to third parties]. We don't really see ourselves as being competitive with other chains, we see ourselves as competitive with what you're going to do with your entertainment time and dollars.

Cineplex is more than a theater brand, it is now an entertainment brand that offers a holistic media approach with Cineplex Media. What are the trends you are envisioning to develop advertising opportunities around your brand?

The media business has grown for us quite significantly. There are a lot of links between the magazine, our website, and the loyalty program. There is a lot we can do together when an agency comes to us in order to create a fully integrated advertising campaign. You've got a lot of additional opportunities with the mobile app, digital signage, TimePlay-which is another innovation where we include interactivity as part of a movie's pre-show-and we've got ShowTime advertising, lobby advertising, and marketing partnerships with different Canadian retailers.

We just signed an agreement with 2,200 Tim Hortons locations to add Tim's TV, and we'll be providing them with the installation, content, and advertising for those locations. The media business goes well beyond the theater itself, so we can now do campaigns with many tentacles that go into several different areas reaching Canadians from coast to coast.

Our industry is about a best-in-class consumer experience. What are your priorities to enhance this experience? Where do you see the future of the exhibition industry heading?

From an industry perspective, I think you'll continue to see advancement in both the delivery of film, higher film rates, better sound systems, laser technology, and more experiments with 4D. In addition to that, at Cineplex we continue to focus on giving the guest the best experience. I've been to a lot of countries and a lot of cinemas around the world, and I would say that at Cineplex we give our customers one of the best experiences and a great value proposition. At the end of the day, its all about making sure that the audience comes back to the theater to continue to indulge in the movie experience.

A lot of the times when we do alternative content programming like the Met Opera, it brings back guests to our theaters who probably hadn't been for many, many years. They enjoy the experience and they start coming back to see movies as well.

What are your thoughts on the "hot-button" topics affecting our industry today: piracy and release windows?

We had a huge issue with piracy in Canada. We worked with the government and studios and now we have some of the toughest antipiracy laws in place. It's now a criminal offense to steal a movie from a theater, and you can end up in jail over it, which wasn't the case prior to 2007.

At Cineplex, we take piracy very seriously and have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years adding security measures to deter theft. We have a zero-tolerance policy for it, and we have trained our theater teams on how to handle these situations. They deserve the praise for their work on the front lines dealing with the issue.

From the perspective of windows, I think it's really important both for the studios and ourselves, as it could have a major impact on both of our businesses if the windows were to continue to shrink as they have in the last number of years. It has kept close to a steady four-month period-there are exceptions, but on average it has been around that time frame. We look at it as an important window to maintain, but we also know we have other windows like VOD where we can continue to innovate.




NORTH AMERICA: 'The Fault in Our Stars' Shines with $65.98M in First Week on June 13, 2014


By Daniel Garris

Fox's The Fault in Our Stars grossed $3.71 million on Thursday to lead the daily box office one last time. The low-budget drama starring Shailene Woodley was down 11 percent from Wednesday's performance. With both Sony's 22 Jump Street and Fox's How to Train Your Dragon 2 entering the marketplace on Thursday evening, wide releases experienced significant daily percentage declines in general yesterday. The Fault in Our Stars was the week's top film with a seven-day start of $65.98 million. That was on the very high end of pre-release expectations, though the film was especially front-loaded towards its $26.06 million opening day performance.

Maleficent held steady in a very close second place with $3.59 million. Disney's 3D fantasy film starring Angelina Jolie trailed The Fault in Our Stars by just $111,534 for the day. Maleficent was down 10 percent from Wednesday and down a healthy 33 percent from last Thursday. The film placed in second for the week with a weekly take of $50.67 million. That was down an encouraging 46 percent from the film's opening week performance and brings the film's two-week total to $144.52 million. Maleficent is currently running 33 percent ahead of the $108.79 million two-week take of 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman.

Warner's Edge of Tomorrow took in $2.29 million to remain in third place. The critically acclaimed 3D sci-fi film starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt was down a sharp 17 percent from Wednesday, as it clearly took a hit from both the launch of 22 Jump Street and Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Edge of Tomorrow surpassed the $40 million mark yesterday and placed in third for the week with a seven-day start of $40.47 million. While that is in line with pre-release expectations, the film is having an underwhelming domestic performance when considering its expensive price tag. Edge of Tomorrow is currently running 14 percent behind the $47.29 million seven-day take of last year's Oblivion.

X-Men: Days of Future Past grossed $1.39 million to continue to claim fourth. Fox's critically acclaimed 3D superhero sequel fell 19 percent from Wednesday and 47 percent from last Thursday. X-Men: Days of Future Past placed in fourth for the week with $22.04 million. That was down 51 percent from the previous frame and brings the film's three-week total to $196.44 million. X-Men: Days of Future Past is set to surpass the $200 million domestic mark over the weekend.

NCM Takes Center Stage: Interview with National CineMedia CEO Kurt Hall on June 12, 2014

khall.pngBy Phil Contrino

On May 5, the cinema advertising landscape changed in a significant way. That was the day National CinemaMedia announced that it entered into a definitive merger agreement with Screenvision for $375 million of cash and stock on a debt-free, cash-free basis. According to NCM, this merger "creates a video advertising network that will cover nearly all 210 Designated Market Areas® across all 50 states and deliver to approximately 3,900 theaters with over 34,000 screens, reaching over 1.1 billion annual patrons."

BoxOffice caught up with National CineMedia Chairman and CEO Kurt Hall to discuss this groundbreaking merger.

What will this merger mean for exhibitors who are currently using pre-show content from Screenvision?

There are some things that we're going to be investing in that have a direct and indirect impact on the circuits. First of all, right now Screenvision's network delivers advertising and programming to theaters via four different ways: satellite, broadband, thumb drives, and there's a few theaters that are delivered on 35-millimeter film. One of the first things we're going to do is get all of those screens onto our network as best we can. Some circuits may have technology in certain theaters that will make that more difficult, but we're starting to explore that now. The idea is that when we're done with the integration, we'll have a network that looks more like ours currently does. Our network is 100 percent digital projection and 80 percent digital cinema right now, and that number will continue to go up as people deploy digital cinema or we decide to take the LCD projector out and use a digital cinema projector. Ninety-seven percent of our attendance is delivered via a satellite or broadband network, and Screenvision's percent is much lower than that. For a theater circuit to work with an organization that can deliver via a network as opposed to a disc drive means they have a better product, because it's easier to buy for advertisers. And, hopefully, now that it's easier to buy, companies will buy more of it and at a higher price point. Because of the revenue-sharing deal that's in place with circuits, that means exhibitors will make more money. The ability of the combined company to deploy technology more rapidly is a huge advantage.

In order to create our First Look pre-show, we spend millions of dollars a year, and we have 70 to 80 people who produce around 50 to 60 versions each month. There's a big difference between G, PG, PG-13, and R versions, and then there are many different versions based on circuit and interstitials. We also change out the pre-show content every two weeks.

Are ad sales going to be more dynamic?

We can target all the way down to an individual theater now. That'll be important. The ability to target individual audiences better will make the product better. Right now we have four basic pre-shows, and we target audiences based on G, PG, PG-13, and R-rated films. We also have the ability within those groups to say, "OK, we're going to sell you all the PG-13 films except these films that don't fit your demographic, profile, or target very well." We do a lot of that. In the future we are going to be able to target by genre. The ability to be able to target groups of films better than we currently do is something we've been working on for a while. That technology is in development now, and we're hoping that by the end of this year or early next year that we'll have the ability to optimize the targeting much better than cinema is able to do today.

Do you think this merger will lead to a surge in cinema advertising?

Cinema advertising has been growing very nicely over the last several years. The market share shift that we always thought would happen between television and other avenues has been ongoing for the last 8 to10 years. If you look at last year and add our revenue up with Screenvision's, revenue was up 6 to 7 percent for cinema advertising, which is a higher growth rate than TV. Clearly cinema has continued to rise. I think that this deal will create a better product and we'll continue to see cinema take a bigger chunk out of TV.

The new technologies that are being provided to consumers focused on controlling advertisements is a very powerful advantage for cinema. We are arguably the only video advertising platform where it isn't fairly easy for the consumer to turn it off or get away from it. As online and mobile continues to grow, it's also going to have new technology introduced where people can skip the ads.

When you look at cinema, it offers both high-quality programming and the biggest delivery device, which are both top concerns for advertisers.



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