North Hollywood, Calif. -- The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) today released final voluntary in-theater marketing guidelines for movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada (attached). The guidelines are designed to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the industry's marketing efforts and to promote competition.

The new guidelines call for a maximum trailer length of two minutes; marketing lead time is limited to 150 days prior to release date for trailers and 120 days for all other in-theatre marketing materials. Two exemptions per distributor per year will be allowed for both trailer length and marketing lead time.

In April 2013, NATO's Executive Board voted to move forward to create industry-wide guidelines to encompass marketing lead-time for in-theater marketing materials; trailer length and placement; guest engagement methods; and film checker/auditor conduct. After discussions with executives of the seven largest distributors and other distribution executives, the guidelines were significantly revised to take into account their concerns.

The voluntary guidelines will go into effect for any film released domestically on or after 1 October 2014. (Advertisements already in cinemas for such movies as of the date of this announcement will be grandfathered.)

These guidelines will evolve in response to technological innovations, marketing and advertising trends, competition in the marketplace, and consumer demands. The guidelines are completely voluntary and will be implemented through individual exhibition company policies, which may vary. NATO will serve as an information clearinghouse where distributors may notify the industry of their desire to exercise an exemption under the guidelines.

NORTH AMERICA: Studio Weekend Estimates: 'Ride Along' Continues to Ride in First with $21.2M; 'I, Frankenstein' Stumbles into Sixth Place with Poor $8.3M (4th Update) on January 24, 2014


Sunday Update: Universal's Ride Along easily remained in first place this weekend with an estimated $21.2 million. While the break-out comedy starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube was down a sizable 49 percent from last weekend's three-day frame, some front-loading was to be expected given the strength of last weekend's debut thanks to the rush out of Hart's growing fanbase. In the bigger picture, Ride Along continues to perform especially well based on pre-release expectations and its modest cost. With a ten-day start of $75.45 million, Ride Along is currently running 24 percent ahead of the $60.74 million ten-day take of 2010's The Book of Eli (which fell 52 percent in its second weekend to gross $15.73 million).

This weekend's only new wide release, Lionsgate's I, Frankenstein, debuted all the way down in sixth place with a very disappointing estimated $8.28 million. That was well below expectations and represented a poor start given the film's cost and that late January is usually a good time of year to launch genre fare. While direct competition was clearly a factor in the film's poor start, at the end of the day moviegoers simply weren't drawn in by the marketing of I, Frankenstein (which also had the added advantages of playing in 3D and IMAX formats). I, Frankenstein opened 53 percent softer than the $17.50 million start of Legion back in January of 2010.

The audience breakdown for I, Frankenstein skewed heavily towards both male moviegoers (62 percent) and moviegoers over the age of 25 (60 percent). The film received a B rating on CinemaScore and did register a respectable estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.95 to 1 (after opening with just $2.81 million on Friday).  Regardless, I, Frankenstein is very likely to fade away from theatres quickly.

Universal's Lone Survivor claimed second place with an estimated $12.6 million. The Peter Berg directed war film starring Mark Wahlberg was down 43 percent from last weekend, which represented a respectable weekend hold. Lone Survivor has grossed a strong $93.61 million after 17 days of wide release and is quickly closing in on reaching the $100 million domestic milestone. The film will also soon surpass the $95.72 million final domestic gross of 2012's Zero Dark Thirty and is currently running 33 percent ahead of the $70.44 million Zero Dark Thirty had grossed at the same point in its run.

The Nut Job claimed third place this weekend with an estimated $12.32 million and is within shouting distance of Lone Survivor for second. The 3D computer animated film from Open Road was down a solid 37 percent from last weekend. The Nut Job continues to exceed expectations in a big way with a ten-day start of $40.27 million. That places the film 7.5 percent ahead of the $37.46 million ten-day start of 2009's Hotel for Dogs (which fell just 24 percent in its second weekend to gross $12.86 million). Open Road has already scheduled The Nut Job 2 to open on January 15, 2016.

Fellow computer animated family film Frozen held up significantly better this weekend with an estimated fourth place take of $9.04 million. The blockbuster from Disney continues to display tremendous holding power as it was down only 23 percent from last weekend. With a massive total domestic gross of $347.82 million to date, Frozen is now only $20.25 million away from reaching the $368.07 million final gross of Despicable Me 2. Frozen should get an extra boost next weekend from the release of a sing-along version of the film.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit rounded out the weekend's top five with an estimated $8.8 million. Paramount's attempted franchise re-launch starring Chris Pine and Keira Knightley was down 43 percent from last weekend. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has grossed $30.17 million through ten days of release. That is on the very low end of expectations and places the film an underwhelming 10 percent behind the $33.50 million 2012's This Means War had grossed at the same point in its run.

Sony's American Hustle finished in seventh with an estimated $7.1 million. The David O. Russell directed Oscar nominee for Best Picture was down a healthy 28 percent from last weekend and has now grossed $127.04 million to date domestically.

Estimated weekend grosses for other Best Picture nominees included $5.0 million for The Wolf of Wall Street (down 29 percent from last weekend), $2.29 million for Her (down 43 percent), $2.05 million for Dallas Buyers Club (up 117 percent), $2.02 million for Gravity (up 8 percent), $2.02 million for 12 Years a Slave (up 31 percent), $1.44 million for Nebraska (up 62 percent) and $1.03 million for Philomena (down 18 percent). Respective total grosses stand at $261.20 million for Gravity, at $98.03 million for The Wolf of Wall Street, $43.54 million for 12 Years a Slave, $25.77 million for Philomena, $20.37 million for Dallas Buyers Club, $19.18 million for Her and at $11.60 million for Nebraska.

Saturday Update: Lionsgate reports this morning that I, Frankenstein posted $2.82 million in its Friday debut, putting it on course for a weak opening weekend of $7.8 million.

Early word of mouth on the film doesn't appear to be doing it any favors, either. The Flixster user approval/anticipation rating is down to a disastrous 58 percent from nearly 36,000 voters after just one day, while only 6 percent of 34 Rotten Tomatoes critics gave the film a positive grade.

What happened? Quite simply, I, Frankenstein was already the recipient of negative online buzz for months ahead of its release as trailers failed to connect with its target genre fan audience in the way that producers had hoped it would along the lines of the Underworld franchise. Once similarly male-skewing flicks Lone Survivor and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit hit the market this month, as well as last week's breakout of Ride Along, the writing was on the wall for the doomed reimagining.

Speaking of last week's top film, Ride Along remained in the top spot on Friday with an estimated $6.3 million. Its 8-day domestic total is an impressive $60.6 million, and BoxOffice projects the Kevin Hart-Ice Cube comedy will total $21.5 million for its sophomore weekend.

Check back on Sunday morning for official studio weekend estimates.

Friday Update #2: Sources now say that I, Frankenstein could do as little as $3 million on Friday. That figure would put the film on pace for a weekend around $8.5-9 million.

Check back on Saturday morning for official studio estimates.

Early Friday Update: Sources tell BoxOffice that I, Frankenstein is looking at a soft $4.5 million for Friday, putting it on course for an underwhelming $12-13 million weekend.

Ride Along, meanwhile, is looking at a possible $5.5 million today as it looks to handily hold onto first place this weekend. Expect an $18-20 million weekend based on these early Friday numbers.

More to come...

Never Mind, Summer 2015... Will 'Superman-Batman', 'The Amazing Spider-Man 3', 'X-Men: Apocalypse', and Marvel's Phase 3 Overwhelm the Box Office in 2016? on January 22, 2014

2016.pngBy Shawn Robbins

For awhile, we've been talking about how impressive 2015's summer schedule is shaping up to be. Films like The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Inside Out, Ted 2, and Minions form a very solid foundation for what the heart of next year should bring, but this past weekend's announcement that Warner Bros.' untitled Superman-Batman film has moved to May 6, 2016 arguably makes that year's summer calendar the hottest to watch now.

The Superman-Batman film (should we just start calling it Justice League?) is now in a game of chicken with Disney/Marvel's previously dated, but still untitled, release for the same first weekend of May. The general assumption is that flick won't be a fourth Iron Man, and out of Marvel's existing solo franchises under the Avengers umbrella, Tony Stark's would be the only one with enough box office muscle to flex against Warner's and DC's highly anticipated meeting of two of the most popular characters in history. Other than The Avengers itself, of course.


Instead, we can safely expect Disney/Marvel to re-shuffle its schedule of untitled releases. They could even bump their planned May 2016 offering (their first of two that summer) up by a full month to early April if this year's Captain America: The Winter Soldier proves to do well in the same pre-summer slot. That would also go a long way toward widening the "official" summer box office calendar to include part of April, an industry strategy coming closer and closer to fruition thanks to recent hits like Fast Five and The Hunger Games. Alternatively, Disney/Marvel could opt for a July/November release pattern.

Fun fact: the seemingly inevitable move would snap the streak of a Marvel-related film kicking off May for an unprecedented nine consecutive years (began by 2007's Spider-Man 3). Six of those will have been officially part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity (aka, the Avengers series).

Disney also has their Alice In Wonderland sequel scheduled for May 27 (Memorial Day weekend) that year--up against Fox's X-Men: Apocalypse. The Mouse House is in an interesting position because if they take Marvel's flick out of May entirely, Alice is their default anchor for what is usually the busiest weekend of the year. They probably won't give up both release dates, but they'd be wise to move up Finding Dory a few weeks from its June 17 date. That would simultaneously take it out of a head-to-head competition with Fox/DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon 3 (also planned for the same date), not to mention give the studio a more lucratively promising holiday frame. (Let's face it: the Alice sequel is very unlikely to do the same big business as its post-Avatar beneficiary predecessor did in a less crowded 2010 market.)

That said, Dragon 3 is a candidate to move on its own when considering the average turnaround for animated sequels is three years--not two, as the franchise's creators are currently aiming for.

Broadening 2016's superhero glut even more will be Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 3set to bow on June 10. The date's been marked since before Superman-Batman and Apocalypse were dated for the same summer, but it would deviate from the franchise's history of opening over a major holiday weekend or the start of May. As the fourth planned superhero movie opening within the span of less than two months, Sony's now in the position of asking themselves whether it might be wiser to push Spider-Man into July... or out of summer entirely. November and December 2016 are currently wide open, but they'll probably wait and see what Disney/Marvel does first.

2015's calendar itself is a work-in-progress, so don't be surprised when 2016's outlook shifts again over the next 18-24 months.

As things stand today, though, the moviegoing public's appetite for summer franchises of the superhero ilk will be tested to the utmost if five major comic adaptations hit the big screen in one summer. Unfortunately, the laws of averages and diminishing returns dictate that not all will come out looking rosy. Marvel's success has bred a newfound sense of competition among rival studios, and they're starting to push back against Disney's and Marvel's planned dominance over the release schedule. Will it work out for both studios and fans, or will it backfire on everyone and burst the comic book bubble?

Discuss this story on the BoxOffice Forums

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GLOBAL: 'Frozen' Still Hot Overseas; 'Jack Ryan' Takes #1 in China; 'Wolf of Wall Street' Leads in Key European Markets on January 19, 2014

frozen.jpgFrozen is still hot overseas. The Disney release collected $24.6 milion from 52 territories in its eigth weekend abroad, passing Up as the third highest grossing global original IP (non-sequel) with a $426.5 million overseas total and a $759.1 million global cume. 

A big chunk of the weekend's collections came from an $8.9 million debut in South Korea. Frozen is the studio's biggest opener of all time in the market and the second highest industry animation opener of all time in South Korea behind Kung Fu Panda 2. The strong bow places Frozen as the studio's third highest earner in South Korea behind Toy Story 3 and Tangled.

The United Kingdom is the top overseas earner for Frozen with a $55.9 million total. Other major markets for the animated film include: Germany ($43.9M), France ($40.3M), Russia ($32.1M), Italy ($26M), Australia ($24.5M), and Mexico ($23.5M). 

Despicable Me 2 crossed the $30 million mark in its second weekend in China, passing the lifetime total of Monsters University ($32.6M) in the market after only ten days in release. An $8.4 million tally bumps the film's Chinese total to $33.5 million and raises its overseas cume to $586.9 million. Despicable Me 2 has grossed a total of $955 million worldwide, trailing Toy Story 3 ($1.1B) and The Lion King ($987.8M) as the third highest grossing animated film of all time globally.

Jack Ryan returned to screens overseas more than a decade after Ben Affleck's turn as the CIA operative in The Sum of All Fears. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit welcomed a $22.2 million bow from 29 territories in the return of the U.S. spy franchise.

China posted a surprisingly positive $9.5 million opening weekend for the fledgling franchise to claim first place in the market. Jack Ryan opened against Grudge Match in Russia and put up a $2 million debut from 1,050 screens. The thriller also secured a $2 million bow from 227 locations in Australia. South Korea contributed $1.8 million from 350 venues and Mexico delivered $1.2 million from 456 cinemas.

Martin Scorsese scored the biggest opening weekend of his career in three key European markets. The Wolf of Wall Street took a #1 debut from the United Kingdom ($7.5M), Germany ($6.8M), and Spain ($3.6M). Universal is releasing the film in nine overseas territories where the film has already grossed an early total of $28.5 million.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug collected $10.9 million overseas this weekend to bring its total outside of North America up to $585 million. The prequel-sequel added $2 million from 807 screens in its sixth weekend in Germany to reach an $84 million cume in the market. Australia brought in $1.6 million from 496 screens in its fourth weekend to hit a $31 million total. The United Kingdom contributed an additional $1.4 million from 568 screens in its sixth weekend to bring its own cume up to $68.1 million. Other top markets for Smaug include: France ($49.5M), Russia ($44.5M), and Spain ($22.7M). 

The Secret Life of Walter Mity crossed the $100 million mark overseas this weekend after adding $7.9 million from 4,741 screens in 57 markets. France led the hold-overs with a $1.1 million take in its third frame, only 24% down from the previous weekend, bringing its total in the market up to $6.5 million. Other top markets for the Ben Stiller film include Australia ($11.2M) and Russia ($10.3M). Walter Mitty has grossed $160.9 million worldwide. 

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones scared up $6 million from 4,161 locations in 40 markets to take its overseas total up to $43.9 million. There were no new openings this weekend as the film held on to post a $1.1 million tally in its second weekend in Brazil, reaching a $3.8 million cume in the market. The Marked Ones has grossed a total of $75.4 million worldwide. 

The Book Thief earned $5.2 million from 2,020 screens in 16 markets over the weekend. The film posted strong holds in Australia ($1.9M, -12%) and Spain ($1.2M, +1%), along with a solid $1 million debut in Mexico. The Book Thief has collected a total of $11.2 million overseas with an expansion to follow in the coming weeks. The global total for the film is currently $31.3 million.

Walking with Dinosaurs opened in 302 screens in Brazil this weekend for a $1.2 million debut. The Brazilian debut helped the film collect $4.3 million from 4,231 screens in 52 markets in its latest overseas frame. Walking with Dinosaurs has grossed $72.2 million overseas and a total of $106.4 million globally. 

47 Ronin is still trying to put up a fight overseas. The latest Keanu Reeves action tentpole took a mid-table debut across 181 dates in Australia that resulted in a $1.6 million opening weekend. The film continued its strong run in Russia with a $1.5 million hold in its third weekend across 663 dates. 47 Ronin has grossed a total of $25.1 million in Russia. The film has grossed $79.4 million overseas and $116 million globally.

The Counselor was one of the biggest box office disappointments of 2013 but was able to record a #1 debut in Italy with a $2.4 million take from 384 screens. The Italian debut pushes The Counselor to a $51.6 million overseas total and $68.5 million global cume. 

Devil's Due took $2.2 million from 535 screens in 6 markets to reach an early overseas total of $2.7 million. An $8.5 million bow from North America gives the film a global day-and-date total of $11 million. 

Anchorman 2 is slowing down outside of North America. The comedy sequel took $1 million from 669 cinemas in 6 markets to reach an overseas cume of $41.7 million. Ron Burgundy and co. have grossed a total of $163.8 million worldwide. 



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