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'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1' Becomes First Franchise to Win Consecutive Box Office Years on January 22, 2015

hungergamemockingjay.pngBy Shawn Robbins

What became seemingly inevitable over the holidays finally came to fruition on Wednesday: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, with an otherwise anti-climactic daily gross of $106,407, overtook Guardians of the Galaxy as North America's top domestic grosser of 2014. The former's total now stands at $333.18 million -- topping the latter's most recently reported tally of $333.17 million.

Why, nearly one month into the new year, is this newsworthy?

For starters, it's the first time any franchise has ever "won" back-to-back box office years. For all the Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Twilight, and superhero movies out there, Katniss Everdeen is the first iconic character to champion two straight calendar victories. (Of course, scheduling, competition, and a bevy of other factors weigh in here... but that's beside the point.)

By extension, it's also the first time any studio has won back-to-back years in the modern box office tracking era (an impressive feat for the recently-minted seventh major studio, Lionsgate).

BoxOffice previously analyzed the full perspective of what Mockingjay - Part 1's top annual ranking could mean before the film's release last November. The penultimate franchise chapter may have fallen somewhat short of many industry expectations, but that's a minor footnote against an otherwise impressive accomplishment. Nothing is taken away from Guardians' spectacular run either.

For what it's worth, this is the second straight year the Hunger Games franchise upset Disney and Marvel for the top domestic spot (Catching Fire led the way past Iron Man 3 in 2013). Will the story repeat again for 2015 as Lionsgate closes out its biggest success to-date come November? Possibly, but we're fairly confident Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avengers: Age of Ultron will have something to say about that.

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NORTH AMERICA: 'American Sniper' Closes In On Staggering $130 Million In Six Days on January 22, 2015

jan16.pngWarner Bros. reports American Sniper added another $7.56 million in first place on Wednesday, bringing its total up to $128.1 million. The Chris Kyle biopic starring Bradley Cooper, and directed by Clint Eastwood, has already amassed a higher total gross in six days of wide release than Lone Survivor's entire $125.1 million domestic run last year.

In second place, The Wedding Ringer took in $1.15 million yesterday. The Kevin Hart comedy's six-day total is $26.9 million, 10 percent off the pace of About Last Night.

Taken 3 slotted third on Wednesday with another $0.72 million, down 66 percent from last Wednesday. The Liam Neeson action sequel has earned $67.7 million through 13 days of release.

In fourth place, Selma added $0.6 million for a 39.5 percent week-to-week drop. The Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic has earned $33.0 million domestically thus far.

Paddington claimed fifth place yesterday with a $0.57 million take, giving the film a six-day start of $27.1 million -- less than 1 percent behind the pace of The Nut Job.

Meanwhile, Blackhat grossed $0.27 million yesterday. Its six-day cume is $5.15 million.

 

'American Sniper' Smashing Records in Second Weekend Sales on Fandango on January 22, 2015

sniper.pngLOS ANGELES - January 21, 2015 - According to Fandango, the nation's leading moviegoer destination, "American Sniper" continues to stay on target, with this weekend's top ticket sales and a surefire 87 out of 100 points on Fandango's Fanticipation movie buzz indicator.

"Sniper" is on track to see landmark weekend sales, marking:

· The biggest second weekend of any January wide release in Fandango history;

· Second weekend sales that are bigger than the first weekend sales of the previous top January openers ("Lone Survivor" and "Ride Along") on Fandango.

"‘American Sniper' is unstoppable and its hot daily ticket sales show no signs of letting up," says Fandango Chief Correspondent Dave Karger. "Clint Eastwood's award-nominated film is currently on track for an historic second weekend, as it continues to smash January records."

Fandango Movieclips has compiled the most memorable scenes from Bradley Cooper's movies in "The Ultimate Bradley Cooper Supercut." The mashup video can be viewed at http://www.fandango.com/movie-trailer/bradleycoopermashup-trailer/177733?autoplay=true&mpxId=2646910007.

About Fandango's Fanticipation

Known for having its finger on the pulse of moviegoers, Fandango's movie buzz indicator, Fanticipation, provides statistical insight into the movies fans are planning to see in a given weekend. Fanticipation scores (based on a 1 to 100-point scale) are calculated via an algorithm of Fandango's advance ticket sales, website and mobile traffic, and social media engagement. Fanticipation is not intended as a forecast of the weekend box office; it is a snapshot of movie fan sentiment.

AHC 15 Keynote Interview: Randy Cohen, VP Research & Policy, Americans for the Arts on January 22, 2015

Art House Convergence 2015: The Keynote Speakers

Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research and Policy, Americans for the Arts

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by Daniel Loria

Randy Cohen's tireless efforts in the fields of arts funding, research, policy, and community development have earned him plaudits from arts organizations across the country. Cohen is the editor of the National Arts Index, an annual report on the state of the arts in the United States, along with two other economic publications on the arts industry: Arts & Economic Prosperity and Creative Industries. He is no stranger to Utah in January either, having worked with Robert Redford and the Sundance Institute on developing the National Arts Policy Roundtable, an annual summit that brings together leaders who focus on the advancement of American culture. Cohen spoke with BoxOffice ahead of his keynote address at Art House Convergence.

What was the effect of the recession on non-profit arts organizations in the U.S.?

The "Great Recession" caused huge hardships for non-profits everywhere, and especially for non-profit arts organizations. They saw declining revenues, declining audiences, declining contributions...it was a really tough go and we certainly saw some thinning of the herd as well, some organizations weren't able to make the turn. Arts organizations have been a little slower coming out of the recession than the rest of the economy overall. 2012 was when the fortunes started to change for our industry. A lot of it is driven by the economy, which helps drive philanthropy and consumer confidence -if people are worried about losing jobs and houses, they hold back on things that are not necessities. That was one of the major challenges we were up against. 

What sort of factors, whether they be political economic or within a community, enable nonprofit arts organizations to thrive?

The state of the overall economy correlates with a healthier sector, but there were arts organizations even during the recession that did thrive. It's really about how well we're connecting with a community, how well we're connecting with our audiences. The research is pretty clear about how audience engagement is changing. People are looking for more active participation versus a passive kind of experience; that business model where you have an eight o'clock curtain, put on a show, and kick them out the door they came in afterwards -that's struggling in a lot of places. Some arts organizations are letting people see what's going on behind the scenes a little bit, getting more personally involved with their community. Arts organizations need to keep up with how their audiences are changing. Look at what happened to the music industry, it's been completely turned on its head -not just non-profits, of course. Over the last dozen years the number of music and CD stores in this country has dropped around 50 percent. Remember Tower Records? Gone. People haven't stopped listening to music; 45 percent of the industry revenue now comes from digital downloads. Technology is having a big effect. The National Opera went out of business about a year and a half ago in Washington D.C. -Placido Domingo was their artistic director. Are Washingtonians just not invested in opera anymore? Maybe, maybe not  -the opera folded into the Kennedy Center- but twice a year the baseball stadium hosts what's called "Opera in the Outfield" and they do a live simulcast on the big screen and it's hugely popular. You start to hear about more and more of these kind of examples and you find that the arts aren't in trouble so much, but maybe some of the traditional delivery mechanisms are.

Engaging an audience can be a huge challenge, especially for cinemas -where marketing plays such an important role. What have you seen as being effective ways to drive in community interest in the arts?

A big part of it is bringing the arts and the culture to where the people are instead of just expecting to put up a season and hoping people show up. Are there different kinds of venues? Can we bring the product closer to the people? The demographics of our communities are changing rapidly. We need to think about how well our arts organizations are connecting to the different racial and ethnic groups in our communities. Folks want to participate, folks want to engage. I think there's so much competition for the audience's time and wallet that we have to make ourselves ultra-relevant to their lives. That can mean changing with the diversity, or addressing the different segments of your community and dealing with the important issues of our communities. It's also connecting with other segments and other leaders in the community; how are our arts organizations connecting socially, educationally, and economically? An institution can't be an isolated island, you can't have an isolationist strategy because everyone will leave you alone. I always think in terms of, how do we make the arts unavoidable in our communities? And we can do that with all the art forms, and that's what engages people -when they participate and experience the arts, and then they want to get more of that. That's when the transformation takes place: when a person attends or sees something -a museum exhibit, or a play, or a film- and you walk out and think about life a little differently. The research shows that the more of those kind of experiences you have, the more you become a cultural omnivore. 

You follow and track a variety of different arts organizations. In your view, what role do cinemas play in the cultural life of a community?

Cinema is one of our fundamental components of a healthy cultural community, it's not an extra by any means. It's an art form that can be taken so many places. We're finding that people want to create personally, they don't want to just attend -they want to be a creator, too. With technology now, film is just so accessible -probably the most accessible art creation-form that's out there after pencil and paper. A lot of us have telephones, a lot of us have computers, and we can create. It makes film and cinema central to our communities because it provides a great cultural product that we can attend and be creators of. If we want to stay relevant to our communities, if we want these vibrant art-houses and cinema organizations, these are the things we need to do. When you're relevant, you have audiences and earned income, and that's also the key to contributor dollars as well. If nobody is walking through your turnstiles, good luck getting those public and private sector dollars.    

Studio Twitter Scorecard for 2014 on January 21, 2015

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By Alex Edghill

So its no secret I'm a numbers guy at heart and as such this whole social media gig here at Box Office has been a blessing over my last five+ years here. One of the things having access to some pretty powerful tracking tools is the ability to look at things at a macro-level to try to extract patterns and/or get a better understanding of trends. Today I want to spend some time looking at Hollywood distributors in 2014 and the relationship between their revenues and Twitter buzz. For the purposes of this article I will be looking at all 2014 wide release films (most limited releases and many Award films get excluded then I know). My Twitter numbers are the total tweets for each film from the Monday - Thursday before release. A third variable I have thrown in is box office per tweet - this is an attempt to gauge just how valuable each tweet was for the studios. 

The results of the dataset bring to the front some interesting patterns and discussion points. As expected Fox was out front in total tweets and box office from its 16 tracked releases - $1.8 billion in revenue and 1.625 million tweets. Pretty fitting for the box office champion to also be the Twitter champion on the year I suppose. A little closer look reveals that it got over 900k tweets from a single film - The Fault In Our Stars as it was the most talked about film pre-release in 2014. Remove that film from its lineup and it would have still led box office but been 5th overall amongst studios.

Second and third place was a close race box office wise for Disney and Warner Bros. as they both flirted with $1.5 billion from the films I tracked. Twitter also was close but Warner Bros. edged ahead with 1.256 million tweets to 1.105 tweets from Disney.

Sony, Paramount and Universal all flirted with or crossed the $1 million in revenue mark based on the films tracked but none of them could cross the 1 million tweets marked for their films. That left Lionsgate who blew past all of them in the Twitter department but lagged in box office earnings. This was thanks in large part to The Hunger Games and Divergent which were the second and third most talked about films pre-release on Twitter in 2014. Those two films alone generated more buzz than Sony, Paramount and Universal. Of course since their core demo were young girls who are Twitter powerusers generally this was no surprise. Lionsgate's problem was that outside of those two releases it didn't have anything else as its third-highest earning was John Wick which didn't surpass $45 million.

Twitter Activity by Studio for 2014

Studio Tweets Box Office # Movies BO/Twitter Average
Fox 1,625,385 $1,800,272,684 16 1,108
Warner Bros. 1,255,665 $1,484,277,935 17 1,182
Lionsgate 1,183,784 $689,779,031 11 583
Disney 1,104,781 $1,496,371,179 12 1,354
Sony 956,119 $1,182,007,465 15 1,236
Universal 665,375 $1,022,891,020 14 1,537
Paramount 515,515 $926,272,036 9 1,797
Relativity Media 170,077 $184,109,028 7 1,083
Weinstein 103,234 $110,472,673 4 1,070
Focus 63,556 $76,836,136 2 1,209
Open Road 43,600 $124,276,501 4 2,850
Clarius Entertainment 17,010 $11,704,804 2 688
Freestyle Releasing 773 $2,827,666 1 3,658
Grand Total 7,704,874 $9,112,098,158 114 1,183

My list is clearly biased towards the larger distributors since I exclude most limited release films, but with that caveat in mind the data above does have a strong correlation for total tweets to total box office. Self-fulfilling prophesy you might say? That's a valid in part as a big popular film is going to generate more buzz sure, but Twitter has proven time and time again to single out winners and losers from long before release, no doubt mirroring a lot of other social media sites and indeed distributor research as well which in turn then shapes marketing spend and theater saturation. I might just be a Twitter bigot, sure, but I believe the extra focus being paid to it my Hollywood itself is warranted and another valuable marketing tool for marketing's arsenal.

Top 10 films by Tweets pre-release (Mon-Thu) in 2014

Title Studio Tweets Box Office
The Fault In Our Stars Fox 949,852 $124,872,350
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 Lionsgate 604,795 $332,930,936
Divergent Lionsgate / Summit 431,209 $150,947,895
22 Jump Street Sony / Columbia 383,662 $191,719,337
Maleficent Disney 329,002 $241,410,378
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Disney 294,659 $259,766,572
If I Stay Warner Bros. / New Line 258,450 $50,474,843
Annabelle Warner Bros. / New Line 256,999 $84,273,813
Guardians of the Galaxy Disney 235,034 $333,172,112
Transformers: Age Of Extinction Paramount 191,573 $245,439,076

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