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NORTH AMERICA: Studio Weekend Estimates: 'Insidious Chapter 2' Starts Very Strong with $41.05M; 'The Family' Takes Second with $14.5M (4th Update) on September 13, 2013

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Sunday Update: FilmDistrict's Insidious Chapter 2 dominated the box office this weekend with a massive estimated $41.05 million first place debut. That figure represents the second largest unadjusted opening weekend ever for the month of September (behind only the $42.52 million debut of last year's Hotel Transylvania) and the second largest opening weekend for a traditional horror film in 2013 (slightly behind the $41.86 million start of The Conjuring back in July). That director James Wan has two $40 million openers within a few months of one another is especially impressive. Also especially impressive is that Insidious Chapter 2 opened 209 percent stronger than the $13.27 million start of 2011's Insidious, and that like its predecessor, Insidious Chapter 2 carried a small production budget (reported at $5 million). On the heels of Olympus Has Fallen earlier in the year, Insidious Chapter 2 represents the second over-performer of 2013 for FilmDistrict.

Insidious Chapter 2 grossed $20.06 million on Friday (with a modest estimated $1.5 million of that total coming from late-night Thursday shows that began at 10 p.m.) and went on to register an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.05 to 1. Insidious Chapter 2 was quite front-loaded this weekend, but that came as no surprise given the film's status as a high-profile horror sequel and from the film receiving an added opening day boost from Friday the 13th. While it may take a bit for the film to stabilize, Insidious Chapter 2 will have a good chance of stabilizing at some point thanks in part to the limited amount of horror options for moviegoers this fall. The film's B+ rating on CinemaScore is also a very encouraging early sign, especially for a horror film.

The audience breakdown for Insidious Chapter 2 was split fairly evenly between genders (52 percent male, 48 percent female) and skewed towards moviegoers under the age of 25 (62 percent).

Relativity's The Family was off to a very respectable start this weekend with an estimated second place take of $14.5 million. The Luc Besson directed film starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer opened on the high end of expectations. The Family likely received an added boost as serving as the primary option for those who weren't interested in Insidious Chapter 2 this weekend. The opening weekend performance of The Family represents a bit of a bounce back for De Niro, who has seen his drawing power at the box office fall off in recent years with debuts such as the $9.35 million start of 2011's Killer Elite and the $7.59 million start of this year's The Big Wedding. The Family performed more in line with the $16.29 million start of 2008's Righteous Kill. De Niro will hope to continue to build back up box office momentum when Last Vegas debuts in theatres on November 1.

The Family grossed $5.4 million on Friday, was essentially unchanged on Saturday to gross $5.38 million and is estimated to fall 31 percent on Sunday to take in $3.72 million. That gave the film a so-so opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.69 to 1. That isn't the greatest sign going forward and neither is the film's C CinemaScore rating. Furthermore, The Family will face major competition for adult audiences going forward, with the first of that new competition arriving this coming Friday in the form of Warner's Prisoners.

Universal's Riddick, last weekend's top film, fell 63 percent and two spots to land in third with an estimated $7.0 million. The sci-fi sequel starring Vin Diesel was expected to drop off significantly this weekend due to its fanbase-driven nature and the debut of Insidious Chapter 2. Riddick has grossed $31.28 million through ten days of release. That is a bit below expectations and is 26 percent softer than the $42.49 million ten-day start of 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick (which fell 61 percent in its second weekend to take in $9.42 million). However, it should be reminded that Riddick was far less expensive than The Chronicles of Riddick was.

In other box office news, Lee Daniels' The Butler is projected to top the $100 million mark on Sunday after grossing an estimated $5.58 million this weekend. The early awards season hopeful from The Weinstein Company was down 34 percent from last weekend and placed in fourth this weekend. The Butler has grossed $100.04 million through 31 days of release, thanks in part to very strong word of mouth and continued awards buzz.

Also reaching the $100 million domestic milestone this weekend was Sony's This Is The End. The R-rated ensemble comedy was down 59 percent from last weekend to gross an estimated $0.78 million this weekend. The 96-day total for This Is The End stands at $100.42 million.

We're the Millers rounded out this weekend's top five with an estimated $5.42 million. Despite the new competition it faced in the marketplace this weekend, the break-out comedy was down just 30 percent from last weekend. We're the Millers has grossed $131.60 million in 40 days.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate's Instructions Not Included began to lose momentum this weekend with an estimated sixth place take of $4.25 million. That was down a sizable 48 percent from last weekend, as the film may have been affected more than most by the arrival of Insidious Chapter 2. In the bigger picture, this weekend's decline isn't all that important given that the low budget comedy has already grossed $26.58 million in 17 days of release.

Saturday Update: FilmDistrict reports this morning that James Wan's Insidious Chapter 2 grossed an estimated $20.06 million on Friday, including the sequel's $1.5 million haul from Thursday night shows. On track for a huge $42 million opening weekend, the horror sequel handily topped the previous September opening day record of $13.1 million--impressively held for eleven years by Sweet Home Alabama. That figure also exceeds the $16.96 million first day of Wan's The Conjuring back in July, while falling in line with Paranormal Activity 2's $20.1 million opening day in 2010.

The previous high for horror films in September belonged to 2005's The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which debuted to $11.3 million in its first day onward to a $30.1 million weekend. Not only has Insidious Chapter 2's opening day already topped its predecessor's $13.3 million debut weekend, it's also targeting Hotel Transylvania's September weekend record of $42.5 million. That one's too close to call at this point.

Director James Wan (next helming Fast & Furious 7) is on a hot streak following the success of The Conjuring, and now, the Insidious franchise. The film's Flixster score is declining (at 72 percent as of this writing), however, it is still above the first film's 61 percent score for now. Given the Friday the 13th release tie-in, look for a significant drop on Saturday.

Relativity's The Family is slightly over-performing out of the gate. The Robert de Niro mob flick tallied $5.4 million yesterday, a much stronger showing than his previous flick this year--The Big Wedding, which debuted to $2.6 million in its first day. Although horror films usually stand to benefit most, Friday the 13th may have resulted in some spillover business for The Family and other films. Right now, the flick is on pace for around $15 million this weekend. Audience reception appears questionable as its Flixster rating is already down to 63 percent.

Friday Update: Insidious Chapter 2 snagged $1.5 million from Thursday evening shows. While that's certainly not a bad start, it doesn't compare favorably to the $3.3 million that The Conjuring managed from Thursday shows or the $3.4 million haul of The Purge on the day before full release.

Check back tomorrow morning for official studio estimates and BoxOffice's weekend projections. 

Wednesday Update: Fandango reports that Insidious Chapter 2 currently ranks as their top horror pre-seller of the year to date, outselling Mama, The Evil Dead, The Purge and the director's previous movie, The Conjuring at the same point in their sales cycles.

According to a Fandango survey of more than 1,000 "Insidious 2" ticket-buyers:
· 82% plan to see the movie on opening weekend;

· 67% say they are fans of director James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring);

· 65% are attracted by the film's cast, led by Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne.

BoxOffice projects an impressive $40 million debut frame.

Warner Bros. & J.K. Rowling Expand the Harry Potter Universe in Search of the Next Multi-Billion-Dollar Franchise on September 12, 2013

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By Daniel Loria

It was just a matter of time.

Only 25 months after the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the final and most successful entry in the Harry Potter franchise, Warner Bros. announced that it's headed back to Hogwarts. Potter scribe J.K. Rowling and the studio agreed on a development deal that will mark the author's screenwriting debut in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The new franchise will be an extension of the Potter universe without being a direct sequel or prequel to the Potter storyline. The protagonist of the new series will be Newt Scamander, the fictitious author who wrote the textbook the film draws its title from, a textbook used by Potter during his Hogwarts days.   

The cast and characters that populated Potter's wizard world might not be present, but all other aspects of the globally proven formula will remain. "The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films," wrote Rowling on a statement published on her official Facebook page, "but Newt's story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry's gets underway."  

The Harry Potter universe has earned $7.69 billion worldwide across eight films released theatrically from 2001 to 2011. It was difficult to think that Warner Bros. would walk away from such a profitable universe at the conclusion of the Potter storyline. Warner Bros. recently announced Batman's return in the upcoming Superman vs. Batman project currently in development, starring Ben Affleck as the new iteration of the Dark Knight. Director Christopher Nolan was responsible for reigniting Warner's Batman cash cow with a trilogy of films that resonated with critics and audiences alike. Warner Bros. wasted little time to revive the character, announcing Batman's return to the silver screen just a year after Nolan's final entry hit theaters.  

The Superman vs. Batman concept seemed to be on the fast track in 2002 after Warner Bros. hired Wolfgang Petersen to direct the project, aiming for a summer 2004 release. At the time, both properties had languished in development hell, spending years on the shelf without any extraordinary interest past their respectively loyal fan(boy) bases. The project never materialized and Warner Bros. instead focused on revaluing their properties with stand-alone franchises. Batman eventually went to Nolan, who churned out a Dark Knight trilogy that grossed $2.45 billion worldwide. Superman had a misfire with Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, which grossed $391 million worldwide. Superman Returns had outgrossed the $374 million worldwide earned by the previous year's Batman Begins, but the direction of the franchise failed to garner much excitement. The formula was tweaked seven years later with the release of Zack Snyder's reboot, Man of Steel, which has grossed $661 million worldwide since its release in June. Warner Bros. is coming back to the Superman vs. Batman concept with the two superheroes in their box office prime.  

Today's Hollywood is one of brand-name franchises, where familiar titles form part of an extensive and inter-locking diegetic universe. Disney and Marvel's partnership has maximized this strategy across the Avengers films and the corresponding stand-alone series that populate it. Disney looks to be ready to repeat the same formula with their acquisition of the Star Wars universe, with speculation of annual spin-off films to complement a new trilogy.    

Unproven properties molded into wannabe blockbusters have their days numbered in Hollywood after two consecutive years of costly box office flops. The Lone Ranger, Battleship, R.I.P.D., Jack Reacher, and John Carter are only a handful of examples that show the difficulty of launching new crowd-pleasing properties. The fact that the films weren't any good might have something to do with it as well, but making a half-decent movie appears to be significantly less enticing than releasing a film that's easier to market.   

One can hardly blame Warner Bros. for going back to J.K. Rowling in an attempt to dig up another multi-billion dollar franchise from the author. The deal isn't confined to whatever makes it onto the silver screen, maximizing the licensing power that comes with J.K. Rowling. The New York Times reports that the WB/Rowling deal includes additional attractions at the Harry Potter sections of the Universal Studios theme parks and global distribution rights to a televised miniseries from the BBC based on "The Casual Vacancy," her 2012 novel aimed at adults.   

There is a lot of potential in this deal, but Warner Bros. has to be wary in how they develop their Potter universe spin-offs. Author Stephanie Meyer became a household name with the Twilight franchise, a series that grossed a total of $3.32 billion worldwide from five feature film adaptations. Meyer's following film project, The Host, bombed earlier this year after grossing $63.2 million globally. Granted, The Host didn't belong in the Twilight universe, but the discrepancy in global grosses between the two franchises clearly indicates that the audience's allegiance was with Meyer's characters rather than her oeuvre. Warner Bros. will be hoping the same doesn't apply with their fledgling Fantastic Beasts franchise. J.K. Rowling and the studios are ready to make Newt Scamander a household name in the coming years.  

A look at some of the franchises mentioned in this article:

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Facebook/Twitter Report Card: 'Insidious Chapter 2' Shines; 'The Family' Fails To Catch On on September 12, 2013

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By Phil Contrino and Alex Edghill

Starting with today's article, BoxOffice will release our Facebook/Twitter Report Card, a new weekly feature that will analyze how powerful upcoming wide releases are on those two influential sites. We have been tracking activity on both sites since May 2010, so we know better than anyone else whether or not a film is connecting the way it should be. The combined power of Facebook and Twitter has changed the movie industry in a substantial way, and our Facebook/Twitter Report Card is a way to easily understand that impact on a movie-by-movie basis.

We hope you like this new feature! I welcome your feedback directly: phil@boxoffice.com. 

FACEBOOK/TWITTER REPORT CARD (9/12/13 Edition) 

Insidious Chapter 2
(FilmDistrict)

Facebook Grade: A

Never underestimate the power of a creepy trailer when it comes to building buzz on Facebook. The Insidious brand was helped substantially by the sequel's first trailer--a strong bit of advertising that didn't give away too much. Since March, the official Insidious page has added more than 300,000 likes, and now its total is rapidly headed for 3 million. The property has grown substantially since Insidious opened on April 1, 2011 with around 30,000 likes. Director James Wan (The Conjuring) knows how to give horror fans what they want.  

Twitter Grade: A+ 

Insidious Chapter 2 is a juggernaut on Twitter. The horror sequel is outpacing the likes of Paranormal Activity 4, The Purge and The Conjuring in terms of tweet volume, making it the strongest horror film since we started tracking Twitter in May 2010. That kind of healthy activity indicates that Chapter 2 is connecting well outside the base of horror enthusiasts. We expect this level of activity from action tentpoles, not low-budget fright flicks. 

The Family 
(Relativity)

Facebook Grade: B-

The Family is not the kind of film that is designed to do well on Facebook, because it appeals to a segment of the moviegoing population--patrons aged 35+--that aren't as active as teens and twentysomethings. It's basic title also provides a minor search hurdle for interested parties seeking it out on Facebook. Still, we're encouraged that The Family's like count is rapidly headed for 180K. That's a healthy improvement over the 85K likes that The Big Wedding--another Robert De Niro-driven flick--managed by opening day this past April. 

Twitter Grade: C-

The mob drama has failed to post noticeable Tweet count increases in the crucial days leading up to release. That's a red flag even for a film that we never expected to do well on Twitter. The Twitter numbers are eerily similar to Everybody's Fine, an ensemble drama led by De Niro that opened to a mediocre $3.9 million in 2009. 

Want more? Subscribe to BoxOffice Pro to get daily reports on Facebook and Twitter activity. 

UK: RomCom 'About Time' Beats 'Riddick' with $2.7M Debut on September 11, 2013

 

ATStill.jpgAbout Time opened in first place across 556 screens, earning $2.7 million including previews. It posted a comparable debut to films like 50 First Dates ($14.2M Cume), One Day ($13M), and The Time Traveler's Wife ($12.7M Cume). Universal is reporting that the time-traveling romantic comedy scored particularly well in exit polls among females over 25. 

 

The date movie beat out the young male demographic, overshadowing the opening weekend of Riddick, which came in second place with a $2.2 million bow from 400 screens. The third entry in the Pitch Black franchise posted a larger debut than the $1.8 million of the sequel and $1.2 million of the original. Riddick is poised to become the franchise's top earner in the U.K., expected to gross above the $5.8 million of The Chronicles of Riddick and $3.9 million of Pitch Black.

 

One Direction: This is Us played in a market-leading 831 screens, only to finish its second weekend in third place with a $1.7 million take. It was a 49% drop for the front-loaded film which has now grossed a total of $9 million. We're the Millers took in $1.4 million in its third weekend, taking its cume to $9 million. Elysium dropped 36% in its third frame, grossing $1.2 million over the weekend and finishing with an $11.5 million total. Despicable Me 2 celebrated its eleventh consecutive week on the top ten chart, finishing the weekend in eight place with $494k. The Minions are a major hit in the U.K., where their latest outing has already grossed a blockbuster $69.1 million. 

 

 

Top 10 Films in the United Kingdom & Ireland. September 6-8, 2013.

 

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JAPAN: 'The Wind Rises' Nears $100M on September 11, 2013

 

twrstill.jpgMiyazaki's The Wind Rises screened for a select North American audience this week at the Toronto International Film Festival, but the animated hit has already grossed $99.4 million in Japan. A strong $4.5 million weekend was a 33% improvement from last weekend's take, bringing the famed director's swan song days away from crossing the $100 million mark.

 

Man of Steel suffered a steep 55% drop in its second weekend despite being one of the weekend's most widely distributed titles across 611 screens. A $1.2 million weekend put the film in third place and gives it a $6.8 million total. The film's steep drop suggests it could hope to gross as much as $10 million from the its last major market. Star Trek Into Darkness has had a similar performance, currently sitting in eight place on the top ten chart after a $653k performance in its third frame. Star Trek Into Darkness played in a market-leading 670 screens and has grossed a total of $9 million from its Japanese run. 

 

 

Top 10 Films in Japan. September 6-8, 2013

 

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