NORTH AMERICA: Studio Estimates: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Leads for a Third Consecutive Weekend with $10.16M; 'The Identical' Starts Softly with $1.91M on September 06, 2014


By Shawn Robbins

Sunday Update: Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy took in an estimated $10.16 million this weekend to remain in first place at the box office. The blockbuster sci-fi superhero adaptation from Marvel has now led the box office for three consecutive weekends and for four of the past six weekends. Guardians of the Galaxy was down 41 percent from last weekend's three-day frame, which represents a very solid hold for the weekend after Labor Day weekend. The film continues to benefit from very strong word of mouth and was also aided by the limited amount of new major releases entering the marketplace this weekend. Guardians of the Galaxy has grossed a massive $294.57 million in 38 days, which leaves the film just $5.43 million away from becoming the first release of 2014 to reach the $300 million domestic milestone.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles held steady in second place with an estimated $6.5 million. Paramount's successful franchise re-launch was down a respectable 45 percent from last weekend's three-day performance. While its box office run is slowing down now, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continues to exceed expectations in a very big way with $174.65 million through 31 days of release.

Warner's If I Stay followed in third with an estimated $5.75 million. The low-budget drama starring Chloë Grace Moretz was down a healthy 38 percent from last weekend. If I Stay has grossed $39.66 million in 17 days, which is in line with expectations and represents a very solid performance with the film's cost in mind.

Let's Be Cops placed in fourth with an estimated $5.4 million. Fox's low-budget action comedy held up very nicely this weekend, as it was down just 35 percent. The 26-day total for Let's Be Cops stands at $66.59 million. Let's Be Cops continues to be aided from strong word of mouth and from the current lack of new comedies in the marketplace.

Relativity's The November Man and Universal's As Above/So Below claimed fifth and sixth place with estimated respective takes of $4.2 million and $3.72 million. The November Man was down 47 percent from last weekend, while As Above/So Below fell a sharp 57 percent. Respective total grosses stand at $17.87 million for The November Man in twelve days and at $15.58 million for As Above/So Below in ten days.

Freestyle's The Identical, the weekend's only new wide release, debuted with an estimated $1.91 million. The faith based drama was off to a very soft start, especially when considering that the film was only able to manage a per-location average of $977 from 1,956 locations. It should also be noted that Freestyle is expecting the film to experience a 33 percent daily increase on Sunday in comparison to Saturday. The poor performance of The Identical is in sharp contrast to the strong performance of Freestyle's God's Not Dead earlier this year.

Paramount's IMAX re-issue of Forrest Gump also failed to make much of an impact at the box office this weekend. The re-issue of the 1994 blockbuster starring Tom Hanks grossed an estimated $405,000 from 337 locations. That gave the film a lackluster per-location average of $1,202 for the frame.

- Daniel Garris

Saturday Update: Disney reports that Guardians of the Galaxy tacked on another estimated $2.71 million Friday, the start of its sixth weekend. That figure was off just 30 percent from last Friday and brings the film's domestic total to $287.1 million. The film's pace remains just over 1 percent ahead of Marvel's original Iron Man through the same point in release. BoxOffice projects a $10.6 million finish in first place this weekend for its third straight and fourth overall weekend victory.

One interesting note this weekend is that projections put Guardians and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on pace to repeat as the top two films for a fifth consecutive weekend. Should that pace hold with actual results, it would mark the first any two films have accomplished that feat since 1984's Ghostbusters and Gremlins (which repeated as the top two for six weeks between June and July). Additionally, 1990's original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick paired with Pretty Woman to dominate the top two spots for seven weeks that year (March-May). It's unlikely that Guardians and the new Turtles will get that far, though, with Dolphin Tale 2 and/or No Good Deed poised to open at least that high next weekend.

Warner Bros.' If I Stay returned to second place on Friday as it posted $1.6 million at the start of its third frame, targeting a $4.9 million weekend. The total through Friday is $35.5 million.

Meanwhile, Fox's Let's Be Cops added $1.55 million on Friday and is projected to earn $5.0 million over the the weekend. The film's total through Friday is $62.75 million.

Paramount's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was down 44 percent from last week to $1.5 million. The reboot has amassed an excellent $169.65 million domestically to-date. BoxOffice projects a $5.5 million fifth frame.

Relativity's The November Man added $1.24 million on Friday, down 44 percent from the same day last week. The Pierce Brosnan thriller has taken in $14.9 million in its first 10 days of release--20 percent behind The Debt at the same point. BoxOffice projects a $4.1 million sophomore frame.

Freestyle Releasing's The Identical bowed to $0.52 million in its first day of release. With a reported combined budget of more than $30 million, this is an unfortunate showing for the faith-based film, whose marketing penetration into the mainstream was almost non-existent. Freestyle projects a $2 million opening weekend.

On the limited release front, Paramount's 20th anniversary re-release of Forrest Gump took in an estimated $109,000 from 337 IMAX locations on Friday. By comparison, the IMAX and 3D re-issue of The Wizard of Oz last September took in $754,761 million from 318 locations on opening day. BoxOffice projects a $440,000 weekend for Gump.

Friday Update: Sources report that The Identical is targeting an opening day around $900,000. Should that hold, the weekend will likely tally between $2.6 million and $2.8 million.

Unfortunately, no early reports on Guardians of the Galaxy or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are available at the time of publishing.

More as it comes.

NORTH AMERICA: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Leads on Thursday with $0.84M on September 05, 2014


By Daniel Garris

Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy grossed $0.841 million on Thursday to lead the daily box office for a thirteenth consecutive day. The blockbuster sci-fi superhero adaptation from Marvel did slide 14 percent from Wednesday, which represented one of the day's poorer daily percentage holds among wide releases. Daily percentage declines were noteworthy in general on Thursday, due in part to the NFL opening night game between Seattle and Green Bay. Guardians of the Galaxy was down 46 percent from last Thursday. The film led the weekly box office with $26.11 million. That represented a strong 8 percent increase over the previous week and brings the film's five-week total to a massive $284.41 million.

The November Man was up one spot from Wednesday to take second on Thursday with $0.501 million. Relativity's action thriller starring Pierce Brosnan was down 8 percent from Wednesday and down 40 percent from last Thursday. The November Man finished in fifth for the week with $11.98 million and has grossed $13.67 million in nine days of release. That is in line with pre-release expectations and places the film 20 percent behind the $17.09 million seven-day start of 2011's The Debt.

Let's Be Cops was also up one spot over Wednesday to place in third with $0.471 million. Fox's low-budget action comedy fell 8 percent from Wednesday and 45 percent from last Thursday. Let's Be Cops placed in fourth for the week with $12.08 million. That was down 19 percent from the previous frame and brings the film's 23-day total to a very solid $61.19 million.

Paramount's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fell two spots from Wednesday to land in fourth on Thursday with $0.462 million. The successful franchise re-launch fell 15 percent from Wednesday (which represented the day's poorest daily percentage hold among wide releases) and 57 percent from last Thursday. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles took second place for the week with $17.49 million. The film was down 20 percent from the previous frame and continues to exceed expectations with a strong $168.15 million in four weeks.

Warner's If I Stay was up one spot from Wednesday to round out Thursday's top five with $0.423 million. The low-budget drama was down 5 percent from Wednesday and down a sharp 59 percent from last Thursday. If I Stay landed in third for the week with $13.35 million. That represented a 35 percent decline from the film's opening week performance and brings the film's two-week total to a solid $33.91 million.

Universal's As Above/So Below followed very closely behind in sixth with $0.422 million. The low-budget horror film fell 11 percent from Wednesday. As Above/So Below placed in sixth for the week with a seven-day take of $11.85 million. That was on the low end of expectations and places the film 2 percent behind the $12.09 million seven-day start of 2011's Apollo 18.

Geneva Convention 2014 Preview on September 04, 2014

geneva_intro_story_r__John_scaletta_l__George_Rouman_.JPGby Daniel Loria

Since its inception in 1999, the Geneva Convention has given Midwest exhibitors access to the latest advances in the industry. The regional event returns to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, September 9 through 11, and will kick off with the now traditional Variety the Children’s Charity Golf Classic, a golf outing that reflects the networking opportunities available in such a relaxed setting. Networking opportunities will continue into the evening with an opening-night reception at the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa’s outdoor pool, the first time the celebration will be hosted at the outdoor space.

As to be expected, the Geneva Convention will also be offering top-notch educational opportunities for its attendees. “This year we wanted to address the overall performance by a cinema’s staff, so we booked two keynote speakers who touch upon leadership and management techniques. We have Mike Abrashoff, a former captain of a Navy ship who is a best-selling author. The other speaker is Dave Skogen, author of the book Boomerang and owner of a regional supermarket chain in Wisconsin. He writes about customer service and retention, issues that are top priorities for us in this business,” says George Rouman, co-chairman of the Geneva Convention.

There will also be a roundtable on closed-captioning requirements and standards led by a NATO delegate, which will include representatives from leading equipment providers in the field. “We want to make sure that whatever issue our industry is facing is brought into our show so that everyone in our region that isn’t able to attend CinemaCon can be up to speed with all the current issues,” stresses Rouman.

The trade show is another key feature of the event. “For a regional show like us, we really do have a very impressive trade show,” Rouman explains. “It’s a great cross-section of our industry, and our attendees always come out very impressed with that part of the show.” His co-chair, John Scaletta, agrees. “We focus on supporting our vendors by giving ample traffic to the trade show floor. We host cocktail hours at the floor, which are great and conducive to granting a lot of opportunities for the vendors to interact with both their existing and potential customers.”

The Geneva Convention is also known for its Hall of Fame, an annual celebration commemorating a cross section of the region’s top contributors in the exhibition business. The combination of all these elements results in a convention with a truly regional flavor that caters to the Midwest’s many independent and community-owned theaters.

NORTH AMERICA: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Adds $0.98M in First Sub-$1 Million Day on Wednesday on September 04, 2014


By Shawn Robbins

Disney reports that Guardians of the Galaxy added $0.975 million in first place on Wednesday, off 35 percent from the same day last week. The year's top grosser so far has now accumulated $283.6 million through 34 days of release, 1.3 percent ahead of the pace of Marvel's first Iron Man. Yesterday marked the film's first day below the $1 million mark, a streak it maintained for an impressive 33 days--six more than Captain America: The Winter Soldier and just five short of Iron Man.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles posted $0.546 million yesterday for a 50 percent week-to-week decline. The reboot continues to impress relative to pre-release expectations as its total now stands at $167.7 million--25 percent ahead of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra at the same point in release.

Pierce Brosnan's The November Man took in $0.54 million on Wednesday, representing a 37 percent decline from opening day one week ago. That gives the film $13.2 million in all through 8 days of release, 20 percent behind The Debt.

If I Stay grabbed $0.45 million on Wednesday, off 57 percent from last week and boosting its cume to $33.5 million through 13 days. That's 21 percent ahead of where the fellow Chloe Grace Moretz-led Carrie stood at the same point.

Meanwhile, As Above/So Below added $0.47 million in its sixth day of release, bringing its total to $11.4 million. The horror/thriller pic is pacing 3 percent behind Apollo 18.


The BoxOffice Interview: Rolando Rodriguez, President and CEO, Marcus Theatres on September 04, 2014

rrMarcus.pngRolando Rodriguez had already left the exhibition business when he was offered the top job at Rave Cinemas. Rodriguez had established himself as a veteran figure in the exhibition industry throughout a storied career at AMC before taking an executive role at Walmart. He returned to exhibition and was a key factor in turning around Rave Cinemas, culminating in the circuit's sale to Cinemark in May 2013. Rodriguez wasn't out of the exhibition business for long thereafter, as he was appointed president and CEO of Marcus Theaters that same summer. Now a year into his tenure at Marcus, BoxOffice catches up with the veteran exhibition executive to talk more about the business.

You're a veteran in the exhibition business. What made Marcus such an enticing option for you at this point in your career?  

My career track really started within the industry. I spent 30 years with AMC and took a side trip with Walmart, where I spent nearly five years. I was recruited to become the president and CEO of Rave Cinemas, which was owned by a private equity group. Their intention was to spin off that circuit within a three- to five-year period of time based on turning the company around and achieving the kind of returns we were looking for. We were fortunate enough to have a great team that was able to do that in a two-and-half-year period of time. I also sit in the NATO Executive Board of Directors, where Steve Marcus also sat for those years I was in charge of Rave, and we got to know each other. The timing for me was perfect, since Bruce Olson, my predecessor in this position, decided to retire after a long and distinguished career right around the time we sold Rave. I was one of the several candidates that Marcus was considering and, through the course of many interviews, I was able to join a well-respected brand in Marcus. It was also intriguing to me that it is a company that isn't just made up of theaters but has a broad view of the food-and-beverage and hospitality industries. That, combined with what I felt was a great company and great people, that's what brought me here.  

Now that you've been at the company for a bit, what are some of the main goals you want to achieve moving forward with Marcus?  

I joined the company on July 30, 2013, and we set out to build short- and long-term goals. We are making them happen, beginning with amenities like Take 5 and our lounge concept. We've introduced Zaffiro's Express, our branded pizza program, and have expanded it to many of our locations. And this has combined with a very strong remodel program that introduces our large-screen format expansion of Ultra Screen DLX, along with Dream Loungers, which is our branded recliner-seats program. That, coupled with the marketing initiatives we've put in place, including our discounted ticket day on Tuesdays, has really propelled the company into a nice position. Our ultimate goal is to see continued growth, and that will come from new amenities in our circuit, from organic growth, and from potential acquisitions.  

You mentioned large-format screens and reclining seats, along with a renewed focus on concessions. Is it safe to say you are currently focused on raising the value-added propositions for your consumers at existing locations?  

We've committed to more than $50 million of investment to our existing theaters in those areas. Within any industry, being relevant and forward thinking for the consumer is essential for any growth company. Retail, food and beverage, or entertainment-we need to provide a true price-value relationship with that consumer. For many years as an industry, we concentrated on sound, especially in the 1980s and '90s. Then we combined that great sound with the large-screen format. And after adopting stadium seating, we are now truly matching what people have at home with our reclining seats. That's within the context of providing the best experience at our theaters. And while audiences are at the theater, we want to provide a true total social experience with our lounges where you can enjoy your time before or after the movie. The idea should be how you provide that hardworking family a great three-hour experience instead of a great two-hour experience.  

Can you tell us about your experience in adopting a value-pricing program?  

We are living through a difficult economic time, and we never want to affect the weekend experience, but we had forgotten about a consumer out there who has been hit very hard by the economy. This consumer has stopped going to the movies, and, frankly, you have entire families that can no longer afford a night at the movies. We picked Tuesdays for a five-dollar admission for that reason, and we also provide free popcorn to members of our loyalty reward program. For a family of four that is a member of our free loyalty program, you now have the ability to afford taking your family to the movies, and you get the popcorn on us. We have a social responsibility to the consumers we had lost in our community, and we wanted to provide them an opportunity to enjoy a great moviegoing experience at our theaters on Tuesdays.  

How is the Midwest region different from operating anywhere else in the country?  

As you know this is the heart of America-these are hardworking folks who are committed to their families. They obviously don't have all of the other entertainment components that many of the other large cities have. Actually, we do have the Green Bay Packers, where it's like going to church every Sunday. So when folks spend their entertainment dollars, particularly for us in the Midwest, we provide the level of amenities and entertainment components that many of the other large cities have.  

Marcus owns about 85 percent of the real estate of its cinemas. What sort of advantage does that provide?  

That speaks to the commitment of the Marcus family in its investments. This is a company that has been in existence for 79 years and is truly committed to the theater business. It adds an extra dimension for us; it's close to our heart. We have a commitment to that community and to the company to make sure the theaters are as good as they can be. We are not dictated by equity investors; our commitment as a company is to show we are here for the long term.  

What do you enjoy about the Geneva Convention?  

I've gotten to know many of the members of NATO of Wisconsin and from other sister states. This is the CinemaCon for exhibitors in the Upper Midwest. All operators and business owners have the opportunity to have NATO provide education and a trade show for us. It's a truly small-town feel for a lot of key exhibitors to participate in a show of this scope. NATO also makes a big commitment to raising money for charities like Variety and Will Rogers through the course of that week.  

What are the obstacles facing exhibition in the coming years?

I think there are opportunities for us in the long term; it's making sure film grosses grow and that attendance grows alongside it. Flat or declining attendance is a big cause of concern, and in any healthy business you need to have the growth in revenue and attendance. I think a big part of that is making sure that our price-value relationship is closely aligned with the consumer. It's important that we place a priority on amenities inside our theaters, so consumers can have a great experience inside our cinemas.  

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