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Saturday Update: Warner Bros. reports that Focus earned an estimated $6.47 million for its opening day, easily taking first place on Friday. The Will Smith-Margot Robbie con artist flick debuted just under Limitless' $6.6 million first day back in 2011. Unfortunately, early word of mouth appears very mixed as the film received a "B" CinemaScore and sits at a 66 percent user rating on Rotten Tomatoes this morning (where critics disapprove even more at 56 percent). Still, the film's adult-skewing appeal could balance out some of the early complaints about the film throughout the weekend. BoxOffice is projecting an opening frame of $18.5 million.

Relativity's The Lazarus Effect debuted to $3.8 million on Friday as it claimed second place for the day, nearly 24 percent lower than last year's Oculus. The horror pic's early buzz isn't heading in the right direction, though: only 33 percent of Rotten Tomatoes users approve of the film so far, while critics have given it an even lower 14 percent. Given the natural tendency for horror pics to drop off quickly, expect the same here. BoxOffice projects a $9.2 million opening weekend.

Fifty Shades of Grey slid into third place yesterday with $3.5 million, down another 56.5 percent from last Friday. The erotic drama has taken in $140.3 million domestically through 15 days of release, putting it 8 percent ahead of the original Twilight. BoxOffice projects a $9.9 million third weekend.

Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service continues to display strong holding power as it eased 41 percent from last Friday to $3.12 million in fourth place. The graphic novel adaptation has earned an impressive $77.1 million domestically to date, putting it 1 percent ahead of Daredevil and 31 percent ahead of Jumper through their same release points. Kingsman will also surpass the latter film's final domestic gross of $80.2 million over the weekend. Look for a weekend total around $10.8 million.

Filling out the top five yesterday was The DUFF, down just 50 percent from opening day last week to $2.14 million. The sleeper hit's 8-day total stands at just over $15 million, putting it 15 percent ahead of the pace of That Awkward Moment. BoxOffice projects a $6.5 million weekend.

Three well-received holdovers fought for space just outside the top five yesterday. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water dropped 47.5 percent to $2.11 million, giving it a strong $131.2 total thus far and setting it on course for an $8.9 million frame.

McFarland, USA was off just 45 percent from opening day last week to $1.99 million, bringing its 8-day total to $16.2 million (in line with Draft Day's $15.8 million sum through the same point) as the latest Kevin Costner sports drama eyes a $6.8 million sophomore frame.

Meanwhile, American Sniper added another $1.9 million (off just 30 percent from last Friday), giving it $325.3 million in all domestically. The blockbuster flick should land around $7 million this weekend, and is currently on pace to surpass The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 by next weekend to officially become 2014's highest grossing release.

Check BoxOffice on Sunday for official weekend estimates from the studios.

Friday Update #2: Sources tell BoxOffice that Focus will be the #1 opening this weekend with a respectable $23 million. The Lazarus Effect is on pace for $12 million.

Check back tomorrow for updated projections and official studio figures.

Friday Update #1: Warner Bros. reports that Focus bowed to a solid $900,000 from Thursday pre-shows. Comparisons for con artist flicks are fairly slim, but last night's showing from the Will Smith/Margot Robbie pic was noticeably ahead of the $550,000 posted by Monuments Men last February and just under the $1.3 million of Gone Girl in October.

Prior to release, tracking had been suggesting an opening weekend north of $20 million to be likely. Last night's results back that up so far.

Also opening this weekend is The Lazarus Effect, which pulled a reported $350,000 from 8pm and later shows last night. By comparison, last April's Oculus earned $480,000 from Thursday night shows.

More as it comes.

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The official press release:

The 2015 Australian International Movie Convention (AIMC) marks the 70th owners and film distributors gathered for a common cause - the love of movie. From humble beginnings the AIMC has grown to be one of the great film conventions in the world. The 2015 AIMC will, once again, be hosted by the National Association of Cinema Operators-Australasia (NACO) and will run from October 11-15 at Jupiters Hotel & Casino at Broadbeach on Queensland's Gold Coast.

The AIMC brings exhibitors, distributors, producers and allied trades and suppliers together in one place for four days - and provides an opportunity for industry participants to make a smart investment in their businesses.

From those humble beginnings as a Queensland state-based conference in the mid-1940s with only about 60 delegates, the Convention grew to around 200 delegates by the 1970s, increased steadily to around 550 in the mid-1990s, and now hosts over 1,000 delegates.

To reflect the growth in delegates nationally, the Convention was officially branded as the "Australian National Movie Convention" in 1989. The Gold Coast became the official "home" of the Convention. In 2000, as a reflection of the increasing number of International speakers and delegates, the Convention was rebranded as the "Australian International Movie Convention", as it is now known.

The move to Jupiters Hotel & Casino at Broadbeach in 2009 was an initiative designed to amalgamate all convention activities - film screenings, seminars, trade show and networking functions - in one venue. Adding to the convenience this offered was the opportunity for the majority of delegates to stay on-site if they wished, or in alternate accommodation in close proximity in the Broadbeach area.

In 1992 the inaugural Australian Star of the Year Award was won by Paul Mercurio for "Strictly Ballroom". Since then other actors to be honoured, all of whom have gone on to international success, have included Russell Crowe, Eric Bana, Hugo Weaving, Geoffrey Rush, Jack Thompson, Hugh Jackman, Jacki Weaver, Ben Mendelsohn, Michael Caton and the late Heath Ledger.

2015 AIMC

A very special event is planned to celebrate the 70th functions and screenings will feature theming and footage from the last 70 years. Displays are planned of movies, equipment, costumes, photos and other memorabilia from the past seven decades.

The AIMC continues to go from strength to strength, working continually with its partners in film distribution, technology & sound, auditorium fit-out, catering and marketing to provide the optimal convention experience. In 2015, the AIMC organisers are reaching out to representatives from allied film industries such as home entertainment to attend. We will also be welcoming a larger international contingent from Asia, United States and Europe and will continue to evolve the variety of speakers and presentations. year since a few cinema year of the AIMC. Many of the presentations,

It is always gratifying to receive positive feedback from each convention, and our team works hard to provide an informative and exciting event each year within our basic framework. The program is very full, but it represents value for money and a good business investment.

Sunday, October 11 will see an Australian Premiere Film Event which provides an opportunity to encourage participation from local government, businesses and the community.

The Trade Show offers our allied businesses the chance to showcase the latest equipment and trends from the international market. With digitalisation almost complete, what will be next to ensure the optimal patron experience?

The film distributors present their upcoming product slate to the key decision makers in the exhibition market via presentations and screenings.

Our guest speakers and presenters update delegates on international trends affecting not only the industry but also on a range of topics relating to business in general.

Networking functions provide an invaluable opportunity for delegates to interact with their peers in a social atmosphere. These include seated dinner functions, an exclusive delegate bar each evening and gala convention wrap party. Throughout the convention, awards recognising achievements for the preceding year for box office grosses, cinema owner/operators, and individual industry honours are presented.

THE AUSTRALIAN MARKET

"The 2014 box office of $1,074 billion demonstrated that cinema going is still one of the most popular forms of entertainment in Australia, despite a slight decrease from 2013. 2015 is shaping up to be one of the biggest & most exciting years in the film industry with a formidable line-up and the MPDAA distributors are eager to share all the latest film clips and material to enable exhibitors to better plan, prepare and optimise their box office takings on all our releases".

It is estimated that 95% of the total 2041 cinema screens in Australia have converted to digital projection.

Of the country's 2041 screens, 1204 are operated by the four major exhibitors in Australia, being Amalgamated Holdings Ltd (Event / Greater Union / Birch, Carroll and Coyle brands), Hoyts Cinemas, Village Cinemas and Reading Cinemas.

Australia enjoys a strong independent cinema segment, with five independent operators controlling 130 screens over multiple locations.

As a mature market, further expansion is limited. A refurbishment program is likely to be undertaken as many cinemas approach lease term renewals. Australia has some of the best exhibition minds in the world who will continue to focus on what is required to get people out of their homes and into the cinema environment. Expect to see continual upgrades of cinemas, including premium offerings, bigger screens, sharper sound and better seating, both in size and configuration.

It is possible that within the next five years we could see satellite delivery - currently limited to mostly alternate content. Australia is a big, expansive country with a population adroit at adopting the latest in technologies.

Australians generally embrace a broad range of movies and our multicultural society ensures a strong acceptance of international movies as well as those from the Hollywood studios. Of the 505 movies released in 2014, 233 or 46% were foreign language films.

The top 10 films of 2014 represented a significant 25.4% of the total annual box office and included a strong mix of franchises such as "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1", "Transformers: Age of Extinction", X-Men: Days of Future Past" as well as broad appeal animation hits "The Lego Movie", "Frozen", "How to Train Your Dragon 2" and "Guardians of the Galaxy", "Gone Girl", "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "22 Jump Street" rounded out the biggest movies of the year. 

2014 AT A GLANCE

BOX OFFICE

2014 Box Office - $1,074,565,480

-2.28 on last year ($1,099,615,801)

Highest year on record was 2010 - $1,128,498,000

ALL FILMS RELEASED

505 Films released in 2014 (421 in 2013) (421 in 2012)

AUSTRALIAN FILM DETAILS

39 Aus films released in 2014 (26 in 2013) (27 in 2012)

AVERAGE TICKET PRICE

$13.68 Average ticket price in 2014 ($13.41 in 2013) (13.10 in 2012)

SCREENS AND THEATRES

2041 screens in 2014 (2057 in 2013) (1991 in 2012)

489 Theatres in 2014 (486 in 2013) (478 in 2012)

918 3D Screens in 2014 (916 in 2013)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN

37 countries in 2014 (26 in 2013)

India

87 in 2014 (75 in 2013)

China

13 in 2014 (10 in 2013)

Hong Kong

13 in 2014 (8 in 2013)

GENRES

Films Released

Genre / 2014 Films / 2014 Box Office / 2013 Films / 2013 Box Office

Action 86 387,134,000 73 323,347,000

Adventure 12 36,533,000 13 89,200,000

Animated 23 127,867,000 18 172,991,000

Biography 14 17,252,000 8 8,322,000

Broadcast 14 124,672 N/a N/a

Comedy 99 169,118,000 82 159,844,000

Crime 9 26,610,000 15 33,933,000

Dance Nil Nil 1 241,000

Doco 44 3,661,000 38 8,723,000

Drama 110 169,112,000 96 152,935,000

Family 7 26,277,000 1 1,220,000

Fantasy 3 2,987,000 3 16,481,000

Horror 10 11,288,000 12 11,690,000

Live 53 4,711,000 35 3,552,000

Music/

Musical 2

Mystery 1 1,124,000 1 275,000

Romance 6 747,000 8 18,185,000

Sci-fi 2 21,314,000 3 24,028,000

Thriller 8 12,333,000 12 29,906,000

War 1 9,000 Nil Nil

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CINEMA OPERATORS-AUSTRALASIA (NACO)

A national association of cinema operators did not happen overnight. For most of the past 70 years, cinema exhibition has been represented by various state associations, independent associations, trade associations, employer associations and state chambers of commerce, but never by a national association made up entirely of cinema exhibitors, until 2011.

In that year, NACO evolved out of the Motion Picture Exhibitors Association of Queensland (MPEAQ), which was incorporated in 1947. NACO continues to host the annual AIMC as part of this long tradition and as a service to the film industry in the Australia/Pacific region.

There has been a very significant investment by exhibitors in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region, with 2,041 screens in nearly 500 locations in Australia and over 400 screens in New Zealand.

More than 10,000 people are employed in the cinema industry, and the big screen consistently rates as one of the top social outings for all demographics.

NACO's primary objective is to protect this very substantial investment made by its members. It is an organisation for all exhibitors - majors; independents; multi-screen; single screen; or drive-in - from the city or the country - and it represents all member exhibitors, irrespective of their size or structure, in genuine, whole-of-industry issues. These issues could include film theft, licencing fees, film classification, collapsing of windows, digitalisation.

Movie theft, or piracy, costs our industry and our economies billions of dollars and threatens the jobs and livelihoods of many people. The industry is taking very active steps to protect itself and NACO supports the activities of the two key agencies in Australia working to protect the industry - the Australian Screen Association and the IP Awareness Foundation - as well as working with the film distributors through the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA) and the Australian Independent Distributors Association (AIDA). We also work with international organisations such as the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in the U.S.

The Australian Screen Association (ASA) works closely with industry, government and law enforcement authorities to protect the film and television industry, retailers and movie fans from the adverse impact of copyright theft in Australia. NACO has collaborated with ASA/AFACT, MPDAA and the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association (AHEDA) in the preparation of submissions to government relating to new standards of regulation of telecommunications, television, radio and the internet.

GOLD COAST, QUEENSLAND

The attractions of the Gold Coast make the region an ideal destination for conferences and many delegates choose to extend their stay either before or after the convention. With 300 days of sunshine a year and an average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius, the Gold Coast offers a full spectrum of interactive entertainment - from dazzling big-budget theme parks to small, hilariously kitsch museums; world-renowned beaches and over 70 kilometres of pristine coastline; world-class golfing facilities; sporting events from surfing to V8 supercars; sophisticated dining and shopping precincts; shows and live entertainment; lush, green Hinterland - just a few of the reasons 10.5 million visitors flock to this vibrant city each year; a destination as scenic and peaceful as it is fast-paced and active.

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By Daniel Garris

Universal's Fifty Shades of Grey took in $1.79 million on Thursday to continue to lead the daily box office. The successful erotic romantic drama was up 1 percent over Wednesday's performance and down a sizable 58 percent from last Thursday. With Warner's Focus arriving in theatres today, Fifty Shades of Grey is widely expected to fall out of first place this weekend. Fifty Shades of Grey was the week's top film with a weekly take of $29.93 million. That was down a massive 72 percent from the film's opening week performance. Despite the second weekend decline, Fifty Shades of Grey continues to perform very well with $136.84 million through two weeks of release.

Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service held steady in second place with $1.36 million. The Matthew Vaughn directed graphic novel adaptation was up 3 percent over Wednesday and down a solid 41 percent from last Thursday. Kingsman claimed second place for the week with $24.36 million. That was down a respectable 51 percent from the film's opening week performance and brings the film's two-week total to a stronger than expected $73.95 million.

Warner's American Sniper took in $0.822 million to remain in third place. The blockbuster Clint Eastwood directed film starring Bradley Cooper was up 4 percent over Wednesday and down just 29 percent from last Thursday. American Sniper placed in fifth for the week with $13.45 million. That represented a 40 percent decline from the previous frame and places the film's total gross at $323.41 million after 42 days of wide release.

McFarland, USA stayed in fourth place with $0.740 million. After experiencing a very sharp daily percentage decline on Wednesday, Disney's well received sports drama starring Kevin Costner rebounded nicely on Thursday by increasing 12 percent over Wednesday. McFarland, USA took fourth place this week with a seven-day start of $14.18 million, which was on the higher end of pre-release expectations.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water rounded out the day's unchanged top five with $0.675 million. The successful 3D animated film from Paramount was up 14 percent over Wednesday and down 65 percent from last Thursday. The SpongeBob Movie took third place for the week with $19.45 million. That was down a sharp 58 percent from the previous week and brings the film's three-week total to $129.12 million.

The DUFF rounded out its first week of release with a sixth place take of $0.675 million. The low-budget PG-13 rated comedy from CBS Films and Lionsgate was up 17 percent over Wednesday, which is a good sign for the film heading into the weekend. The DUFF exceeded expectations this week with a $12.90 million sixth place start for the frame.

Meanwhile, Paramount's Hot Tub Time Machine 2 continued to drown with a seventh place gross of $0.389 million. The low-budget R-rated comedy sequel was down a troubling 7 percent from Wednesday. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 landed in seventh place for the week with a very disappointing seven-day take of just $7.87 million.

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By Alex Edghill

Friday Morning Update: With a double helping of deja vu, Insurgent led all films for the past week in Twitter buzz with 220,571, its third week atop the upcoming film list on the service. I was a bit skeptical at its breakout chances last column and while much of my previous comments still cast doubt over its potential I must say that its expansion and consistently high tweet numbers are an exceedingly good sign that has erased many of my doubts. A big part of its reason for the threepeat is the release of its final trailer on Tuesday which saw it account for just shy of 80,000 tweets. This is its highest tweet day on record and indeed a very positive sign for its box office potential as films generally tend to see the lowest buzz for their last trailer for release, not the opposite. This has a very real shot at being number one or two for the next three weeks as well barring any major trailers dropping.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron walked away with second spot on the week thanks in combination to a new TV spot and character specific posters being released mid-week. Perhaps one of the easiest predictions of 2015 is that this is going to be the biggest opener on the year considering that the last film made $207 million on opening weekend rode a massive wave of positive buzz from then till now.

The rest of the top five was rounded out with Focus, Cinderella and Furious 7, so basically no surprises there. Focus opens this Friday so its in full swing because of release buzz. The only reason it wasn't high was due to its very common name which led to a restrictive tweet string being used to flag tweets. Cinderella continues to be on my break-out list for the year and a dark horse for a top 10 spot, and with family audiences having slim pickings so far on the year I'd expect it to have a very strong run into May.

Twitter Top 10 Movies for the week of February 20th to February 26th

Date Movie Tweets Rank Change
3/20/15 The Divergent Series: Insurgent 220,571 1 (-) 88.45%
5/01/15 Avengers: Age of Ultron 141,495 2 (+2) 354.49%
2/27/15 Focus (2015) 53,057 3 (-1) 57.41%
3/13/15 Cinderella (2015) 26,892 4 (+4) 18.73%
4/03/15 Furious 7 26,573 5 (-) -10.14%

Subscribe to Box Office for more social media insights/coverage.

Please check the methodology page for information about our Twitter project or here for historic data.

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