Box Office Final (9/9-9/11/11): “Contagion” Is #1


Gwyneth Paltrow in Contagion (Warner Bros.)

After actual counts were reported, “Contagion” ruled the box office rankings in a poorly attended weekend, the lowest grossing weekend for the Top 12 films since, interestingly, the same comparable weekend in 2010.   Outside of the Top 12 however, two films achieved levels of infamy not seen in years.


As indicated yesterday, the star-studded viral disaster epic “Contagion” ended the impressive run at the top for “The Help” grossing $22.4 million.  With a production budget of $60 million, the Steven Soderbergh directed thriller looks to finish somewhere in the mid-$60 million range with this tracking.  Warner Bros. are reportedly accepting of the start, hoping for bigger, but will likely take the success on such a sparsely attended weekend.

Audiences were reportedly troubled by the film as CinemaScore reported a B- grade from its survey of opening night audiences and business declined on Sunday, although that may be obviously linked to the launch of the new NFL season.  Going forward, it will be interesting to see how “Contagion” holds up as a flood of new movies are set to arrive over the next few weeks.

By The Numbers:  “Contagion” gave Steven Soderbergh his biggest opening since 2007’s “Ocean’s Thirteen”…This is Matt Damon’s third consecutive film to open at #1 with a low $20 million gross following “The Adjustment Bureau” and “True Grit”…For Kate Winslet, “Contagion” was her biggest grossing film opening since “Titanic” (!) in 1997…The last and most comparable film to “Contagion”, 1995’s “Outbreak” grossed $67.7 million stateside and worldwide cleared $189.9 million.


Tom Hardy in "Warrior" (Lionsgate)


Lionsgate had bad news become a little worse when actual receipts showed that  their critically acclaimed MMA film, “Warrior” grossed $5.2 million for the $25 million production that Lionsgate expected to reach double digits in opening weekend grosses.  Feeling like they had a “Rocky” for a current generation, Lionsgate seemingly got everything right in the marketing, promotion, and critical acclaim.  But people simply did not care.  Audiences that did see the film loved it, netting an A from CinemaScore surveys, but either word-of-mouth never translated or the film had less across-the-board appeal than perceived.

Most troubling, “Drive” and “Straw Dogs” arrive on Friday and are squarely looking at “Warrior”‘s target audience as the main draw for their films.  At best, “Warrior” looks to secure a domestic gross of just $12-$15 million unless Lionsgate can drum up support this week, building momentum for the coming weekend.  Lionsgate were active in social media today, tweeting people’s reactions and trying to kickstart a potentially dying engine.

By The Numbers:  In terms of sports dramas, “Warrior”‘s opening rests between two beloved box office successes, “Field Of Dreams” ($5.4 million) and “The Natural” ($5.1 million)…Similar to professional wrestling, MMA may not have a cinematic audience, as clearly audiences did not liken “Warrior” to the accepted and successful boxing genre of films that tend to draw strong returns…In December 2010, the 2-time Oscar winner, “The Fighter” had a disappointing start ($12.1 million) but went to gross more than $93.0 million at the end of its run…Director Gavin O’Connor’s last film, “Pride and Glory” opened to a bigger number – $6.3 million in October 2008.


Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star (Sony Pictures)

History, they say, is made to be rewritten.  However as “Bucky Larson” and “Creature” teach us, you can sometimes rewrite history in all the wrong ways.  Co-produced and co-written by Adam Sandler, “Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star” is a raunchy, ribald, R-rated comedy about an Iowa grocery store clerk who, upon learning that his parents were successful adult film stars, decides that he has received his life’s calling and sets out to follow in his parents’ footsteps.  And wacky hijinks ensue.

Actually they don’t.  Not screened for critics, “Bucky Larson” began its weekend, and continues to hold, a 0% Rotten Tomatoes ranking as critics who did see the film, or expensed their editors on Friday, universally despised the film.  Audiences were assaulted by an equally strange and off-putting marketing campaign, featuring a Sandler movie bit player shouting at viewers about how great the movie was and how everyone should see it.  People avoided it in such a large sum that the film failed to generate even $1,000 per screen average.  The film opened at a distressing #15, grossing $1.42 million on a $10 million budget.

For startup Bubble Distribution, “Creature” may be the 1-and-done for a studio who, from all accounts, should not be placing their films in theatrical exhibition just yet.  Looking and appearing to be nothing more than an R-rated SyFy Channel Movie of the Week, “Creature” somehow was added to 1,507 screens in North America and an average of SIX PEOPLE attended each showing.  The film’s $220 (as in Two Hundred and Twenty Dollars) per screen average is the worst opening ever for a film starting on more than 750 screens.  And yet, “Bucky Larson” fans, “Creature” has a 6% TomatoMeter; equal to the number of folks who watched it each time it played.


Actor/Comedian Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart’s stand up comedy concert film, “Laugh At My Pain” was a huge surprise.  Opening on just 98 screens, Hart’s film opened with $1.9 million.  Hart announced today via his Twitter that the film will be expanding in to more locations over the next couple of weeks and Hart spent much of the weekend Tweeting, Re-Tweeting, and reportedly Direct Messaging followers who loved the film.  Some outlets have reported that Hollywood may have been introduced to Kevin Hart with this weekend’s opening.  Truth is, Hart has been around for a long time and has five films currently filming or in pre- or post-production.  For CodeBlack Entertainment this is their first release since 2007 and their largest grossing film ever.  For Hart, this only improves his bankability and viability as a movie star.

Word of caution to Kevin Hart…Nick Swardson.  Who’s that?  The star of “Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star”.


16 films grossed more than $1 million this weekend.  The steepest decline amongst them was found-footage mockumentary “Apollo 18”, which shed 67.2% of its opening weekend total to land in 8th place and a 10-day sum of $14.9 million.  While that sounds bad for Weinstein/Dimension, the film cost only $5 million to produce.

“Shark Night 3D” also plummeted, losing 59.4% of its opening weekend viewing audience.  The film, shot for $25 million, will need strong overseas and DVD sales to make it profitable.  10-day totals for “Shark Night 3D” are at $14.7 million thus far.

“Crazy, Stupid, Love.” continues to perform quite well for Warner Bros.  In its 7th week of release, the romantic comedy dropped 31.6%, best of the top tier holdovers and raised its domestic haul to $78.5 million.


  • “Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain” cost a mere $750k to produce, and as reported herein, is already profitable.
  • “The Debt” exceeded its $20 million production budget, grossing $21.9 million in 12 days.
  • Right before the weekend, “Final Destination 5” moved into the black with a 31-day sum of $41.8 million on a production budget of $40 million.
  • No films saw total grosses exceed more than $100 million, $200 million, or $300+ million over the weekend.


  • Bollywood film, “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan” opened well, earning slightly less than $400k on just 74 screens.
  • “Monte Carlo” was the only film advanced into the Second-Run Circuit this weekend and saw grosses skyrocket 403.6%.  The film grossed $100k on 69 screens and has grossed $23.0 million in its theatrical run.  The film reaches home video on October 18.
  • IFC saw a great response to their acclaimed documentary, “The Black Power Mix Tape: 1967-1975”, which compiles Swedish documentary footage taken during the Black Power Movement, as modern leaders and cultural figures in the African-American community use the footage to reflect back to the time period in question.  The film grossed $17k in its 2 locations.
  • On the flipside, IFC rushed in a discarded John Landis horror/comedy, “Burke & Hare”, starring Simon Pegg, Isla Fisher & Nick Frost and earned a whopping $947 at its only New York screen…


#1 Movie Of The Weekend: “CONTAGION” (Warner Bros.), earned $22.4 million in its opening weekend.

Largest Per-Screen Average (50+ Sites): “KEVIN HART: LAUGH AT MY PAIN” (CodeBlack Entertainment), $19,474 at 98 locations for a total gross of $1.90 million.

Smallest Per-Screen Average (50+ Sites):  “ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA” (Eros Entertainment), $51 at 100 locations for a total gross of $5,137.  Total gross stands at $3.10 million in 59 days time.

Largest % Increase (50+ Sites): “MONTE CARLO” (Fox), Increased 403.6% moving from 28 locations to 69.

Largest % Decrease (50+ Sites): “BAD TEACHER” (Sony), Decreased 87.6% moving from 986 locations to 96.

Now Profitable – Domestic v. Production Budget: “The Debt” ($21.9 million to $20 million), “Final Destination 5” ($41.8 million to $40 million), “Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain” ($1.9 million to $750k).

TOP 40 MOST ATTENDED FILMS (9/9/11-9/11/11)
Dollar amounts are in millions…





% +/-









 The Help8.9137.3-38.831


 Warrior5.25.2NEW 3


 The Debt4.821.9-51.912




 Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes3.89167.8-50.938


 Shark Night 3D3.414.7-59.410


 Apollo 182.914.9-67.210


 Our Idiot Brother2.721.3-51.417


 Spy Kids: All The Time…2.534.2 -48.124


 Crazy, Stupid, Love.2.378.5-31.645


 Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark2.221.0-58.317


 Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain1.9 1.9NEW 3


 The Smurfs1.8 136.0-56.145


 Bucky Larson…To Be A Star1.4 1.4NEW 3


 Harry Potter/Deathly Hallows 21.0377.1-59.559


 Captain America: First Avenger.846173.5-56.152


 Cowboys & Aliens.82898.0-55.945


 Seven Days In Utopia.650 2.7-50.710


 Horrible Bosses.586115.8-16.166


 Final Destination 5.55541.8-62.931


 30 Minutes Or Less.53336.5-70.731




 Midnight In Paris.41653.5-37.9115


 The Guard.4093.3-29.645


 Mere Brother Ki Dulhan.399.399NEW 3


 Sarah’s Key.3895.9-37.752


 One Day.38513.4-71.024


 Creature.327 .327NEW3


 The Change-Up.32236.5-58.638


 Conan The Barbarian.30420.9-80.724


 Saving Private Perez.2481.2-62.710


 Fright Night.23017.9-82.424


 Cars 2.181189.6-85.080


 Transformers: Dark Of Moon.175350.8-70.375


 Mr. Popper’s Penguins.16367.7-46.787




 Super 8.142126.7-48.694


 Kung Fu Panda 2.129165.0-63.2109


 Higher Ground.121.311+31.417
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My love of film began at the age of 7 when my parents not only gave me a television, but HBO to boot. My first theatrical experience was "E.T." My first movie cry came with "Old Yeller". "The Usual Suspects" made me decide to make movies and film writing a priority in life, even knowing the twist beforehand. My passion for film, music, and pop culture in general can be isolated to my youth. My love for film took root in high school. Above all else, movies and art, in any form, exist to entertain and I remain much more interested in how art affects others, more than with myself. But I love the conversation and to have a chance to share my thoughts and be a part of the community here is a unique and enriching experience.