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Monday
Jul202009

Harry Potter dominates the weekend box office with $79.5 million opening

So apparently not everyone agrees with me about Half-Blood Prince. Though it failed to set an opening day record, it managed to consistently pull in more than $20 million a day through the weekend. Potter pulled in an estimated $26.8 million on Friday, $29.2 million on Saturday, and $23.4 million on Sunday. These aren't mind-blowing numbers, but they are consistent.

Here's a comparison of the opening weekends of all six Potter movies.

  • $90,294,621: The Sorcerer's Stone
  • $88,357,488: The Chamber of Secrets
  • $93,687,367: The Prisoner of Azkaban
  • $102,335,066: The Goblet of Fire
  • $77,108,414: The Order of the Phoenix
  • $79,475,000: The Half-Blood Prince

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jul192009

Actual Alice in Wonderland screenshot shown

Thanks to EW, we have a new screen of Alice in Wonderland. I’m not usually one to post a single screenshot (well, unless it’s The Hobbit), but this film is just odd enough that every screen I see makes me want to see a bit more. Tim Burton is directing, which means it’s going to be darker and odder than any Alice in Wonderland before it. Let’s hope he does a better job than he did with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which wasn’t a bad movie (it was closer to the book), but it certainly wasn’t as good as the original.

This image is released in anticipation of a “semi-trailer” Burton will show at Comic-Con. Alice is still in filming, thus there’s no finished trailer yet. He should show off the footage at the Disney 3D panel on July 23. He’ll also be showing off footage for his new CGI animated film 9.

Burton’s version of Alice will be a completely new take on the story. Instead of being a young girl and following the white rabbit, Alice has now aged to 17 and she is returning to the fantasy land she knew as a child. Seems like this would ruin some of the enchantment. We’ll be excited about everything, but she might be “Winona-Rider-in-Beetlejuice-bored” with it all. Let’s hope not, but Tim Burton does like depressed characters.

Sunday
Jul192009

Hobbiton and the Shire are being rebuilt!

In a sign that The Hobbit films are not so far off, WETA has begun building the set for Bag End and the rest of the shire. TheOneRing.net has spies that took pictures. Sneaky hobbitses. Here’s the blurb:

Ringer Spy Uhtred passed this information to Red Carpet Tours, and they have exclusively shared these pics with TheOneRing.net! The re-building of Hobbiton has begun, with the planting of hedgerows and fruit trees. An extension to the path that passes in front of Bag End has been marked out also. There will be several new Hobbit holes dotted along its length. Check out the complete gallery of images in our scrapbook and discuss in our forums! - TheOneRing

Here are some of the pictures of the new Bag End.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jul182009

Zach Galifianakis due for some time in the spotlight

I've been a fan of Zach Galifianakis for a long time now (years!). Unfortunately, he's never gotten a film role that captures his unique brand of awkward humor. Thanks to The Hangover, Hollywood might finally warm up to the guy in the Amber Alert beard.

The Hangover 2 is already planned, but a sequel is two years away. Before that, he's going to team up with Todd Phillips, director of The Hangover series, in Due Date. ScriptShadow reviewed the current draft of the screenplay, and it sounds promising. It's about "an expectant dad (along with an unlikely travel companion, Galifianakis) races cross-country in hopes of making it home for the birth of his first child." It's a road comedy, written by Alan R. Cohen and Alan Freedland, who wrote some King of the Hill episodes. Here's what ScriptShadow thinks of the screenplay.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jul182009

The Box Office is quite Twittery lately

Reuters has written about something I’ve been noticing lately. Movies are flopping a lot faster this year. They’re also rising a lot faster. From my experience, midnight showings are growing more popular, though perhaps its because this year is particularly full of sequels (what year isn’t).

Reuters speculates that social site Twitter is responsible for a lot of the hastening.It’s one of many new ways movie fans are instantly communicating with one another. Many times, people text or Twitter right during the movie, to the dismay of everyone sitting around them.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul172009

Transformers 2 breaks Chinese box office records

Transformers 2 has made 400 million yaun ($59 million) during its box office run in China, where it opened June 24. That’s no small sum, even by American standards. The sum sets Transformers 2 as the biggest movie of all time in the country, sliding ahead of Titanic, but is still less than the film’s opening day numbers in the U.S. of $62 million. There are roughly 4100 theaters in China.

“This is a tremendous achievement for the market in China and clearly shows that there is a strong growing demand for international films,” said Mike Ellis, Asia-Pacific managing director of the Hollywood trade organization, Motion Picture Association of America, speaking with the Associated Press.

The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) sees the rising tide of cash coming from China, and wants to release more blockbusters there. Currently, China only allows 20 foreign blockbusters a year, in an attempt to grow its domestic film industry.

In 10 years, we are going to see Chinese box office numbers that rival the U.S. from China as its great wall continues to fall.

Wednesday
Jul152009

Harry Potter 6 posts the largest midnight opening ever

I totally predicted this one. $22.2 million from 3,003 theaters: that’s how much Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince grossed at 12:01am last night. It’s a new record, besting The Dark Knight by $4 million. The movie has a shot at the single day record too, which Dark Knight also set at $67,165,092, if it can rake in another $45 million by the end of the night tonight. $45 million is do-able. Transformers 2 made $46 million in it’s opening day, after a midnight showing of $16 million.

I don’t think Harry Potter will be setting any weekend records though. It may trend more like Bruno: down. Much of the audience leaving seemed bewildered and disappointed at my midnight showing. Word of mouth may not go so well, despite the high critical acclaim Half-Blood Prince seems to be getting. From what I’m told, this movie also butchers the book a lot more than the other movies, which will bother hardcore Potter-ites. My review of the movie is here.

Wednesday
Jul152009

Review - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince **1/2

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a beautiful and hilarious movie that I desperately wanted to enjoy. Unfortunately, it lingers and plods on awkward teenage relationships, forgetting that it has an adventure to tell. Like the halls of Hogwarts these days, I left feeling empty.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul142009

Harry Potter poised for a BIG opening night

I bought my tickets for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince midnight opening around 4pm today. To my surprise, I was the last person to get a ticket. All 18 screens at my local theater have sold out. This is crazy. Transformers 2 is the only other midnight opening I’ve seen sell out, but not until a few minutes before midnight. NCG Cinema (I live in Lansing, Michigan) is even opening up some 3am showings to accommodate demand.

Even odder, there were Potter-ites playing little Quidditch board games, wearing robes, and holding wands already…and they had been there since lunchtime. No one waited for 12 hours to see Transformers 2. Harry Potter 6 may set a midnight opening record for the series.

I made calls to the other major theater in the area, Celebration! Cinema, and they have sold out 11 shows (of 12 possible) and had Potter-ites hanging out as well. Every theater in Lansing and East Lansing has sold out at least one midnight showing of Harry Potter and has had to open up additional screens to accommodate demand. 

Granted, this is only data from Lansing, Michigan, but Potter fever seems to be at a high. Positive early reviews of the movie (here’s one from Roger Ebert) may have helped. The last entry in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix grossed $44.2 million its opening day, which was also a Wednesday, almost exactly two years ago (7/11/2007).

Wish me luck. It’s gonna be a crowded one. I’ll do a bit of tweeting from the front lines. My Twitter handle is @JeffreyVC for those interested.

If anyone else has similar stories, please comment.

Tuesday
Jul142009

Chinese movie-goers are gaining on us

Variety reports that Chinese box office revenues are up 40% during the first six months of 2009, despite the global economic downturn. Chinese theaters brought in $336 million, or 2.3 billion yuan, during the first half of the year. The total 2009 Chinese box office could reach $834 million.

This figure still doesn’t come close to the U.S. and Canada’s $9.8 billion dollar annual total in 2008, but it is impressive nonetheless.

Last year the U.S. had 1.36 billion movie ticket admissions. With only 304 million people in the U.S. and 33 million in Canada, that’s about 4 annual ticket admissions per person. There are 1.33 billion people living in China. If all of them went out to the theater even once a year, China would have the largest box office in the world. The tides are changing, slowly.