Amir here with the weekend’s box office report, or the interesting part of it at least.
As expected, 300: Rise of Even More CGI and Mr. Peabody and Sherman and Non-Stop topped the charts, so we’ll skip right past them and get to the interesting stuff. Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel entered the all time top ten list for per screen average on an opening weekend. On four screens alone, the film has raked in $800,000 dollars already and will probably pass the one million mark later today. That’s an incredible coup for the director and Fox Searchlight already, but can we gauge anything about the film’s final box office performance from this number? Well, maybe...
To put things in perspective, Budapest is only one of two non-animated films in that top ten list. The majority of the list is comprised of children’s films like Toy Story 2, which opened on a single theatre before going wide, therefore skewing what the list really means for independent films. The other live action film is Kevin Smith’s Red State, which opened with $204k and barely made $1m by the end of its run. On the other hand, Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom was catapulted to a $45m finish by taking advantage of a great opening weekend per screen average (13th on the all time list). The important thing to remember is that sometimes, though not always, the studios get it right by releasing their properties on a limited scale. Certain films just do not have a mainstream appeal, irrespective of how well they perform on a concentrated circle of theatres. The Master, which was on the top ten list until Budapest displaced it, could not have sold a whole lot more than it did despite what many considered an ill-advised release strategy. Nevertheless, P.T. Anderson’s fans are passionate enough to frontload its sales figures on the first weekend on five screens, therefore creating unrealstic expectations for its performance upon expansion.
That being said, The Grand Budapest Hotel certainly has what it takes to outsell Moonrise Kingdom and even The Royal Tenenbaums – Wes Anderson’s biggest hit yet. The critics are over the moon for it; the overall design looks delicious – literally – and the marketing strategy has been wise to emphasize that design and the humor. And while none of the actors are box office sensations on their own, their ensemble should prove irresistible for the mainstream audience. Anderson’s record at the box office is a bit patchy. Fantastic Mr. Fox, despite rolling out on more than 2000 screens and being an animated film with superstar voice actors, petered out at half its production budget. Moonrise Kingdom, without reaching 1000 screens at its peak, managed $45m. My guess is that enthusiasm for his newest film will eventually place it somewhere closer to Moonrise territory.
Budapest is not yet open in my neck of the woods (Toronto), so along with most of you, I’m impatiently waiting. In the meantime, I spent Sunday with Ernest Lubitsch’s peerless classic The Shop Around the Corner, which you should get on immediately if you never have. (You can always follow my cinematic diet here, or follow me on twitter!) What did you watch this weekend?