Weekend Box Office (August 3 - 5, 2012)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND A pair of new franchise films could not stop Bane and Batman from ruling the North American box office for a third straight time as The Dark Knight Rises continued to reign supreme once again taking the gold medal position. The big-budget sci-fi remake Total Recall took home the silver while the bronze went to the kidpic Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Neither of the new releases showed major muscle and the overall Top 20 slumped 27% from last year's levels as overall moviegoing continued to be affected by a lack of exciting titles and the ongoing drama of the London Olympics.

For a third consecutive weekend, audiences made The Dark Knight Rises the most popular film in the land as the super hero saga grossed $35.7M, down a reasonable 43% from last weekend according to final studio figures. The Warner Bros. smash has now grossed a mammoth $353.9M in only 17 days with $48M of that sum (14%) coming from 332 IMAX locations.

The decline was identical to the 43% dip that 2008's The Dark Knight suffered during its third frame while on the same calendar. That mega-smash did face stiffer competition as the new action release that weekend, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, bowed to $40.5M which was $15M higher than Total Recall's debut. But with threequels often eroding faster, the solid hold Rises saw this weekend could be partly due to moviegoers that skipped the film in the aftermath of the Colorado shooting coming out now. New action sequels are scheduled to launch on the next two weekends, but The Dark Knight Rises could be on course to reach $440-450M domestically.

Currently, Rises is running 10% behind the pace of its predecessor which banked $393.8M in its first 17 days with a $42.7M third-weekend gross. The Bane flick has tied Avatar as the third fastest film in history to break the $350M barrier. Only The Avengers and The Dark Knight have done it faster in 10 and 14 days, respectively. TDKR shot up to number 21 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters passing the $352.4M of last summer's 3D tentpole Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Another impressive weekend gross was collected from overseas markets where the latest Batman film captured $66.7M from 58 markets, down a sizable 47%, boosting the international total to $378.1M and the global gross to $732M making it the second largest worldwide hit of 2012 after Avengers which grossed twice as much. The offshore cume is only about a week away from matching the $469M of TDK. Rises is now playing in most major markets around the world, however Italy is still to open at the end of the month and China - which has a quota on foreign films - has not yet been set. Breaking the $1 billion global box office mark seems very possible putting the Christopher Nolan trilogy on course to gross a combined $2.4 billion or more.

The big-budget sci-fi remake Total Recall debuted in second place with $25.6M and failed to generate too much excitement with action movie fans. Averaging $7,103 from 3,601 theaters, the PG-13 redo opened only a hair above the $25.5M bow of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger hit despite having ticket prices that were nearly twice as high and playing in 1,500 more theaters. The effects-driven film skewed 58% male while 53% of the audience was 30 and older, according to studio research. A lack of female appeal prevented it from attracting a broader crowd.

The Colin Farrell pic never did electrify ticket buyers too much and played out as yet another remake that people did not ask for. Critics and audiences agreed on the quality of the film. Reviews were mostly negative and moviegoers polled by CinemaScore gave it a pitiful C+ grade. And with The Bourne Legacy set to open this Friday and The Expendables 2 on the following weekend, large declines should be in order putting the $150M-budgeted pic on course to reach the neighborhood of $70M from North America. Recall opened at number one in a number of Asian markets this weekend collecting a modest $6.2M from a dozen territories led by Taiwan and Malaysia.

Opening in third place was the tween sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days with $14.6M from 3,391 locations for a mild $4,312 average. The third chapter in the film franchise debuted well below the levels of the first two which each launched in mid-March over the past two years to $22.1M and $23.8M. The summer vacation storyline drew an upfront audience as Saturday sales tumbled 14% from Friday's opening day score. As a threequel, it could indicate a rocky road ahead although those polled by CinemaScore liked the film which earned an A- grade.

Reviews were mostly negative which is common for a kidpic franchise going into its third installment. Studio research showed that the audience was 58% female and 62% under 25. Dog Days cost only $22M to produce and summer yields stronger midweek grosses since students are out of school so surpassing the $50M mark like the last two films is still possible.

Two more Fox titles followed. The 3D animated comedy Ice Age: Continental Drift slipped 36% to $8.6M for a cume to date of $132.1M from North America. Overseas grosses vaulted to an incredible $587M putting the worldwide figure at $719M. The studio's underperforming alien comedy The Watch fell 49% from its opening weekend despite no new comedies for adults entering the marketplace. With $25.5M in ten days, the Ben Stiller-Vince Vaughn pic should end with just $40M.

The dance drama Step Up Revolution tumbled 50% in its sophomore round to $5.9M pushing the ten-day total to $23.7M for Lionsgate-owned Summit. The decline was a little better than the 56% drop that the last film in the franchise, Step Up 3D, suffered two summers ago when it banked a better $29.8M in its first ten days. Look for Revolution to finish with roughly $35M.

The film that has really been getting grown-ups to laugh this summer, Seth MacFarlane's Ted starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, smashed the $200M mark this weekend and enjoyed a major expansion into international waters. Domestically, Universal's leggy hit dipped only 23% to $5.6M for a total of $203.6M. But a potent $32M was made from 20 overseas markets boosting the offshore total to $77.3M and the global tally to $281M. Ted generated a sensational top spot debut in the U.K. with $14.3M and was also number one in a handful of other new markets like Germany and Russia.

Sony's super hero reboot The Amazing Spider-Man crossed the quarter-billion threshold in North America this weekend thanks to its $4.4M take in its fifth weekend. Down 34%, the big-budget Sony tentpole upped its sum to $250.7M. Overseas added $6.1M this weekend for a new international haul of $427.1M giving the studio $678M worldwide.

Two more summer blockbusters rounded out the top ten, one for daughters and the other for moms. The Disney/Pixar hit Brave grossed $3M, off 31%, for a $223.4M cume. With $16.5M from overseas, the Scottish princess broke the century mark internationally with $118M for a worldwide take of $341M. Channing Tatum's Magic Mike fell 46% to $1.4M giving Warner Bros. $110.9M to date.

Opening well in platform release was the Andy Samberg-Rashida Jones relationship comedy Celeste and Jesse Forever which debuted to $107,785 from only four houses for a sparkling $26,946 average. Sony Classics will expand into San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, and Washington D.C. on Friday and adds more major cities throughout August before going nationwide over Labor Day weekend. Reviews have been good and indie comedies have been hot this year so the road ahead seems promising.

The top ten films grossed $111.4M which was down 28% from last year when Rise of the Planet of the Apes opened at number one with $54.8M; but up 4% from 2010 when The Other Guys debuted on top with $35.5M.

Compared to projections, both Total Recall and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days opened slightly below my respective forecasts of $28M and $17M.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

Watch the NEW trailer for Paranormal Activity 4. For a review of The Dark Knight Rises visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Bourne Legacy, The Campaign, and Hope Springs all open.

# Title Aug 3 - 5 Jul 27 - 29 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Dark Knight Rises $ 35,737,330 $ 62,101,451 -42.5 4,242 3 $ 8,425 $ 353,935,094 Warner Bros.
2 Total Recall 25,577,758 3,601 1 7,103 25,577,758 Sony
3 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days 14,623,599 3,391 1 4,312 14,623,599 Fox
4 Ice Age: Continental Drift 8,609,040 13,352,646 -35.5 3,542 4 2,431 132,071,899 Fox
5 The Watch 6,527,915 12,750,297 -48.8 3,168 2 2,061 25,541,118 Fox
6 Step Up Revolution 5,927,462 11,731,708 -49.5 2,606 2 2,275 23,724,611 Lionsgate
7 Ted 5,644,680 7,353,150 -23.2 2,767 6 2,040 203,579,915 Universal
8 The Amazing Spider-Man 4,400,315 6,701,111 -34.3 2,425 5 1,815 250,740,648 Sony
9 Brave 2,986,214 4,305,153 -30.6 2,110 7 1,415 223,420,254 Disney
10 Magic Mike 1,414,372 2,619,128 -46.0 1,202 6 1,177 110,928,677 Warner Bros.
11 Moonrise Kingdom 1,240,083 1,434,904 -13.6 687 11 1,805 40,779,127 Focus
12 Beasts of the Southern Wild 1,154,768 926,046 24.7 318 6 3,631 5,883,560 Fox Searchlight
13 Savages 978,635 1,838,215 -46.8 704 5 1,390 46,078,645 Universal
14 To Rome With Love 824,223 1,000,279 -17.6 382 7 2,158 14,304,640 Sony Classics
15 Madea's Witness Protection 731,828 1,308,870 -44.1 737 6 993 64,142,253 Lionsgate
16 Men in Black 3 654,529 183,968 255.8 326 11 2,008 176,626,907 Sony
17 Madagascar 3 587,512 900,570 -34.8 504 9 1,166 210,852,342 Paramount
18 The Intouchables 566,130 517,519 9.4 194 11 2,918 8,648,791 Weinstein Co.
19 The Hunger Games 429,366 518,940 -17.3 291 20 1,475 406,697,224 Lionsgate
20 The Avengers 417,065 512,958 -18.7 300 14 1,390 616,768,487 Disney
Top 5 $ 91,075,642 $ 107,289,252 -15.1
Top 10 111,448,685 124,187,763 -10.3
Top 20 119,032,824 131,152,514 -9.2
Top 20 vs. 2011 119,032,824 162,619,954 -26.8

Last Updated: August 7, 2012 at 11:00AM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.