Steve’s Box Office Report: September 2011
Top 10 Films for the Month of September:
1. The Lion King 3D Re-Release – $94,242,001
2. Contagion – $75,658,097
3. Moneyball – $75,605,492
4. Dolphin Tale – $72,286,779
5. Drive – $35,061,555
6. 50/50 – $35,014,192
7. Courageous – $34,522,221
8. Abduction – $28,087,155
9. Killer Elite – $25,124,966
10. Dream House – $21,302,340
1. Shark Night 3D – $18,877,153
2. Apollo 18 – $17,687,709
3. What’s Your Number? – $14,011,084
4. Warrior – $13,657,115
5. Straw Dogs – $10,324,441
6. I Don’t Know How She Does It – $9,662,284
7. Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star – $2,529,395
September Winners: The Lion King 3D Re-Release, Moneyball, Dolphin Tale, Drive, 50/50, and Courageous
We continue on through the year of 2011 as we are officially done with the summer and move into the fall, and after a pretty hot summer carried by a few big movies it was going to be interesting to see how September ended up fairing. Even though there weren’t any major blockbusters set to come out this month, there was a feeling that maybe one or two of the films released this month would do well. We do end up getting quite a few winners with the first one being the 3D re-release of the Lion King, the classic Disney film about Simba who is exiled by Scar after Mufasa is killed and he must confront his past to claim his destiny by becoming King. Coinciding with the 17th anniversary of the film’s release as well as the film’s release on Blu-Ray, the film would make over $94 million which is incredible for a re-release and I will go further into this later in the review. The next film from this month that makes it into this category is the sports film Moneyball, based on the 2003 book of the same name chronicling the 2002 season of the Oakland A’s as they became a competitive team. The film would receive critical acclaim from critics and made over $75 million as it became one of the low-key surprise hits of the month. The next film from this month that makes it into this category is the family film Dolphin Tale, a film inspired by the story of the dolphin Winter that lost its tail and is nursed back to health at an aquarium. The film would receive positive reviews from critics and made over $72 million which was a good success for the film despite having to compete with the Lion King. The next film from this month that makes it into this category is the action drama film Drive, based on the novel of the same name of a stunt driver who also works as a getaway driver and tries to help his neighbor and her son. The film would receive critical acclaim from critics and would end up finishing with over $35 million which I will delve into later in the review. The next film from this month that makes it into this category is the black comedy-drama film 50/50, a film about a young man who deals with having cancer and struggles dealing with it while his best friend tries to help him cope and he forms a relationship with his therapist. The film would receive critical acclaim from critics and would finish with over $35 million as it just missed making it into the top 5, but it was still a fairly moderate success for the film. The final film from this month that makes it into this month is the Christian drama film Courageous, a film about four police officers who struggle with their faith while also dealing with their own problems at home. The film would receive mixed to negative reviews from critics though it would still have a small successful run by finishing with over $34 million and finished ahead of other films more heavily promoted than it. It is not typical to have this many films make it into this category during the month of September, but it does help prop the month up enough especially since nothing was able to truly break out and cross the $100 million mark.
September Losers: Killer Elite and Dream House
While this month ended up having a pretty good amount of winners, the real success would’ve been if it managed to have no losers of the month though sadly that is not the case as we do have a few losers as well. Usually you don’t want to have more losers than winners if you want to have a successful month, and thankfully we don’t have that here as we only have two losers from this month. The first from this month that makes it into this category is the action film Killer Elite, based on the novel “The Feather Men” of a killer-for-hire who looks to avenge the death of his sons while also trying to save his mentor. The film would receive negative reviews from critics who felt it was just another generic action film and the film would finish with just over $25 million, and it would pretty much just fall between the cracks of the month. The other film from this month that makes it into this category is the thriller film Dream House, a film about a family who move into what they believe is their dream house only to learn of its horrific past. The film would receive negative reviews from critics and finished with just over $21 million as it barely made it into the top 10 of the month, and it would also just disappear from theaters fairly quickly after being released at the end of the month. While these two were the losers of the month, they weren’t bad enough that they dragged the month down to the depths of the abyss like other months.
The Surprise/Story of September 2011: “The Lion King” returns to the top 17 years after its initial release to take top spot of September 2011
Going into the month of September, there were a few films that were being released that looked to do fairly well as they were receiving critical acclaim from critics and with the blockbusters of the summer slowing down, there was a sense that something could potentially break out. While there were three films that made over $70 million which is considered a good success for a September release, the story of the month ended up being the unexpected success of the Lion King which was re-released in 3D. While there was no film from this month that made it past the $100 million mark, the top 4 were still pretty successful and the rest of the films that came out this month were all relatively close to each other with nothing bombing horribly. While one has to wonder how the month would’ve fared had the Lion King not been released and it was the other films that had to carry the month, what we ended up getting was fine enough for the month and kept the year going fairly strong following a hot summer.
Overachiever of September 2011: The Lion King 3D Re-Release
On June 15th, 1994, the Lion King was first released in theaters and became an international sensation by making well over $312 million domestically and over $858 million worldwide, and it would be the finale of what I affectionally coined as the Trinity of Greatness along with Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. 17 years later, the film was re-released in theaters this month for a special 2-week engagement to promote the film’s release on Blu-Ray, but it would end up becoming an inadvertent success as it opened at number one in its opening weekend. After a strong second weekend, many theaters opted to keep it past the initial two weeks to the point that it stayed around until the end of the year in some theaters, and it would end up adding over $94 million to its total and solidifying its place as one of the greatest animated films of all time. It would also make Disney continue forward with future 3D re-releases so we will see if the pattern holds or if this happened to be a fluke, but without question this film deserves to be the overachiever of the month given how well it did given it was only originally a 2-week engagement.
Underachiever of September 2011: Drive
Of all the films released this month, the one that probably had the most intrigue going into it was Drive as it was receiving critical acclaim for its story, characters, score, and the performances of its stars. However, one of the things that was turning critics off from the film was the violence that they felt was too graphic and it was believed that this could potentially harm the film’s prospects for success. Also hurting the film was that it was released on the same weekend as the Lion King which overdelivered in a big way, and as a result Drive did finish with just over $35 million which barely edged it into the top 5 of the month ahead of 50/50. While it would end up as one of the winners of the month, there was a feeling that it could’ve done better and as a result, it ends up being the underachiever of the month.
September 2011 Awards Watch: Moneyball, Drive, 50/50, Warrior, I Don’t Know How She Does It, and Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star
After going through the summer without a lot of award contenders coming out, that changes here as we have quite a few films from this month make it into this category as the heavy hitters start coming out during the fall. The first film from this month that makes it into this category is Moneyball which was nominated for 6 Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Mixing) though it wouldn’t win any of them. It would also be nominated for 4 Golden Globes (Best Picture – Drama, Best Actor – Drama, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Screenplay) though it wouldn’t win any of them either as it couldn’t break out and win any awards. The second film from this month that makes it into this category is Drive as it was nominated for one Academy Award (Best Sound Editing) which it didn’t win, and it was also nominated for one Golden Globe Award (Best Supporting Actor) which it didn’t win as there were other films that fared much better than it. The next film from this month that makes it into this category is 50/50 which was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards (Best Picture – Comedy or Musical and Best Actor – Comedy or Musical) though it wouldn’t win either, and the fact that it got some award nods was a good success for the film. The next film from this month that makes it into this category is the sports drama film Warrior, a film about two brothers who enter an MMA tournament and come to terms with their own lives. The film would receive positive reviews from critics and finished with over $13 million as it was nominated for one Academy Award (Best Supporting Actor) which it wouldn’t win. The next film from this month that makes it into this category is the comedy film I Don’t Know How She Does It, a film about an executive who struggles to balance her work life and her family life. The film would receive negative reviews from critics and finished with just over $9 million as it was nominated for one Golden Raspberry Award (Worst Actress) which it wouldn’t win. The final film from this month that makes it into this category is the comedy Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, a film about a man who travels to Hollywood and aspires to follow in his parents’ footsteps as an adult film star. The film would receive negative reviews from critics and was a flop as it made just over $2.5 million, and it would receive six Golden Raspberry nominations (Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Actor, Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Ensemble, and Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off, or Sequel) though amazingly it wouldn’t win any of them. So even though we had a bunch of films make it into this category, they all would ultimately strike out in winning any of them as they went against bigger award contenders for the same awards.
Overall Thoughts of September 2011:
Overall, the month of September 2011 ended up being a fairly average month as it was a step down from what we have seen during the summer, but it wasn’t a completely terrible month that it blocked any of the momentum that the year had going thus far. Again, there weren’t any major blockbusters released this month with the biggest being a re-release of a classic film, and the fact that the re-release finished at the top of the month is an indicator as to how fairly weak the month as a whole was. 2011 has been an interesting year thus far as it started decently and really fired up during the summer, and now as we head further into the fall we will see how things play out right before the holiday season. As for the month of September 2011, it is an average month though it wasn’t one of the worst months ever as we have seen from previous Septembers.
Final Grade: C-