2009 Box Office Review - North America - Part 2
Warner’s became the first studio ever to surpass $2 billion domestically across 28 releases this year and controls almost 20% of the market. With “Harry Potter,” “The Hangover,” “The Blind Side” and “Sherlock Holmes” all in the top ten, “Terminator Salvation” ($125 million) also contributed to the studio’s success. Warner’s misfires for the year included Spike Jonze’s adaptation of “Where the Wild Things Are” ($75.8 million) and “Watchmen’ ($107.5 million), though “Watchmen” did finish in the top thirty for the year.
Fox had $1.34 billion in domestic theatrical revenue, of which Fox Searchlight contributed $263 million, and the studio overall had 15.6% of the market. Its most profitable hits were “Avatar,” $90 million production “Ice Age 3” ($196.6 million) and unexpected hit “Taken” ($145 million). Domestic earnings were eclipsed by the phenomenal international take for “Ice Age 3” and the feature has become the highest-grossing animated film of all time. Other hits for the studio came from the likes of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” ($180 million), “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” ($177 million) and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel” ($156 million). “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” ($20.7 million) and Mira Nair’s “Amelia” ($14 million) didn’t fare as well though with 16 releases this year, Fox certainly had its share of successes.
With Paramount’s 13.9% market share and just 13 releases this year, five of the films were in the top thirty, earning the studio $1,476 billion in revenues. In addition to the top performing sequels “Transformers” and “Star Trek,” Dreamworks’ 3D success of “Monster vs. Aliens” ($198.4 million) and Hasbro toy based property “G.I. Joe” earned $54.7 million to finish number 17. The studio’s acquisition of “Paranormal Activity” was extremely profitable given the total production and marketing budget barely exceeded $10 million.
Sony’s biggest domestic hits were “2012” ($163 million), which placed fourteenth for the year, and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” ($146 million), which landed at number 18, to bring the studio to a 13.7% share of the market on revenues of $1.454 billion. “Da Vinci Code” sequel “Angels and Demons” finished 22nd for the year with earnings of $133.4 million and acquisition “District 9” took in $115.7 million. Sony’s $60 million acquisition of “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” ($72 million) didn’t make the top thirty cut-off domestically but did perform better overseas. Sony’s biggest disappointment came from “Year One” starring Jack Black and Michael Cera, which grossed only $43 million on a budget of $60 million.
For three consecutive years Buena Vista has beaten the $1 billion domestic theatrical revenue benchmark and this year with its 18 releases is no different. With $1.2 billion in revenues boosted by “Up” and Sandra Bullock in romantic comedy “The Proposal,” ($164 million), which finished at #13 for the year, animated films “A Christmas Carol” ($137 million) and “G-Force” ($119 million) also both landed in the top thirty. Unfortunately, Disney didn’t have the same success with 3D films like Jim Carrey in Robert Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol” and Jerry Bruckheimer’s “G-Force.” Production costs of $200 million for “Christmas Carol” and $175 million for “G-Force,” in addition to sizeable marketing costs, didn’t make these films nearly as profitable as “Up” was for the studio. Live action comedy “Old Dogs” ($48.4 million) and action drama “Surrogates” ($38.5 million) didn’t meet studio expectations either as their budgets of $40 million and $80 million respectively put these titles in unprofitable positions.
Universal had 18 releases, with “Fast and Furious” ($155 million) and “Couples Retreat” ($108.5 million) topping their performance for a 9.7% market share including Focus’ nine additional releases. Combined revenue was $1029 million for the sister companies. Disappointments included Will Ferrell in adventure comedy “Land of the Lost” ($49.4 million) with a $100 million production budget and Adam Sandler in “Funny People” ($52 million), which had a $75 million budget.
Only two independent distributors, Summit and the Weinstein Company, had titles finishing in the top thirty. The newest installment of “Twilight” earned Summit Entertainment a 4.6% market share on revenues of $482.5 million with nine titles on their release slate for the year. The Weinstein Company’s 1.9% market share was primarily a result of the success of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” ($120.5 million), but they released another seven titles.
Lionsgate represented 3.8% of the market with a cumulative box office gross of $406 million for 12 films.
Next: Looking forward
Ellen Pittleman, http://hybridentus.com, is a veteran studio executive based in Los Angeles. Most recently, she served as SVP, International Co-Productions and Worldwide Acquisitions for Paramount Pictures. She also launched the DVD Premiere group there, with films including Jonathan Demme’s “Neil Young: Heart of Gold” and the sequel to the $100MM+ “Save the Last Dance.” Working from a marketing and distribution perspective, she consults on strategic planning, deal negotiation, acquisitions, film library valuation and feature development with clients from Rio to London to Beijing. She’s also currently developing a feature on George Foreman’s comeback years, among other projects.