By Shawn Robbins
Update: The final January market gross rang in at $892.52 million.
Previously: 2014's box office has kicked off in a very positive way for the industry as January could top $900 million for the first time in four years.
That figure would mark a 10 percent improvement over January 2013's $827 million, 9.6 percent over 2012's $831 million, and 21 percent over 2011's $755 million. The month's non-inflation-adjusted revenue will represent the third best ever for January.
In fact, even when adjusting for inflation, this month has seen higher attendance levels since Avatar was dominating the market four years ago. The estimated number of tickets sold this month is up a projected 8 percent from last year, based on NATO's most recent report that the average ticket price in the final quarter of 2013 reached a record $8.35.
Contributing to this month's success have been two of the three best January openings in history. The popularity of Kevin Hart and veteran Ice Cube helped Universal's Ride Along ($41.5 million) top Cloverfield ($40.1 million) for the three-day January weekend record, as well as the four-day Martin Luther King weekend record ($48.6 million versus $46.2 million, respectively). Not to be forgotten is Lone Survivor, also from Universal, which bagged $37.9 million in its wide expansion earlier in the month. Lone's debut was good enough for the third best ever January opening after Ride Along's record is taken into consideration.
This was the first time since 2009 that more than one film joined the list of top ten January openings. To date, Ride Along has amassed $76.9 million, while Lone Survivor stands at $94.8 million through Monday, January 27.
Outside of Universal's headliners, January releases fared modestly as a whole. The Nut Job has performed surprisingly well with $40.7 million through Monday. Behind it are franchise under-performers Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit ($31.3 million) and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones ($32.1 million). The Legend of Hercules ($17.1 million), Devil's Due ($13.1 million), and I, Frankenstein ($9.2 million) represent the month's poorest new releases. These totals are current and exclude projections for the remainder of the month.
Carrying some of the usual post-holiday weight have been various Oscar-nominated films and holdover blockbusters. Disney's Frozen stands out from the bunch with an incredible $85.5 million (projected) over the January 1-27 period, and it's on pace to overtake Despicable Me 2 ($368 million) in February as 2013's highest grossing animated release. Meanwhile, American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street have continued to ride their star power and awards buzz. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug rounds out the list of films which will have earned over $50 million this month.
Looking ahead to February, the box office should continue to ring up solid business through the likes of The LEGO Movie, George Clooney's ensemble-driven The Monuments Men, and Liam Neeson's latest action flick, Non-Stop (although its Feb. 28 release means March will carry the most benefit from its release). Kevin Hart's hot streak could also carry over into Valentine's weekend with the About Last Night remake. Underdogs, wild cards, and expected low-level performers of the month include Vampire Academy, the Robocop reboot/remake, Endless Love, Winter's Tale, 3 Days to Kill, Pompeii, Son of God, and Welcome to Yesterday. So long as one or two of those films perform reasonably well, in addition to the aforementioned four coming close to expectations, topping Feburary 2013's 11-year low $616 million market performance shouldn't be difficult.
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WASHINGTON D.C. (January 28, 2014) - Acclaimed animation director, Carlos Saldanha, will be honored with a special "International Filmmaker of the Year" Award, as part of CinemaCon's International Day, it was announced today by Mitch Neuhauser, Managing Director of CinemaCon.
CinemaCon, the official convention of The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), will be held March 24 - 27, 2014 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Saldanha will receive his special honor during International Day festivities, to take place on Monday, March 24, 2014.
Saldanha is currently completing production on "Rio 2" which sees the return of all of our favorite "Rio" characters including those voiced by Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jemaine Clement, Leslie Mann, George Lopez, will.i.am and Jamie Foxx along with new friends being voiced by Andy Garcia, GRAMMY ® winner Bruno Mars, Tony® winner Kristin Chenoweth and Oscar®/Emmy®/Tony®/ GRAMMY ® winner Rita Moreno. The Twentieth Century Fox film is slated for release April 11, 2014.
"Since his theatrical debut in 2002 with 'Ice Age', Carlos Saldanha has captivated and entertained moviegoers worldwide, young and old, with some of the most stunning, imaginative and vibrant animated visuals ever to grace our theatre screens, while all along having these very same moviegoers laughing in their seats with some of the most delightful animated characters and stories of our time," noted Neuhauser. "From 'Ice Age' to 'Rio' and now 'Rio 2', Saldanha continues to create films for the entire family to enjoy and we could not be more excited to honor him as CinemaCon's 2014 International Filmmaker of the Year."
Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saldanha, who has a background in computer science, left for New York City in 1991 to follow his passion for animation. While enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program at New York's School of Visual Arts, Saldanha completed two animated shorts, "The Adventures of Korky, the Corkscrew" and "Time for Love." After graduating from the program with honors, Saldanha joined Chris Wedge and the team of artists at Blue Sky Studios. Following his roles as both supervising animator and director of animation on television commercials and film, Saldanha teamed with Wedge to co-direct Blue Sky's first animated features "Ice Age" and "Robots." After "Ice Age" received an Oscar® nomination, Saldanha went on to direct the animated short film "Gone Nutty," also nominated for an Oscar®. Additionally, Saldanha directed "Ice Age: The Meltdown," and directed "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" with co-director Mike Thurmeier. In 2011, Saldanha directed the global blockbuster "Rio", which grossed over $486 million.
BY JOHN FITHIAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATO AND BRIGITTE BUEHLMAN, DIRECTOR OF INDUSTRY RELATIONS, NATO
The Executive Board of Directors of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) voted to adopt a guide that will standardize in-theater marketing materials with the goal of driving movie ticket sales and creating a better moviegoing experience. Announced in late January 2014, the voluntary guidelines went into effect immediately for any advertising campaigns being developed for movies scheduled for domestic release on or after October 1, 2014. (Advertisements already in cinemas for such movies at the time the final guidelines were announced will be grandfathered.)
The process of creating these guidelines was not an easy one. In April 2013, NATO's executive board voted to move forward with creating industry-wide guidelines to encompass marketing lead time for in-theater marketing materials; trailer length and placement; guest engagement methods; and film checker/auditor conduct. NATO met with the largest seven studios later in 2013 to discuss the guidelines. After some very engaged conversations, NATO took the constructive feedback we received and made significant modifications to the draft guidelines.
Specifically, NATO substantially lengthened the marketing lead time requirement; added two exemptions per distributor per year for both trailer length and marketing lead time; and made other changes. A copy of the revised and final guidelines as adopted by the NATO Executive Board of Directors accompanies this article.
Highlights from NATO's In-Theater Marketing Guidelines include:
All in-theater marketing materials should include the targeted theatrical release date of the film/event once the release date has been set.
Cinemas will advertise a wide-release movie no sooner than 150 days with trailers and 120 days on all other marketing materials before its theatrical release date. The final guidelines permit two exemptions per year per distributor based on the theatrical release dates for two movies.
Trailers shall not exceed two minutes in length. The final guidelines permit two exemptions per year per distributor, with a maximum length of three minutes.
NATO members appreciate that their studio partners strive to make the best use of marketing dollars by developing and distributing effective advertising materials to sell their movies. For the cinema environment, though, some marketing materials can be distributed too early to be optimally effective, and some trailers can be too long. Given the limits of time and space in theaters, and the desire to maximize sales to all movies in a fair and competitive environment, exhibitors believe these new guidelines can help the entire industry sell more tickets.
Movie distributors own their movies. Motion picture exhibitors own their theaters. Exhibitors license the right to play features. But the time on screen before the feature, and the available space throughout the cinema complex, are owned and managed by the exhibitor. NATO's members do not exercise any control over movie advertisements in other media outside of the cinema environment. To maximize the industry's marketing efforts and to best promote competition, however, exhibitors must set the parameters for advertisements in their own cinemas.
NATO, on behalf of our executive board and general membership, emphasizes that these guidelines will evolve in response to technological innovations, marketing and advertising trends, competition in the marketplace, and consumer demands. Furthermore, the guidelines are completely voluntary and will be implemented through individual exhibition-company policies, which may vary. NATO will serve simply as an information clearinghouse where distributors may notify the industry of their desire to exercise an exemption under the guidelines.
Questions regarding the guidelines can be directed to Brigitte Buehlman at email@example.com.
NATO In-Theater Marketing Guidelines
MARKETING LEAD TIME
All marketing materials (trailers, printed materials, standees, digital posters, clings, display cases, mobiles, and all other in-theater advertising) should include the targeted theatrical release date of the film/event once the release date has been set.
Cinemas will advertise a wide-release film/event no sooner than 150 days with trailers and 120 days on all other marketing materials before its theatrical release date.
• Two exemptions per year per distributor (exemptions are granted per title and not per marketing material), based on theatrical release date.
• Advance notification of the intended use of an exemption must be given to NATO via firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN-THEATER PROMOTIONS & EVENTS
All film marketing promotions and events (including project pictures and special screenings) require exhibitor home office approval. Please refer to individual exhibitor policies regarding approval, insurance, participation, etc.
PRINTED AND DIGITAL MATERIALS AND STANDEES
Negotiations of marketing materials will be coordinated between the distributor and the exhibitor's home office.
Installation of marketing materials will be coordinated between the installer and theater management.
Two-Minute Trailer Length Limit
Trailers shall not exceed two minutes in length. Two exemptions per year per distributor, with a maximum length of three minutes, based on the theatrical release date of the film being advertised.
Advance notification of the intended use of an exemption must be given to NATO via email@example.com.
Any on-screen marketing materials that are considered special content (behind-the-scenes footage, sizzle reels, extended looks, etc.) must be negotiated with individual exhibitors.
Exhibitors will only place trailers with content appropriate for the particular feature (expands on ratings match currently in place). NATO encourages its members to follow the MPAA trailer placement advisories and NATO coordinates with MPAA on a regular basis to communicate this information in a timely manner.
No third party brands/endorsements (video games, television shows, etc.) are to be embedded. On-screen marketing materials should be thematic to the feature.
Trailers, whether attached or not, are played in theaters at the discretion of each theater chain or individual theater owner. (See MPAA Marketing Administration guidelines.)
Industry standard trailer ID/naming convention is to be used by the distributor in order to facilitate programming/playlist assembly at the theater level.
No direct response prompts (QR codes, text-to, sound recognition, etc.) other than URLs are to be placed in/on the trailer, as they encourage mobile phone use during the show.
Distributors must make trailers available in both flat and scope so that exhibitors may match the trailer's format to that of the feature.
FILM CHECKERS & AUDITORS
Required to check in with theater management when they arrive at the theater before starting their inspection. They must be professional in dress and demeanor, and be respectful of the management team's time. Any information requested will be provided at the manager's convenience once all guests have been handled.
Required to wear proper identification and have an approved letter from the distributor, or they will be asked to purchase a ticket.
May not in any way affect the guest experience, cannot take up a seat in the auditorium, and cannot interact with guests. Once their official duty has been completed, they must leave the auditorium (they may not watch the film/event).
Film checkers and auditors violating these rules will be asked to leave the complex.
North Hollywood, Calif. -- The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) today released final voluntary in-theater marketing guidelines for movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada (attached). The guidelines are designed to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the industry's marketing efforts and to promote competition.
The new guidelines call for a maximum trailer length of two minutes; marketing lead time is limited to 150 days prior to release date for trailers and 120 days for all other in-theatre marketing materials. Two exemptions per distributor per year will be allowed for both trailer length and marketing lead time.
In April 2013, NATO's Executive Board voted to move forward to create industry-wide guidelines to encompass marketing lead-time for in-theater marketing materials; trailer length and placement; guest engagement methods; and film checker/auditor conduct. After discussions with executives of the seven largest distributors and other distribution executives, the guidelines were significantly revised to take into account their concerns.
The voluntary guidelines will go into effect for any film released domestically on or after 1 October 2014. (Advertisements already in cinemas for such movies as of the date of this announcement will be grandfathered.)
These guidelines will evolve in response to technological innovations, marketing and advertising trends, competition in the marketplace, and consumer demands. The guidelines are completely voluntary and will be implemented through individual exhibition company policies, which may vary. NATO will serve as an information clearinghouse where distributors may notify the industry of their desire to exercise an exemption under the guidelines.