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NORTH AMERICA: Studio Weekend Estimates: 'Ride Along' Remains #1 Over Super Bowl Weekend with $12.3M; 'Frozen' Holds Up Well with $9.3M; 'That Awkward Moment' Settles for #3 with $9.0M; 'Labor Day' Debuts with Soft $5.3M (4th Update) on January 31, 2014

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Sunday Update: Universal's Ride Along took in an estimated $12.3 million this weekend to remain in first place for a third consecutive weekend. The break-out comedy starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube was down 42 percent from last weekend, which represents a very solid hold over Super Bowl weekend. Ride Along continues to exceed expectations with a 17-day take of $92.96 million. That leaves the film just $7.04 million away from becoming the first release of 2014 to reach the $100 million domestic milestone.

Thanks in part to the release of a Sing-A-Long version of the film on Friday, Frozen took second place with an estimated $9.31 million. Disney's 3D computer animated blockbuster was up 2 percent from last weekend, which is an especially impressive hold over Super Bowl weekend. The Sing-A-Long version of the film was responsible for an estimated $2.2 million (23.6 percent) of this weekend's overall gross. Based on that figure, the Sing-A-Long version of the film appears set to help increase the already tremendous holding power displayed by Frozen. Frozen has now grossed a massive $360.01 million to date, which leaves the film just $8.06 million away from surpassing the $368.07 million final gross of Despicable Me 2 to become the third highest grossing release of 2013 domestically.

Focus' That Awkward Moment debuted in third place with an estimated $9.01 million. The low-budget Zac Efron led comedy opened a bit below expectations and may have been limited a bit by its R rating. That Awkward Moment opened an underwhelming 27 percent below the $12.38 million start of 2010's Charlie St. Cloud. The film took in $3.94 million on Friday, fell 5 percent on Saturday to gross $3.75 million and is estimated to fall 65 percent on Super Bowl Sunday to take in $1.31 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at just 2.29 to 1, which is an early sign of front-loading. The audience breakdown for the film skewed heavily towards female moviegoers (64 percent) and towards moviegoers under 25 (61 percent). That Awkward Moment received a respectable B rating on CinemaScore.

The Nut Job placed in fourth with an estimated $7.61 million. The 3D computer animated film from Open Road was down 37 percent from last weekend. The Nut Job will be passing the $50 million domestic mark on Sunday and will have grossed $50.25 million by the end of the weekend. The Nut Job has outpaced expectations nicely thus far, but could lose a lot of steam next weekend with the unleashing of Warner's The LEGO Movie on Friday.

Universal's Lone Survivor placed in fifth this weekend with an estimated $7.2 million. In the process the Peter Berg directed war film starring Mark Wahlberg surpassed the $100 million domestic mark. Lone Survivor has grossed a stronger than expected $104.89 million after 24 days of wide release. The film was down a respectable 44 percent from last weekend, especially when considering that it will likely take a more direct hit from Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday than most other wide releases.

Paramount's Labor Day debuted in seventh place with an estimated $5.3 million. The Jason Reitman directed drama starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin opened towards the lower end of its very modest pre-release expectations. Labor Day did open just ahead of the $5.19 million Revolutionary Road grossed in its first weekend of wide release back in 2009 (albeit from only 1,058 locations, as opposed to 2,584 for Labor Day). Labor Day opened with $1.93 million on Friday, increased 25 percent on Saturday to take in $2.41 million and is estimated to fall 60 percent on Sunday to take in $0.96 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at a so-so 2.75 to 1. Labor Day received a B- rating on CinemaScore. That isn't a promising sign going forward, nor is the film's per-location average of just $2,051 this weekend.

Saturday Update: Universal's Ride Along remained in first place for a fifteenth consecutive day on Friday with an estimated $4.0 million. That was down 37 percent from last Friday and will keep the break-out comedy starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in first place for a third consecutive weekend. BoxOffice is currently projecting a weekend take of $12.0 million for Ride Along, which would represent a solid 44 percent decline from last weekend and bring the film's 17-day total to a strong $92.7 million.

Focus' That Awkward Moment debuted in a very close second on Friday with an estimated $3.94 million. However, the Zac Efron led comedy will likely be quite front-loaded towards Friday given the history of Efron's previous films. BoxOffice is currently projecting a second place take of $10.0 million for the weekend. That would be on the lower end of pre-release expectations and 19 percent softer than the $12.38 million debut of 2010's Charlie St. Cloud. Potential for That Awkward Moment appears to have been limited a bit by the film's R rating.

With a boost from the unleashing of a Sing-A-Long version of the film on Friday, Disney's Frozen was up an impressive 10 percent over last Friday to gross an estimated $2.24 million yesterday. Frozen is on pace to place in third with an estimated $9.5 million this weekend. That would represent a 4 percent increase over last weekend and bring the film's domestic total to a massive $360.2 million. The Sing-A-Long version of the film appears set to help increase the already tremendous holding power displayed by Frozen.

Paramount's Labor Day debuted with an estimated $1.93 million on Friday. The Jason Reitman directed drama starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin is on pace to land in sixth place for the weekend with a soft $5.5 million. That would be in line with the film's very modest expectations and 6 percent ahead of the $5.19 million Revolutionary Road grossed in its first weekend of wide release back in 2009 (albeit from only 1,058 locations, as opposed to 2,584 for Labor Day).

Friday Update #2: Sources tell BoxOffice That Awkward Moment is looking at a $12 million weekend based on Friday business. The Frozen Sing Along is pacing to land around $10 million, while Labor Day could pull in a $7 million weekend.

Friday Update #1: Variety reports That Awkward Moment grossed $246,000 from Thursday night's premiere shows. By comparison, last year's Warm Bodies pulled $500,000 in its Thursday night debut as it headed toward a $20.4 million Super Bowl weekend.

That Awkward Moment is similarly targeting young female audiences with the likes of Zac Efron, Miles Teller, and Michael B. Jordan in the R-rated rom-com, although it could potentially draw a higher ratio of date night business on Friday and Saturday.

Should Awkward hold close to Warm Bodies' post-Thursday business trend, it will struggle to top $10 million for the weekend.

Domestic Market Review: 'Ride Along', 'Lone Survivor', & 'Frozen' Drive Best January In Four Years on January 28, 2014

jan14.pngBy 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.

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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 Tale3 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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CARLOS SALDANHA TO RECEIVE CINEMACON® INTERNATIONAL FILMMAKER OF THE YEAR AWARD on January 28, 2014

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.

 

NATO’s In-theater marketing guidelines take effect on January 28, 2014

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 bgb@natoca.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 exemption@natoca.com.

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.

TRAILERS

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 exemption@natoca.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.

Trailer Placement

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.)

Trailer Standards

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.

 


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