‘Fast & Furious 6’ Remains #1, ‘Now You See Me’ Upsets ‘After Earth’ for Second Place; Kung Fu Panda, Robot monkeys and TMNT return to the weekday summer block with SpongeBob returning June 17; George Miller closes down Dr. D studios

Vin Diesel zooms again! I’m Realistic Fish Head. The Memorial Day box office champ extended its lead in the box office as it continues its run with a $34 million dollar lead. Another box office debut Lionsgate’s Now You See Me pulls the upset against After Earth after being grilled by critics as the worst blockbuster of the summer! How did it happen Gene?

 

Gene:

Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 took in an estimated $34.54 million over the weekend to lead the weekend box office for a second consecutive frame. The sixth installment of the blockbuster action franchise did fall a sharp 65 percent from last weekend’s thee-day debut. It has been commonplace for the franchise to experience sharp second weekend declines; 2011’s Fast Five fell 62 percent to gross $32.45 million, while 2009’s Fast and Furious also fell 62 percent to gross $27.24 million. However, given that Fast & Furious 6 opened significantly larger than each of its two most recent predecessors, it is understandable that it in turn experienced a larger second weekend percentage decline.

In the bigger picture, Fast & Furious 6 has grossed $170.38 million in its first ten days of release. That is an impressive 22 percent stronger than the $139.78 million ten-day start of Fast Five. Fast & Furious 6 (and the marketplace in general) will have a good chance of stabilizing next weekend, though potential stabilization could be short lived with Warner’s Man of Steel and Sony’s This Is the End both debuting the following week.

In a legitimate upset this weekend, Lionsgate’s Now You See Me exceeded expectations to outpace Sony’s After Earth for second place. The ensemble crime film featuring Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo debuted with an estimated $28.05 million. Heading into the weekend, expectations for the film had been closer to $20 million. In addition to drawing away moviegoers from After Earth, Now You See Me also likely benefited from the poorer than expected box office showing of The Hangover Part III. Now You See Me opened 16 percent stronger than the $24.11 million start of 2008’s 21 and an impressive 110 percent stronger than the $13.33 million debut of 2011’s 30 Minutes or Less.

Now You See Me grossed 10.05 million on Friday (which included $1.5 million from late night showings on Thursday night), increased by 6 percent on Saturday to take in $10.65 million and is estimated to gross $7.35 million on Sunday. That places the film’s estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.79 to 1. Saturday’s increase is a good early sign for the film going forward, as is the film’s A- rating on CinemaScore.  Now You See Me had clear four-quadrant appeal this weekend, with the film’s audience breakdown skewing slightly towards female moviegoers (51 percent) and slightly towards moviegoers under 30 (52 percent).

After Earth had to settle for third place with a disappointing estimated start of $27.0 million. The M. Night Shyamalan directed sci-fi film starring Jaden Smith and Will Smith had been expected to open somewhere in the range of $30 million to $40 million (which would have already been soft by Will Smith’s lofty box office standards). In addition to having higher pre-release expectations than Now You See Me, After Earth also carried a much larger price-tag. After Earth opened 27 percent softer than the recent $37.05 million launch of Oblivion and instead opened much more in line with the $25.53 million start of last year’s Battleship. While not the only reasons for the film’s lackluster start, very poor critical reviews and arriving on the scene after Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness and Fast & Furious 6 clearly hurt the film’s potential. After Earth earned a so-so B rating on CinemaScore, which does suggest that the film is playing better with audiences than it is with critics.

It was a close three-way race for fourth place this weekend between holdovers Epic, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Hangover Part III. Currently, Fox’s Epic and Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness are tied for fourth with estimated takes of $16.4 million each. Warner’s The Hangover Part III is estimated to take sixth with $15.93 million. Respective declines from last weekend’s three-day frame are 51 percent for Epic, 56 percent for Star Trek Into Darkness and 62 percent for The Hangover Part III. Holds for all three films left a bit to be desired this weekend, as declines in general were sharper than normal for the post-Memorial Day weekend frame.

To date, Epic has grossed $65.16 million in ten days, which is on the high end of pre-release expectations. Star Trek Into Darkness has grossed $181.16 million in 18 days and is now running 5 percent behind the $191.01 million 18-day take of 2009’s Star Trek. The Hangover Part III managed $88.09 million in eleven days, placing it a very disappointing 53 percent behind the $185.81 million eleven-day take of 2011’s The Hangover Part II.

 

To recap, Fast 6 continues its course 1st, Now You See Me pulls out a surprise in 2nd, After Earth gets punched and pummeled in 3rd, Epic holds up in 4th with Star Trek: Into Darkness dropping out of warp in 5th.

 

 

Your favorite summer packed shows that dominated last summer return this week for more! But what of the Sponge Dan?

 

Dan Barry (via Nick and More)- Nickelodeon’s new schedule for summer starts “phase one” next Monday, June 3. Shockingly, SpongeBob is down to only five airings per weekday! Monsters vs. Aliens, Kung Fu Panda, Rocket Monkeys, TMNT and VICTORiOUS all return to weekdays.

However, starting June 17, preschool gets cut down to 8:30am-noon, meaning… you guessed it: more SpongeBob! SpongeBob will gain the noon-2pm block starting then.

Also starting June 17, Figure It Out returns with the remaining unaired episodes from season six on Monday-Thursday nights at 7:30pm.

Take a look at the full schedule below. As always, this is Nick and things can change in a snap. So remember, schedule changes may vary:

Weekdays for weeks of June 3 and 10
6:00AM Full House
6:30AM Full House
7:00AM Monsters vs. Aliens
7:30AM The Fairly OddParents
8:00AM SpongeBob SquarePants
8:30AM Max & Ruby
9:00AM Team Umizoomi
9:30AM Team Umizoomi
10:00AM Dora the Explorer
10:30AM Dora the Explorer
11:00AM Bubble Guppies
11:30AM Bubble Guppies
12:00PM Peter Rabbit
12:30PM Max & Ruby
1:00PM Dora the Explorer
1:30PM Lalaloopsy
2:00PM Rocket Monkeys (New Episodes)
2:30PM Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
3:00PM The Fairly OddParents
3:30PM The Fairly OddParents
4:00PM Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness
4:30PM SpongeBob SquarePants (half-episode for “Nick Studio 10″ segments)
5:00PM SpongeBob SquarePants
5:30PM SpongeBob SquarePants
6:00PM SpongeBob SquarePants (Mon-Thu) Sanjay and Craig (Fri)
6:30PM SpongeBob SquarePants (Mon-Thu) Sanjay and Craig (Fri)
7:00PM VICTORiOUS (Mon-Thu) Various (Fri)
7:30PM Drake & Josh (Mon-Thu) Various (Fri)
8:00PM Full House (Mon-Wed) Big Time Rush (Thu – New Episodes) Various (Fri)
8:30PM Full House (Mon-Wed) Wendell & Vinnie (Thu – New Episodes) Various (Fri)

Weekdays starting June 17
6:00AM Full House
6:30AM Full House
7:00AM Monsters vs. Aliens
7:30AM The Fairly OddParents
8:00AM SpongeBob SquarePants
8:30AM Dora the Explorer
9:00AM Team Umizoomi
9:30AM Team Umizoomi
10:00AM Peter Rabbit
10:30AM Dora the Explorer
11:00AM Bubble Guppies
11:30AM Bubble Guppies
12:00PM SpongeBob SquarePants
12:30PM SpongeBob SquarePants
1:00PM SpongeBob SquarePants
1:30PM SpongeBob SquarePants
2:00PM Rocket Monkeys
2:30PM Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
3:00PM The Fairly OddParents
3:30PM The Fairly OddParents
4:00PM Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness (New Episodes)
4:30PM Monsters vs. Aliens / Sanjay and Craig
5:00PM SpongeBob SquarePants
5:30PM SpongeBob SquarePants
6:00PM Drake & Josh (Mon-Thu) Sanjay and Craig (Fri)
6:30PM VICTORiOUS (Mon-Thu) Sanjay and Craig (Fri)
7:00PM Marvin Marvin (Mon-Thu) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Fri)
7:30PM Figure It Out (Mon-Thu – New Episodes) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Fri)
8:00PM Full House (Mon-Wed) Big Time Rush (Thu – New Episodes) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Fri)
8:30PM Full House (Mon-Wed) Wendell & Vinnie (Thu – New Episodes) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Fri)

On Saturdays, new Fairly OddParents airs at 9:30am, new Sanjay and Craig at 10:30, new Monster vs. Aliens at 11:30am and new Sam & Cat at 8pm. New See Dad Run airs Sunday at 8pm.

Dr. D studios suffered a constant pummeling over last year’s box office crisis which hurt the Warner’s very badly. Now it’s on its way to the auction block as George Miller surrenders to Peter Jackson’s Weta studios as they claim victory against their arch rival. Is the animation run over for Miller Danny?

 

Danny Angelfish (via The Age Entertainment Edition)- Plans to develop an Australian digital animation studio to rival Peter Jackson’s Wellington-based Weta have come to a sputtering end with Babe director Dr George Miller holding a fire sale of the assets of his Dr D Studios via online auction house Gray’s.

Five auctions running until June 13 will see millions of dollars worth of computers, studio equipment, high-end servers and office furniture go under the hammer.

The first round of the selloff – by tender rather than auction – closed on Thursday afternoon. Up for grabs were two railway carriages fitted out as office-cum-meeting rooms and a ”digital cinema” – complete with 120 seats and 3D projection.

One former employee of the company observed of the sale: ”It takes a lot to make an animated movie, and what you’re seeing here is the remnants of it.”

The ”reason for sale” listed on Gray’s is ”closure of one of Australia’s leading film and animation studios”. Representatives of Miller declined to comment on whether or not Dr D was closing for good, but all indications are that it is.

Whoever purchases the cinema, for instance, will need to take it away because the company’s premises – in the historic Carriageworks building near the University of Sydney – must be vacated.

Dr D was launched in mid-2007 as a partnership between two of Australia’s largest film production companies, Kennedy Miller Mitchell – makers of the Mad Max, Babe and Happy Feet films – and Omnilab Media, which had expanded from post-production services into production with Tomorrow When the War Began and the big-budget The Killer Elite.

”We’re an original voice,” the company said in a mission statement published on its website in 2008. ”We’re not trying to be anyone else. We’ve got great people and big ideas and we intend to share bold, engaging, exciting stories with the world.”

 

Unfortunately, the only story Dr D managed to share was Happy Feet Two. The continual slate of production that had been anticipated failed to materialize, and the 650 or so staff who had been hired (mostly on contract) at the peak of production dwindled in the months after to about 50. In more recent times, it is believed fewer than half a dozen people were employed by the company.

In its annual report for the year to June 30, 2011, Dr D reported net profits for the year of almost $8.8 million and net assets totaling more than $14.2 million. But it is likely that the disappointing performance of its parent company’s output, combined with the deterrent effect for Hollywood productions of the high Australian dollar, undermined the company’s viability.

Kennedy Miller Mitchell’s Happy Feet Two grossed about $150 million worldwide on a reported budget of $130 million (it is, however, likely to have earned much more than that when DVD sales and rentals are taken into account), while Omnilab Media’s The Killer Elite grossed just over $56 million on a reported budget of more than $60 million. Its planned sequels to Tomorrow When The War Began appear to have been placed on hold indefinitely.

Kennedy Miller Mitchell’s Mad Max film Fury Road has been beset by production delays but is scheduled for release next year.

Last August, Omnilab Media sold several of its subsidiary companies to rival Deluxe.

 

Checking the Penguins tally, 696 fans sign in as the Daytime Emmys premiere in 3 weeks. Will Team Skipper manage to beat out the competition? Stay tuned until then to find out!

 

New episodes are on the horizon this week as Nick launches the first 2 weeks of the Summer Block until SpongeBob joins the party next week after. Beware of shocking surprises from your favorite Nick shows! This is Realistic Fish Head saying, let the summer breeze flow begin!

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