Sunday, May 11, 2008

Iron Man soars, Speed Racer (alas) crashes and burns...

Alas, Speed Racer did perform like a normal film (as opposed to a successful family film, that shoots up on Saturday and Sunday), ending the weekend with a mere $19 million and change. It came in just below What Happens In Vegas (about $20 million), although the rankings may change tomorrow when the final numbers are released. Obviously, be it the reviews, the false assumption that it would make adults motion sick, concerns about its 135 minute running time, or the relentless popularity of Iron Man, families did not bite for this one.

This stinks, both for Warner Bros (who spent anywhere from $125 million to $200 million making and marketing this one) and for the few of us who really liked this movie. Here's hoping it does better overseas, because it'll be lucky to get to $70 million in the US. Of course, this could become a real hit on DVD (where parents will like the idea of a 2.25 hour babysitter), specifically becoming a definitive demo title for BluRay. Still, this just stinks. Also of note, another issue with Warner Bros. marketing The Dark Knight towards adults... they lost the ability to have the new Dark Knight trailer debut exclusively with Speed Racer, which surely would have helped scare up a few bucks from geeks and fans (it certainly helped I Am Legend back in December, if only a little bit).

Still number one is Iron Man, which ended up with $50.5 million. The new ten day total is now $177 million, which still puts it number four on the list of biggest ten-day totals for non-sequels (it drops to fifth if you don't count Thursday numbers, which added an extra $3.5 million to the 'ten day total'). It also has the fifth biggest second weekend for a non-sequel, but it's so close to The Incredibles' second weekend take that it may drop to sixth when the final numbers come out. It has an outside chance of passing $200 million on Thursday, but it looks like it'll do it on the very day it loses its crown to Prince Caspian. I sincerely hope that Paramount and Marvel shower Robert Downey Jr with flowers, balloons, and chocolates, since his performance is the only thing that people are talking about.

Next weekend will see another big question mark, with Prince Caspian. Expectations range anywhere from middle of the road performer to second-highest grossing film of the summer. Yes, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe was quite popular (it edged out Harry Potter 4 to become the second highest grosser of 2005), but the buzz has been almost non-existent. And Speed Racer shows, to a certain extent, that families won't run out to see something just because it's targeted at them. Prince Caspian certainly won't bomb and I'd be surprised to see a total of less than $150 million, but the first reviews aren't particularly good (I won't be able to make the Monday El Capitan showing, alas) and the previews make it look like a brighter, sunnier Two Towers knock-off. It could open to $80 million, it could open to $45 million. It's actually kind of fun to go into this summer with so few sure-things.

Scott Mendelson

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