Sunday, August 10, 2008

Weekend Finals (08/10/08)

The List

As I predicted, and as I mentioned in a post last week commenting on the fallacy of Wednesday openings, both of the new openers shot themselves in the foot by opening on Wednesday, drawing precious viewers away from that all important three-day weekend. While the five-day totals of both of the openers were just fine, both films would have benefited, PR-wise, by just opening on Friday with much larger three-day takes to boast about on Monday morning. Ironically, while both were hurt by the spread, the one I expected to hold up better was the one that more or less collapsed.

The Pineapple Express - $23.2 million 3-day, $41.3 million five-day. Obviously most of the must-see demand for this picture was used up on its colossal $12 million Wednesday opening day. Now, had the picture opened on Friday, we likely would have seen a $35 million three-day and Pineapple Express would have been the number one movie of the weekend (as opposed to Mr. "I'm not wearing hockey pants!"). It's an issue of appearances, as the headline 'Pineapple Express is number one, defeats The Dark Knight!' looks a lot better than 'Dark Knight number one again, Pineapple Express is second with pretty terrific five-day take'.

Little of this matters in the long run, and this $27 million budgeted picture will now turn a big profit even if it collapses. Alas, it might do just that, as the demand was obviously front loaded, the word-of-mouth has been 'eh', and Tropic Thunder is going to crush it starting on Wednesday the 13th (will I be writing next weekend about a potential $40 million three-day vs. a $50 million five day?). The film has already out grossed both Harold And Kumar pictures (the masterpiece and its craptacular sequel), and it will probably be the highest grossing stoner comedy of all time (for whatever that's worth). Come what may, Mazel tov David Gorden Green.

Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2 - $10.7 mill three-day, $19.6 million five-day. Next up is another Wednesday opener, one that proved even more front loaded than I expected. Despite opening to almost 2.5x the Wed-Thurs number of the opening five-day weekend of the original ($8.9 million x $3.7 million), Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2 ended its three-day portion with only $10.6 million, which is just over the $9.8 million three-day of the original. So, despite starting out 241% ahead going into Friday, the five day total of the sequel was only 46% ahead of the original.

Obviously, massive front loaded took place here, and I now doubt that this $27 million-budgeted sequel will even equal the $39 million that the original grossed. The reviews were not that much different (67% for part 2 vs. 77% for part 1), and I have no idea what the word of mouth is, so I can offer no real reasons for this anamoly. Hopefully, this is a case of the fan base not feeling the need to rush out right away (or perhaps, the fan base's parents staying home to watch the Olympics).

The Dark Knight - $26.1 million. The third-biggest fourth-weekend of all time, behind Titanic and Spider-Man (and Spider-Man's fourth weekend was cushioned by the Memorial Day holiday). Titanic's fourth weekend was the one after the Christmas and New Years weekends. IE - a normally brutal weekend for holdovers and the first weekend where it had no cushion and was left to fend for itself. It still only dropped 13%, at which point I completely accepted that this wasn't just a well-loved mega-hit in the Jurassic Park/Forrest Gump vein, but something truly beloved that comes along once in a generation. The Dark Knight is still closer to the former category, which makes it no less impressive. By this time next week, it will have sailed $461 million and surpassed Star Wars to become the 2nd-highest grossing domestic grosser of all-time.

This is still an incredible performance and The Dark Knight will in all likelihood be the highest domestic grossing film of the decade. At the end of the 1980s, Batman was number 3, behind ET 's $399 million and Return Of The Jedi's $264 million. Of course, it has absolutely no chance at making it to $600 million. And it may not even be the highest grossing film of the year worldwide, as it's still $100 million behind Indiana Jones 4 and still has fellow Warner Bros juggernaut Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince to contend with (again, no shame as Batman films have never been all that strong overseas).

The Mummy: Curse Of The Dragon Emperor - $16.5 million. Down 59%, the newest Mummy picture is now at $71 million and stands a good chance of ending up behind Journey To The Center Of The Earth (now at $81.7 million at still only dropping 27%). Who could have seen that coming even a month ago?

Speaking of things no one saw coming, Space Chimps (which somehow cost $37 million) has now crossed the $25 million mark and is also dropping less than 40% per week. It will likely make it to about $35 million. Not bad for a movie that has basically been a punchline since the week or so before its release. Yes, this punchline will vastly out gross The X-Files: I Want To Believe (Fox put them both out, how embarrassing for them) and may defeat Disney's The Wild from 2006 ($37 million).

A ship has officially sailed. Iron Man was actually ahead of Indiana Jones in both theater count and box office this weekend. Iron Man is now $2 million ahead and, barring a release or a saturation of second-run theaters, Indy cannot catch up and Iron Man will remain the domestic champion. And, alas, I fully expect Iron Man to defeat Indian Jones on the home theater front as well, as many fans will be hesitant to buy Indiana Jones 4 (especially on Blu-Ray) as they may wait for the inevitable box set with all four films on Blu Ray or another version of DVD.
Mama Mia has crossed $104 million, defeating Dreamgirls. Expect it to pass Hairspray to be the third-highest grossing musical ever, behind Chicago and Grease (not adjusted for inflation, or The Sound Of Music would be the third highest grossing film ever behind Gone With The Wind and Star Wars).

Hellboy II now has $74 million, Hancock has $221 million (Smith's fourth-highest grossing movie ever), Wall-E has $210 million and will pass Kung Fu Panda next weekend (it has $211 million now), and Midnight Meat Train continues to barrel towards the $100,000 mark.

Scott Mendelson

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