Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mendelson's Memos Friday night box office rundown: Fast & Furious grosses $30 million on Friday alone

Since the tracking was apparently identical to that of the 2001 original, I was completely expecting this fourth 'Fast and/or Furious' picture to do about $65 million this weekend. Basically, take the 2001 gross of $40 million, adjust for inflation, then adjust for the more front loaded nature of the business, then finally factor that tracking often misses the young minorities that are one of the main target audiences.... that's about gets you about $55 million (which is a touch over what the sequel opened to in 2003). Then toss in a fantastic marketing campaign that almost made me want to see the picture, despite the fact that I haven't seen the other three. So, yeah, $65 million would not have surprised me, and the people predicting $40 million were not doing the math. And, had I not been working 16 hour days all week, I probably would have written as much last night.

But, wow, I did not expect $75-$80 million (so maybe I didn't do the math right either). Fast And Furious pulled in a whopping $30 million Friday night. That's by far the biggest single day in April, and it is already 75% of the day to Anger Management's record $42 million April opening back in 2003. As far as opening day to weekend multipliers...

3x = $90 million - not gonna happen, not for this kind of film, not in this box office climate.
2.7 = $80 million - what Universal would love to be able to boast, even if only for the estimates.
2.5x = $75 million - plausible, probably what will happen.
2.25x = $68 million - likely worst case scenario, with Universal finding an extra $2 million so they can boast $70 million estimates before releasing $68 million actual figures.

Bravo to Universal for making four desperate actors returning to the franchise that spawned them into something cool and exciting rather than sad and pathetic. This was smartly billed as more or less a direct sequel to the original Fast and the Furious, almost akin to Halloween H20 and Superman Returns (IE - ignoring the poorly received earlier sequels).

For all the blather I've written of late about whether summer starts on May 1st with Wolverine, or May 8th with Star Trek (official summer preview coming soon, depending on my work schedule), I think we can now agree that summer pretty much started a month ago with Watchmen. Hell, we've had opening weekends of at least $25 million nearly every weekend of the year since Martin Luther King Day weekend. Now we have an April release that will probably top the opening weekend of many of the summer's tent poles.

Alas, the charming Adventureland sputtered, grossing just $2.7 million on 1862 screens. And it isn't going to get better, as the marketing campaign makes the film far more broad and farcical than it is. But everyone on the Universal marketing team deserves a big raise, if not new cars. Just everybody remember to drive home safely this weekend. It's only a movie...

Scott Mendelson

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