Saturday, May 22, 2010

Shrek 4, MacGruber crash and burn in Friday box office (05/21/10).

It's tough to call anything grossing $20.7 million in a single day a disaster, but expectations and precedence tell the tale. The first Shrek film grossed $11.5 million on its first day, while Shrek 2 grossed $28.3 million on its first Friday (it had already grossed around $20 million on Wednesday and Thursday before exploding over the traditional weekend). Shrek the Third grossed $38.4 million on its opening day, also a Friday. So, even if we acknowledge that the Shrek franchise isn't the titan that it once once, and even if we admit that the marketing campaign for this unwanted fourth film was all over the place (is the film called Shrek Forever After or Shrek: The Final Chapter?), expectations were in order for something a bit under the three-day $121 million take of Shrek the Third. The $108 million Fri-Sun gross for Shrek 2 would have been reasonable, over even a low $90 million gross. But, as things stand now, Shrek Forever After is looking less like Shrek the Third and more like A Shark Tale.

If Shrek Forever After has the same multiplier that Shrek the Third did (3.1x), it will gross $66 million. Since it is a sequel, it would theoretically be front-loaded. But, since it was not a terribly anticipated sequel, it could very well play like a kids flick. So, let's say $60 million (Kung Fu Panda)-$70 million (The Incredibles) for the weekend. Alas, while the first two Shrek films had long and enormous legs (6.35x and 4.1x weekend-to-total respectively), Shrek the Third turned a $122 million opening weekend into a $322 million domestic total, or just a 2.66 multiplier. If Shrek: The Final Chapter performs the same, even giving the film a $70 million opening weekend, it will end with $187 million, or well-below the $210 million thus-far earned by How to Train Your Dragon or even the $198 million earned by Monsters Vs. Aliens. Comparatively speaking, this is franchise-collapse on the level of Batman & Robin. Heck, adjusted for inflation, Batman & Robin's opening weekend would be $74 million and its total would be $185 million. Unless Shrek Goes Fourth does huge business overseas and/or was inexplicably cheap to make (part 3 cost $160 million), I imagine this will be the final Shrek film.

The other big story is the non-performance of MacGruber. With test screenings apparently going well and a critically-acclaimed screening at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year, Universal moved the Saturday Night Live comedy from April 23rd into the heart of summer. No such luck, as the film grossed just $1.6 million on its first day. Obviously I was a little off about MacGruber breaking out, but I'm still shocked by the low number. Why the hell did they hide this from critics? Once again, if you're movie is good (or at least gets the job done), why not let those who read reviews know that? MacGruber isn't great , but it has solid laughs and doesn't overstay its welcome. It's not nearly as ambitious or disciplined as Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, can't decide whether its lead character is a master spy or a bumbling idiot, and it doesn't use Val Kilmer nearly enough. But I digress, I guess the big mystery, why did Universal/Rogue/Relativity move this one into the heart of summer (which implied that it was good) and then more or less hide the movie (which implied that it was bad)? Am I missing something (always possible) or is Universal that incompetent these days?

I'll discuss more when the weekend totals come in, either Sunday or Monday depending if my daughter actually takes a nap. But, with Iron Man 2 struggling for $300 million and Shrek Forever After a non-entity, it looks like summer 2010 championship is down to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse versus Toy Story 3, with Inception playing the theoretical spoiler.

Scott Mendelson

1 comment:

R.L. Shaffer said...

Moving MacGruber to May -- yet another boneheaded decision from Universal -- a studio that hasn't had a decent smash hit in over a year now.


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