Sunday, June 27, 2010

Toy Story 3 retakes crown, as Grown Ups and Knight and Day make solid showings. Weekend box office in review (06/27/10).

Ten-and-a-half years ago, Toy Story 2 opened with $57.3 million over the Fri-Sun portion of Thanksgiving weekend, which was the third-biggest Friday-to-Sunday take on record (behind Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace at $64 million and The Lost World: Jurassic Park at $72 million). Today, the third Toy Story picture has taken in $59.3 million on its second weekend. That's the seventh-biggest second-weekend take in history, and the very largest non-opening weekend for a 'part 3' ever. And, at a second-weekend drop of 46.2%, it's the fourth-smallest drop for a film opening to over $100 million. The film crossed $200 million on Saturday (nine days), which is the eighth-fastest on record and the fourth-fastest such dash that did not involve a holiday weekend boost. With $226.8 million so far, the film has the seventh-largest ten day total ever, and the the third-biggest such total for a film not aided in any way by a holiday weekend in those first ten days (behind Spider-Man 3 at $240 million and The Dark Knight at $313 million). With sustained weekday numbers and a hold such as this, the film could theoretically cross $300 million by the end of the long Fourth-of-July weekend. It won't be the number one film in America for long, as Twilight Saga: Eclipse is opening this Wednesday, but the Pixar masterpiece is almost certain to become the year's highest-grossing film in America in just a few weeks. Audiences have no problem with sequels and what-not, as long as they are this good.

Not to be completely outdone, the Adam Sandler ensemble comedy Grown Ups opened to $40.5 million, as is demanded by law for such broadly-farcical Sandler comedies. Sandler may get underwhelming box office when he's experimenting outside his safe zone, in films such as Little Nicky, Punch Drunk Love, Spanglish, Reign Over Me, Funny People. But when he's in his comfort zone (PG-13 gross-out, feel-good humor aimed at juvenile males in a non-fantasy setting), Sandler is the most consistent opener in the business. Sure, there are the outliers I Love You Chuck and Larry ($34 million) and The Longest Yard ($47 million), but Sandler's broad comedies have opened between $37 million and $42 million pretty much every time since The Waterboy opened with $39 million in November, 1998. Ironically, while any number of films are called 'critic proof', Sandler is the rare star whose films seem to perform inversely proportional to the number of positive reviews they receive.

Anyway, Grown Ups is his fourth-biggest debut on record. And, oddly enough, four of his nine biggest opening weekends opened on the same respective weekend in 2010, 2002 (Mr. Deeds with $37 million), 1999 (Big Daddy with $41.5 million), and 2006 (Click with $40 million). With the exception of Will Smith (who can open anything in any genre), Adam Sandler may be the most consistent opening-weekend draw around. Like most Sandler comedies, expect this one to have a heavy drop over the holiday weekend and then rebound as it becomes the safe second choice for general audiences for the month of July. Sandler's comedies close anywhere from $100 million (the surprisingly-good You Don't Mess with the Zohan) to $167 million (Big Daddy). With a campaign aimed at general audiences, including women and older movie goers, expect the film to end in the upper range of Sandler's goofy-comedy filmography.

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz scored third place, as Knight and Day opened with $20.1 million. That gives the film $27.4 million since it opened on Wednesday. In other words (as I said previously), all opening the film on Wednesday accomplished was to knee-cap the Fri-Sun number, as too few people needed to see the film right away (low Wednesday and Thursday box office), but just enough saw it quickly to keep the three day number on the lower-rungs of Tom Cruise's mainstream openings. As for Cameron Diaz, this is actually her second-largest opening for a live-action picture sold on her drawing power that wasn't a Charlie's Angels picture, behind the $20.3 million debut of What Happens in Vegas back in May 2008. It's her eleventh-biggest opening and her eighth-biggest live-action opening. Where the film goes from here is an open question. Every film that Tom Cruise has opened to at least $24 million has grossed at least $100 million. Whether or not the $27 million five-day gross puts it in that catagory remains to be seen. Point being, Tom Cruise isn't known for massive openings, he's known for well-recieved pictures that have long legs. Expect plenty of people to catch up with this one after the holiday.

In holdover land, Jonah Hex collapsed in its second weekend, dropping 69.7% in its second weekend. Only five films on record have fallen more while playing on more than Hex's 2,825 screens. With just $9 million in ten days, expect this critically-savaged $50 million DC Comics adaptation to lose most of its theaters in the next two weeks. The only hope for profitability? A much-longer and R-rated DVD/Blu Ray release that is completely honest about what occurred behind the scenes of this much-tinkered-with disaster. The Karate Kid dropped another 48% in weekend three, ending day seventeen with $135.7 million. This is a strange case of Sony underestimating the film's appeal, while overestimating the competition. Had Sony known how well the picture would do (and how not-dominating Shrek: Forever After would be), they likely would have opened it at least a week earlier, where it would have dominated the four-middling releases of early June and had an extra week to take the family audience before crashing into Toy Story 3. Still, hindsight aside, a win is a win is a win. This $40 million production has an outside shot at $175 million if it can keep screens after the holiday rush. Shrek Forever After lost 867 screens, or most of its 2D auditoriums (darn it, says the parent of a two-year old who would like to see it, but now has to wait until said 2D prints hit second-run theaters), and fell 44% in weekend seven. Still, the film has $229.5 million domestic and $320 million worldwide. Fox's The A-Team dropped 56% this weekend and ended weekend three with $63 million ($110 million worldwide).

In limited-release news, Winter's Bone is successfully expanding, and the $2 million rural thriller has already grossed $1 million before expanding past seventy screens. Solitary Man is doing okay too, with $2 million in the till, but the Anchor Bay film has no chance of recouping its $15 million budget unless there is a major expansion (even five years ago, a Michael Douglas film like this could have gotten a wide release). The 'controversial' crime drama The Killer Inside Me ("Eeek! It shows violence against women as being really gruesome, painful and unpleasant!") opened in LA in its second weekend, grossing $19,248 on four screens. Most of the money for this one, as with most IFC releases, will likely come from home viewers ordering it 'on demand'. (why or why does AT&T U-Verse not offer IFC films On Demand?). Oliver Stone's documentary about South American politics, South of the Border, grossed $21,545 on one screen. And the Afghanistan-at-war documentary, Restrepo, grossed $35,581 on two screens.

That's all the news this weekend. Join us next weekend for what should be a huge July 4th holiday weekend. It starts Wednesday, when The Twilight Saga: Eclipse attempts to equal or surpass the $222 million six day gross of The Dark Knight. It continues Thursday, when Paramount and M. Night Shyamalan attempt to turn a critically-acclaimed Nickelodeon action cartoon into a major franchise with The Last Airbender (after the last few years, the best twist I could hope for is that the film is at least as good as Signs) . Check into Mendelson's Memos for updates during the first two days of the holiday, and then as much daily box office as my weekend schedule permits. For a look at what happened this weekend in 2009 ( Transformers 2 crushed any and all comers), click accordingly. For a look at this weekend in 2008, and a look at what happened on this weekend twenty-one years ago, click accordingly. Otherwise, take care until next time.

Scott Mendelson

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