Sunday, August 8, 2010

Other Guys dethrones Inception, while Step Up 3D underwhelms and indie films flop. Weekend box office (08/08/10).

Just as it was in 2008, Chris Nolan's blockbuster ended its reign at number one at the hands of a big-budget all-star action comedy. Just as The Dark Knight fell to the Ben Stiller/Robert Downey Jr./Jack Black comedy Tropic Thunder, so too did Inception fall out of first place to the Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg buddy-cop spoof The Other Guys (albeit a week earlier than The Dark Knight). Opening at $35.5 million, the fourth Will Ferrell vehicle to be helmed by Adam McKay was right in line with the prior debuts. For those keeping track at home, the prior comedies were Anchorman ($28 million opening weekend in summer 2004), Talladega Nights ($47 million opening in late July 2006), and Step Brothers ($30 million opening in July 2008). The Other Guys represents Will Ferrell's second-largest debut ever, behind the above-noted NASCAR comedy.

It is a sigh of relief for Ferrell after last summer's costly flop that was Land of the Lost. It is co-star Mark Wahlberg's third-biggest debut, behind the $40 million debut of The Perfect Storm in July 2000 and the $69 million opening weekend of Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes in late July of 2001. Oh, and it's Samuel L. Jackson's eleventh $30 million+ opening of his career since 1993 (you try telling him that Jurassic Park, Iron Man, and/or the Star Wars prequels don't count). Anyway, the film should find its way to around the $118 million secured by Blades of Glory in 2007, which would make it Ferrell and Walberg's fifth respective such blockbuster and Sam Jackson's fourteenth such hit (you try telling him that his climactic cameo in Iron Man didn't create buzz after the opening weekend... my own father scolded me for neglecting to tell him to remain for the end credits back in May 2008).

Inception fell to second place, although it dropped just 32% for $18.5 million in its fourth weekend. At $227.6 million, the film will surpass the domestic gross of Hancock and Signs by tomorrow. By then, it will be the fifteenth-biggest grossing live-action picture not based on any prior source. It's also the highest-grossing 'caper' picture, surpassing the $183 million gross of the Ocean's 11 remake. It's worldwide total is at $477 million, and it seems a lock to surpass $600 million in global grosses. Not much more to say other than 'mazel tov'. Step Up 3D was in third place, grossing $15.8 million. Despite the 3D boost, the film opened under the first two installments (Step Up opened with $20 million and Step Up 2 opened with $18 million), but Disney was able to keep the cost around $30 million. It's a shame, as the film was actually shot in 3D, unlike the recent quickie conversions, and if we're going to see 3D everywhere for the next few years, we'd just as well welcome the more innovative attempts to play with the technology. Regardless, all this means is that, like last weekend's Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (-43% this weekend, new total: $26.4 million), audiences are not willing to pay to see something in 3D that they didn't particularly want to see in 2D.

It was a bloodbath in the land of limited release, as several major films went out on a select number of screens, and not one of them impressed. Among the lowlights was Paramount platformed Middle Men on 252 screens, but the comic drama concerning the origins of internet pornography grossed only $1,292 per screen for a $325,641 opening weekend. Rob Reiner's would-be artistic comeback Flipped opened in 45 screens, but grossed just $4,983 per screen for a $224,233 opening weekend. Joel Schumacher's critically-reviled 'rich kids in trouble' film Twelve opened on 231 screens and grossed $110,238 ($477 per screen). And Anchor Bay's The Disappearance of Alice Creed opened on twelve screens and grossed $40,258. On the plus side, The Kids Are All Right is nearing $15 million and Winter's Bone is nearing $5 million.

In holdover news, the big event was Universal's Despicable Me crossing $200 million domestic on Friday. It is the first-ever cartoon not made by Disney or Dreamworks to cross said threshold. At $209.2 million, it is the seventeenth-highest grossing animated feature ever, and it's still only dropping 40% in its fifth weekend. The Angelina Jolie spy thriller Salt ended its third weekend with $91 million (-44%), so it should be at $100 million within the week. While Knight and Day has stalled at $75 million in the US, the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz vehicle has crossed $200 million worldwide, which is exactly what Fox was counting on in the first place. Toy Story 3 now sits at $396 million, so it will become the 11th film to gross $400 million sometime this week.

Twilight Saga: Eclipse looks like it will just surpass the $296 million gross of Twilight Saga: New Moon within the next week or two, although getting past $300 million is still an open question (if only there were more second run theaters, I say for the millionth time). Last weekend's openers took a hit this time around, as Dinner For Schmucks dropped 55% (thanks to direct competition from The Other Guys) and Charlie St. Cloud dropped 62% (thanks to audience disinterest behind the fanbase of star Zac Efron). The new totals are $46 million (won't make it to its $69 million budget) and $23 million (won't make it to its $44 million budget) respectively. Oh, and Predators crossed $50 million domestic.

That's it this weekend. Join us next weekend for a mammoth throw-down of epic proportions. It's the ultimate female-escapist fantasy: Eat Pray Love vs. the ultimate male-escapist fantasy: The Expendables vs. the ultimate nerd-escapist fantasy: Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (the last of which I should be seeing Monday night). Expect oodles of bullshit sociological analysis and stereotypical descriptions of male and female movie-going habits. It will be a free-for-all in the world of punditry. I can't wait... Anyway, for a look at this weekend from 2009 and 2008, click accordingly.

Scott Mendelson

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