Sunday, May 1, 2011

Weekend Box Office (05/01/11): Fast Five opens huge, everything else crashes.

Kicking off summer 2011 a little earlier than usual, Fast Five (review) raced into the record books with a massive $86.1 million opening weekend take. The film has the biggest opening weekend of 2011 (opening with more than the second and third biggest combined), the largest Fri-Sun take in Universal history (beating The Lost World: Jurassic Park's $72.3 million opening), the biggest April opening (beating Fast and Furious's $71 million opening two years ago), and easily clinching the record for the biggest opening weekend for a fifth film in a franchise. It bested the $80 million three-day take of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones and the $77 million three-day take of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but those two films (as well as The Lost World) opened as parts of a four or five day weekend. With all the whining about 'slumps', I've constantly argued that it was merely a case of smaller, cheaper movies playing to smaller crowds. Well a major movie was unleashed this weekend and audiences responded accordingly. An unexpectedly terrific mass-market entertainment just opened unexpectedly well, which is good news all around. Well, Marvel and Paramount probably aren't too thrilled. This may be a case of the summer kick-off film overshadowing the bigger May giants coming around the corner (I wrote about this phenomenon back in 2008), so Thor (which has already grossed $93 million overseas) is now in a pickle for next weekend, as it just went from the summer kick-off film to the often-cursed second-out-of-the gate (it thought it was Iron Man, but now it may be Speed Racer).

The film scored an A from Cinemascore, including an A+ from those under 18, which likely explains the slightly higher-than-expected 2.5x weekend multiplier. It grossed $8.3 million from the 244 IMAX theaters. It played evenly on gender lines (56% male, 44% female) and age ranges (52% under 25/48% over 25). The film also capitalized on its multi-ethnic cast, playing 35% white, 33% Hispanic, 19% African American and 9% Asian. The previous film in the series had a 2.3x weekend multiplier, so the fact that this sequel had more weekend legs is a most promising sign. Also promising is the fact that the film is pretty terrific, one of the most thoroughly successful real-world action pictures in a long time. How the film plays for the rest month or so is open to debate. The prior (far inferior) entry flamed out with $155 million domestic, or barely grossing 2.15x its opening weekend (a similar run would give Fast Five $178 million). The third film had a 2.6x multiplier (which would give the new film $223 million), the second film had a 2.54x multiplier (which would mean $210 million), and the first film had a leggy (by today's standards) 3.6x multiplier (which would give Fast Five an unlikely but possible $298 million). But let's be honest, the $125 million action caper has already grossed $165 million worldwide just this weekend, so it's already on track for an astonishing $400-600 million worldwide take.

There were three other wide or semi-wide releases this weekend, and they all more or less tanked. Disney released Prom, which is basically a teen melodrama about well, the senior prom. But audience indifference equaled a mere $5 million opening. The good news is that this picture cost under $10 million, so Disney has its eyes on DVD rentals and the like. But this is still a high profile miss for the Mouse House, especially coming after the huge flop that is Mars Needs Moms. In costlier disappointment, Hoodwinked Too: Hood Vs. Evil grossed just $4.1 million. The unasked-for sequel to a genuinely witty 2006 Rashomon parody basically sold itself as everything the original was not (pop culture references and dumbed-down humor galore!), which was greeted with audience indifference in 3D! The film cost $25 million to produce and around $30 million to market. Between this and the shocking under-performance of Scream 4, the Weinstein Company is dead-set on proving that the magic touch is gone. The other semi-wide release was the 875 screen debut of Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (review). Based on an Italian comic book, the independent release grossed just $884,000 for a painful $1,000 per-screen average. Serves it right, as its easily the worst film I've seen all year.

There isn't much to report amongst the holdovers. Coming off a holiday weekend, the holdovers all crashed pretty hard. Rio crossed the $100 million mark domestically, and and it will overtake Hop ($104 million) sometime this week. Madea's Big Happy Family dropped 60%, which is par for the course for Perry's front-loaded melodramas, but the film, still crossed the $40 million mark. Water For Elephants held up strongest, but its 45% drop is larger than expected. Whether its due to the holiday drop off or general audience disinterest is still up in the air. But the film still has a decent $32 million in ten days. Insidious and Source Code are both at $48 million while Scream 4 is at $35 million (the latter will barely reach $40 million).

At that's all we have this weekend. Join us next weekend when summer 'officially' kicks off with Marvel's Thor (review coming Wednesday morning), which faces off against the Kate Hudson/Jennifer Goodwin romcom Something Borrowed. The big limited release will be the debut of of the Mel Gibson/Jodie Foster drama The Beaver (review around Monday). So until then, keep reading and take care.

Scott Mendelson

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