Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Wrap gets it wrong (more than once) regarding R-rated box office with its Memorial Day weekend preview.

First and foremost, the headline blares "Hangover 2 set for record-breaking $125m 5day start".    Wrong.  The Passion of the Christ, also an R-rated film, also opened with $125.1 million over its five-day opening.  And the biggest 5-day total for an R-rated film remains The Matrix Reloaded, with $144 million.  Speaking of The Matrix Reloaded, author Daniel Frankel acknowledges that film's record (for an R-rated film) Fri-Sun opening of $91 million, but refers to the film as "critically despised".  That's funny, since the film has a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes (it's a classic example of a well-reviewed smash that is now inexplicably considered a critically-panned flop).  It also refers to the three-day record as being set 'over a standard three-day weekend'.  Also wrong, The Matrix Reloaded opened on a Thursday (with $42 million, including $5 million worth of advance-night Wednesday showings), meaning that the $91 million Fri-Sun number was part of a longer opening weekend.  This arguably makes the $91 million figure all the more impressive, and the Thurs-Sat three-day total was a staggering $108 million.

The main offender here is the headline, which blares that a $125 million five-day gross would be a record (implicitly for an R-rated film, unless they have really lost their marbles), which would only tie the current five-day R-rated opening weekend and fall $19 million below the current five-day gross for an R-rated film.  The article states that the film may do $150 million over the five-day sprint, which would indeed be a record, but the headline falsely proclaims $125 million as the number to beat.  The article claims that this Memorial Day weekend, powered by several big movies (Hangover II, Kung Fu Panda 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Thor, Bridesmaids) may pull a record total gross for Memorial Day weekends, which may very well be true.  But that's not what the headline says or implies.  So bully on the headline writer for factually false box office data, and bully on author Daniel Frankel for stating that The Matrix Reloaded was critically trashed (not true) and opened on a normal standalone three-day weekend (also not true).  Considering how short the article is, that's an awful lot of 'not true', all of which could have been avoided by spending 30 seconds at Box Office Mojo and Rotten Tomatoes.

Scott Mendelson

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