The official word from director Shawn Levy is a bit over $80 million, while others (possibly rival studio-executives) are screaming anywhere from $110 million to $140 million. The film certainly may be on the cheaper end as the only special effects elements appear to be the CGI robots, which represent a relatively self-contained special effect (think the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, where only the actual CGI critters pump up the budget). Anyway, if the film ends up with legs (hard to predict in this front-loaded age) and/or does its killing overseas (it's done $49 million worldwide thus far), then this budget talk will be irrelevant. The film had surprisingly decent reviews but had to deal with the fact that the premise itself (Rock Em Sock Em Robots: The Movie!) was so patently goofy that it became a classic example of a 'No wait, it's really good!' movie. By that I mean, it was a movie that had the disadvantage of being presumed terrible by all but the core young-boy audience for one reason or another before it was even screened.
More important (in my opinion) is what this opening weekend means for the relatively new relationships that Disney has formed. While it is admirable that Disney would try to launch a franchise picture of this nature in October, this doesn't even enter the top-ten of all-time October opening weekends. And when it comes to pure-genre fare, this is the third relatively underwhelming opening weekend (after I Am Number Four's $19 million debut last February and Fright Night's $7.7 million opening in August) for the Dreamworks/Disney combo this year. Both Dreamworks and Marvel Studios used to have their films primarily distributed via Paramount and, as I've written before (HERE), the strength of Paramount's marketing may be more important to the success of the likes of Iron Man and Kung Fu Panda then is generally credited. If I were Marvel Studios, with The Avengers and Iron Man 3 on-tap, I'd be a little worried about the seeming inability of Disney to launch any new action franchises over the last few years (among the DOA - I Am Number Four, Prince of Persia, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, probably Tron). Is the marketing might of Paramount a key factor, or will The Avengers sell itself to the non-geeks?
discussing this for two years). Like most of his personal films, this one cost just $12 million, so even if it doesn't have the usual strong legs of the likes of Michael Clayton ($10.4 million opening, $49 million finish) or Syriana ($12 million opening, $50 million finish), it will still be a solid moneymaker for Sony. Still, this proves the limited bank-ability of 'flavor of the month' Ryan Gosling and gives folly to those who blamed the under-performance of Green Lantern on Ryan Reynolds (IE - a more respected actor wouldn't have opened it any better). As for the movie, which I haven't had time to review, it's a solid B-movie, that suffers from a presumption of importance (it isn't saying anything that Primary Colors didn't say in 1998), a serious case of the 'tell-not-shows' (we're constantly told that Gosling is a master political operative, yet we never see him in action except when he's screwing up), and a second half that goes from serious and realistic political drama to 'uh oh, the pretty young girl is gonna get everyone in trouble!' soap opera.
Alas, Sony opened this adult-skewing drama just two weeks after Moneyball, which arguably hurt both films. The crowd-pleasing baseball drama (also co-starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman) dropped a decent 37%, which means it theoretically would have had an even stronger hold without the direct demo competition. Regardless, the film now has $49 million. It's still neck-and-neck with Dolphin Tale, which took a similar hit (-34%) against Real Steel. But films had fine third-weekend drops, but the demographic competition may have hurt all four respective films this weekend. Point being, there's just too much product for everyone to get their piece of the pie.
Also suffering from demo competition was The Lion King 3D, which dropped 57% in its fourth weekend. Of course, the fact that the film came out on 3D/2D Blu Ray this week probably didn't help either. No matter, with $414 million domestic, it's just a day or two away from passing Toy Story 3 as the second-biggest grossing cartoon in America. And with $889 million worldwide, it has just surpassed Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs to become the third-biggest grossing animated film worldwide. Mission accomplished (read HERE for a rundown of what Disney is doing next).
Most of the holdovers had solid holds, with 50/50 dropping 36% (the $8 million film now has $17 million), Dream House dropping 45% (which isn't bad considering the small legs of horror and the lousy opening last weekend), and What's Your Number dropping 43% (same thing, strong hold for such a seemingly-ignored movie). On the overall plus side, Contagion now has $68 million, which means, 16 years of inflation aside, it has out-grossed Outbreak. In limited release news, the only major release was The Human Centipede II (review). Tom Six's Malick-esque period romance opened with just $3,000 per screen on nine screens. However, that's slightly more impressive when you realize that many of those screens were allegedly only screening the film at midnight.
That's it for this weekend. Next time is another stupidly crowded rush, with the surprisingly well-reviewed remake of Footloose leading the pack alongside the not-yet screened prequel to John Carpetenter's 1982 remake of The Thing (entitled... uh... The Thing). There are several limited release as well, but the one to watch will be Antonio Bandaras's reunion with Pedro Almodovar in The Skin I Live In. Until then, take care.