Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekend Box Office (04/15/12): Hunger Games fends off Three Stooges, Cabin in the Woods, and Lockout.

In the third-to-last weekend before summer, The Hunger Games fended off a trio of "B-movies" to retain the top spot this weekend for the fourth time in a row.  But the ranking is arbitrary and the real news is (as always) the numbers themselves. There were three new wide releases this weekend and none of them were expected to set the box office on fire.  None of them did, although Fox had a surprisingly solid debut for the Farrelly Bros' The Three Stooges.  Despite painful trailers and an initial batch of lousy reviews, the film played well to family audiences and reviews seemed to improve as reluctant critics took in a matinee show and came out surprised.  The picture opened with $17 million, which is good for the third-biggest debut for the Farrelly Bros, behind the $22 million debut of Shallow Hal in 2001 and the $24 million debut of Me, Myself, and Irene in 2000.  Since Shallow Hal, the comedic directing duo have not had a film gross over $45 million in the US, so this spry opening should help them pass that particular benchmark even if it collapses next weekend.  Although it scored a rare 3x weekend multiplier, so it's not hard to imagine the film having token legs until summer arrives.   The film earned a B- from Cinemascore, with a 'C' from audiences over 25 but an 'A' from audiences under 18.  This $30 million production should be quite profitable especially when you factor in the seemingly invincible 20th Century Fox foreign marketing machine (this could easily be another Fox film that earns $60 million here but $120 million overseas).  While the Farrelly Bros have probably peaked critically and commercially, as long as they can bring in comedies at $30-40 million, they can probably do what they want for the rest of their careers.

The next opener was the long-delayed Cabin in the Woods (review).  Produced by MGM in 2009, the film was a victim of MGM's financial woes and eventually found its way to Lionsgate.  The Drew Goddard/Joss Whedon uber-meta horror film received superb reviews (it's my favorite picture of 2012 thus far, natch), but the somewhat generic trailer (which managed to make the film seem relatively bland even as it spoiled major plot twists) and low-key marketing (bet you didn't know Chris Hemsworth was in this one) led to a decent but-not-spectacular $14.9 million debut.  More troubling is the 'C' grade from Cinemascore, including an alleged 'D+' from female audiences, which is ironic considering the subtext of the film.  Once again horror audiences have shown that they don't actually want to be scared or challenged, as they had a bizarre habit of rejecting original or challenging material while flocking to brain-dead remakes and half-hearted 'found footage' pictures.  Anyway, enough editorializing, the opening isn't bad, and it scored an usually high-for a horror film- weekend multiplier of 2.7x.  Once again, if you value my opinion at all, you will make an effort to see this thing while you can.  It's a keeper.

The last wide opener was Lockout (review). The Film District picture ended up being distributed by Open Road, but the "Die Hard on a Space-Jail meets Escape From Space Jail" B-movie action picture played only to the action junkies.  Alas, it grossed just $6.25 million, or just-over half of what the fellow Luc Besson production Colombiana opened with last year and about a fourth of what 20th Century Fox opened Taken (another Besson production) with three years ago.  The marketing campaign sold the cheese factor, and its obvious that general audiences were not interested in shelling out $10 a ticket for a bigger-budget variation on something they watched countless times on HBO or Showtime for free in the last 1990s.  The film received a B- from Cinemascore, which frankly feels just about right all things considered. The other big news was the overseas debut of Universal's Battleship.  The film doesn't open in America until May 18th, but April 11th saw its debut in 26 foreign markets, in a test case of sorts for opening a seemingly American-skewing blockbuster overseas over a month before its US debut.  As they say in the game, 'hit', as the Peter Berg alien invasion film grossed about $58 million over its first five days.  It debuts in China and Russia next weekend.

Topping the box office for the fourth weekend in a row, The Hunger Games (review) had a terrific fourth weekend gross of $21.5 million (-35%), becoming the 17th film in history to gross $20 million or more on its fourth weekend.  With a $337 million cume after a month in release, the Lionsgate franchise-starter is now outpacing Spider-Man 2 ($328 million) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith ($332 million).  It's just a bit below the respective month-long totals of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II ($343 million) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($363 million) but none of the above four films came close to a $20 million fourth-weekend.  And with two more weekends of  smaller, nichier films before summer starts on May 4th, The Hunger Games has just under three weeks to run the tables before summer causes major screen bleed. At $335 million, it has surpassed Alice In Wonderland ($334 million) and surpass Spider-Man 3 ($336 million) to become the 22nd-biggest grossing film of all-time.  A domestic cume of $390-$400 million seems to be in order.  The film has also passed $500 million worldwide, so there's that too.

In limited release news, Bully expanded to 158 theaters with a shiny, hypocritical new PG-13 version, but earned just $3,380 per theater for a $534,000 weekend.  The film that 'every child MUST see or they will be bullied to death!' has now amassed $813,000 (and I'm betting it played 100% to either film critic-types and 'the converted').  The Raid: Redemption (review) expanded to 881 screens and earned $1 million in the process.  Perhaps it and the four (!) other geek-friendly films (Cabin in the Woods, Lockout, Detention, Badass) might have done better if they weren't all going head-to-head.  Anyway, The Raid now has $2.5 million. Detention, another surprisingly clever 'meta' horror film, earned under $32,000 on ten screens.  Do yourself a favor and track down the DVD when the time comes.  And the Danny Trejo cheapie Badass debut on just one screen and earned under $6,000 on it.   In other holdover news, Titanic 3D dropped just 34% in weekend two, although the opening weekend was spread over five days last week.  Nonetheless, the 3D-reissue grossed another $11.6 million for a $44 million twelve-day total.  No one should be complaining here, as the rerelease will be quite profitable and (as expected) it's partially an advertisement for the film finally being released on Blu Ray this July.

American Reunion dropped 50% in weekend two, for a $10.7 million second weekend and a $39 million ten-day total.  Nothing much to say about it, but at least it's already out-grossed Scream 4 (thus far, it's equalling its domestic take overseas, so it has about $80 million worldwide thus far).  Mirror Mirror (review) ends its third weekend at $49 million after a $7 million gross, while Wrath of the Titans (review) earned $6.9 million this weekend for a $71 million cume.  Mirror Mirror is showing halfway decent legs and should limp to $60 million off a $17 million debut. Wrath of the Titans should crawl to $85 million off a $33 million opening.  Neither are thrilling results, but at least the latter is doing its expectedly strong overseas business.  The Lorax crossed $200 million on Thursday and it ends the weekend with $204 million (it has $278 million worldwide). The leggy (and surprisingly good) 21 Jump Street has crossed $120 million. And Journey 2: The Mysterious Island finally cracked $100 million after 65 days in release, with the family-friendly sequel earning a mighty $315 million worldwide.

That's it for this weekend.  Join us next time when the all-star romantic ensemble comedy Think Like A Man faces off against Disney's Chimpanzees and the Zack Efron Nicholas Sparks-adaptation The Lucky One.  It's small-scale cinema from now until The Avengers, so enjoy the less bombastic cinema and don't whine that the weekend totals are a little smaller than last year.  That's the price of small movies, folks, one that the studios are more-than-willing to pay all of the sudden.

Scott Mendelson

1 comment:

Neil said...

Four straight weeks in number one is such a rare feat. They said that the last film to do that was Avatar, who eventually became the biggest box-office movie of all time. Well, nobody is expecting that The Hunger Games will reach the same position as the former, but still it is something to be really proud of.


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