Sunday, June 17, 2012

Weekend Box Office (06/17/12): Rock of Ages and That's My Boy tank while Madagascar 3 remains strong and Prometheus plummets.

I try to remain somewhat positive about box office, if only to counter the relentless 'It's a bomb!' or 'Big Star FAILS!' punditry that makes up much of the box office pundit world.  But there is little good news to report about this weekend's two big releases.  The top new release was Warner Bros' broadway adaptation Rock of Ages.  The 80s rock homage pulled in just $15 million.  Now to be fair, while the film's opening is far below the $27 million debut of Adam Shankman's last musical, Hairspray in July 2007 as well as the $27 million debut of Mamma Mia! four summers ago, it's actually the sixth-biggest debut for a modern musical, which shows how rare they are even in a post-Moulin Rouge era (Moulin Rouge opened with $13 million eleven years ago, by the way).  It's a bigger opening that Rent ($10 million), Dreamgirls ($14 million on under 900 screens), Burlesque ($11 million), and Sweeney Todd ($9.3 million on 1,249 screens).

That Rock of Ages is arguably less popular than most of the above-mentioned shows (the ones that aren't original films of course) means that perhaps we were over-inflating the film's chances.  The film had no real star-power. Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Alec Baldwin aren't openers, the two kids are barely known. Tom Cruise's supporting role was sold as if it was a glorified cameo, which is an odd marketing choice.  The people who love 80s music are old enough to have jobs and kids and thus decided that this nostalgia fest wasn't worth a babysitter, especially when Glee does something vaguely similar every week on television for free.  Mama Mia! and Hairspray sold real stories with noteworthy marketing elements ("See John Travolta play a woman!"  "See Meryl Streep belt Abba tunes!") while Rock of Ages basically had 'See several B-level stars and/or unknowns sing your favorite mass-marketed 80s tunes!  Still the film cost around $65 million and it'll probably limp to $45-$50 million with at least that much overseas.  It's a miss, but not a catastrophic one.  Bring on Les Miserables!  

The somewhat shocking disappointment this weekend was the $13 million debut of Adam Sandler's That's My Boy.  Sandler's comic vehicles routinely bring in around $35-40 million, so even the R-rating can't quite explain the stunning downturn.  It bested Little Nicky as his worst mainstream debut ever, as Reign Over Me, Spanglish, and Punch Drunk Love were somewhat artier turns.  His last film, the PG-rated Jack and Jill, debuted with around $22 million and ended up with $72 million, well below his norm but again, it was somewhat outside the box for fans (it was sold as a young kid-friendly film but parents probably thought twice).  Still, Adam Sandler has always had an issue bringing his fans along whenever a film was even remotely different from the stereotypical Adam Sandler comedy, which has to be a little frustrating for the mega-star.  Still, Grown Ups, released two years ago, was his biggest global hit ever ($271 million) and even Just Go With It is number four on that list with $214 million.

His last several vehicles have been in the $65-85 million range, and it's clear that the budgets have to come down a bit if Sandler wants a certain amount of creative freedom.  Doing a pure gross-out R-rated film was arguably something that Adam Sandler had to get out of his system, although you could argue that he was pitching to the Hangover and/or Knocked Up audience (like Kevin Smith, Sandler was doing sensitive man-child comedies well before Judd Apatow made it cool).  But Sandler's appeal lies in a certain family-friendly sensibility, a safe general consensus choice for large movie-going groups and/or families all taking a trip to the multiplex (it's why his films usually have halfway decent legs).  So while you'll probably see a bunch of 'Is Adam Sandler still a star?' essays on Monday, please ignore them for now.  If Grown Ups 2 and the next safely PG-13 man-child Sandler comedy tanks, then we can start writing obituaries.  Losing the box office champion label has freed Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell to take some genuine artistic chances. I Love You Philip Morris, from late 2010, is among Carrey's very best performances, and Will Ferrell just released a comedy entirely in Spanish. I can only wonder what Sandler may try if he no longer has to be the biggest comic movie star on the planet.

Madagascar 3 topped the box office again this weekend with a solid $35.5 million.  That's down just 41%, which is lower than the 44% drop for Madagascar 2 ($35 million off a $63 million debut) and a big higher than the 40% drop for Madagascar ($28 million off a $47 million debut). But Madagascar 3 is outpacing Madagascar and Madagascar 2 at this point, with $120 million after ten days.  For comparison, Madagascar had $100 million after ten days while Madagascar 2 had $116 million after its second weekend.  Among the other two-non Shrek Dreamworks cartoons that opened around $60 million, it's well ahead of Monsters Vs. Aliens ($104 million) and a bit ahead of Kung Fu Panda ($117 million).  What this means is that it's going to gross at least the $180 million that Madagascar 2 ended with and will likely flirt with $200 million, especially if it can handle next weekend's debut of Pixar's Brave.  Internationally, it was already over $230 million.

Fox's Prometheus fell hard, as I predicted it would last weekend.  With mixed word-of-mouth and a rather front-loaded weekend, Prometheus fell 60% in weekend two for a $20 million.  It's respective $89 million ten-day total puts it right in line with Watchmen ($85 million) and Green Lantern ($88 million).  So in terms of domestic box office, it's looking to tap out at $120 million.  It's already over $180 million worldwide so it shouldn't have too much of a problem getting to $300 million.  For fans, I'd imagine the DVD/Blu-Ray sales will decide if a sequel gets green-lit.  For what it's worth, it's already the highest-grossing Alien-related film of all time, besting the $85 million gross of Aliens.  If we're dealing with inflation, $106 million will put it over Alien 3 but the adjusted-for-inflation totals of Alien ($182 million) and Aliens ($249 million) are out of the question, which is basically what I've been saying since this project was announced.

In other holdover news, Men In Black 3 earned another $10 million this weekend, bringing its domestic total to $152 million.  It's already over $500 million worldwide, and I'll update when the international numbers come in.  Snow White and the Huntsman did $13.8 million in its third weekend, giving it a 17-day total of $122 million domestic with over $200 million worldwide.  Again, Snow White is rolling out slower overseas so we won't know its worldwide box office fate ($300 million or $400 million?) for a little while.  The Dictator is at $57 million while Battleship has $62 million in America and around $300 million worldwide.  The Avengers has $585 million domestic as it tries to cross $300 million before The Amazing Spider-Man lands on July 3rd.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel now has $36 million domestic and has probably peaked, although how long it sticks around is dependent on whether Woody Allen's From Rome With Love makes much of a splash beyond next weekend's sure-to-be-large limited debut.  The Moonrise Kingdom is flirting with $7 million, and Focus Features deserves several lashings for not expanding it wider sooner.  This is a wonderful film that could absolutely cross over into the general populace if it were playing anywhere near them.  Having said that, with few potential art-house break-outs on the horizon, Focus Features could still go wide over the next couple weeks and make up for lost time.

That's it for this weekend. I'll update later with any relevant international figures and any appropriate links (off to Disneyland for Father's Day).  Speaking of Disney, next weekend sees the release of Pixar's Brave (review around Friday when I take my 4yr old to experience it in glorious 2D), Focus Features opens Making Friends at the End of the World on just 1,400 screens while Fox unleashes the highly questionable Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (the book was supposed to be quite good and politically relevant, but it's directed by the guy who did Night Watch and Wanted).  Until then take care.  Obviously if you have any  opinions about the above, do share below.

Scott Mendelson


mfalc1 said...

Saw ROCK OF AGES in Chatsworth last night on Pacific's pretend-IMAX screen--audience was sparse, but several senior citizens in attendance. My theory is, for the over-60s, Julianne Hough was a draw due to her tenure on DANCING WITH THE STARS.

J. R. said...

When I went to see Prometheus today, the theater I went to had a notice that do to content, no one under 17 would be admitted into That's My Boy, period. Do you know if this is something that was happening very much?


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