Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weekend Box Office (03/24/13) part II: Olympus Has Fallen rises while Admission fails and Spring Breakers amuses.

No matter what you think of the film, the $30.5 million debut of Olympus Has Fallen this weekend is very good news for those who want their action films to be R-rated.  With Arnold, Sly, and Jason all flaming out and only the terrible A Good Day To Die Hard opening well, we needed an original R-rated action film to reestablish their viability. I may be forgetting something, but this this is among the top R-rated action openings for a non-sequel since the $50 million debut of Wanted back in June 2008 (possible exceptions: Inglorious Basterds which opened with $37 million in August 2009 and the sci-fi drama The Book of Eli which debuted with $32 million in early 2010).  The film is easily Film District's biggest debut ever, with a solid A- from Cinemascore and a strong 3.0x weekend multiplier.  The concept is a pretty obvious winner, so obvious that I'm amazed it hasn't been done before (yet it's only the first of two, with White House Down opening this summer).  The obvious appeal of the narrative plus a game cast of recognizable players (Gerald Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, etc.).  It'll take a hit next weekend from G.I. Joe: Retaliation, but it should recover due to the fact that it's one of the most insanely violent R-rated action films this side of Starship Troopers and thus will provide the kind of carnage that a PG-13 G.I. Joe movie cannot.  Hopefully this finally gets the undervalued Antoine Fuqua onto the various 'hot lists' next time a studio goes hunting for a tent pole director.

Not fairing so well was the terribly-marketed Admission.  Remember when I wrote a couple weeks ago that you needed stars *and* concept these days?  Well, Universal's film had stars like Tina Fey and Paul Rudd but barely even tried to sell what the movie was about.  So you get a $6.4 million opening weekend, or just over a third of what Baby Mama and I Love You Man opened with this time in 2008 and 2009 respectively.  The film only cost $13 million so it may break even in the end, but again, you can't just throw stars on the poster and scream "generic romantic comedy!".  The film is actually more complicated than the marketing was willing to suggest, which of course is a good thing for the movie but a bad thing for a thirty-second TV spot.  To be fair, Baby Mama was sold as a genuinely feminist comedy that also starred Amy Poehler and it came out before Fey became known to much of "Red State America" as the woman who helped destroy Sarah Palin's vice-presidential aspirations via uncanny impersonation.  I have no idea whether that hurt her appeal among more conservative moviegoers but it certainly didn't help.  We have to remember that very few people watched 30 Rock so for many general moviegoers, Tina Fey isn't one of the hottest/smartest/funniest women on the planet, but merely that SNL lady who does that Sarah Palin impression and also was in Mean Girls nine years ago (that she wrote it is obviously less well-known about the general populace).

In one of the more amusing developments of the last few years, a would-be art house film (allegedly) about the cultural failings of a society that tells young girls that sexual and moral debauchery is something to aspire to is now somewhat of a mainstream hit. Harmony Korine shrewdly cast tween favorites Ashley Benson, Selena Gomez, and Vanessa Hudgens in a proverbial Girls Gone Wild: The Movie which both guaranteed a flurry of free media attention and a deluge of fans who had no idea what they were in for.  Sure there were countless walk-outs and outraged tweets all weekend, but the $2 million film still pulled in $5 million on 1,100 screens.  This is a big win for newbie distributor A24 which took a big risk in expanding the film so quickly after its $90,000 per-screen debut on just three screens last weekend.  There was no guarantee that media attention would translate into mainstream interest, but in a relative sense, it did just that this weekend.  As I always say, go big or go home, and A24 went big and thus went home (sorry, I switched to a baseball metaphor). The picture has $5.4 million thus far and could well top $15 million even with a massive drop next weekend as the word of mouth is already hilariously awful.

In holdover news, Oz: The Great and Powerful is still holding strong.  A 46% drop this weekend was inevitable for obvious reasons, but the film still has $177 million domestic and $178 million overseas for   a $356 million total.  Stoker sadly flamed out in expanded release, earning $356,000 on 275 screens.  See it soon before it's gone!  Snitch topped $40 million which is a big win for the Dwayne Johnson action vehicle, especially with G.I. Joe: Retaliation likely to make that much in its first two days.  The Incredible Burt Wonderstone dropped 58% on account of being terrible, giving it a ghastly $17 million after ten days.  The Call felt the heat from Olympus Has Fallen and dropped 49% for a $8.7 million weekend.  That's still good for $31 million in ten days for the better-than-you'd-expect $13 million programmer.  Identity Thief has $127 million while Jack the Giant Slayer has a mere $59 million, with little help on the way overseas (at this rate, it'll just barely cross $150 million).

That's it for this weekend.  Join us next time for G.I. Joe: Retaliation (review Wednesday), Tyler Perry's Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, and The Host.

Scott Mendelson 

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