Sunday, March 31, 2013

Weekend Box Office: GI Joe: Retaliation tops Easter weekend while The Host tanks.

It was a crowded Easter weekend at the box office, as three new releases and a couple strong holdovers did battle over the frame.  Opening on Thursday to take advantage of Good Friday (IE - no school!).

G.I. Joe: Retaliation opened with a relatively solid $51.7 million over the four-day frame, for a $41.2 million Fri-Sun gross.  Any way you slice it, this is a slightly lower figure than the $54 million Fri-Sun debut of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra back in August 2009.  Yes that film opened in late summer but this film had 3D-enhanced ticket prices, so it's basically an even comparison.  The sequel/reboot was scheduled to open in late June of last summer only to be pulled and rescheduled so that the film could be converted to 3D in order to theoretically boost foreign grosses. One can only wonder whether Paramount possibly cut off its nose to spite its face, sacrificing a prime summer slot when the buzz was hottest only to achieve an arguably lower debut than it might have achieved had it opened when intended. G.I. Joe: Retaliation probably won't cross $120 million in America, which in normal circumstances would be very bad.  More likely, Paramount knowingly sacrificed domestic strength for international muscle, which is yet another sign of the times. The current worldwide total is estimated to be about $132 million, so it's nearly halfway to the first film's entire $300 million worldwide total.  Assuming it has anything resembling legs, Paramount's risky bet may have paid off.  The new film cost less ($130 million) and the first film ($175 million), so presuming the rescheduling didn't massively add to the marketing and distribution costs, equaling or surpassing the first film's total ($150 million domestic and $150 million international) still counts as a single if not a double depending on the overall result.

The next big opener was the fourth Tyler Perry film to open over Easter weekend over the last several years.  Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor opened to a strong $22.3 million.  For Tyler Perry films that don't involve Madea, this is his second-biggest such debut after Why Did I Get Married Too? ($29 million), although the final figures may put it just behind the first Why Did I Get Married? ($21.3 million). There's not much else to say about this one.  Yes, its somewhat of a departure for Perry (it's a straight sexually-charged melodrama with little-to-no comedy), but he still has a strong fan base as long as the budgets remain under $20 million, as this one again did.  The film played 70% female and 79% over-25.  Those stunt casting of Kim Kardashian did little other than cost him a token amount of credibility any number of critics (both pro-Perry and anti-Perry) called it possibly his worst film.  Still the man is nothing if not financially consistent. This is his tenth $20 million opener since 2005.  And it will probably sink like a stone and still make it to $45-55 million just as most of his pictures have done.  Tyler Perry Presents We The Peoples opens on May 10th, and we should expect similar results.

The last wide opener was The Host, the second of two 'next Twilight' contenders to under-perform this year.  While the shockingly good Beautiful Creatures sadly didn't even cross $19 million domestic on a $60 million budget (it has $57 million worldwide), Open Road spent $40 million on the adaptation of Twilight author Stephanie Meyer's The Host and got just $11 million over opening weekend for their efforts, or about what Beautiful Creatures opened with.  The reviews were terrible even from those who liked the Twilight Saga and Saoirse Ronan is not a household name beyond film nerds (writer/director Andrew Niccol isn't a 'name' either), so it looks like the 'new-wave young-adult-lit blockbuster' trend is 0/2 thus far.  Lily Collins stars in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones this coming August, so we'll see if it can do what these other two pictures could not.  Otherwise, my prediction/hope that these kind of films would become a new form of cheaper 'blockbuster' that catered to females as much as superhero films catered to males might have been premature.

The main limited release was the Ryan Gosling/Bradley Cooper/Eva Mendes drama The Place Beyond the Pines.  The sprawling father/son saga debuted on just four screens and wracked up an impressive $67,536 per screen.  Hopefully this means Focus Features will expand this one in the coming weeks.  The Croods held strong in its second weekend, buoyed by the holiday Friday.  It dropped 4 0% for a solid $26 million second weekend and a $88 million ten-day total.  Comparatively, How to Train Your Dragon opened with $43 million and dropped 33% for a $29 million second weekend and a $92 million total.  In terms of the various fall Dreamworks animated releases, its ten-day total is actually ahead of A Shark Tale ($87 million) and Puss In Boots ($75 million) and basically tied with Megamind ($88 million).

Considering how many unknowing teenage moviegoers proclaimed it the worst movie ever, the fact that Spring Breakers didn't drop like a rock is impressive.  It was down 43% with a $2.7 million weekend and a $10 million cume.  Olympus Has Fallen fell a hearty 54%, taking damage from G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  Still, the $70 million action thriller now has $54 million and should flirt with $85 million before it finishes up its domestic run.  Oz: The Great and Powerful pulled in another $11.6 million for a new cume of $198 million domestic and it flies past $400 million worldwide.  The Call now has $39 million, Admission has just $11 million after ten days and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone has just now crossed $20 million in its seventeenth day after dropping 70% this weekend.

That's it for this one folks.  Join us next time for nostalgia theater, as the two wide releases are a remake of Evil Dead and a 3D-reissue of Jurassic Park.  Are you planning on seeing Jurassic Park again in IMAX 3D or is your 2D Blu Ray good enough for you?

Scott Mendelson      

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