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.
The article continues at Mendelson's Memos. As always, the numbers contained are estimates and are subject to change on Monday afternoon.