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Scott Mendelson

Scott Mendelson

Posted: April 11, 2010 02:22 PM

Weekend Box Office Review (04/11/10)

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There was only one new release this weekend, the Tina Fey/Steve Carell comedy Date Night. The Shawn Levy-directed vehicle was sold as a general audiences-friendly variation on After Hours/The Night Before, this was a pretty easy sell for Fox. Take two of TV's most popular comedians, toss them into a high-concept pitch (two harried professional parents see their attempt at a fancy evening out go to hell in a hand-basket), throw in promises of relatively harmless Adventures In Babysitting-type shenanigans, and top it off with a plethora of movie star cameos to sweeten the deal. So yes, Date Night ended up number two with $25.2 million. That's a decent 2.76x multiplier off a $9.1 million opening Friday. Despite Nikki Finke's pronouncement that the film 'over-performed', the film was expected to do $25-30 million by pretty much every box office pundit I could find (yes, I agreed with that assessment).

This is Steve Carell's eighth-biggest opening total and his third-biggest as a live-action lead, behind Get Smart ($38 million) and Evan Almighty ($31 million). Of course, Date Night only cost $55 million, compared to the $80 million Get Smart and the $200 million Evan Almighty. This is actually Tina Fey's biggest opening, topping the $24 million-haul of Mean Girls back in April 2004 (she wrote and co-stared in that modern classic). Of course, Fey has only appeared in a handful of films, as writing and overseeing 30 Rock has kept her busy in the post SNL years. This is her second pure starring vehicle, and the opening easily trumps the $17 million debut of Baby Mama back in April 2008. This is the fourth-biggest opening weekend for director Shawn Levy, who has earned himself a reputation as one of the worst directors to continually get high-profile hits. I'm not sure how fair that is, but you can clearly see that he makes critically trashed movies that none-the-less make a lot of money. Ironically, Date Night earned a somewhat decent 66% on Rotten Tomatoes (his first overall positive ranking), even if many of those positives where of the B-, 'it's not that good, but we love watching Carell and Fey do their shtick' variety. At the very least, the man is smart enough to surround himself with people who make him look better. Regardless, the picture should have a healthy theatrical life, as older audiences will trickle out in the coming weekends as the new releases (Kick-Ass, The Losers, A Nightmare on Elm Street) target younger demos.

The actual first place ranking went to Clash of the Titans, which plunged 56.5% for a second-weekend total of $26.8 million and a ten-day domestic total of $110.2 million. Despite my concerns last weekend, the picture held up better than I expected (yes, I can admit when I'm wrong). 56% is a big drop, but this was a critically trashed film that opened huge purely on the strength of marketing. Anything under 60% has to be considered almost good fortune. As for the much-derided 3D conversion, only about 52% of those who saw the film last weekend chose the 3D theaters. So whatever backlash the 3D effects may have produced where lessened by the healthy 2D options available for the casually curious and those who simply couldn't make it last weekend. I've said this before, but theaters and studios can charge whatever they want for 3D, IMAX, or EXT as long as they offer moviegoers a normal 2D alternative for those not inclined to pay more for the various 'premium' options. Point being, the film isn't very good, but it's obviously playing fair enough to the casual moviegoers and those who want big-budget action to tide them over until Iron Man 2.

Third place went to the best film of 2010 so far, How to Train Your Dragon. Proving that quality occasionally wins out, the Dreamworks animated film and/or primer on how to do 3D right dropped just 14% in weekend three for a $24.8 million third weekend and a $133.4 million running total. The picture is just $7 million behind Monsters Vs. Aliens at its respective 17-day mark and dropped 19% less in its respective third weekend. While the current picture may not catch up with the $198 million that last year's Spring 3D cartoon pulled in, How to Train Your Dragon is on track to surpass Monsters Vs. Aliens in overseas markets. Monsters Vs. Aliens stalled internationally at $183 million while How to Train Your Dragon already has $122 million after three weekends (quality aside, I'd argue that Monsters Vs. Aliens was hampered by its reliance on American pop-culture references). If it can surpass the Monsters Vs. Aliens US total, it, the current cartoon will become the second-highest grossing 3D animated film behind Up (which was the best film of 2009, natch).

Fourth place is where the too-close-to-call portion ends. As expected, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too plummeted 62.4% for an $11 million second-weekend and a new total of $48.5 million. The second weekend drop was the second-largest for a Perry picture, as Meet the Browns (one of his better films with terrific work by Angela Bassett and Lance Gross) dropped 63% in weekend two. Ironically, the original Why Did I Get Married has the record for the smallest second-weekend drop, with just 42% (still, we all know sequels are more frontloaded by nature). Regardless, the picture will be Perry's second-highest grossing project by next weekend and, alas, has already out-grossed Precious (which Perry attached his name to in order to secure a wide release) in just ten days. The Miley Cryus vehicle The Last Song dropped just 38.6% in weekend two, ending its twelfth day with $42.2 million and proving that the kid may be here to stay as long as the budgets are kept in line. Alice in Wonderland is now at $319 million and is now the 22nd highest-grossing film of all time (for just how impressive that is, take a look at the release date geography of prior $300 million grossers).

For a look at the rest of the holdovers, including limited release news and a peak at next weekend's releases, check out the rest of this article at Mendelson's Memos.

Scott Mendelson

 

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