If you market them well enough (hint: firebomb children’s shows) and have a decent release date, really any CG-toon can bring in the business. It doesn’t help if your premise is obscured by ads (“Legend of the Guardians,” “Planet 51“) but as long as you have a clear concept that makes sense for kids craving a simple A-to-B experience, expect undiscerning crowds to lap it up. “Megamind” looks to be holding onto the top spot for the second weekend in a row, with a respectable hold that suggests a hefty final take.
This might not be a “How To Train Your Dragon,” as CinemaScore ratings and reviews aren’t spectacular. And despite being within spitting distance of $100 million in weekend two, it still looks like the new “Harry Potter” is going to pulverize its core audience. But the film will open overseas gradually and has already made promising cheddar in a number of regions. Animated films are the new action films, in that they perform much stronger in international waters. “Toy Story 3” received more than 60% of its grosses from foreign audiences, and “Shrek Forever After” pulled in nearly 70% overseas. The picture might be lucky to do “Monsters Vs. Aliens” numbers domestically, but you never have to worry about animated pictures, with their merchandising tie-ins and DVD-selling power. In short, “Megamind” is a predictably big win.
“Unstoppable” proved to be Tony Scott and Denzel Washington‘s second-straight train-based underperformer. “Unstoppable” looks to have the same opening numbers as the “The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3” remake, which is unfortunate, as “Unstoppable” cost even more than ‘Pelham.’ Of course, ‘Pelham’ somehow benefited from international audiences and eventually turned a profit, but that might be due to the inexplicable global appeal of John Travolta. Chris Pine hasn’t quite made it yet, and his lack of traction as a star is probably keeping that Jack Ryan reboot grounded for now. He needs “Star Trek 2” way more than it needs him right now, especially if the questionable McG picture “This Means War” is a nonstarter.
“Due Date” looks like an industry-average performer, given those involved. Despite making the somehow-unimpeachable comedy classic that is “The Hangover,” director Todd Phillips has always been known as a guy who could capably take a cheap premise and steer the film to midrange grosses. “Due Date” was really his first shot at the big leagues, in that it was notably expensive and had two major above-the-title stars. Warner Bros. was probably hoping for stronger than $60 million in weekend two, but “Due Date” could continue to be an attraction through Thanksgiving. Though if CinemaScore and audience polling is anything to go by, there might be a hearty audience backlash towards the film’s surprisingly black heart and the limited mileage of Zach Galifianakis‘ abrasive retard shtick.
Have you ever been to those bodegas where they scrape off all the symbols on a “G.I. Joe” figure and package it as “American Action Man”? In a similar manner, “Skyline” was marketed as an off-brand version of a blockbuster, and the audience response was appropriate. Selling that many tickets for a very cheap action thriller with a slim marketing budget has to be a victory for all involved, even if all who have seen it know that the movie’s a disaster. Expect a healthy life as a DVD curiosity, but that second weekend plunge will be huge. Maybe now it’s time for that lawsuit from the “Battle: Los Angeles” people who claim the Strause Brothers worked on that film and then cherrypicked ideas for their Eric Balfour star vehicle.
At least “Skyline” was able to trump “Morning Glory.” This is a feeble debut by Harrison Ford standards.And by Diane Keaton standards. Even Patrick Wilson has seen better days. Paramount marketed the hell out of this, but the problem might be the subject matter. No one is really passionate about morning news, as it’s usually just what happens to be on at the time, so why would they care about a failing, dysfunctional one? Again, what do we always say? Big stars open subpar material to mediocre numbers, which makes it seem like this and “Extraordinary Measures” finally declare Harrison Ford a box office also-ran. Then again, if they cast “Morning Glory” with someone with an even slightly lower Q-rating than Ford, about five people would have seen this movie.
“For Colored Girls” looks like it’s showing Tyler Perry‘s limitations as a box office draw. Without secret weapon Madea, the somber drama is taking a big audience loss into weekend two. The movie was cheap and the core audience definitely went, but Perry and Lionsgate have to manage their expectations next time out. When it comes to multimedia appeal, Tyler Perry’s name has cache, but when it comes to big movie grosses, it’s clear he needs Madea in his repertoire. Pretty interesting that, even without a major Oscar contender, Lionsgate didn’t feel the desire to shove this deeper into awards season.
Having a big star at your disposal sure comes in handy when your film is playing in its fifth week, allowing “Red” to lap many competitors over the weeks. Summit was smart enough not to over-saturate when it came to ads, so a Bruce Willis action film that has been on the market for a while still has strong appeal for audiences. Summit is only handling domestic for a small fee, so the $80 million total is a delicious gravy bowl. It surpassed “Paranormal Activity 2,” which looks like it very much won’t be able to match the first film’s take. The first ‘Paranormal’ had the element of surprise and word of mouth, but it’s safe to say most audiences knew what the deal was with this sequel. A $90 million take should be boosted by significantly higher international appeal than the original.
Should we call Lionsgate’s bluff regarding the “Saw” series? The latest in the ongoing gorefest promised to be the last, and its performance was right in line with the series’ diminishing returns, the 3D and promise of series closure only providing a slight uptick. They’ve spit one of these movies out each year, and like every year “Saw 3D” should generate a very satisfying profit, but the promise of every Halloween bringing another entry in the tepid franchise has ended. Expect them to take some time off, then promise a glossy relaunch. Hopefully in space this time. “Jackass 3D” is also hanging around at the bottom of the top ten, continuing to buy lavish mansions for Bam Margera‘s great great grandchildren.
On the indie circuit, “Fair Game” expanded in weekend two, averaging a so-so $6k-per-screen for $1.1 million on 175 screens, which is not bad since the Oscar winning male lead in that cast looks like a grandma. The week’s best per-screen average belonged to “127 Hours,” which expanded into 22 screens for a $453k total, or an average of $20k per. Support your local indie theater, folks.
1. Megamind 3D (Paramount) – $30 million ($90 mil.)
2. Trainstoppable (Fox) – $23.5 million
3. Due Date (WB) – $15.5 million ($59 mil.)
4. Skyline (Universal) – $11.7 million
5. Morning Glory 3D (Paramount) – $9.6 million ($12 mil.)
6. For Purple Girls (Lionsgate) – $6.8 million ($31 mil.)
7. Red (Summit) – $5.1 million ($80 mil.)
8. Paranormal Activity 2 (Paramount) – $3 million ($82 mil.)
9. Saw 3D (Lionsgate) – $2.8 million ($43 mil.)
10. Jackass 3D (Paramount) – $2.3 million ($115 mil.)