Meanwhile, ‘Dark Shadows’ Casts None
When a movie scores the biggest opening weekend of all time (by nearly $40 million, in this case), the expectation is that it should continue to smash records. So, at a glance, “The Avengers” scoring the largest second weekend in film history isn’t exactly newsworthy. Though most prognosticators pegged the film, following a stupefying opening act of $207 million, to level off in the vicinity of 70% or so. As it turns out, a lot of your friends missed out on the movie the first time around, and after losing a little more than half of its first weekend tally, it’s the first film ever with two nine-figure weekend grosses. That shit cray.
It gets even bigger and better for the film that already has smashed a ton of box office records. The international numbers have been released by Disney: “The Avengers” crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide in just nineteen days (one of twelve films in history to cross that milestone, and likely the fastest). Not too fucking shabby and a good way to forget “John Carter.” “The Avengers” saw release overseas a week before America, but it hasn’t lost much steam in other regions and continues to play to audiences that you know are just loaded with Thanos fans. This is likely the box office peak of the year — some predicted “The Avengers” would compete with probable smash “The Dark Knight Rises,” though it seems clear that film might suffer by comparison without 3D-inflated prices. By the way, the success of the almost-unnoticeable 3D in “The Avengers” likely means studios will continue to use half-hearted post-conversion 3D to overcharge you. Just so you know.
The one possible contender to “The Avengers” grosses (if you view this as a competition, which means you work for the studios, or you might need to get a life) is probably “The Hobbit” this winter. Until then expect “The Avengers” to continue to cold cock the box office next weekend against the already maligned “Battleship” and Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Dictator,” neither of which are moving the needle, tracking-wise. Marvel head Kevin Feige has commented that they could get an ‘Avengers’ sequel up and running in the next five years, but expect Disney to request that timetable be pushed up considerably. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re about to find out just how much Thor one moviegoer can take.
Warner Bros. was hoping for a $40 million opening or so for “Dark Shadows” and its underperformance is likely to have… ramifications. Not major ones, of course: Tim Burton and Johnny Depp own houses lined with fuck-you money. But as their eighth collaboration, it’s clear that they should find new collaborators. What’s happened to the Burton/Depp teaming isn’t that people consider it a promise of low-quality garbage, but rather that both are, for better or worse, synonymous with kids’ stuff.
Having a billion dollar success like “Alice In Wonderland” on his resume ensures Burton still gets a blank check next time around, but at this point it’s impossible to not realize his greatest successes have come from the PG-rated spectrum as of late. And families were not going to turn out for “Dark Shadows.” Estimates run from $100 to $150 million as far as the budget, and yet this was a dark, tonally peculiar adaptation of a cult television series not remembered by an audience under forty, set in a period (the ’70s) uninteresting to the types of audiences that would normally indulge Burton’s flights of whimsy. There was a television relaunch of “Dark Shadows” in the ’90s that failed miserably: only Hollywood would say, hey, this flopped on television a little while ago, let’s spend $150 million on a movie version!
At least Burton can write this off as something of a “one for me” — hard to believe any other filmmaker could convince a studio to sink nine figures into this property. Depp might have more to worry about. With “Pirates of the Caribbean” and the upcoming “The Lone Ranger,” Depp appears to be going all-in on family films, but “The Rum Diary” and now this certainly suggests an audience over a certain age range is no longer interested in him. He’s still A-List enough to demand big money for a PG-13 or R-rated film (“The Tourist” cemented Depp’s status as a massive international star, even though it was a punchline stateside), but his recent work has ghettoized him. Once considered a rare commodity amongst leading men, he may have lost more discerning audiences of a certain age at some point. As “Dark Shadows” is expected to do the bulk of its business overseas, poor Johnny might have to eventually settle for buying the less expensive islands.
Even with two major blockbuster attractions, the rest of the top ten endured only steady drops. “Think Like a Man” pirouetted over the $80 million mark, and could conceivably make a run at $100 million. Considering it cost as much as the leather budget on “The Avengers,” that’s a massive win for Screen Gems who have had a banner year so far. Also battling it out in the top five were “The Lucky One” and “The Hunger Games.” The former is just legging it out before a strong cable afterlife. The latter, however, continues to withstand minor drops, holding better than any other wide release in the top ten. In the wake of “The Avengers” phenomenon, “The Hunger Games” is going to make a run for $400 million domestic. “Hunger… satiated,” one Lionsgate exec said slyly before firing up his Maserati.
While the summer promises big grosses, it also means far less releases, allowing April leftovers like “The Five-Year Engagement” and “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” to continue to rattle around in the toilet bowl of the top ten. ‘Pirates’ was a bigger hit internationally, so any American grosses are gravy, even if Sony would like to see stronger results from their Aardman partnership. “The Five-Year Engagement” is a bit of a black eye — even the critics who normally support Judd Apatow’s producing efforts didn’t rally around this one. Universal will cross their fingers and hope for a strong DVD life, but even with their cheap prices, Apatow’s works cost too much to market to yield these sorts of results.
In limited release, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” expanded from twenty seven to 178 screens, producing a strong per-screen average to jump into the top ten. The film’s already something of a smash overseas, and American grosses could pull this over $90 million worldwide, because everyone loves a good story about old rich white people discovering themselves in a foreign country. Also in limited release, though with significantly lesser results, was “Girl In Progress,” which premiered at 322 locations and benefited from an aggressive ad campaign. Both Fox Searchlight and Lionsgate plan to expand these films further as counterprogramming against an onslaught of pricey blockbusters. And then later possibly have their characters crossover in “Marvel’s The Defenders.”
Also playing to arthouse crowds was horror flick “The Road,” not to be confused with the Cormac McCarthy novel. Though that didn’t help the film gross only $61k on a surprising fifty screens. At thirteen locations, “God Bless America” only found $28k worth of moviegoers, while “I Wish” collected $9.9k at five locations. The biggest winner was likely Lebanese film “Where Do We Go Now?” which grossed $16k at three theaters. Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls.
1. Marvel’s Superfriends (Disney) – $103.2 million ($373 mil)
2. Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, You Know The Drill (Warner Bros.) – $28.8 million
3. Think Like A Mannequin (Two: On The Move) – $5.3 million ($81 mil.)
4. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) – $4.5 million ($387 mil.)
5. High School Musical IV: In The Army Now (Warner Bros.) – $3.8 million ($53 mil.)
6. The Pirates! Band Of Misfits (Sony) – $3.3 million ($23 mil.)
7. Jason Segel’s Continued Romantic Insecurity (Universal) – $3 million ($24 mil.)
8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) – $2.5 million ($3.6 mil.)
9. Girl In Progress (Lionsgate) – $1.4 million
10. Chimpanzee (Disney) – $1.5 million ($25 mil.)
(all parenthetical numbers domestic totals)