Thirteen films. Thirteen straight hits. All number one movies. It wasn’t a surprise to see “Brave” climb that mountain, the fifth-highest opening in Pixar history, even if the numbers are coming in very close to last year’s relatively underwhelming “Cars 2.” That film wasn’t a disappointment as much as it was a “disappointment” — it outgrossed its predecessor by nearly $100 million and moved serious toys. “Brave” may be looking at similar global business, but without the toy support that made “Cars” a juggernaut, if it performs similar to “Cars 2” domestically ($191 million) people will again start discussing the chinks in Pixar’s armor. That being said, “Cars 2” was considered a creative low water-mark, and it dropped 60% in its second weekend, neither of which can be said for “Brave,” which should have more traditional animation legs. Expect at least $200 million domestic, probably more, and another victory for Hollywood’s premiere hit factory.
Also benefitting from solid animated business is “Madagascar 3D: Europe’s Most Wanted,” which only fell a good 40% after two weeks at the top. The picture may not get to $200 million (a target just out of reach for the first two films), but it will sure give it a shot. The hold is surprising in the face of “Brave,” which many figured would cannibalize the audience, but even after losing a number of 3D screens, this franchise remains as viable as ever. A fourth “Madagascar” is not crazy. Or wanted.
Timur Bekmambetov‘s first American film, “Wanted,” proved to be a box office hit opening against a Pixar giant, collecting $51 million in its first weekend. Clearly the hope was that lightning would strike again with “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” a man-child-centric horror-history mashup aimed against the girl-friendly “Brave.” That didn’t happen, and with a suitable $70 million budget, Fox hopes that foreign audiences don’t have the reverence (or discriminating taste) to avoid watching a President fight some bloodsuckers.
It’s a basic fact Hollywood learns this season as they try to stretch names into titles. “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” was exactly what was advertised, just as “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” and “Battleship.” The similarity it shows with those films is that, in a very basic way, audiences saw the title and thought, “This is not a movie.” The premise alone, while enough to fuel a cult bestseller, simply doesn’t translate to film, where people struggled to ascertain whether this was a full-length movie or a joke. You wouldn’t be mistaken for assuming the posters were some photoshop from The Onion, with their dead serious posturing and mood lighting. Even after seeing it, it’s a hard film to place. It’s a comedy without laughs. A silly action film with serious history. A biopic that isn’t. You can get away with this sort of genre trickery if you’re Steven Soderbergh. Not necessarily if you’re Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov.
“Prometheus” vaulted over the $100 million line, collecting decent numbers on the way towards being one of the highest grossing films of the summer. Small honor, that — pretty much everything has been crushed under the ‘Avengers’ boot. The business is swifter overseas, as is tradition at this point for big-budget 3D tentpoles, but it’s hard to say whether this one is the kind of rousing success that has the studio crowing. Still, it hasn’t fallen completely off the Earth, and audiences haven’t completely rejected the film. Wait for the DVD has been the rally cry for all Ridley Scott films in recent memory, so maybe this is all moot anyway.
After poor openings, “Rock of Ages” and “That’s My Boy” actually held on to a bit of respectability in weekend two, though it’s likely for naught. These are tanks, pure and simple. “Rock of Ages” may translate overseas, as it boasts a number of marquee stars, but ’80s power metal is mostly an American thing, and the film carried a massive ad presence to match up with the alleged $75 million production budget. The Adam Sandler picture, which, like usual, cost in the vicinity of $70-$80 million despite looking like a buck o’five (Sandler doesn’t get out of bed for anything less than his usual rate), will also find a tough time to profitability. Lucky “Rock of Ages” would be the worst film coming out of most other weekends, but it fortunately shares the spotlight with “That’s My Boy,” something of an industry black eye already and a frontrunner for the Razzies this year.
Unbelievably, “Snow White and the Huntsman” is about to be lapped by “The Avengers.” The eight-week-old superhero saga boasted the weekend’s best legs by far, dropping less than 20% and ready to hit $600 million domestically. It’s a bonafide beast in a seasn that has seen underperformers like ‘Snow White’ (short of $300 million worldwide thus far) and “Men In Black III” (short of the kajillion dollars needed for profitability). The latter has a decent shot of outgrossing the second film of the series domestically, but that’s not much of a milestone, considering “Men In Black 2” was a decade ago, did not benefit from 3D prices, and oh yeah, was absolutely terrible. “MIB 3” will likely slot in as the biggest in the series thus far (at least internationally, where its at the $550 million mark), though considering its skyrocket high budget ($225 million minimally, not counting the costly reshoots and production shut-downs) and ads, they needed a little extra juice to give this franchise more life. It’ll look good on paper in the end, especially when DVD comes around, and a fourth film could be on the way if the stars actually care, but Sony will certainly have to make a more cost-effective edition if they actually want to make, you know, a profit.
Making its debut at the tail end of the top ten was “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” with a dismal showing for an indie picture with a semi-wide release. If it holds, the film will have the weakest per-screen average of any of the top ten films this weekend, absolutely dire results for a hoped-for counterprogrammer. Likely they were hoping for “Crazy Stupid Love” results, though it’s doubtful anyone could sell such a morose, downbeat comedy about the apocalypse. As we’ve said before in this column: it’s the title, stupid. The film helped knock “Moonrise Kingdom” back out of the top ten, though the Wes Anderson picture still registered $3.4 million, its best weekend yet, taking its total to slightly under $12 million.
The biggest indie release of the weekend was “To Rome with Love,” and coming off the massive success of “Midnight in Paris,” that was somewhat expected. On only five screens, the Woody Allen picture registered a very strong $379k for a $75.8k per-screen average, the second best limited debut of the year beyond “Moonrise Kingdom.” Also opening, to somewhat limited fanfare, was “Kumare,” which premiered on one New York City screen, gathering $12k with further expansion on the way.
As far as limited release holdovers, “Bernie” continues to perform with a strong $485k showing in the film’s ninth week of release, bringing its total past $6.6 million. Also solid was the third week showing for “Safety Not Guaranteed,” which crossed the $1 million mark in week three with a $482k take on 129 screens. With expansion coming, “Your Sister’s Sister” also appears poised to break out, going from 13 to 47 theaters, grossing $216k for a two week total of $379k. Meanwhile, weekend five saw barely any change from global hit “The Intouchables,” which didn’t drop at all from last week despite losing three theaters, collecting $356k. It’s global total currently stands at $351 million, and yes you are reading that correctly.
A crowded weekend for holdovers at the indie marketplace means slightly weaker results for would-be hits. Brainstorm Media launched their distribution arm with “Dark Horse,” but in three weekends, the film has only collected $49k, quietly earning $11.6k on six screens for the three-day frame. While primarily a VOD release, “Peace, Love And Misunderstanding” generated absolutely zero heat, with a little under $90k on sixty-four screens for a $450k total after three weeks. And Fox Searchlight could only be so aggressive with “Lola Versus,” the would-be breakout hit that was killed by male critics. At fifty locations, the film generated a piddling $46k, bringing its three week total to $203k. Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls.
1. Brave (Disney) – $66.7 million
2. Madagascar 3D: Europe’s Most Wanted (Dreamworks) – $20.2 million ($158 mil.)
3. Abraham Lincoln: Vamp- Wait, You Were Serious? (Fox) – $16.5 million
4. Prometheus (Fox) – $10 million ($109 mil.)
5. Rock of Ages (WB) – $8 million ($29 mil.)
6. Adam Sandler, Falling Star (Sony) – $7.8 million ($28 mil.)
7. Snow White And The Huntsman (Universal) – $7.8 million ($137 mil.)
8. The Avengers (Disney) – $7.4 million ($599 mil.)
9. Men In Black 3 (Sony) – $5.6 million ($163 mil.)
10. Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (Focus) – $3.5 million