SATURDAY PM, 6TH UPDATE: (Top 10 below.) Sony’s kid-friendly Karate Kid reboot of the ’80s hit film now starring Will Smith’s son and Jackie Chan was a breakaway #1 opener this weekend with at least $56M. That’s twice what the studio was predicting and twice what its competitor The A-Team made. Eleven-year-old Jaden and veteran Jackie Chan led the pic to $19M Friday and +15% for $21.5M, and broke the June Gloom that has descended over domestic box office this summer as movies underperformed. That’s what happened to Fox’s film action version of the 80′s hit TV series The A-Team which finished #2. But it only made $9.6M Friday and at most +4% for $10M Saturday, so it will be lucky to get to $27M for the weekend. That’s embarrassing for what was supposed to be the start of another franchise and a nailbiter between the two opening movies. It turned out not even close. ”A pretty spectacular win,” one Sony exec exulted. “Not even Jerry Weintraub predicted that.”
It’s ironic, isn’t it: the reboot succeeds, and the TV series-to-film doesn’t. And yet Hollywood keeps embracing these unoriginal movie ideas. This reimagined Karate Kid that updated the karate action to kung fu and stressed a diversity theme scored an “A” Cinemascore. Sony did a brilliant marketing job (hampered by the fact Jaden was obnoxious in interviews). Also helping was the Bieber factor: Justin did the main song and music video for the film with Jaden and told his loyal and large number of fans on Twitter to go see the movie. Besides Weintraub who produced the original, new pic was produced by Jaden’s parents Will Smith and Jada Pinkett through Overbrook production company with John Lassiter, and made for just $40M because it was shot in China. So the upside on this title is significant. Sony is expecting strong word of mouth and good legs (despite Toy Story 3), especially with schools shutting down for the summer. Saturday’s matinee bump is expected to be big.
But The A-Team cost considerably more after 10 years in development and millions of dollars in script costs. Reviews were mixed, but the pic managed a “B+” Cinemascore. Indeed, so many screenwriters labored so much to produce so little because the 20th Century Fox executive in charge lost control of the film. (Read my 11 WRITERS LATER: ’The A-Team’.) I reported exclusively that the Writers Guild recently decided the credits, and 11 screenwriters worked on the film — 5 single writers and 3 teams of two. And that’s with the interruption of the writers strike. The final credit now reads: “Written by Joe Carnahan & Brian Bloom and Skip Woods. Created by Frank Lupo & Stephen J. Cannell.” In the end, the director and his partner got first position credit.
But talk to insiders, and you’ll hear a story of panic, lies, and mimicry by then studio executive Alex Young, now a producer on the Fox lot. He oversaw several of Fox’s money-making guy movies. But I found he tried to make The A-Team anything but the A-Team — when that’s what the studio expected to release. I’m told that, at various points in the process, Young declared that A-Team should be “gritty like Bourne” (a big hit at the time) or “in the style of 24” (he considered hiring that TV show’s writers) or ”Hard R like Tarantino”. Most inexplicably, Young asked one seasoned writer to delete all the humor from the movie. Also to that end, I’m told Alex did everything possible to keep Stephen J Cannell, the genius behind the TV show who had script and story approval, away from the project.
Here’s the Top 10 (numbers will be refined in the morning):
1. Karate Kid (Sony) NEW [3,663 Theaters]
Friday $19M, Saturday $21.5M, Weekend $56M
2. The A-Team (Fox) NEW [3,535 Theaters]
Friday $9.6M, Saturday $10M, Weekend $27M
3. Shrek Forever After (DWA/Par) Week 4 [3,868 Theaters]
Friday $4.3M, Saturday $6.7M, Weekend $16M, Cume $210.3M
4. Get Him To The Greek (Universal) Week 2 [2,702 Theaters]
Friday $3.3 (-47%), Saturday $3.8M, Weekend $10M, Cume $36.4M
5. Killers (Lionsgate) Week 2 [2,859 Theaters]
Friday $2.7M (-52%), Saturday $3.3M, Weekend $8M, Cume $30.3M
6. Prince Of Persia (Disney) Week 3 [3,108 Theaters]
Friday $1.9M, Saturday $2.6M, Weekend $6.5M, Cume $72.3M
7. Marmaduke (Fox) Week 2 [3,213 Theaters]
Friday $1.8M (-47%), Saturday $2.5M, Weekend $6.2M, Cume $22.5M
8. Sex And The City 2 (NL/Warner Bros) Week 3 [2,750 Theaters]
Friday $1.8M, Saturday $2.0M, Weekend $5.3M, Cume $84.5M
9. Iron Man 2 (Marvel/Paramount) Week 6 [2,305 Theaters]
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $1.8M, Weekend $4.2M, Cume $299M
10. Robin Hood (Universal) Week 5 [2,450 Theaters]
Friday $786K, Saturday $1.2M, Weekend $2.8M, Cume $99.6M
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