THURSDAY PM UPDATE: Internationally, Warner Bros’ The Hangover Part III co-financed with Legendary Pictures is opening in 3 markets this weekend – the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The studio says early numbers in Australia indicate a strong opening day of A$1.75M from 494 screens, dominating 80% of the Top 5. NZ also opened big, controlling over 70% of the Top 5. Next weekend the comedy opens in 32 markets, including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil.
The Hollywood studios now think every weekend should start on Wednesday just to wring every last dollar from moviegoers (and ensure I’m even more sleep deprived than usual). The result is that these 4 1/2-day holidays render comps and records meaningless even within a franchise. Warner Bros claims The Hangover Part III co-financed with Legendary Pictures got off “to a great start” with $3.1M from Wednesday late shows and Thursday midnights before opening wide today in 3,555 locations. But that’s still a lot less than the last one. The real question is how much this Memorial Weekend box office can expand over last year’s to accommodate three new movies tracking very well (Universal’s actioner Fast & Furious 6 opening Friday in North America as does Twentieth Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios’ toon Epic: both with 70+% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes). Plus three tentpoles already in the marketplace (Disney/Marvel’s Iron Man 3, Warner Bros’ The Great Gatsby, Paramount/Skydance’s Star Trek In Darkness). What I don’t comprehend is why the weekend of May 31st stayed open for so long until Sony Pictures at the last minute moved Will Smith’s After Earth there. Hollywood expected either Warner Bros (who was Johnny-come-lately to Memorial Weekend and then moved from a Friday to Thursday wide release) or Universal (who tagged Memorial Weekend from the beginning) to blink. “But they just stared each other down as they both were driving off a cliff,” one rival studio exec marvels. Meanwhile, one Hollywood marketer is bound for hell after using the words ‘epic’ and ‘Hangover Part III‘ in the same sentence: It’s the “epic conclusion to the trilogy of mayhem and bad decisions,” is how the studio positioned the pic which returns to its Las Vegas roots. “Fans have to see how the most popular comedy franchise of all time ends. This time there’s no wedding, no bachelor party – just one simple road trip. What could possibly go wrong?” Not much considering the brief running time of only 1 hour and 40 minutes for the Todd Phillips-directed repeat antics of Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and nemesis Ken Jeong. This threequel scored even worse reviews (only 26% positive on Rotten Tomatoes) than the sequel (34%) which was considered embarrassingly awful. But it may make no difference: a lot of worldwide moviegoers really like this mindless crap especially during the summer months. More later.