SUNDAY PM UPDATE: This is one of those box office weekends which Hollywood will be talking about for days. Here’s the Friday, Saturday, weekend, and cume grosses for the Top 10:
1. More good news for Pixar and Disney. As expected, Toy Story 3 tops the North American box office for the 2nd straight week, recording the highest second weekend ever for Disney/Pixar. It’s also the second fastest Disney film to pass $200 million domestic box office — 9 days, compared to Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest‘s 8 days. Thanks to higher 3D ticket prices and a wide release into 4,028 theaters, the toon with massive appeal did $18.0M Friday and $22.6M Saturday and an estimated $18.4M for Sunday. It’s vital to Hollywood summer grosses that so many families are having a great experience at the cineplex because of this pic. It logged a $58.9M weekend, only a 47% drop following its monster opening a week ago, and domestic cume of $226.6M. Its international cume is now $100.0M and its worldwide cume is $326.6M. On IMAX, it took in $4.3M domestic from 180 theaters, and $1 million overseas from 47 theaters, for a global cume of $19.5M. “To infinity … and beyond!”
2. Sony Pictures’ Grown Ups scored the third highest grossing 3-day weekend opening of Adam Sandler’s career with $41M. It continues his near-perfect string of 6 films over $40M and 10 films over $34M weekend comedy openings. It finished with a strong 2nd place after opening to $14.5M Friday and $14.8M Saturday from 3,434 locations. ”Adam has been one of the most consistently performing summer box office draws for over a decade,” one Sony exec emailed me. (But only so long as he’s in raunchy pictures featuring fart jokes.) The audience breakdown was 47%/53% male-female with the demo 52%/48% under-over age 25. The film earned an A- Cinemascore for audiences 18 and younger. Tracking had been strong, but even the studio didn’t expect this poorly reviewed frolic to pass Click’s $40M. I credit the marketable ensemble cast including Kevin James but also Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider. The cast helped promote the film starting as far back as the Super Bowl to NASCAR events as well as the MTV Movie Awards, the CMT Country Music Awards, and a series of promotions during the recent NBA Finals for ABC and ESPN and this weekend’s sell-out Yankees versus Dodgers series. Additionally, the outdoor marketing campaign used actual photos of the principal cast as 12 years old boys. Sony is claiming a negative cost of only $70M. How much do bathing suits cost anyway?
3. Twentieth Century Fox’s Knight And Day now sits in 3rd place with a slightly better-than-expected $20.5M for the 3-day weekend and $27.7M for its 5-day cume from 3,098 theaters. The pic took in $6.3M Friday and $8M Saturday. So no one inside Building 88 will be horribly embarrassed, which is all the Fox studio execs ensconced there care about. Especially after the pic received a failing grade of only $3.8M when it opened Wednesday in 3,043 venues (when $5+M would have been passable) and -9% for $3.4M Thursday for only a weak $7.2M cume going into today. Yet this is the kind of $117M rom-com ($107M with the Massachusetts tax breaks, split among New Regency, Fox, and Dune) that should have grossed $35+M easy. “It’s an original movie aimed at adults that is really good,” a Fox exec insisted to me. “It takes longer to catch on with audiences. And this movie is doing that.”
Then again, I have rarely seen Hollywood so transfixed on a movie before it opened. But with starry casting, and promotion aplenty, everything about this pic was high-profile – so a spotlight comes with the territory. (Those stunts for junketing journalists in Spain cost a fortune but translated into media value.) Plus, Fox is the studio Hollywood loves to hate, even more so after the insane success of Avatar, because it regularly takes medium-budget mediocre movies and makes big hits out of them because of killer marketing. Knight And Day should have been no exception. But the media keep gunning for Tom Cruise post-Oprah’s couch and wishing him to fail. Cameron Diaz becomes guilty by association because she can’t open a movie. And the weeks of poor tracking on this pic so unnerved the studio that it made a big PR deal of sneaking the film last weekend to counter the bad buzz building up.
The truth is that the film does play. Although once classy James Mangold should find different representation for letting him direct this long-in-development-hell Joe Roth produced drek. The script passed through the hands of 9 writers as well as Mangold who did an uncredited polish. (At one point titled Trouble Man And Wichita, and then just Wichita, it was Fox film boss Tom Rothman who came up with the treacly Knight And Day.) For that matter, I don’t understand why Cruise did the movie either, especially when he had so many better bake-off options back in February 2009. Like The Tourist, now starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Back then it would have paired Tom Cruise with Charlize Theron and put him again with Valkyrie scribe Chris McQuarrie. But I digress.
I’m told test screenings were troubled, with audiences cruelly complaining that Tom Cruise is “weird” and Cameron Diaz is “old”. And yet Tom Rothman and Emma Watts were buoyed that they got the pair for bargain basement prices, especially since Tom is still a huge star internationally. Knight And Day opened this weekend in 12 mostly small overseas markets – 8 in Asia/Pacific, 2 in Latin America and 2 in Europe. The film earned $12.6M on 2,238 screens and opened #1 in Russia, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Hong Kong. But most openings are in the middle of July after the World Cup.
The public may pile on Cruise for the movie’s domestic underplay, but Hollywood thinks responsibility lies with Tony Sella’s and Pam Levine’s marketing suckfest. The one-sheet graphic didn’t even show the stars’ faces, the trailers ”made the movie look a USA Network TV show”, to quote one rival maven, and the lame line that it’s “Tom Cruise at his Jerry Maguire best” compares apples to oranges. On the other hand, I hear Rothman micromanaged the movie down to approving publicity stills and picking the release date, while Cruise pushed to have the pic sold as Mission Impossible 4. I can’t wait for The Blame Game to be played on Monday morning because there’s plenty to go around. Read More »