It was a strange weekend for new releases. Two new arrivals were on the heels of movie properties that were mega hits for their prospective studios. There was Due Date, Todd Phillips' R-rated comedy and his first new movie after the very successful The Hangover. Working in his favor was that he had both Zach Galifianakis, whose visibility increased because of his supporting role in The Hangover, and Robert Downey Jr., who has suddenly become an A-list star because of his franchise hits Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man. The caveat, however, was timing. When The Hangover was released it went on to become one of the biggest surprises of summer 2009. Due Date is a fall release, it's R-rated and those two traits don't mesh well together. Add the pitiful critic responses (39% on RT) - not truly awful, but not that great either - and you have a case where audiences weren't rushing to see this odd couple pairing. Still, even if the release was mistimed for fall, it managed to place silver this weekend with an opening of $33.5 million. Walking out of the screening last week, I didn't have the same reaction as I did The Hangover, which I figured would have strong legs because of word-of-mouth praise. Guess we'll just have to wait and see what Phillips has in store with The Hangover 2, arriving summer 2011.
Clearly the big winner this fall is Paramount Pictures. Distributing the DreamWorks Animation release, Megamind, this weekend, it continues a string of hits. In September, they scored big returns for Jackass 3D and Paranormal Activity 2. During the spring, DreamWorks had a box-office hit with How to Train Your Dragon. That film opened with strong critical praise and a weekend take of $43.7 million. Megamind, though not nearly as strong with critics, opened at $47.65 million. After Zack Synder's experiment with Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole failed to find much of an audience, this DreamWorks Animation release helped to fill a void where entertainment for children was lacking. Even with the strong debut, Megamind better make its money fast because a wizard named Harry is about to put a spell on parents and kids alike.
Placing third this weekend was the latest from Tyler Perry. Dropping the "Tyler Perry presents" from his titles, the writer/producer/director adapts a thirty-five-year-old stage play to respectable results. Though it wasn't the hit of say one of his Madea films, For Colored Girls still managed $20 million from a total of 2,127 locations. Next to the Saw franchise, Perry is Lionsgate's best bet in terms of generating solid returns at the fraction of the cost of other productions.
With these three new releases earning $100 million collectively, this start to the holiday season witnessed a new all-time record for the first weekend of November.
Holding steady in its fourth weekend was Summit Entertainment's Red. It added another $8.8 million to bring its total to $71.8 million so far. I can't see it making $100 million domestically, but it could make to $90 million if it can stretch its legs against the likes of Dwayne Johnson's Faster and The Next Three Days. Dropping 63.6% is last week's first place finisher Saw 3D from Lionsgate. Yep, Halloween is officially over. At $7.2 million, the drop-off should be massive next week as well. I wonder what the over-under for Saw's chances of even being in the top 10 next weekend.
Paramount's $3 million Paranormal Activity 2 passed $75 million in three weeks. So while the Saw films may be done, I fully expect a third PA to be greenlit any day now. The other Paramount hit, Jackass 3D keeps chugging along. Now its gross is $110 million. You can bet that the studio will want another one of these yukfests as soon as the bruises fade away and the swelling goes down for Johnny Knoxville and the rest of the Jackass crew. Though, there's always Jackass: The Next Generation. But who could possibly take over for these guys?
Children and manchildren may have had a hold on the box office this weekend, but adult fare continues to perform well. Clint Eastwood is an institution, we all know that, so when he makes a new film they tend to be must-see viewing for older audiences. Hereafter, his latest, didn't get a massive roll out in theaters, since it played in limited release its first weekend, but the $50 million film has made $28.7 million so far. Of late, Eastwood's films have a slow burn, quietly bringing in audiences week after week. The film finished its fourth week of release, but it could definitely stick around in the box office mix, top 10 or 15 at least, for a few more weekends.
The last two in the top ten are films that have been leaping over each other as they steadily make their way down the list. Disney's Secretariat has shown that it has legs even if its returns are hovering around $50 million. It's been getting some Oscar talk, not much, for Diane Lane's performance but I have the feeling that a nomination isn't going to happen for her this year. But stranger things have happened. Finishing a few hundred thousand short of a ninth place finish is David Fincher's The Social Network. Sitting at $85 million after six weeks, expect this one to surge up the list once it gets is Oscar nominations.
In limited release, Danny Boyle's 127 Hours played on four screens in New York and L.A. and sold out many showings on its way to grossing $265,925. That's an incredible $66,481 per-theater-average. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest had a 16% drop in attendance on its way to making $737k. On 46 screens, Doug Liman‘s inspired by a true story Fair Game grossed $700k to finish in fifteenth position on the box office list. No word on if Summit Entertainment will treat this as their Hurt Locker this year, but the film will need all the help it can get it, especially if audiences to believe the potential Oscar talk for stars Sean Penn and Naomi Watts. And finally there's Four Lions, the Alamo Drafthouse's first foray into film distribution. The comedy played on eight screens and earned $45k.
1. Megamind - $47.65 million
2. Due Date - $33.5 million
3. For Colored Girls - $20 million
4. Red - $8.8 million ($71.8 million)
5. Saw 3D - $8.2 million ($38 million)
6. Paranormal Activity 2- $7.2 million ($77.2 million)
7. Jackass 3D - $5.09 million ($110.8 million)
8. Hereafter - $4 million ($28,7 million)
9. Secretariat - $4.02 million ($50.9 million)
10. The Social Network - $3.6 million ($85 million)
Box Office estimates taken from Box Office Mojo.