Will Smith, the King of July, has gone to the Independence Day well with success again, despite some serious challenges with Hancock, his latest summer spectacle. The $150 million Sony production opened on Tuesday night, and showed Smith's usual earning power over the first five days of Hancock's release. Bigger news came this weekend from the holdovers, as WALL-E and Wanted both struggled due to Independence Day landing on Friday, forcing them to compete with fireworks and barbecues on America's birthday.
Will Smith and Hancock Deliver the Goods
By John Hamann
July 6, 2008
Will Smith really is the King of Independence Day. The Fresh Prince has had five July 4th openers, and all except one (Wild Wild West) were mega earners (the others are Men in Black, Independence Day and Men in Black II). Those four films earned a combined $181 million over the three-day portions of their Independence Day weekends, and amassed $861 million in domestic grosses over their runs. Don't forget that all of those films were released prior to the end of 2002, so inflation would catapult those totals toward the $1 billion mark. Smith has shied away from movies released on Independence Day as of late, maybe due to the so-so success of Men in Black II. That movie failed to reach $200 million domestic, despite being highly anticipated. Suffice it to say that expectations were high for Hancock heading into the weekend.
Our number one film of the weekend is Hancock, Sony's story of the anti-superhero that is tailored toward the Will Smith brand of comedy. Despite some disheartening reviews, Hancock still opened strongly over Tuesday and Wednesday, as the not-so-superhero pulled in $6.8 million from limited showings on Tuesday, and an acceptable $17.9 million over its full opening day on Wednesday. Things didn't improve on Thursday (they generally don't for Wednesday openers), as the gross was a push against Wednesday, coming in at about $17.1 million. The good news for Smith, Sony and Hancock was that the superhero story had already earned $40.1 million heading into the meat of the weekend. For Will Smith, Hancock's early totals trailed only his sci-fi extravaganza Independence Day, which earned $45.9 million prior to the weekend. All eyes were on Friday, as Hancock had to step up against activities surrounding July 4th, and still put in a good showing.
As BOP's Tim Briody reported yesterday, the Friday figure for Hancock came in at an impressive $18.8 million, Will Smith's biggest Friday save for Men in Black II, which earned $19.8 million on its first Friday, the day after Independence Day. Hancock then improved on Saturday to roughly $25 million, and finished the three-day portion of the weekend with an estimated $66 million, and a super five-day gross of $107.3 million. It had a weekend multiplier of 3.51, which is slightly higher than normal due to the impact of the July 4th holiday landing on the Friday. It had an excellent venue average of $16,646 from 3,965 screens across North America. Hancock failed to best any of the July 4th records currently held by Spider-Man 2 at $88 million (three-day) and Transformers at $155 million (five-day). Does Sony care? Not in the least, as this gross is right in Will Smith's wheelhouse, and had to be what they were banking on. It may even have been higher than they hoped.
Hancock did have some difficulties heading into the weekend, but audiences swiped them away, counting on Smith to entertain them no matter what. Hancock's first trouble came with some nasty reviews. When a film has a five (or some might say six) day opening, reviews and word-of-mouth can have an impact due to the fact that it does take some time to get to what I call "the meat of the weekend" (Friday and Saturday). Reviews come out, have some time to swirl (especially over a slow news week), and word-of-mouth runs fast and furious, especially for a movie like Hancock, which had some big audiences from Tuesday-to-Thursday. Negative word didn't seem to rear its ugly head with Hancock, though. Its Tuesday-to-Sunday pattern represents a more positive reaction, at least at this early stage. RottenTomatoes counted 159 reviews, and only 57 were fresh, leaving 102 negative reviews. That gives Hancock a rotten rating of 36%, which is right around where Men in Black II finished. Will Smith is a strong enough presence to be able to turn films of questionable quality into successes. He's done it again with Hancock.
The bigger story this weekend may be the results from our sophomore choices, WALLl-E and Wanted. Again, BOP's Saturday update reported Friday-to-Friday plunges of 61% and 72% for WALL-E and Wanted respectively; however, the impact of July 4th landing on a Friday this year is duly noted. Obviously, WALL-E finished second this weekend and was able to recover from its Friday plunge, earning $33.4 million over the weekend, down a still somewhat troubling 47%.
A year ago, Ratatouille opened on the same weekend as WALL-E, to a much lower score ($47 million versus Wall-E's fantastic $63 million opening). Ratatouille dropped only 38% in its second weekend. The difference is that July 4th was a weekday last year, while Ratatouille was a Pixar example of stellar word-of-mouth - a beautiful example of a title that didn't seem to lend itself to being a movie for the masses (which of course it was). WALL-E's other problem was the simple rule of the bigger they come, the harder they fall. Cars opened to a similar $60.1 million, and fell 44% in its second weekend, which was just a quiet weekend in June with no holiday to deal with. I think Pixar and Disney will be quite pleased with the second weekend of WALL-E. It now has a ten-day total of $128.1 million, crossing the $100 million mark on Friday, its eighth day of release. That ties Finding Nemo as the fastest Pixar flick to reach $100 million. WALL-E will have no problem becoming Pixar's seventh film to earn $200 million.
Wanted is a bit of a different story. After being off a whopping 72% from Friday-to-Friday, Wanted was only able to come back to a drop of 60%, as it earned $20.6 million after opening to an amazing $50.9 million last weekend. As we all know, Wanted is definitely no kids' flick. With Hancock giving it some serious competition, along with July 4th falling on Friday, the Angelina Jolie movie didn't have a lot of room to work this weekend and paid for it dearly. Films for adults need to work hard on Friday and Saturday nights, because Sundays don't help much, and these types of films don't play as well on Saturday afternoons. So, considering what it was up against (competition doesn't hurt the opener, it hurts the holdovers), Universal should still be very happy with the performance so far from Wanted. It cost $75 million to make, and has earned $90.8 million after only ten days. Eddie Murphy's Meet Dave and Journey to the Center of the Earth shouldn't hurt it too badly next weekend, but it definitely has some direct competition in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, which targets the same audience.
The excitement slows as we move down to fourth, as Get Smart is now in its third weekend and is beginning to fade. After earning $20 million in its sophomore frame, Get Smart slipped another 45% (there's that July 4th impact again), finishing the weekend with a gross of $11.1 million. So far, the Steve Carell effort has earned $98.1 million against a budget of $80 million, and sometime this week, Get Smart will be Carell's sixth $100 million film.
Slipping one spot to fifth is Kung Fu Panda, as the Paramount/DreamWorks title continues to hold on. Panda earned $7.5 million in its fifth weekend, and the $130 million investment is proving to be worth it. The Jack Black/Angelina Jolie-voiced film fell 36% and now has a cumulative total of $193.4 million. This one is a lock to be our third summer film to beat the $200 million mark.
Sixth goes to The Incredible Hulk, which has struggled since opening. After drops of 60% and 57% in previous weekends, this Hulk continues to fall fast. This weekend, the big green guy fell 48% to $5 million. The domestic total has reached $124.9 million, but the better news is that The Incredible Hulk has surpassed $200 million in worldwide sales. The Ang Lee version finished with about $250 million worldwide, a mark The Incredible Hulk should be able to meet.
Seventh spot goes to Mr. Never Say Die, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Indy earned another $3.9 million and fell only 23%. It has now earned $306.6 million, and is sneaking up on Iron Man for top film so far this summer, as Iron Man has earned approximately $310 million so far.
Finishing a disappointing eighth is Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. The Abigail Breslin kids' flick earned only $3.6 million, albeit from a small 1,843 venues. It had a rough venue average of $1,954. After two weekends with impressive limited release scores, Kit found herself up with the big kids this weekend, dealing with WALL-E and Kung Fu Panda. Still, this small, $10 million film from executive producer Julia Roberts is still going to be a small win for PictureHouse. This one is 79% fresh at RottenTomatoes, and if it doesn't win at movie theatres, I think it will definitely succeed on home video.
Ninth goes to Sex and the City, as Sarah Jessica Parker and friends spend their last weekend in the top ten. Sex earned another $2.3 million and was off 38% from the previous frame. This $65 million film from New Line is truly a massive hit, as it has earned $144.9 million so far and already has over $200 million in overseas sales. And to think - people laughed when I compared Sex and the City to The Simpsons Movie!
Finishing tenth this weekend is You Don't Mess With the Zohan, as it just edges out the horror of The Love Guru and an Iron Man return to the top ten. Zohan earned $2 million and was off 37%. It has now earned $94.8 million.
Overall, things aren't as good as they have been in previous weekends, as July 4th lands on Friday and the top film at this time last year was the behemoth Transformers. Last year, over the July 6th-8th weekend, Transformers earned $70.5 million, and the top 12 brought in $165.5 million. This year, with Hancock on top, the top 12 brought in a still respectable $158.7 million. Next weekend may be another tough year-over-year competition, as last year's Harry Potter flick competes with Meet Dave from Eddie Murphy, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Hellboy II.