It's a lazy weekend at the box office, what with the Olympics winding down, snow in the Northeast, and openers – that at least on paper – don't look so hot. It leaves the door open for last weekend's big winner, Shutter Island, to repeat on top. Speaking of repeats, that weekend result would be a repeat of last year, when Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail finished on top for the second straight weekend despite a drop of over 60%. We're not afraid to say it – moviegoing starts for real in 2010 next weekend when Alice in Wonderland opens in 3D. Simply put, moviegoers have been asleep while Avatar has been doing all of its repeat business, and not even The Crazies can snap us out of our slumbers.
Cop Out, Crazies, Voted Off Shutter Island
By John Hamann
February 28, 2010
The number one film this weekend is Shutter Island, as the Marty Scorsese flick repeats at number one. The Leo DiCaprio film opened last weekend with $41.1 million, and didn't really behave like a horror movie. It opened on Friday to $14.1 million, and actually increased on Saturday to $16.3 million. This is definitely not the norm for horror flicks. All too often, horror flicks open large on Friday due to horror fanboys (and fangirls), as well as the date movie crowd. They then slip away for the rest of the weekend, never seeing the height of that Friday number again. Likely due to Scorsese himself, Shutter Island was able to move away from that norm, and would have given Paramount some hope that Shutter Island might have some decent legs, and turn the $80 million film into a big profit center. The only opener playing in the same genre this weekend is The Crazies, and Paramount likely thought similarly as I did last weekend (from last weekend's Wrap: "and Overture Films rolls out The Crazies, which looks interesting, but is most likely awful"). Turns out that The Crazies isn't awful at all, and the shrewd Overture launched a viral campaign that increased awareness significantly heading into its opening frame.
In the end, Shutter Island grossed a strong-for-horror $22.2 million, which means the spooker drops only 46% compared to last weekend. The weekend-to-weekend drop is key in this conversation. Paramount would have been hoping for a better hold; however, the plunge is actually quite good given the genre, and considering there is some negative word-of-mouth coming out of last weekend's screenings (too long, not engaging etc). Horror films tend to drop 60% or more so this decline is quite good compared to Shutter Island's genre brethren. Could the drop have been better? At Box Office Prophets, we don't tend to buy into the "competition hurts" idea. While I don't believe competition hurts openers, I will listen to the argument that competition can hurt holdovers. The Crazies really could have been a $6 million opening footnote in box office lore, but it ended up much stronger than that, and I believe took some business away from Shutter Island. And while a small amount of business shouldn't hurt a big grosser like Shutter Island, losing money in the second weekend is like losing time at the top of the bobsled run, it affects every weekend that follows. Shutter Island has a gross so far of $75.1 million against an $80 million budget, and should have no problem clearing $100 million in a few short weekends.
In a battle between Cop Out and The Crazies for second, Cop Out unfortunately comes out on top. The Kevin Smith helmed film, stars Bruce "I will work for food" Willis, and Tracy Morgan, who just needs a decent a vehicle to break out. A decent vehicle this is not, and only the usual suspects showed up to watch the film, giving Cop Out a weekend gross of $18.6 million from 3,150 venues. The Warner Bros. flick had a venue average of $5,894, and was whipped by The Crazies in at least that department. For Bruce Willis, this is his best opening since Live Free or Die Hard ($33.4 million opening), but discounting that and animated work, we have to go back to 2005's Sin City opening ($29.1 million) for a better result. Since Sin City, Willis has appeared in 12 films, so you get an understanding of where his opening average is these days. For director Kevin Smith, his worst work has proved to be his biggest opening weekend. Smith's biggest opening before Cop Out came in 2001, when Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back opened to $11 million. It's amazing that such a big name in Hollywood finally gets his biggest opening (at $18 million) after releasing 11 films, where the biggest earner made just over $30 million at the domestic box office. Unfortunately for Smith, Cop Out's 19% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes marks the lowest rating of the director's career. I guess that proves that in Hollywood, crap pays. It will pay for Warner Bros. as well, as the budget for Cop Out came in at only $30 million, which means this one will likely make money for the studio.
Third spot goes to Overture Films' The Crazies, a remake of the George Romero classic. Once thought to be horror movie roadkill, fantastic reviews and an excellent marketing campaign for The Crazies turned it from a $6-$7 million opener into a $16.5 million opener. The Crazies earned that from only 2,476 venues, which gives it a solid venue average of $6,670. From director Breck Eisner, son of Michael Eisner and director of Sahara, The Crazies not only opened well for a horror remake, the reviews were to die for. At RottenTomatoes, 102 reviews were counted, and of those, a shocking 72 were fresh, giving it a fresh rating of 72%, something never seen in horror remakes. Using an example like October 2009's The Stepfather, The Crazies both outgrossed and out-reviewed it. The Stepfather opened to $11.6 million, and came in at a laughable 11% fresh at RT. March 2009's Last House on the Left opened to $14 million and was 45% fresh. The remake of The Hitcher in 2007 opened to $7.8 million and was 19% fresh. A film like The Crazies will give horror fans hope that their classic films can be remade into decent movies – that it is possible. This one cost only $20 million to make, so expect to see a sequel before you know it.
Fourth goes to Avatar, as it spends its last weekend as the only film in release in 3D. Avatar earned another $14 million in its 11th weekend and has another sublime drop of only 14%. Next weekend becomes really interesting for Avatar, as Tim Burton and Alice in Wonderland are coming to a 3-D theatre near you, and reviews are already strong. How far will Avatar fall over the weekend that precedes Oscar night – 50%? 60%? Avatar crossed the $700 million mark on Saturday, its 72nd day of release. Where Avatar ends up will depend on the next two weekends ahead, but for now it should celebrate earning $706.9 million so far.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief moves down one spot to fifth this weekend, but has a much better hold than its 51% plunge last weekend. The Lightning Thief earned another $9.8 million and dropped a much better 36%. The $95 million Fox film now has a running total of $71.2 million, and could still see $100 million before the end of its run, but Alice In Wonderland may have something to say about that.
Valentine's Day drops to sixth, as the bad film that fell 70% last weekend falls four spots from second place. Valentine's Day earned $9.5 million in its third frame, and dropped 43%. The Warner Bros. flick has now earned $100.4 million against a budget of only $52 million.
Dear John has turned into a big win for Screen Gems, as it sits in seventh after four weekends of release. Dear John earned only $4.1 million (falling 30%), but has a gross so far of $72.6 million. As bad as it is, Dear John cost its makers only $25 million, and it looks to finish with about $85 million.
Eighth goes to a very sad Wolf Man, as Universal's idea to bring back the big horror monsters of old has flopped. The Wolf Man earned only $4.1 million and dropped a nasty 58% after dipping 69% last weekend. After opening to $31.5 million, the $150 million Wolf Man can only muster a running total of $57.2 million.
Tooth Fairy manages a ninth place finish this weekend – its sixth – as The Rock has managed to keep this one in the top ten for a long time, despite both the idea and the film being completely awful. This weekend, Tooth Fairy earned $3.5 million and dropped 21%. The $48 million Fox film has now pulled in $53.9 million.
Tenth goes to Crazy Heart, the film with a good shot for a Best Actor win for Jeff Bridges next week. Crazy Heart earned $2.5 million and dropped 11%. The $7 million Fox Searchlight flick has now taken in $25.1 million.
Overall, the box office is way up over last year. In 2009, Tyler Perry was repeating on top with Madea Goes to Jail, as the Jonas Brothers concert movie flopped. A year ago, the top 12 films brought in $87.2 million. This year, with a strong top six, the box office took in $108.1 million. This sets up for a strong weekend in the next frame, when Alice In Wonderland comes to town.