Silver Surfer Fantastic For Fox
By John Hamann
June 17, 2007
It must be summer. The Fantastic Four sequel got off to a, well, fantastic start this weekend, despite having more than a few things working against it. Millions abandoned their better judgment and flocked to the comic book sequel that doesn't quite achieve Spidey-Standards. Also opening this weekend was Nancy Drew, Warner Bros.' take on the classic mystery solver, as well as DOA: Dead or Alive, which was a different kind of DOA at the box office. The rest of the box office slid like usual, with our one bright spot, Knocked Up, continuing to hold nicely.
Yes, the number one film of the weekend is Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and it is a whether-or-not-I-like-it scenario. The Fantastic Four sequel grossed a ludicrous $57.4 million this weekend from 3,957 venues. It had a theatre average of $14,499. Despite a more-wooden-than-Pinocchio original and a marketing campaign that made me laugh out loud (act, Jessica, act!), somehow the Marvel comic book movie managed to open strongly. It was so strong that it out-grossed the original, which found $56.1 million from 3,602 venues in the summer of 2005. Why the uptick over the first film? The likely answer is having the trailer and promotional materials in theatres that have shown Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End would have helped. Competing against Ocean's Thirteen instead of the War of the Worlds also makes a significant difference. Rise of the Silver Surfer did review slightly better than the original, with 38 reviewers giving this one positive marks out of a possible 99, leaving it with a 38% fresh rating. The original earned a 26% fresh rating and was mocked for months after its release. The original dropped 59% in its second frame, and this one should meet or beat that figure as well. Will Rise of the Silver Surfer earn the $154 million the original did? It should; however, if this one dips more than 60% next weekend, and has another 50% drop in one of the four weekends that follow, it probably won't.
For 20th Century Fox, this is certainly a nice surprise. Most analysts had pegged The Silver Surfer to debut lower than the original. Even our own Weekend Forecast man, Reagen Sulewski, had it pegged to come in below $50 million (my estimate was even lower). The last time Fox had a hit this big was more than a year ago, when X-Men: The Last Stand (another Marvel product), opened to $102 million. Speaking of Marvel, the combined opening totals for their summer of 2007 films - Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - now equal $208.5 million - talk about two for two (and that's not even counting Ghost Rider's $45.4 million opening back in February).
Finishing second is another sequel in Ocean's Thirteen, last weekend's number one film. Ocean's Thirteen did somewhat better than this summer's previous sequels in their respective second weekends. The George Clooney/Brad Pitt extravaganza grossed $19.1 million, as it dropped a comparatively good 47% from last weekend. Warner Bros. benefited from having no major films pushing into the adult demographic, as both the Fantastic Four sequel and Nancy Drew skew very young. The drop this weekend pretty much guarantees Ocean's Thirteen an over-$100 million finish, as the total so far sits at $69.8 million.
Knocked Up gets ahead of those nasty Pirates of the Caribbean and finishes third for the second straight weekend. Knocked Up earned a very strong $14.5 million this weekend, dropping a gorgeous 26%. Director Judd Apatow is cementing his role as the king of the summer comedy, as Knocked Up remains ahead of The 40 Year-Old Virgin after three weekends of release. So far, Knocked Up has earned $90/5 million, where the Steve Carrell flick had earned $68.7 million over the same amount of time. Knocked Up, a $30 million production for Universal, should eventually earn as much as $125 million.