Deja Vu All Over Again
By David Mumpower
February 10, 2008
Five years ago this weekend, a $50 million romantic comedy starring bongo-loving hippy Matthew McConaughey and spawn-of-Hawn Kate Hudson shocked box office observers by finishing in first place for the weekend. The title was How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and its $23.8 million debut was enough for an upset victory over the heavily favored Jackie Chan/Owen Wilson sequel, Shanghai Knights.
Fast forward to now and we see that North American audiences warmed to the idea of a de facto sequel. Fool's Gold, a Romancing the Stone for the 2000s, has won the weekend with an estimated $22 million. It bears noting that this performance is not as good as the 2003 film's in terms of actual dollars, but the difference is a bit more dramatic when we adjust 10 Days for ticket price inflation. Its performance would be about $26.4 million in current box office dollars. Still, Warner Bros. has to be quite pleased with the fact that their marketing campaign succeeded. The trailers coerced a significant portion of the $105.8 million worth of people who went to see How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days into believing that they would get more of the same here.
Given the perceived difference in quality between the two titles, this is an impressive feat. The 2003 Paramount release was hardly a critical darling, receiving a 42% rotten score at RottenTomatoes.com. Amazingly, Fool's Gold is looking up wistfully at that performance. Its rotten score of 11% means that eight out of every nine critics who saw it wanted to commit atrocities upon the movie's producers. BOP's staff would settle for ten minutes of good ol' fashioned torches and pitchforks on McConaughey (we still give Hudson a pass due to Almost Famous, but that alibi is starting to wear thin).
The $22 million earned by Fool's Gold represents the expected total for a solid first quarter winner in 2008. The Bucket List managed $19.4 million in its first weekend. National Treasure: Book of Secrets won the first weekend of 2008 with $20.1 million. And Meet the Spartans made $18.5 million on the third weekend of the year. Sure, there have been the two outliers, Cloverfield with its January record $40.1 million and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds with $31.1 million. After six weeks of data, however, it's clear that upper teens/lower twenties is the range for a mid-ranged hit. So, the producers of Fool's Gold have to be quite pleased with their trick of promoting a dog of a movie into a solid performer. Its per-venue average of $7,043 isn't anything to write home about, but then again, all of our expectations on that subject are a bit jaded after what Hannah Montana did last weekend.
As was the case last weekend, a second respectable opener had its thunder stolen a bit by a bigger debut above it. For the first week of February, that film was The Eye, a title we'll discuss in a moment. This weekend, the title was Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins, a well intended comedy about a famous talk show host who returns home for his parents' 50th anniversary. When he gets there, he realizes that celebrity and fortune do not impress the people who knew him when he was just an awkward boy. That's the thing about family in the south, the setting for Roscoe Jenkins. They remember all of your imperfections and failings no matter how much you try to leave them in the past. The idea of Martin Lawrence repeatedly getting his comeuppance struck a chord with $17.1 worth of consumers, giving the production a per-venue average of $7,175. While it is nowhere near Lawrence's best debut, the reality is that he hasn't been as good at carrying titles in the 2000s as he had been in the 1990s. So, I see this opening as a step in the right direction for his career. It's not like Will Smith is answering his calls about Bad Boys III, anyway.