Horton Hears the Cash Registers Ring
By John Hamann
March 16, 2008
Horton may be somewhat different than his other releases, as it managed to do something that some of Jim Carrey's other recent films did not - review well. At RottenTomatoes, Horton heard 73 reviewers out of a possible 90 give him a thumbs up, resulting in a super-fresh rating of 81%, and an even better rating of 87% among the nation's top critics. This could mean Horton will be a blockbuster with legs, a rare dinosaur in today's box office world. Horton's internal multiplier (opening weekend divided by Friday gross) was good, as it came in at 3.36 - which is a good figure for a kids flick over an opening frame, and a solid internal multiplier can often mean good legs in film's future.
For Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios, Horton fails to keep pace with Blue Sky's other main franchise, the Ice Age films, which has to be a disappointment, considering the built-in factor of a Dr. Seuss book. In 2002, the original Ice Age flick debuted to $46.3 million and didn't see a 40% plus drop until its seventh weekend of release. It went on to earn $176 million domestic and $382 million worldwide. It spawned a sequel that opened to $68 million, setting the record for a March opening until it was usurped by the mighty 300. I don't see Horton earning $176 million, but I do see it moving toward $150 million. Horton Hears a Who! cost Fox and Blue Sky about $90 million to make, plus prints, advertising, and Jim Carrey showing up on American Idol..
Pulling up in second is 10,000 B.C., as the Warner Bros. critically reviled flick faded badly in its second weekend, falling 54% and earning $16.4 million. After opening to $35.9 million, some thought the drop would be even worse; however, it surprisingly managed to not lose more than 60% of last weekend's audience. The $100 million plus feature has now earned $61.2 million, and it's going to have to be lucky to reach the $100 million plateau at the domestic box office.
Never Back Down finishes third this weekend, but it's well off of where 10,000 B.C. finished. The mixed martial arts flick earned $8.6 million this weekend from 2,729 venues, and performed pretty much to expectations. Never Back Down is somewhat of a throwback to the 1980s, when such films as the Karate Kid and its many sequels flourished. Never Back Down is from Summit Entertainment, an upstart production company/distributor, that along with Buena Vista had a small hit with the Step Up sequel, Step Up 2 the Streets, which has earned about $55 million so far. Critics weren't kind to Never Back Down (but we weren't really looking for Karate Kid scores), as it earned only a 22% fresh score at RottenTomatoes. While I don't have budget data for this one, an educated guess puts it at about $30 million, a figure this one should see after overseas grosses are counted.
College Road Trip finishes fourth, but the kids who took this in over opening weekend failed to tell their friends to go this weekend. College Road Trip, with Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symone, earned $7.9 million, off a rather large 42% from the previous frame. This looks like your standard teen flick, with an opening above $10 million, and a domestic finish below $40 million.