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Weekend Wrap-Up for April 18-20, 2008

Jet, Jackie and Judd Dominate Box Office

By John Hamann

April 20, 2008

Ah, drunken master. We've missed you.

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Thanks to the first time team up of Jet Li and Jackie Chan, as well as a new product from Judd Apatow, the top 12 films at the box office actually have something to celebrate, something it hasn't been able to do a lot of over the last few months. New films included Forbidden Kingdom, the martial arts kids flick from Lionsgate, Forgetting Sarah Marshall from Universal, and the extremely forgettable 88 Minutes with Al Pacino. Holdovers were devoured, but combined numbers were strong for a weekend this far into April.

Our number one film of the weekend is Forbidden Kingdom, mostly sold as the first team-up of Jackie Chan and Jet Li, but also as a martial arts flick for the younger set, as it carries a PG-13 rating. Forbidden Kingdom did the business that tracking was expecting, plus a little more. Out to 3,151 venues, The Forbidden Kigdom pulled in $20.8 million and carried a venue average of $6,623. Produced by Casey Silver Productions and the all of a sudden super-hot Relativity Media (21, Vantage Point), Forbidden Kingdom is being distributed in North America by Lionsgate, who now has two $20 million plus openers in 2008, the other being Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns. Forbidden Kingdom wasn't cheap to produce, as the production cost came in at $70 million, which meant a $20 million opening was necessary if the domestic finish was going to match the production budget.




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Reviews were better than I thought they would be, and Lionsgate mounted an impressive marketing campaign around the two stars - these were big factors in the opening weekend success of Kingdom. At RottenTomatoes, Forbidden Kingdom just managed to hang on to a fresh rating, with 54 out of 87 reviewers handing out a 62% fresh rating. What might surprise older audiences is the mostly un-marketed story, about a white kid who travels back in time to ancient China. It sounds a bit too much like a Last Action Hero sort of premise, and may cause some excessive drops at the box office in the weeks to come. For now, and especially for April, this is a solid opening, and a great career move for both Li and Chan.

Finishing second is Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the latest raunch-fest from the current King of Comedy, Judd Apatow. Sarah Marshall, just like Forbidden Kingdom, opened almost exactly where tracking had placed it this weekend, with a weekend take of $17.3 million. After two small slip-ups with Drillbit Taylor ($30 million domestic total) and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story ($18.3 million total) producer Judd Apatow is back in his wheelhouse, delivering a raunchy R-rated comedy involving relationships. Like Knocked Up and The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Apatow sweeps nothing under the rug, this time adding full frontal male nudity. Critics love Apatow, and Sarah Marshall is no different. 115 reviewers tuned in to this one, and 98 gave it a thumbs up, leading to a fresh rating of 85%.


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