Comedies Rule Pre-Summer Box Office
By John Hamann
April 27, 2008
Finishing second is Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the follow up to the very funny (and somewhat strange) Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Harold and Kumar earned $14.6 million this weekend, which is a tad short of what the White Castle film did over its entire run ($18.2 million total). Like Baby Mama, the venue count wasn't huge at 2,510, so Harold and Kumar escape with a venue average of $5,805. So why does a movie that opened to $5 million and only earned a domestic total of $18.2 million get a sequel? DVD sales. The original flick, after quietly disappearing from theaters, ended up with $60 million in DVD sales and rentals, which officially raised the status of Harold and Kumar to cult heroes. Now, both Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are turning into big stars. Escape from Guantanomo Bay will help both; however, Penn has already appeared in two Van Wilder movies, Superman Returns, and is now a regular player on the TV series House. John Cho is all about the future. Cho plays Sulu in the upcoming JJ Abrams take on Star Trek, due for release in 2009.
Review-wise, Harold and Kumar was another quiet surprise this weekend. The first film in the series was a very surprising 72% fresh, an out of this world rating for a stoner flick. The second film couldn't keep up with the first, but still did well nonetheless, especially considering the comedy hammers at the neo-cons throughout the movie. Escape from Guantanamo Bay finished with a 58% rating, but the top reviewers came in at 61% fresh. Some sites list the production budget for this one at only $6 million, but even at $15 million, this is still a big win for distributor Warner Bros., who picked it up when New Line went in the toilet.
It was a duel for third between last weekend's debuting films, Forbidden Kingdom and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, despite a $4 million spread after totals were counted last frame. Third goes to Forbidden Kingdom, the martial arts flick with Jet Li and Jackie Chan. Forbidden Kingdom picked up another $11.2 million and was off a hefty 48% from its debut. For Jet Li, the drop may be hefty, but it's much better than some of his previous films like Unleashed/Danny the Dog (62% second weekend drop), War (57% drop), and Cradle 2 the Grave (60% drop). Forbidden Kingdom should finish with about $60 million.
Fourth, of course, is Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which had a much better hold than Forbidden Kingdom. Sarah Marshall, the latest Judd Apatow comedy, earned $11 million in its second weekend and was off a decent 38%, which isn't bad considering Baby Mama entered the fray, taking the female audience with it. The drop is better than Superbad's (45% second weekend drop), is similar to Knocked Up's 36% drop, but higher than that of The 40 Year-Old Virgin (24%). Whatever the drop, this is still a big win for a $30 million film, as the gross so far has reached $35.1 million, and where it goes from here is really anybody's guess, but $75 million isn't out of the question.