Speed Racer Goes off the Tracks
By David Mumpower
May 11, 2008
Two new releases entered the marketplace this weekend, sharing the same goal. Each wanted to steal Iron Man's momentum after only seven days in theaters. Given the $102 million start Robert Downey's Jr. blockbuster had on the competition, this appeared to be an ambitious goal, but upsets happen at the cineplex. Was this to be such a weekend? Don't be ridiculous.
Jon Favreau likes to tell the story about how Downey came to be cast in Iron Man. The story goes that when the director was given a list of prospective actors to portray Tony Stark in the $135 million adaptation, he disliked all of them. When someone suggested Downey, Favreau promptly warmed to the idea. Then, he dismissed it out of hand due to the obvious overhead that comes with hiring a recently jailed actor with a well chronicled substance abuse problem. Over time, however, the actor/director came to realize that he had yet to hear a name that intrigued him as much as Downey, and he somehow managed to convince the people at Marvel Studios footing the bill to give him a chance.
The rest, as we say, has become box office history. Iron Man won its second straight weekend, following last weekend's $98 million (or $102 million depending on how we divide up the Thursday evening sneaks) performance with another $50.5 million. Its ten-day total stands at $177.1 million. After becoming the second best non-sequel opening of all time seven days ago, Iron Man has fallen a respectable 51% in weekend two. The obvious question is how this compares to other $100 million openers. Let's examine the data.
There have been ten movies to earn over $100 million. Here are how each of these titles performed in their second frames. Spider-Man 3, the all-time record holder, fell 61.5% to $58.2 million. Its original predecessor, Spider-Man, fell only 37.8% to $71.4 million. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest fell 54.0% to $62.3 million. Its direct sequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, fell 61.5% to $44.2 million. Shrek 2 currently lays claim to the best second weekend of all-time. It fell an exemplary 33.2% to $72.2 million. Shrek the Third was less successful, falling 56.4% to $53.0 million. The only Star Wars film currently in the top ten openers, Revenge of the Sith, fell a solid 49.1% to $55.2 million. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire fell 46.5% to $54.7 million. So, this grouping of 50-60% is the range for acceptable to good performances. The worst holdover of the bunch is X-Men: The Last Stand, which fell 66.9% to $34.0 million.
As you can see, Iron Man is third from the bottom in terms of actual dollars, but that is okay given the fact that it was last in actual dollars last weekend. What is important is the percentage drop, and Iron Man is squarely in the middle in this regard. There had been hope that Iron Man was going to do quite a bit better than this, particularly given the glowing praise the movie has received from critics and audiences alike, but this second weekend performance should be more than acceptable to Iron Man. If we stand back and think it over for a broader perspective, this Marvel release has done about as much in its second weekend as both Fantastic Four films did in their first weekends. It has exceeded the openings of Daredevil and Ghost Rider as well, and all of these titles were considered hits.