Will Smith and Hancock Deliver the Goods
By John Hamann
July 6, 2008
Will Smith, the King of July, has gone to the Independence Day well with success again, despite some serious challenges with Hancock, his latest summer spectacle. The $150 million Sony production opened on Tuesday night, and showed Smith's usual earning power over the first five days of Hancock's release. Bigger news came this weekend from the holdovers, as WALL-E and Wanted both struggled due to Independence Day landing on Friday, forcing them to compete with fireworks and barbecues on America's birthday.
Will Smith really is the King of Independence Day. The Fresh Prince has had five July 4th openers, and all except one (Wild Wild West) were mega earners (the others are Men in Black, Independence Day and Men in Black II). Those four films earned a combined $181 million over the three-day portions of their Independence Day weekends, and amassed $861 million in domestic grosses over their runs. Don't forget that all of those films were released prior to the end of 2002, so inflation would catapult those totals toward the $1 billion mark. Smith has shied away from movies released on Independence Day as of late, maybe due to the so-so success of Men in Black II. That movie failed to reach $200 million domestic, despite being highly anticipated. Suffice it to say that expectations were high for Hancock heading into the weekend.
Our number one film of the weekend is Hancock, Sony's story of the anti-superhero that is tailored toward the Will Smith brand of comedy. Despite some disheartening reviews, Hancock still opened strongly over Tuesday and Wednesday, as the not-so-superhero pulled in $6.8 million from limited showings on Tuesday, and an acceptable $17.9 million over its full opening day on Wednesday. Things didn't improve on Thursday (they generally don't for Wednesday openers), as the gross was a push against Wednesday, coming in at about $17.1 million. The good news for Smith, Sony and Hancock was that the superhero story had already earned $40.1 million heading into the meat of the weekend. For Will Smith, Hancock's early totals trailed only his sci-fi extravaganza Independence Day, which earned $45.9 million prior to the weekend. All eyes were on Friday, as Hancock had to step up against activities surrounding July 4th, and still put in a good showing.
As BOP's Tim Briody reported yesterday, the Friday figure for Hancock came in at an impressive $18.8 million, Will Smith's biggest Friday save for Men in Black II, which earned $19.8 million on its first Friday, the day after Independence Day. Hancock then improved on Saturday to roughly $25 million, and finished the three-day portion of the weekend with an estimated $66 million, and a super five-day gross of $107.3 million. It had a weekend multiplier of 3.51, which is slightly higher than normal due to the impact of the July 4th holiday landing on the Friday. It had an excellent venue average of $16,646 from 3,965 screens across North America. Hancock failed to best any of the July 4th records currently held by Spider-Man 2 at $88 million (three-day) and Transformers at $155 million (five-day). Does Sony care? Not in the least, as this gross is right in Will Smith's wheelhouse, and had to be what they were banking on. It may even have been higher than they hoped.