Will Smith and Hancock Deliver the Goods
By John Hamann
July 6, 2008
Hancock did have some difficulties heading into the weekend, but audiences swiped them away, counting on Smith to entertain them no matter what. Hancock's first trouble came with some nasty reviews. When a film has a five (or some might say six) day opening, reviews and word-of-mouth can have an impact due to the fact that it does take some time to get to what I call "the meat of the weekend" (Friday and Saturday). Reviews come out, have some time to swirl (especially over a slow news week), and word-of-mouth runs fast and furious, especially for a movie like Hancock, which had some big audiences from Tuesday-to-Thursday. Negative word didn't seem to rear its ugly head with Hancock, though. Its Tuesday-to-Sunday pattern represents a more positive reaction, at least at this early stage. RottenTomatoes counted 159 reviews, and only 57 were fresh, leaving 102 negative reviews. That gives Hancock a rotten rating of 36%, which is right around where Men in Black II finished. Will Smith is a strong enough presence to be able to turn films of questionable quality into successes. He's done it again with Hancock.
The bigger story this weekend may be the results from our sophomore choices, WALLl-E and Wanted. Again, BOP's Saturday update reported Friday-to-Friday plunges of 61% and 72% for WALL-E and Wanted respectively; however, the impact of July 4th landing on a Friday this year is duly noted. Obviously, WALL-E finished second this weekend and was able to recover from its Friday plunge, earning $33.4 million over the weekend, down a still somewhat troubling 47%.
A year ago, Ratatouille opened on the same weekend as WALL-E, to a much lower score ($47 million versus Wall-E's fantastic $63 million opening). Ratatouille dropped only 38% in its second weekend. The difference is that July 4th was a weekday last year, while Ratatouille was a Pixar example of stellar word-of-mouth - a beautiful example of a title that didn't seem to lend itself to being a movie for the masses (which of course it was). WALL-E's other problem was the simple rule of the bigger they come, the harder they fall. Cars opened to a similar $60.1 million, and fell 44% in its second weekend, which was just a quiet weekend in June with no holiday to deal with. I think Pixar and Disney will be quite pleased with the second weekend of WALL-E. It now has a ten-day total of $128.1 million, crossing the $100 million mark on Friday, its eighth day of release. That ties Finding Nemo as the fastest Pixar flick to reach $100 million. WALL-E will have no problem becoming Pixar's seventh film to earn $200 million.
Wanted is a bit of a different story. After being off a whopping 72% from Friday-to-Friday, Wanted was only able to come back to a drop of 60%, as it earned $20.6 million after opening to an amazing $50.9 million last weekend. As we all know, Wanted is definitely no kids' flick. With Hancock giving it some serious competition, along with July 4th falling on Friday, the Angelina Jolie movie didn't have a lot of room to work this weekend and paid for it dearly. Films for adults need to work hard on Friday and Saturday nights, because Sundays don't help much, and these types of films don't play as well on Saturday afternoons. So, considering what it was up against (competition doesn't hurt the opener, it hurts the holdovers), Universal should still be very happy with the performance so far from Wanted. It cost $75 million to make, and has earned $90.8 million after only ten days. Eddie Murphy's Meet Dave and Journey to the Center of the Earth shouldn't hurt it too badly next weekend, but it definitely has some direct competition in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, which targets the same audience.