Weekend Wrap-Up

Madagascar Rules Box Office; Role Models Real Winner

By John Hamann

November 9, 2008

Fly the penguin skies.

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While Madagascar 2 is admittedly huge, the story of the weekend should go to Role Models, the slacker comedy with great trailers and TV ads. Role Models is a movie that exceeded all kinds of expectations by grossing $19.4 million over its opening frame, a total that some thought this one would never make in its entire run. From the always inventive Universal, Role Models was tracking to open in the "low single digit millions", so to double that is a huge, huge win. Role Models has a hilarious trailer and a laugh out loud TV ad, which equals dollars during tough economic times, and is almost a celebration after a very long election period. Role Models stars Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott as guys who are forced into community service as big brother types. The flick also stars McLovin from Superbad, which couldn't have hurt ticket sales either. Paul Rudd and director David Wain have worked together quite a bit, and Rudd's association with uber-producer Judd Apatow has made him a household name. Rudd has appeared in five Apatow flicks, and obviously carries some weight at the box office on his own. The biggest winner here is going to be Seann William Scott, who was in need of a hit. His last film that did not premiere on an airplane was Mr. Woodcock with Billy Bob Thornton and Susan Sarandon. That one finished with a low $26 million. Time was definitely running out, with sitcom guest appearances hovering in his future. Unfortunately, budget data is not available for Role Models, but the smart money puts it at about $15 million, meaning Role Models is likely already in the black by the end of next weekend.


High School Musical 3: Senior Year drops from first last weekend to third this weekend, and if I were a Disney investor, I would not be happy with how this film was scheduled. First, the business: HSM3 earned $9.3 million and was off an okay 39% from last weekend, where it got embalmed by Halloween with a drop of 64%. The total so far for the musical sits at $75.7 million against a budget of only $11 million, which is not bad whatsoever. My point is that Disney gave this one away by simply scheduling it poorly. Sure, we can argue that HSM3 might have flamed out anyway after a huge $42 million opening frame, with the kids turning out over opening weekend and then staying away. My question is why a studio, aiming for a very certain demographic, would open this on the weekend before Halloween when scare day is on a Friday, with a sure-to-be-huge kids flick on the weekend following Halloween. The holiday season this year is one big blah, as the writer's strike from last year is finally catching up to Hollywood. High School Musical 3 could have absolutely owned Thanksgiving, or even Christmas for that matter, and could have easily been a $200 million film for Disney. Now, with a simple scheduling mistake, it looks like HSM3 will finish with just a shade over $100 million. At the very least, this is a $50 million mistake, and heads should roll. Really, this is like McCain picking Palin. Why?

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