Wolverine Warms Summer Box Office
By John Hamann
May 3, 2009
Getting back to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this one did not build on third film in terms of opening weekend, but that wasn't expected, considering only one character came over from the first set of films. For Hugh Jackman, the Wolverine success only further solidifies the trend that this guy can only score good opening weekends as that character, as the 2009 Oscar host has struggled away from Wolverine. Fans of the series can't be overly happy with this effort either – RottenTomatoes gathered 176 reviews for this one, and only 66 were fresh, leaving Wolverine with a fresh rating of 38% - and in even worse news, this one could repel non-fans, as the "top critics" at RottenTomatoes found this one to be only 15% fresh, with only five positive reviews out of 33. With the May we have ahead of us, legs aren't going to matter anyway, as Wolfy is going to get absolutely crushed by Spock and Co. next weekend.
As my last point on this, I want to talk about the elephant in the room, the leaked copy of the film that landed on the Internet. Did the leak hurt the opening weekend of the Wolverine? My opinion on this is that Fox leaked the copy onto the Internet themselves, causing headlines around the world for their upcoming film. The only people who were going to seek this out on the web are fanboys who will most likely show up again to see the film on the big screen. The leak turns into something much like promotional screenings, creating news and word-of-mouth. Turns out that no one was caught for stealing the film in the first place, which leaves me wondering about the culprit. So did the leak hurt Wolverine? In my opinion, no. If anything it helped the launch.
Finishing second this weekend is Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, the new romantic comedy with Matthew McConaughey, someone I once respected as a film actor (Dazed and Confused anyone?). Ghosts, hoping to be seen as legitimate counter-programming against Wolverine and next weekend's Star Trek, opened to $15.3 million this weekend from 3,175 venues. It had a venue average of $4,827. The score to beat this weekend for Ghosts was the $14.8 million that Patrick Dempsey's Made of Honor (shudder) opened to against Iron Man last year. It did that, but couldn't compete with the kings of May counter-programming, What Happens in Vegas ($20 million against the second weekend of Iron Man) and Notting Hill ($21.8 million against the second frame of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace). Thankfully, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past swings significantly under some of McConaughey's other rom-com "efforts" – a term I use loosely. Other examples of his rom-com work include Fool's Gold ($21.6 million opening), Failure to Launch ($24.4 million opening), and How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days ($23.8 million opening).
One thing that is consistent with McConaughey is film quality – his romantic comedies tend to suck. This one came in at 32% fresh, whereas the three I mentioned above average a 26% fresh rating. Sadly, there is no romantic comedy competition for several weekends, so comedy-seeking couples will be stuck with this one for awhile. Girlfriends Past cost Warner Bros. $60 million to make, so it has a lot of work to do in the weekends ahead.