Land of the Lost Lost at Box Office; Hangover Strong
By John Hamann
June 7, 2009
Despite no $100 million openers, or even $50 million openers, this may be the most exciting weekend we've had at the box office for Summer 2009 so far. New openers included Will Ferrell's very expensive Land of the Lost, the scathingly reviewed re-invention of the 1970s kid series; The Hangover, a comedy that actually looks funny, was reviewed well, and starred no one; and My Life in Ruins, Nia Vardolos's attempt at cashing in on the success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, five years too late. It's not often that the cash-grab movie and the star-driven film for idiots fail, while the little guy wins, but that's exactly what happened this weekend.
Our number one film of the weekend is Pixar's Up, and is our first back-to-back weekend winner since Tyler Perry did it with Madea Goes to Jail in February (which was a fluke due to the Jonas Brothers flop), and prior to that we're talking about Paul Blart: Mall Cop in January. Repeating at the top of the box office is not an easy task anymore, especially in the summer movie season. Up has done it, earning $44.2 million and dropping a slim 35% after earning $68.1 million in its opening frame. Up is the first Pixar film since Cars to repeat in top spot; the middle-America 2006 Pixar entry dropped 44% in its second weekend, taking top spot away from Jack Black's Nacho Libre flick ($28.3 million opening), and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift ($24 million opening). Last year, WALL-E dropped to number two in its second weekend against Hancock. Somewhat amazingly, Pixar has never seen a 50%+ second weekend drop, despite some of the bigger openings ever for animation. With a 98% fresh rating, Up was pretty much bulletproof from a big drop, especially considering that Land of the Lost was fading all week leading up to release. Up crossed the $100 million mark on Friday, its eighth day of release, and joins fellow Pixar releases like WALL-E, The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, which all reached $100 million at a similar pace. Up has now grossed $137.3 million, and pretty much has the kid market to themselves until Ice Age 3 opens in July.
Second place is a nice surprise, as The Hangover comes in with a jaw-dropping weekend take of $43.3 million. Starring no one except maybe Bradley Cooper (Alias, He's Just Not That Into You, Yes Man), but directed by the always good but under-the-radar Todd Phillips (Old School, Road Trip, Starsky & Hutch), The Hangover relied on a svelte marketing campaign from Warner Bros. and excellent reviews to not only show up this weekend, but take down a very heavy player. The Hangover is a much bigger comedy surprise than films like Role Models ($19.1 million opening) and I Love You, Man ($17 million start) or even The 40-Year Old Virgin ($21.4 million debut) or The Wedding Crashers ($33.9 million). Judd Apatow must be squirming today, as his closest to this is Talladega Nights, which opened to $47 million. The Hangover is the biggest comedy opening of 2009, outpacing Madea Goes To Jail's $41 million, and puts Paul Blart's $31.2 million open to shame. Adam Sandler has had only one film, The Longest Yard, with a $47.6 million opening, which even comes close to this. This is a historic opening weekend, as this may be the biggest sleeper surprise since The Blair Witch Project.