Land of the Lost Lost at Box Office; Hangover Strong
By John Hamann
June 7, 2009
Reviews were unexpectedly hot for The Hangover, and those that liked it didn't just like it, they loved it. At RottenTomatoes, The Hangover is 74% fresh, which is a fantastic score for an R-rated comedy, much like Knocked Up, which had a 90% fresh rating. Knocked Up was another film to come out of nowhere, but even it pales in comparison to this opening weekend, as the Seth Rogen flick opened to $30 million before going on to reach $150 million in domestic sales. As I mentioned above, the marketing campaign for The Hangover was everywhere, and it created a sense of have-to-see, which has paid off in a very big way.
Because The Hangover has no big stars, production costs were kept very low. The NY Times said the production budget for Hangover came in at between $25 and $30 milllion, so costs got covered quickly this weekend. If we assume that marketing came in at around $50 million, Warner Bros. will be seeing real dollars by the start of the third weekend, if not earlier (I wonder how the producers of Terminator Salvation feel about that). Even if The Hangover discombobulates, we are still talking about an R-rated comedy earning $150 million, a feat no one would have predicted two weeks ago, or even two days ago.
Finishing in a floppish third is Land of the Lost, which swung below tracking estimates by as much $15 million. Expected to finish the weekend with $35 million, Land of the Lost is in some very big trouble, as the opening weekend came in at only $19.5 million from 3,521 venues. The production budget here was $100 million, and the LA Times all week reminded us that with prints and marketing, this is a $200 million bet for the folks at Universal. With this opening weekend, all they will likely see out of Lost is maybe $50 million. Usually, Universal excels in summer, and Land of the Lost wasn't even a really bad idea, but it was poorly executed. Someone needed to decide how they were going to use the source material, and it seems that a number of ideas were all thrown together, and nothing worked. Land of the Lost was a disturbing 25% fresh at RottenTomatoes, and the marketing stunk of desperation leading up to release. Universal was lucky enough to have Will Ferrell's fanbase show up over the opening frame, making Lost akin to some of Ferrell's more notable lowlights, like Semi-Pro ($15.8 million opening) and Bewitched ($20 million opening). I didn't think Ferrell could open another TV retread lower than Bewitched, but here it is. It's a good thing Universal moved Fast & Furious to April, as now that profit can pay for this disaster.
Fouth this weekend is Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. The Ben Stiller effects-filled comedy had a better weekend than the last frame (when it dropped 55%), but there still isn't enough to get excited about here. Museum 2 had a third weekend gross of $14.7 million, and drops 40%. After 17 days, the original Night at the Museum had already earned $163.8 million; the sequel, on the other hand, has earned $127.3 million. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian cost Fox $150 million to make, and likely another $75 million to market, so the studio will need a couple more solid weekends to make this one a decent investment.