Weekend Wrap-Up

Hangover Chucks Up From Top Spot (Again)

By John Hamann

June 14, 2009

The future's so bright, they've gotta wear shades

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What may be the biggest surprise here is that The Hangover is doing what it's doing without any big stars, or a big gimmick. As we are going to find out later in this column, the movie business has become less about the big names attached to movies, and more about gimmicks - and in the case of The Hangover, good, funny, well-marketed ideas. The marketing didn't give up on The Hangover like we see with so many other films – one weekend and out is the theme in the movie business – but here we saw a continued advertising push, and combined with word-of-mouth, we have a film that could repeat at number for three consecutive weekends. Budget data for The Hangover has been stated at between $25 and $35 million. Using that $35 million, The Hangover has more than doubled that amount before the second weekend even started, and even if we consider that prints and the extensive marketing campaign cost another $50 million, the production companies involved here are still seeing a return on their investment only ten days into release. The Hangover now has a domestic cumulative total of $105.4 million, and will see at least $175 million before it's done domestically.

Neither opener takes the number two spot (if you're waiting for Imagine That, get comfortable), as Pixar's Up has another weekend in that position. After a $44 million haul in the previous frame, the animated adventure earned $30.5 million, and drops a still fantastic 31%. For summer-released Pixar films, Up is having a great ride so far. As of this Thursday, Up was behind only Finding Nemo for the highest grossing Pixar film after 14 days of release with a total of $156.7 million versus Nemo's $163.1 million. Up outgrossed Nemo and the rest of its Pixar brethren on Friday night, and records the biggest third weekend gross ever for a Pixar film, beating Nemo's $28.4 million. At this point, I would say that Up is pretty much a lock for $250 million; however, it will be interesting to see how much of an effect Ice Age 3 has on those key late-run weekends for Pixar flicks. For example, Nemo had three late-run weekends where it dropped less than 20%. Up has now grossed a fantastic $187.2 million, already out-grossing its large production budget of $175 million.


The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is our number three film, despite starring A-listers Denzel Washington and John Travolta. Pelham earned an okay $25 million from 3,074 venues; it had a venue average of $8,133. Unless you are a regular reader of this column, it may surprise you that this opening is actually toward the top end of Washington's opening weekends. His biggest opening came in 2007 with American Gangster with Russell Crowe – that one opened to $43 million – and was by far the biggest of his career. Usually with Washington, his wheelhouse opening weekend shows up between $16 and $22 million, with only American Gangster and Inside Man ($29 million) opening above that range, and only The Great Debaters ($6 million) and The Siege ($14 million) opening below that range since 1998 (and a few platform releases). Travolta, on the other hand, is more like Nic Cage, with mostly bad films opening all over the place. Denzel Washington flicks are supposed to be all about legs, and that may be a problem for The Taking of Pelham 123. Reviews were split right down the middle, with RottenTomatoes recording a score of 51%, with 61 critics liking it, and 59 not. It may hold okay next weekend, but the weekend that follows brings Transformers 2, which will crush all on its wake.

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