Guinea Pigs Win Out Over Wizard
By John Hamann
July 26, 2009
With Harry Potter now in its second weekend, and the last of the hot summer sequel openings behind us, new franchise hopefuls step up to the plate. This weekend it's G-Force, a talking guinea pig movie, released in 3-D by the Dumbing Down Corporation of America, aka Disney. Yes, the company that brought us Snow Dogs and the Jonas Brothers has combined with Jerry Bruckheimer to bring us G-Force, and it had enough appeal to take down the second weekend of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Also opening this weekend is the well-marketed horror flick, Orphan, and the critically eviscerated rom-com, The Ugly Truth (a title that is an appropriate descriptor for the weekend).
Box office analysts, tracking firms and children holding wands had already annointed the second weekend of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as the weekend champ before Friday had begun, and we all got bit in the derriere by talking guinea pigs. Yes, our number one film of the weekend is G-Force, the talking guinea pig movie I thought/hoped/prayed children would scorn. With Mr. Potter throwing under his usual second weekend score, G-Force was able to scramble to the top, earning $32.2 million over three days from 3,697 venues. This Disney effort wouldn't be champ had it not been shot in 3-D, which allows theater owners to charge a premium for folks to see it (pay more for talking guinea pigs? Sure!). Had that 10-15% premium not been charged to audiences, G-Force likely would have opened in third this weekend, and I wouldn't have to write about G-Force 4: Revenge of The Guinea Pig in three year's time. Sigh.
In terms of 3-D films, G-Force ends up in the middle of the pack. It did manage to outperform the older 3-D entries like Meet the Robinsons ($25.1 million opening) and Monster House ($22.2 million opening), but not the more recent entries like Up ($68.1 million opening), Monsters vs Aliens ($59.3 million opening) or Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ($66.7 million five-day opening). Critics weren't happy with it, either. Of the 48 reviews posted at the time of this writing, only ten were positive, leaving G-Force with a fresh rating of 21%. Budget data isn't available, but I have a funny feeling that despite those awful reviews, we may be hearing about this one for many weekends to come.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is our number two movie this weekend, and the drop is larger than expected (despite the competition). The Half Blood Prince earned $30 million and fell a larger than expected 62%. The gross is proving the point that the fanbase is remaining the same for the latest Harry Potter films, and that this one is just more frontloaded than the last. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix earned $32.5 million in its second weekend after a $77.1 million three-day opening. The Half Blood Prince had a bigger first Wednesday and Thursday than Phoenix, but basically tied Phoenix with a $77.8 million Friday-to-Sunday. After completing its second weekend, Phoenix had earned $207.9 million; the Half-Blood Prince has now earned $221.8 million. As the weekends pile up, I think the Half Blood Prince will finish very close to where Phoenix finished, at about $290 million.