Slow Weekend Slams Fame, Surrogates
By John Hamann
September 27, 2009
About six or seven weeks ago, I was sitting around with friends discussing upcoming movies. District 9 was on the horizon, and we were excited about upcoming sci-fi entries in the film schedule. We were itching to see District 9, thought the Final Destination series was finally coming to a disastrous end, and were looking forward to Bruce Willis in Surrogates, which opens this weekend. In the time since that conversation, we learned that Surrogates was rated PG-13, had a running time of 88 minutes, and that critics hated it. With the remake of Fame also coming out this weekend, it once looked like a formidable weekend – instead we're left with just another typical frame in September.
Our number one film of the weekend (by a longshot) is neither the Bruce Willis sci-fi actioner nor the remake of a beloved musical. The winner is Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, last weekend's 3-D release for kids, in a month where kids flicks are not supposed to survive. Not only did Meatballs survive, it thrived, with a weekend gross of $24.6 million, and a nice drop of only 19%. 3-D films tend to hold well, as long as there isn't more 3-D competition in an individual film's second weekend. G-Force dropped 45% in its second weekend, and that one was truly awful, so any hold over 50% is a win. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs dropped 34% from $41.7 million to $27.6 million in its second weekend, saving the Fox film after a slow opening frame. Up fell only 35% despite a huge opening weekend of $68.1 million (usually "the bigger they are" rule fits with opening weekend box office). Monsters vs. Aliens did run into the above rule despite being in 3-D, as it opened to $59.3 million before falling 45% to $32.6 million. Sony's Meatballs was desperate for a good hold for a number of reasons. The Toy Story films are being re-released next weekend in 3-D, which will take some of Meatballs' venues away.
We've found in the past that the first weekend without the 15% charge to see a film in 3-D leads to some ugly drops, but then I'm not convinced that Toy Story re-releases are draw-worthy. Another reason Sony was looking for a good hold was that Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs was not a cheap film. Meatballs cost Sony $100 million to make, and because of this drop, it becomes a lock to earn over $100 million, with a $120 million now a likely finishing amount. Meatballs is just getting started overseas, and in the end this is going to be a title that Sony is very pleased with.
Finishing well back in second is Disney's Surrogates, which now looks like a small disaster from Disney, Touchstone, Bruce Willis and director Jonathan Mostow. Surrogates opened to only $15 million this weekend from 2,951 venues. It had an ugly opening weekend venue average of $5,083. Once thought to be the darling of September, this one now looks an expensive miss, as the budget here was $80 million, and a domestic finish of $40 million might be hard to come by. On top of that, critics hated it, as it garnered a score of only 37% fresh at RottenTomatoes.