Valentine's Day Big Over President's Day Frame
By John Hamann
February 14, 2010
Finishing second is Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, the latest attempt at developing a kid-friendly franchise, a la The Golden Compass or The Vampire's Assistant. Percy Jackson blew both those hopefuls out of the water, and just may have a shot at a franchise, as The Lightning Thief earned a powerful $31.1 million from 3,356 venues. It had a venue average of $9,267. Timed to open at the same time as the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Percy Jackson got off to a great start on Friday, earning $9.7 million. With Friday being the least kid-friendly day of the long weekend, grosses jumped following the opening, and the Chris Columbus flick enjoyed a strong multiplier of 3.2 over the Friday-to-Sunday period.
Percy Jackson has an opening weekend gross that says sequel, but I think reviewers would disagree. The good news about this one is that it is the best reviewed opener of the weekend, but it still finished at 47% fresh from the widest range of critics, but only 35% from the "top critics" listed at the site. Chris Columbus has said that he cast kids for multiple films, and with an opening like this one, I would say 20th Century Fox is greenlighting the sequel as I type this. In all likelihood, Percy Jackson is going to finish above $100 million domestically, and do some serious business overseas, as it has a supporting cast that includes Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, and Steve Coogan. No budget data is available, but I would expect this one approached $100 million (and will end up as a very good investment).
The Wolfman finished third, as the Benicio Del Toro goth-horror flick finally finds its way into theaters - and we find out why it took so long. First, the business: The Wolfman actually did okay this weekend, earning $30.6 million from 3,222 venues over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend. It had a venue average of $9,206. Oddly enough, this is the best horror opening since exactly a year ago, when the Friday the 13th reboot hit theaters on its titular day. Obviously, horror and Valentine's Day work well together. Friday the 13th earned $40.6 million over its first three days last year, almost two-thirds of what it earned overall ($65 million domestically). The opening weekend numbers for The Wolfman are reminiscent of horror releases over the mid-point of the decade, when films like Freddy vs. Jason and The Ring Two earned $36.4 and $35.1 million over their respective opening weekends.
It was nice to finally know why Universal had held The Wolfman up for so long prior to release – it wasn't a very good movie. Of the 121 reviews at RottenTomatoes, only 35 were positive, giving the Joe Johnston film a fresh rating of only 29%. The Wolfman was shot in early 2008, and was originally scheduled to be released later that year in November, but got pushed back to February 2009. It didn't make that date either, and re-shoots were scheduled for May 2009. The date was then moved to summer 2009, and then got bumped again into 2010. These moves and re-shoots are never good news, even if the final product benefits. In this case, they should have started over. For all the promise of a great cast and good idea, this one failed in execution. The budget here was originally $85 million, but that was before re-shoots and costly delays. If this one didn't end up costing at least $100 million, I'll eat my shirt.