Dragon, Hot Tub, Both Softer Than Expected
By John Hamann
March 28, 2010
Finishing second this weekend is not the expected Hot Tub Time Machine. It's Alice in Wonderland, as 3D takes the number one and two spots at the box office for the first time ever. Alice held up well considering the opening of Dragon, as the Tim Burton flick earned $17.3 million from 3,384 venues. It was off the expected from last weekend – 49% - as Alice hasn't held all that well since opening anyway (drops of 45% and 46% over consecutive weekends). Had Dragon been stronger, the dip would have been much worse. Alice played quite strongly over spring break, and it looks like it will cross the $300 million mark some time next week, and will join only 32 other films that have reached $300 million. I'm looking for Alice to top out around $340 million domestically, with a similar amount or more coming overseas. Currently, Alice has a domestic total of $293.1 million.
So Hot Tub Time Machine manages to finish in third place, and is our second opener with a disappointing debut. The John Cusack film opened to only $13.7 million from 2,754 venues, as it become just another film with a wacky title to not live up to expectations. In December 2000, a similar thing happened to a little comedy called Dude, Where's My Car?, as the title of that one caused a media sensation not much different to that of Time Machine. Dude opened to only $13.8 million, and was considered a disappointment due to the hype. The same thing happened with Snakes on a Plane in 2006. The film was expected to be huge because awareness was so high due to the title. In the end, Snakes opened softly at $15.2 million, and was earning only $2 million in its third weekend. It's unfortunate, as Hot Tub Time Machine received a pass by critics (63% fresh at RottenTomatoes), and generally looked like a fun time at the movies for those 35 and older. On the other hand, Hot Tub is MGM's biggest opener in years, and cost the studio only $35 million to make, so this is likely a win by the time a DVD release rolls around. For now, though, Hot Tub Time Machine is just another middling success with a nutty title.
Fourth goes to The Bounty Hunter, which earned another $12.4 million, and was off only 40% compared to last weekend. I say "only" as this one is 9% fresh at RT, and shouldn't be shown to anyone. The $40 million Fox debacle has now somehow earned $38.8 million.
Last weekend's big surprise, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, gets knocked to the ground this weekend by the bully that is How To Train Your Dragon. Wimpy Kid, 20th Century Fox's $15 million film that opened to $22 million last weekend, got dumped in its second frame, earning only $10 million and dropping a painful 55%. Being the third choice for kids didn't help the film, which could change the trajectory for plans for a sequel to the popular kids novel series. Currently, Diary of a Wimpy Kid has a running total of $35.8 million, which looks great against that tiny $15 million budget.