Weekend Wrap-Up for April 16-18, 2010
Dragons Roast Fake Hero Wannabes
By John Hamann
April 18, 2010
In the end, controversy or not, Kick-Ass still had its original problem – it was a hard R rated flick, aimed at young fanboys (and girls!), and the film got hit in the wallet because of it. Kick-Ass earned $19.8 million from 3,065 venues, much lower than the $30 million or so that tracking indicated. Tracking is all about the "want to see" factor. It doesn't matter whether you are old enough to get in to see a picture, just whether you want to see it or not. The film failed to carry over into a wider audience. I would blame the marketing; however, word-of-mouth could strengthen this one moving forward. Reviews were solid. Of the 181 reviews cited at RottenTomatoes, 140 were positive, giving Kick-Ass a certified fresh rating of 77%. Most of the negative reviews are disdainful of the violence, especially the violence caused by Hit Girl, the 11-year-old superhero, who drops the C bomb.
For Lionsgate, and regardless of expectations, this is a big opening for a studio that relies on either Tyler Perry or Jigsaw from the Saw films to promote their bottom line. The previous biggest debut for a Lionsgate film that doesn't reference the two characters outlined above was The Haunting in Connecticut, a very bad horror film that managed to open to $23 million in late March 2009 (it was adult counter-programming against Monsters vs. Aliens). Prior to that, $20 million plus openings were My Bloody Valentine (in 3-D, natch), and The Forbidden Kingdom. Prior to those, you have to wander all the way back to 2004's Fahrenheit 9/11 to see another $20 million plus opener. Fahrenheit is Lionsgate's only $100 million plus movie, and it along with Haunting in Connecticut are the only two films in the Lionsgate's top 10 domestic earners without Jigsaw or Tyler Perry. Kick-Ass may be able to enter that top ten list, as the original Saw sits at number 10 with a domestic cume of only $55.2 million.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who plays Red Mist in Kick-Ass, is quickly becoming a box office phenomenon. This is the kid who played McLovin in Superbad, which started his movie career with a bang. Superbad made $121 million domestic, and Mintz-Plasse was a big part of that movie's success. A year later he showed up in Role Models, another very funny (76% fresh) comedy where he stole the show. Role Models earned $67.3 million domestically (out of nowhere) and just short of $100 million worldwide. He then took a small step backward in Year One, but that one still opened strong at $19.6 million, despite its complete awfulness. Next came How to Train Your Dragon, which we've already discussed, and now Kick-Ass. Mintz-Plasse has had a strong knack for picking the right projects; however, next up for the actor is the animated feature Marmaduke, a project that sounds annoying at best.
Number three this weekend is Date Night, which held quite well. The Steve Carell/Tina Fey comedy earned $17.3 million in its second weekend, and was off only 31%. I think the folks at Fox will be quite happy with this result, as the $55 million film now has a running total of $49.2 million. Word-of-mouth must be good for this one, as this kind of hold was not expected, considering the 66% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes. Date Night will see more competition next weekend, when CBS films launches J-Lo's The Back Up Plan.