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Weekend Wrap-Up for May 28-30, 2010

Sex and the City, Persia Continue Quiet Summer at the Box Office

By John Hamann

May 30, 2010

We hear the Hulk is their real father.

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With all the talk of women dressing up for Sex and the City 2 parties and screenings, I thought the Friday number was going to be huge, and at least bigger than its Thursday gross. To my surprise, and likely to an even more surprised Warner Bros., the Friday figure threw under the Thursday figure, coming in at only $13 million, off 9% from its opening day. Warner Bros. would be reaching for the fact that the combined Thursday and Friday were on par with original's Friday, but they are really fooling themselves. The original Sex and the City’s plunge over its opening frame following that big opening day gross was likely to repeat itself, but this time based on a much smaller Friday. The result is a Thursday to Sunday gross of $46.3 million, and considering this was a sequel to a $57 million opener, this is going down as another big Summer 2010 disappointment.

What happened? Simply put, they made a very bad movie, and it was no secret how bad it is. RottenTomatoes counted 134 reviews, and of those, only a laughable 21 were positive, which lands Sex and the City 2 with a rotten rating at 16%. The rating from mainstream critics came in at an even worse 9%. All too often we hear that films are critic proof, this one should have been, but wasn't. Why? Reviews not only called the plot tepid and the acting and writing bad, it also called the film borderline racist, crass and obnoxious – something we didn’t see from the first film and the TV series. The other problem this Sex ran into was The Great Recession. With so many American homes underwater and people of out work, do we really need to spend $15 dollars to watch a group of rich bitches spend money on nothing? Obviously, moviegoers did not. Sex and the City 2 will make money, especially overseas (the first film finished with almost $300 million in international markets), but this could be a franchise ender, much like Shrek Forever After.




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Finishing third is Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Jerry Bruckheimer’s attempt at another Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but without Johnny Depp. The $150 million Prince of Persia opened to a three-day take of $30.2 million from 3,646 venues. Unfortunately, this is another Summer 2010 release to fall way under expectations, and while it isn’t The Country Bears for Disney, it certainly is no Mummy or Pirates of the Caribbean, either. Like Robin Hood, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was made for an international audience, which will help, but likely won’t save it in the end.

Like Sex and the City 2, the core of the trouble with this release is film quality, but the problems go further than that. Let’s start with those reviews. RottenTomatoes counted 158 reviews, and of those only 62 were fresh, giving this one a 39% fresh rating at RT. Mainstream critics liked it even less, with the score coming in at only 23% fresh. The next problem (as Reagen Sulewski pointed out in BOP’s weekend forecast) was marketing. What were they thinking? Did Disney spend $150 million dollars on a film and have no money shots to get audiences out to their film? When The Mummy opened in 1999, it used its money shot as much as it could in its marketing, and outgrossed Prince of Persia on opening day, despite debuting 11 years earlier, when admission costs were much lower than they are today. With a worldwide launch, that $150 million production costs morphs into a $250-300 million spend when worldwide print and marketing costs are added to the total, a figure Prince will likely never see. Disney had planned on turning this one into a huge franchise, but is left with a film that might recoup its cost - maybe - following the DVD release.


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