Weekend Wrap-Up for June 4-6, 2010
Shrek Defines Slow Summer Start With Three-peat
By John Hamann
June 6, 2010
One might think that Shrek Forever After's disappointing opening three weekends ago would have sent it on an express trip to the box office basement. However, with two completely forgettable titles opening last weekend (Sex and the City 2, Prince of Persia), and none of this weekend's four openers taking in more than $20 million, Shrek's path to another number one finish was a fait accompli. Openers this weekend included the horror flick Splice (a film I thought might break out this weekend, but did the opposite); Get Him to the Greek from uber-producer Judd Apatow; Killers with the despicable Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl; and Marmaduke, a film that should have been left in the funny papers.
Our number one film of the weekend is, for some strange reason, Shrek Forever After, Paramount and DreamWorks' attempt at cashing in on a well-remembered franchise. Shrek 4 earned another $25.3 million, off a not bad 42% compared to the Memorial Day Weekend. Despite its so-so reviews and audience reception, Shrek is holding on nicely since opening, as this drop follows Shrek's 39% drop over the three-day portion of the Memorial Day frame last weekend. Shrek Forever After took 16 days to match its $165 million production budget domestically, and now has a total so far of $183 million. It should finish up around the $250 million mark domestically.
So why, after opening to $30 million below initial expectations, is Shrek holding so well? Two answers: 3D, and an utter lack of anything close to competition. The last film to three-peat at the weekend box office was the also-shot-in-3D Alice in Wonderland, which faced some sad sack competition during the first few weekends of its run. After opening to a blistering $116 million, Alice managed to drop 46% in its second weekend despite four newcomers appearing at theaters. Alice's third weekend was remarkably similar – it dropped 46%, and three openers struggled to earn anything more than $20 million. It would seem that having your film shot and shown in 3D makes your film a default "first choice" amongst moviegoers, and also leaves that film on the biggest screens at your local multiplex for many weekends. We've seen this phenomenon quite a bit. The 3D Clash of the Titans was almost a three consecutive weekend winner, missing number one for its third weekend by only $4 million, and we saw Avatar repeat at number one for seven weekends. 3D is proving to be the dominating force in box office today, through openings (see Alice in Wonderland) and legs (see just about any flick, good or bad, shot via the 3D process).
Finishing second is the first of our four openers, Get Him to The Greek, starring Jonah Hill and Russell Brand. From producer Judd Apatow, Greek earned an okay $17.4 million from a muted 2,697 venues, and had a venue average of $6,460. It cost Universal and partners only $40 million to make, so will likely become a very profitable film for the studio. Get Him To The Greek is already drawing obvious comparisons to Apatow's Forgetting Sarah Marshall since it is a spin-off from that film, but it goes even further than that, as Sarah Marshall's opening ($17.7 million) is similar to that of Greek. That film was also very profitable for Universal, as it cost $30 million to make, and grossed $107 million worldwide.