Weekend Wrap-Up for June 11-13, 2010

Karate Kid Kicks the Competition

By John Hamann

June 13, 2010

The rain's not going to bother them any.

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After a weekend in the last frame that brought a new form of ineptitude at the box office, eyes were fixed on the battle of the '80s remakes, as a re-imagining of The Karate Kid faced off against an update of the TV series The A-Team. After a weekend where the average opening from four new releases was an ugly $13 million, and the average drop-off from six holdovers was an even worse 50%, the box office was desperate for a shot in the arm. It got it this weekend - but maybe not in the form you thought - as The Karate Kid drop-kicked The A-Team.

The number one film of the weekend is The Karate Kid, as Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan make The A-Team look foolish (which it is). The Karate Kid becomes the first breakout hit of the summer, as Sony's Smith-driven remake blows expectations out of the water with a fantastic $56 million opening weekend. Tracking had the Sony flick opening between $30 and $35 million, 26 years after the original debuted on June 22, 1984. The remake debuted on 3,633 venues for Sony, and carried a remarkably strong average of $15,288. The opening for the kung fu flick embarrasses the debuts of some much bigger films this summer, including the $200 million budgeted Prince of Persia ($30 million opening), the $100 million budgeted Sex and the City 2 ($31 million), and the $200 million Robin Hood ($36 million). The Karate Kid was made for only $40 million, and becomes a huge one-weekend-winner for Sony, earning more than the production budget in the first three days. This was never a film built for opening weekend, so with likely legs to come, this is going to be huge earner for the studio, maybe their biggest of the summer (although I think the studio's Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts will likely be huge). $200 million domestic should be on the table for this one.


So other than fond memories of the original, why did The Karate Kid break out in such a huge way? There a number of reasons, with the biggest likely being the fact that there is little family fare out there other than the forgettable Shrek Forever After, and Marmaduke, which did a faceplant last weekend. Seeing the opportunity, Sony marketed the heck out of this one to all demographics, and that, along with decent reviews, got folks out this weekend. Reviews started softly, but picked up steam heading toward release. The Karate Kid ended up with 78 positive reviews at RottenTomatoes out of a possible 115, giving the flick a healthy 68% fresh rating, which makes it only the second film of the summer to open to more than $20 million and have a fresh rating beyond 50% (the other being Iron Man 2). The other driving factors toward success here include the Smiths, as while Jaden starred in the flick, Will and Jada Smith produced The Karate Kid. The Smith name is becoming even bigger in Hollywood, as the kids now act and the parents produce. Will Smith doesn't have an upcoming acting credit until Men in Black III is released in July 2012, but has the power to get the entire family on Oprah to promote The Karate Kid.

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