Weekend Wrap-Up for August 20-22, 2010

Five Openers No Match For Holdovers

By John Hamann

August 22, 2010

Someone got the wrong hat memo.

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It can only be late August when the crop of new releases equates to just one word: Odd. It was one of those weekends at the box office, where there is new product for every demographic available; yet, for the most part, nothing won the weekend as holdovers dominated. New films this weekend included Nanny McPhee Returns with Emma Thompson reprising her British nanny role (with complexion and dental issues); The Switch, another Jennifer Aniston rom-com; Lottery Ticket, the African American comedy with Bow Wow and Ice Cube; Piranha 3D, the latest release with the 3D craze, and Vampires Suck, one of those parody movies that is supposed to be funny but clearly isn't. As an example of a “see what sticks” kind of a weekend, this frame doesn't provide a great example, as nothing quite stuck to the wall.

It's hard to believe that in a late August frame a year ago we had two Best Picture nominees in the top five (Inglourious Basterds and District 9) and a Golden Globe winner for Best Actress in a musical or comedy (Meryl in Julie and Julia). That kind of quality earned the top five films about $88 million, and was definitely "an exception that proved the rule" that late August is a dumping ground at cinemas. This year, we are back to normal, with five films that couldn't compete at any other time of year, and a top five that equal the title of the number one film: Expendables. Regardless of quality, though, we had a top 12 that did some pretty serious business, as a smattering of okay holdovers kept the box office from being eaten by Piranhas.


Weird fact #1 about this weekend's box office: Sly Stallone has his first consecutive weekends at number one since 1998's Antz, and his first live action back-to-back number ones since Cliffhanger was released 17 years ago. Yes, our number one film for the second consecutive weekend is The Expendables, as Stallone and his bevy of aging action stars managed to keep the crown for another weekend. As expected, the win is in name only, as the drop was precipitous for the $82 million film. The Expendables earned $16.5 million in its second frame and dropped 53%; however, with the win, the Lionsgate release is going to earn its production budget back domestically, and is sure to bring in a huge haul overseas – which will be financial gravy for Stallone and his production partners. The Expendables still has an outside chance at earning $100 million domestically, but I would bet this drop is a harbinger of weekends to come. While a third weekend at number one is out of the question, the hold could be okay, which would improve its chances at reaching $100 million. So far, The Expendables has earned a better-than-expected $64.9 million.

Weird fact #2 about this weekend's box office: The directors of our top opener have done five films, and so far, combined, have received nine positive reviews from their films, including this one. Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the directors of really bad spoof movies, are back this weekend with Vampires Suck, adding another ridiculously awful film to their resume that includes Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, and Meet the Spartans. At least this one didn't open at number one (two have, believe it or not) as Vampires Suck was only number one the day it opened, Wednesday, and has steadily dipped since. Over the three-day portion of this Suck weekend, Vampires earned $12.2 million. However, since opening in mid-week, this spoof has earned a decent $18.6 million, and with a $20 million production budget, is only a few days away from being profitable for producer New Regency and distributor 20th Century Fox. The directors may make ridiculously bad movies, but they are profitable, as their last four films likely cost about $80 million to make, and have made about $150 million from domestic cinemas alone, and more than twice that with overseas revenue added in.

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