Weekend Wrap-Up

Basketball Beats Box Office As Ticket Sales Fade

By John Hamann

March 20, 2011

That's a lot of drinks he's got there.

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Second spot goes to Rango, Gore Verbinski's animated lizard western (Hunter S. Thompson and Jim Morrison would have liked this one). Rango earned a strong $15.3 million this weekend, dropping 32%. Spring break may be skewing Rango's numbers, or it's building in popularity (movies are predictable, spring break dates are not, so you decide). On Rango's first Monday following its opening, the animated flick earned $2.1 million. A week later on the following Monday it earned $2.3 million (on a normal week, we would expect a $1.5-$1.7 million Monday). On its first Tuesday, it earned $2 million, on its second, $2.5 million, and so on. Last weekend, Rango had a multiplier of 4.2, which means the kids avoided it on Friday, and then had at it on Saturday and Sunday. This weekend, the multiplier was 3.6, which means the kids were more available on the Friday. From Paramount, Rango has now earned $92.6 million stateside, and will reach $100 million soon. It has already collected $50 million overseas as well, so this will finish as a hefty win for Paramount.

Landing in third (with a bit of thud) is Battle: Los Angeles, which some box office observers thought had a chance at a repeat win. Battle earned only $14.6 million in its second weekend, which gives it a weekend-to-weekend drop of 59%. Given the reviews (33% fresh), and the so-so word of mouth (“it's great for gamers” does not draw crowds) a big drop was certainly expected. The good news for Battle: Los Angeles is that it had some solid draws during the week, taking in over $10 million from Monday to Thursday, so it already has a cumulative total of $60.6 million against a production budget of $70 million. Additionally, it has already earned over $20 million overseas, so it won't hurt Sony in the end.


Landing in fourth is The Lincoln Lawyer, a film I know little about, other than the fact that I like to ridicule the stars, Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Phillipe. However, I can't mock them this time out, as The Lincoln Lawyer opened to $13.4 million from 2,707 venues, perhaps helped by a Groupon promotion that allowed people to buy tickets to the film for $6. The Lincoln Lawyer was also fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. McConaughey has to go back to 2002's Frailty to find a positive score at the movie review aggregator, and somehow The Lincoln Lawyer finished at an amazing (at least to me) 81% fresh. The Lionsgate/Lakeshore Entertainment product cost $40 million to make, and given the opening, will have to work hard to match that budget stateside. However, those positive reviews could turn into good word-of-mouth, and we can't forget that McConaughey's A Time to Kill opened to $14.8 million in 1996, and finished with over $100 million.

Fifth spot goes to Paul, the new slacker Alien comedy from Universal. Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (and Seth Rogen as the voice of Paul), the comedy did what it wanted to in North America, opening with a $13.2 million weekend. Launched to 2,801 venues, Paul had an average of $4,695. Paul cost Working Title (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Nanny McPhee) $40 million to make, and had already earned about $30 million overseas, so Universal, Working Title, and Relativity Media (yep, two in the top four, a good weekend) should all make out okay on this one. Reviews were better in the US and than they were in the UK, as the rating has improved at Rotten Tomatoes since it opened stateside. In the end, Paul ended up at 70% fresh, but "top critics" liked it a lot less, at 59%. Paul screams "just good enough" in all the right departments. For Simon Pegg, Paul is his biggest non-blockbuster opening yet.

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