Zack Snyder Sucker Punched by a Wimpy Kid
By John Hamann
March 27, 2011
Finishing second this weekend is Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch, as the king of March tries to lay another one down. Unfortunately, Sucker Punch only looked good in the trailer, and audiences caught on. Sucker Punch earned only $19 million this weekend from 3,033 venues. It had an average of $6,269. This time out, I think Zack Snyder went too far. Known for his genre busting action films (300, Watchmen, Dawn of the Dead), Sucker Punch did look like a genre-buster, but with a defiantly odd story, starring a bunch of young women wearing very little, I think Snyder may have put off everyone except the audience that paid to see Battle: Los Angeles. This is a 14-year-old gamer's wet dream, but very little to anyone else.
When 300 came out, it was a new, good-looking, visceral experience. I loved 300 when I saw it in the theater. However, when I saw it a second time on DVD, I found it to be poorly acted and lacking in story. 300 came out in 2007, and now, four years later, I think we have a better idea of what to expect from Snyder, and our choices become more guarded.
Warner Bros. spent $82 million making Sucker Punch, a film that would likely have cost $200 million ten years ago. What filmmakers can do with a computer now is simply amazing. With the low opening and terrible reviews, Sucker Punch is going to have to work hard just to make $50 million, and will have to try and pick up the balance overseas. 300 earned more overseas that it did domestically; however, Watchmen did not, as it picked up $107.5 million domestically and only $77 million overseas. Sucker Punch is a disappointment – had a better product come out of this effort, we might have seen a cultural phenomenon. Instead, we are left with another turkey in 2011.
Sucker Punch feels a little like Kill Bill and Grindhouse. The Planet Terror portion of Grindhouse was as over the top as Sucker Punch, and audiences resisted, despite the fact that the film came from Robert Rodriguez. Tarantino's Kill Bill (which I love - don't get me wrong) may have also put some folks off with the Gogo Yubari character, who, if you don't remember, was the Japanese school girl character with killer tendencies. Not everyone is going to accept girls who look like they just walked off the set of the latest Britney Spears video who kick ass like a ninja. Maybe I'm just getting old, but that's the feeling I'm left with. Sucker Punch was also not screened for critics, and when reviews started to roll out on Friday, they made news due to their badness. Only 20 critics out of a possible 102 found something to like here, and top critics liked it even less. If Snyder does this with Sucker Punch, what's he going to do with Superman?
Finishing third is Limitless, which held a lot better than I was expecting. After an okay opening weekend on top with $18.9 million, Limitless held well, earning $15.2 million and dropping a slim 19%, which is great for the genre. The Bradley Cooper/Robert DeNiro had good, but not excellent reviews, and that would have helped a little, but in reality we can likely look at the new films released this weekend, and how many adults (with brains) would have taken those in. While I doubt it's a Taken, Relativity Media is going to be very happy with this hold. Limitless cost Relativity and its partners only $27 million to make, and it has a gross so far of $41.3 million. It could see as much as $70 million before it's through.