Easter Weekend Gives Life to Rio, Box Office
By John Hamann
April 24, 2011
The Easter weekend is a bit of an odd duck as the holiday Friday (and Monday for some) skewers the usually reliable (and telling) internal multipliers (weekend box office divided by Friday box office). The second weekend for a young skewing animated film would come in at close to 4.0 (opening day multiplied by 4.0 equals weekend box office). For example, the second weekend of Hop came in at 3.85, despite being a live action/animation mix. Gnomeo and Juliet had a second weekend internal multiplier of 4.5, which is off the charts. Tangled's second frame multiplier was 4.2; Megamind's was 3.7; Legend of the Guardians was 4.2. I think you get the picture. This weekend, with the Easter effect (Friday and Monday holiday), multipliers are completely off. Rio's internal multiplier was 2.45 this weekend, as kids had ample opportunity to see a movie on Friday, which turns a normal Friday gross into a Saturday-type gross. Easter Sunday is a bit different, as the kids are busy collecting eggs and going to Grandma's for supper, so despite it wanting to work like a Saturday, the Sunday numbers are actually reduced. Easter provides a box office curve ball.
Finishing second is Madea's Big Happy Family. Usually, having Madea in the title really brings people out to the movies, but this time, the effect is diminished. Despite Madea Goes to Jail earning $41 million over its opening weekend, and Madea's Family Reunion opening above $30 million, the trend is diminishing, as Madea's Big Happy Family earned $25.8 million – still very solid, but definitely lower than usual. Big Happy Family debuted at 2,288 venues, and had an average of $11,254. This is actually a wider launch than usual for a Madea title, as Goes To Jail opened to 2,032 venues in February of 2009. Like Rio, tracking was off for Madea's Big Happy Family as well, as surveys were predicting $30 million.
Big Happy Family plays more like a Madea film without having the matriarch in the title. I Can Do Bad All By Myself started in September 2009 (yes, he makes them FAST), and it earned $23.4 million over its opening frame. A year ago, also over the Easter frame, Perry debuted Why Did I Get Married Too?, earning $29.3 million. Some thought Married was breaking the Madea mold, and that the actor-director was finally starting to break out. Madea's Big Happy Family indicates that may not be the case, or this could just be a blip in the trend. Regardless, Big Happy Family will likely earn $50 million or so for Tyler Perry and Lionsgate, against an approximated budget of about $20 million.
Third goes to Water For Elephants, which did better than what tracking was anticipating. Reese Witherspoon and the way too pale Robert Pattinson (somebody get that guy a cheeseburger) star in Water For Elephants, and that star power along with the bestselling novel from which it was adapted helped the film earn $17.5 million over its opening frame. Despite seeming like the world's biggest snoozefest to me, the tally beat tracking expectations, which were looking for nothing above $15 million (and me looking for much, much less). Elephants debuted at 2,817 venues and had an average of $6,212, which isn't bad for a soapy romance. As much as I hate to say it, I think we are looking at Twi-people propping this one up.