Immortals Send Jack and Jill Tumbling
By John Hamann
November 13, 2011
We had an interesting showdown at the box office over the Veteran's Day frame, as Relativity Media's Immortals – a film that looks like it required a lot of time and effort – faced off against Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill – a film that it appears Adam Sandler invented after drinking too much and watching Eddie Murphy's Nutty Professor franchise. Unfortunately, neither film is anything to write home about, but the box office result is at least solid for one. For the first time since early August, we have a top five that earns $100 million, and let me tell you, it feels like it's been forever.
Our number one film of the weekend is not Jack and Jill (thank god), or Puss in Boots (even if it had dropped 3% - like it did last weekend - it still wouldn't be on top). The winner of the Veteran's Day frame is Immortals, Relativity Media's first release financed solely in-house. Immortals, starring soon-to-be-Superman Henry Cavill, the lovely Freida Pinto, and the not-so-lovely Mickey Rourke, was not quite a 300 at the box office, but still won out, earning a much-better-than-expected $32 million from 3,112 venues. It had a venue average of $10,283. Tracking for Immortals was looking for a $25 million opening (oddly enough, that's the amount Relativity needed to see a profit), so to clear that amount by $10 million tells me the marketing strategy worked, as did the hiring of director Tarsem Singh (The Cell).
Tarsem was able to put his signature visual touch on Immortals, which Relativity used nicely in the marketing of the film. Not only did Immortals end up looking epic and battle-heavy, it also looked lush, which may have expanded the audience beyond just fanboys. Critics were impressed with the production design, but hated the story. Reviews at RottenTomatoes counted 70, but unfortunately only 26 fresh, leaving Immortals with a disappointing 37% rating from all critics, and a disastrous 21% rating from “Top Critics." With a film like Immortals, though, critical notices amount to about zip, and with a B Cinemascore, this shouldn't be a second weekend disaster.
Immortals is the first film solely financed by Ryan Cavanaugh and Relativity Media, and with a production budget of $100 million (trimmed to $75 million via foreign pre-sales and tax incentives), it carried a ton of risk for the upstart studio and distributor. Choosing a low impact statutory holiday to launch the film was a fabulous idea, as Immortals was able to earn over $1 million from Thursday night screenings, and then pull in another $14 million from Friday proper. The "internal weekend multiplier" was low this weekend at 2.1, but that was because Friday was a day off for some, which made the weekend much more frontloaded, regardless of release.