Soft Openers Slow Box Office Roll
By John Hamann
February 19, 2012
Why does Nic Cage keep getting work? International audiences appear to love him. Season of the Witch added $67 million from overseas grosses thanks to Cage, making it a $92 million earner worldwide, against a budget of $40 million. With Drive Angry, Cage tripled the $10 million gross, and with Sorcerer's Apprentice, added another $150 million to that film's gross, likely leaving it as a push for Disney. The Nic Cage roll of badness can't continue forever, but like teen horror, these films will keep coming out if they make money (but then again, Screen Gems isn't making teen horror anymore). He is also the busiest guy in Hollywood, as he has three films in post-production, including Stolen from director Simon West (Con Air), Frozen Ground, a true story with John Cusack and Vanessa Hudgens, and The Croods, an animated feature from DreamWorks Animation.
Finishing fourth this weekend is Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, another of last weekend's multitude of releases finding big success at movie theatres. After a strong weekend where it played to families and earned $27.4 million, Journey 2 serves up another powerful weekend, earning $20.1 million from 3,500 venues. It drops only 26%, giving it the best hold of last weekend's releases. Financially, it's also in really great shape. Journey 2 was already in release overseas since mid-January before it came to America, already earning about $85 million from overseas cinemas - and it's not done yet. Stateside, it looks like Journey 2 will be at least an $80 million release, and all of this goes up against an $80 million budget. The Rock has turned what I felt was a questionable release into a strong franchise, as it finds a scheduling period with little to no family competition. After only ten days of domestic release, Journey 2 has already brought in $53.2 million.
Fifth is This Means War, the other major release in this weekend's top ten. While no out-and-out disaster, This Means War opened to only $17.6 million this weekend, as audiences questioned whether this was an action film, a romance, or a comedy. With reviews at a Ghost Rider level, there was no impetus to see beautiful people Tom Hardy face off against Chris Pine for the hand of Reese Witherspoon. What the heck is Reese Witherspoon doing in a movie like this to begin with? There are two answers: How Do You Know? and Water For Elephants. Yes, Witherspoon has been in two films with very bad titles, and one was a complete disaster. Audiences can love you one moment, but then you appear in only three movies over four years, and they forget all about you. How Do You Know? cost Sony $120 million to make, and caved with only $30 million in domestic sales despite a Christmas release pattern (let's not forget We Bought a Zoo somehow earned $73.4 million with the same release pattern). Water for Elephants earned more and cost less, but unless you're an older female, you didn't see it (or were there for the sick looking Twilight guy).
That brings us to This Means War, the Fox film with the $65 million budget. Even if this one does three times its budget, it won't equal it stateside, and will need to rely on foreign box office to make it work. For the two on-the-rise male stars, this is only a speed bump in their careers. Tom Hardy has The Dark Knight Rises next, playing Bane, and Chris Pine is currently filming the Star Trek sequel, but will voice a role in the Rise of the Guardians, a DreamWorks Animation release coming in November.