Weekend Wrap-Up

Late-April Box Office Stumbles Towards Avengers

By John Hamann

April 29, 2012

How long does it take to read this damn book?

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Second goes to Pirates! A Band of Misfits, the animated film from Sony and Aardman Animations (Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run). Already successful in the UK, Pirates! rose from a fifth place finish on Friday to second for the overall weekend, which shows the power of the kid audience on Saturdays and Sundays. The plundering film earned $11.4 million from domestic audiences, as it played in an ultra-wide 3,358 venues. Aardman has never been huge on this side of the pond, with none of their five wide releases opening beyond $20 million. Flushed Away was the biggest opener at $18.8 million, but owes that success to Chicken Run, which debuted to $17.5 million in 2000, and turned that opening into a $100 million domestic gross (Chicken Run earned a huge worldwide gross of $224.8 million against a $45 million budget). Pirates! has already earned $56 million overseas ($23 million in the UK alone), so with the domestic opening, Pirates! will be financially successful, as the production budget came in at $60 million. I can't wait to see this on Blu-ray.

Finishing third is The Lucky One, but Zac Efron and Nicholas Sparks don't seem all that lucky this weekend. The Lucky One did manage dropped a spot and earned only $11.3 million. Out to 3,175 venues (versus Think Like A Man's 2,015), The Lucky One fell an alarming 50%. As Reagen Sulewski correctly pointed out in his Weekend Forecast column, Sparks' The Notebook fell 45% in its second weekend before dropping an average of 17% over its next three frames, and was considered a leggy hit. Will the same thing happen with The Lucky One? No. The romance with the $25 million budget has now earned $39.9 million, and will likely fold up pretty quick.


Fourth goes to The Hunger Games, which has another very strong, very impressive weekend – its sixth. The seemingly unstoppable Lionsgate hit took in another $11.3 million and dropped an amazing 23%. The Hunger Games should now be seen as not only a great opener, but also one of the leggiest films we've seen in a long time. This weekend, The Hunger Games earned more than The Dark Knight did in its sixth weekend ($10.5 million), The Blind Side ($11.5 million) and How to Train Your Dragon ($10.6 million). Yes, The Avengers is certainly going to hurt it next weekend, but I think we should all be impressed by how this one has done. By weekend six, the Twilight films were on life support, earning in the $2-3 million area, with totals at less than $293 million. The Hunger Games earned about five times what The Twilight Saga: Eclipse did in weekend six, and has a running total of $372.5 million, against a production budget of $78 million.

Fifth goes to the Five-Year Engagement, the second consecutive Judd Apatow miss. Engagement, which stars Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, took in $11.2 million, lower than usual $20 million Apatow average. Out to 2,936 venues, The Five-Year Engagement had a venue average of $3,800. The best comparison here is Apatow's Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which also starred Segel, and was directed by Engagement's Nicholas Stoller. Sarah Marshall also opened in mid-April, but did much better, opening to $17.7 million. It went on to hold well against the big summer movies, and pull in $63 million. Will the same thing happen here? I doubt it. Reviews were only okay for the film (64% fresh at RottenTomatoes), and the premise sounds somewhat dismal. The good news for Universal is that this one cost only $30 million, so after all is said and done, I doubt anyone will be hurt.

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