No Dark Shadows on Marvel's Avengers
By John Hamann
May 13, 2012
Warner Bros. made the questionable decision to release the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton comedy Dark Shadows against the second weekend of Marvel's The Avengers. However, a week and two days ago, I thought The Avengers might open to $150 million. With the record-breaking assault by The Avengers, Depp and Burton were going to need a literal miracle to see their movie break out this weekend. Instead, we are left with more of a Sleepy Hollow result than an Alice in Wonderland result. Dark Shadows opened in 3,755 venues (many of them likely 'B' venues), and earned $28.8 million. When dealing with huge movies like The Avengers, sometimes perspective is blown when a movie like Dark Shadows opens. However, this movie came from Depp and Burton, the team behind hits like Alice In Wonderland ($116 million open) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ($56 million open), both of which, like Dark Shadows, had a known material to work from. While not the juicy backgrounds like Charlie and Alice, Dark Shadows does have a cult following, as it's based on the insane soap opera from the late 1960s. Reviews also didn't help, as the RottenTomatoes score came in at only 43% fresh, with "top critics" even lower at 39%.
Tracking was looking for more from Dark Shadows, and so was its distributor, Warner Bros. The tracking estimate for Dark Shadows had the comedy opening to $35-40 million, so audiences didn't buy in as much as expected. For Warner Bros., this movie was not a cheap production, as it cost $150 million to bring to the screen. Warner Bros. would have expected an opening weekend between $40-$50 million, and this throws well below that. Is Dark Shadows a disappointment? I don't believe so, at least not at this point. Let's remember who we are dealing with here – Johnny Depp – the man who made The Tourist a $120 million hit overseas, despite only earning $67 million stateside. Depp alone will make Dark Shadows a hit overseas, and will likely help Warner Bros. make some money off of this one – eventually.
Finishing third is Think Like A Man, now in the top three for four consecutive weekends. The Screen Gems/Rainforest release earned another $6.3 million in its fourth weekend, dropping 22% from the previous frame. Think Like A Man is already a huge success, behaving like The Avengers, but on a much smaller scale. Remember that this one cost only $12 million to make, opened to $33.6 million, and has a hot running total of $81.9 million. It has paid for itself four times over, and is really one of the great success stories of a targeted release. Think reminds me of director Tim Story's first big film, Barbershop, as it was the same kind of hit. It opened to $20.6 million and went on to earn $75 million, all against the same budget that Think Like a Man had, at only $12 million.
Fourth spot goes to the former box office story of the year, The Hunger Games. Now in its eighth (!) weekend, The Hunger Games took in another $4.4 million this weekend, and drops a sublime 21%. It is currently the 13th biggest film ever; however, it will drop to 14th when it is passed by The Avengers this week. It needs to reach $402.1 million to pass Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but is unfortunately a long shot to do so. So far, The Hunger Games has earned $386.9 million.