Friday Good at Easter Box Office
By John Hamann
March 31, 2013
It’s Easter weekend, so your best day at the box office had better be Good Friday, as movies like G.I. Joe sequel and a Tyler Perry release are NOT going to rise on Sunday.
Several films did have remarkable Fridays at the box office this weekend, including openers G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Tyler Perry’s Temptation. The not-so-hot opener on Friday was Stephenie Meyers’ The Host (thank god), as holdovers like The Croods, Oz the Great and Powerful and last weekend’s stunner Olympus Has Fallen beat it. Box office needs to be big on the Friday of Easter weekend, as some people end up busy on Sunday and some kids are heading back to school following spring break. Weekend multipliers (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) do the limbo, and fall significantly under the norm over a weekend like this. G.I. Joe: Retaliation got ahead of that by opening Thursday, a move I usually don’t like unless it’s over a weekend set up like this one. G.I. Joe: Retaliation opened Thursday, and earned $10.5 million, a solid but not dramatic start to its run.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation is both a sequel to the first G.I. Joe, subtitled Rise of Cobra, and a reboot. Paramount and Hasbro have a lot of faith in this franchise, despite the first film only doing okay at home and abroad. The original earned $150 million stateside and $152 million overseas, against a budget of $175 million. With The Croods being in play last weekend, focus has been on the write down taken by DreamWorks Animation on Rise of the Guardians. Rise of Cobra and Rise of the Guardians performed equally ($302 million worldwide) but Guardians cost $30 million less than the first G.I. Joe. In other words, Rise of Cobra most likely operated at a loss (prior to home video). The sequel would either have to perform much better or cost a lot less - if we are to see another G.I. Joe flick.
As discussed above, G.I. Joe: Retaliation did get off to a decent start, earning $10.5 million on Thursday, and then rose 48% to $15.5 million on Friday. It had $26 million in the bank before theaters opened Saturday, which, if it had been any other weekend, would be its busiest day. It is not a normal weekend, though, and while Retaliation’s Thursday/Friday looks great on paper, it is Easter, and we know the slide would begin on Saturday. Last year, Easter was the April 6th - 8th weekend, and The Hunger Games was in play. The weekend before Easter, The Hunger Games had a weekend multiplier of 3.1; over Easter weekend the multiplier dipped to 2.6; the weekend following it went back up to 3.3. So, we know that G.I. Joe’s time in the sun was that Thursday/Friday.
In the end, the weekend gross for G.I. Joe: Retaliation came in at $41.2 million, delivering a weekend multiplier of 2.65 (a 2.8 or higher would likely have come over a "normal" weekend). The original Joe opened to $54.7 million over an August weekend in 2009, so you can see that this weekend’s score for the sequel is no great bazinga. It took four days to do what the original did in three, which will hurt the sequel in the long run. While times have changed, there was a day when the original film in the franchise was supposed to be the low-grosser and have legs, and the sequels would debut bigger and fade out faster. With G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Paramount and Hasbro are going to see neither, at least stateside. However, North American audiences are less of the target this time. That’s why the studio delayed the release from August 2012 (nine months), so that they could go back, convert it to 3D, and hopefully make it more palatable for overseas audiences. They also included international stars like The Rock and Bruce Willis to reboot the sequel, and removed names like Dennis Quaid and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as those names sell fewer tickets in places like Singapore or Vladivostok.