Weekend Forecast for May 24-26, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
May 23, 2013
Although Memorial Day Weekend may have lost its position as the start of the summer movie season, it remains in some sense the weekend when everyone goes to the movies. Hollywood tries to plan this weekend as the “something for everyone” period – if “everyone” includes just the subset of people who like their movies turned up to 11.
Indeed this weekend is so INTENSE that it can't even be contained in four days, as The Hangover III debuts on Thursday – or as I put it, Warner Bros being determined to make the same mistake as Paramount, by leaking money away from the weekend total. It's also interesting from an alpha dog perspective, as it's clear that WB sees its property as the weaker one relative to Universal's Fast & Furious 6. Even though both of the previous entries in this franchise opened to roughly identical totals last time around, it seems fairly self-evident that Hangover III is working more from a position of weakness, both in a “why is this film necessary” sense, as well as from a “boy, that last one wasn't very good, was it?” stance.
The original was a bolt of lightning into a fairly tame comedy market, showing what a market there was out there for no-holds-barred “bad boy” comedy, and ran a $35 million opening weekend up to nearly $300 million domestic. The Hangover II was a fairly cynical capitalizing on the formula, essentially a scene-for-scene remake with a location change. However, the goodwill it purchased from the first film helped it open to $85 million and established a new record for R-rated films. The $250 million domestic total it earned based on that is by no means bad, but it did show a bit of weakness in the franchise. You can get people to show up, but there were a definite number of fence-sitters waiting to see if the film was any, you know, good, and not just a rehash with some gratuitous abuse of Ed Helms.
The Hangover III announces that they've heard us, at least to some degree, by declaring that this time, there's no wedding, no bachelor party, and somehow, the events of the first two films are going to add up into something more meaningful. I'm not quite sure I buy this, but points for trying, I suppose. But let's be honest with ourselves – the real reason we're watching this is for the singular comedic performance by Zach Galifianakis, who has made “no normal person reacts like this” into an art form. Throwing that into a hijinks-heavy plot is necessary for there to be a movie, but in this sense, he's almost like Johnny Depp in the Pirates movies. One wonders if there's a point of too much, but with this being the promised conclusion of the series, we'll either not reach that, or reach it just in time for the end of the character.
I think we can count on some inevitable fall back from Hangover II's opening weekend, both due to calendar configuration, as well as the damage done by the quality of that film. I don't think we're looking at a full-on meltdown, but a three-day total of about $60 million might be enough to show Warner Bros. that ending this series now is the right call.