SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: With a big pricetag of $175 million, and bad buzz preceding it, Paramount’s G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra seemed certain to tank. Then the Stephen Sommers- directed pic came on tracking with incredibly high awareness among males. Now, despite all the sniping and snarking, it’s the 2nd biggest August domestic opener for a non-sequel, and a $100M worldwide hit — giving Paramount three big summer movies (+ Star Trek and Transformers 2). But what the studio predicted this AM to be a $60M North American weekend turned into a mojo-losing $56.2M opener. G.I. Joe earned $22.2M Friday but dropped -16% for only $18.2M Saturday despite a huge release into 4,007 theaters. The pic even made a ” B+” CinemaScore (“A-” for under 18). This would be a great result if the film weren’t so expensive. True, Spyglass Entertainment shared the cost, and I’ve learned everyone’s deals were restructured so there was no first-dollar gross paid out. The studio now must rely on other revenue streams. “This property will sell 100’s of millions of dollars of Hasbro toys that we get a royalty in,” a Paramount exec claims. “And given the action, this will be a huge seller on DVD.” Maybe.
G.I. Joe also opened day and date in 75% of its foreign territories. Although I’ve heard reports from rival studios that ticket sales were “disappointing” in Australia (where the pic opened #2 to the Sony romantic comedy Ugly Truth), early numbers from Spain, France, Russia, Asia and Latin America are said to be “very good”. Same with Korea where the actor who plays Storm Shadow — Byung-Hung Lee is a big star. Overseas grosses this weekend are pegged at $44.3M — despite some Anti-American military sentiments. (In the movie, U.S. military operatives are joined by international elite forces. Foreign actors were cast in major roles. Paris and Egypt were some of the locales. But, c’mon, this movie is called G.I. Joe!)
In the U.S., the studio expected the film to do best in so-called flyover country — the term Hollywood bestows on blue-collar moviegoers in the Midwest, South, and West where the common complaint is that liberal elites don’t make movies for their “God, guns, and country” tastes. Indeed, this pic’s strength is that it doesn’t suffer from any moral ambiguity: there are good guys, bad guys, and nothing inbetween. But I don’t see how G.I. Joe can get to Paramount’s predicted $300M worldwide. Especially when, next weekend, the pic will get blown away by the Peter Jackson-produced highly praised sci-fi blockbuster District 9 (2009 Comic-Con: ‘District 9’s Peter Jackson).
By contrast, Sony Pictures’ Julie & Julia had an almost exclusively female audience, a production cost of only $40M but an expensive marketing campaign, a release into just 2,975 venues, and massive free media coverage because of its subject matter — American cooking icon Julia Child. “This was maybe the oldest audience I can remember: 55% of the moviegoers were over the age of 50,” a rival studio exec tells me. The result was that Nora Ephron’s foodie pic claimed to make back half of its budget with its projected opening weekend — a claim rival studios dispute. The Meryl Streep-Amy Adams starrer made a $7.5M debut Friday and then got that adult bump — +20% — Saturday for $7.8M. (Thanks to a Cinemascore of “A” for both males and females: “A-” under 35, “A” over 35). With a good Sunday, the pic could get above $20.1M.
After that, no films cracked $10M this weekend. Jerry Bruckheimer’s first 3-D effort, G-Force, for Disney, was 3rd with $2.8M Friday and $4.1M Saturday from 3,482 theaters for a $9.8M weekend and cume of $86.1M. Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince lost steam and came in #4 with $2.4M Friday and $3.7M Saturday from 3,455 runs for a $8.8M weekend and a cume of $273.8M.
Last weekend’s #1 Funny People dropped a massive -72% Friday to No. 5. The Universal dramedy from Judd Apatow starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen made just $2.4M Friday and $3M Saturday for a $7.9M weekend — -65% — and $40.5M cume from 3,005 plays. The studio must be sitting shiva.
Sony Pictures’ Ugly Truth was #6 with $2.2M Friday and $2.6M Saturday for $7M and cume of $69M.
And, opening in just the 7th spot, Relativity’s Rogue continues its losing streak of pics with Perfect Getaway, which opened to only $2M Friday and $2.2M Saturday from 2,975 venues for a $5.8M weekend. The movie was distributed by Universal into 2,159 dates. (Of course, bankroller Relativity claims that foreign and tax credits covered the budget, and they have lost no money on Rogue films. And I have swampland in Arizona to sell you…)
No. 8 was Fox’s Aliens In The Attic with a $4M weekend from 3,108 theaters for a $16.2M cume. And 9th was Dark Castle/Warner Bros’ shameful adoption- bashing Orphan with a $3.7M weekend from 2,270 dates for a $34.8M cume. Rounding up the Top 10 is Fox Searchlight’s 500 Days Of Summer which expanded to 800 runs and did $3.7M this weekend for a $12.3M cume.
Overall, the weekend looks to finish with $147M, up at least 22% over last year’s 120.2M.