SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Here are updated weekend box office figures from my sources. But the real story is that, for months now, Hollywood studios have been waging war behind the scenes to book North American 3D theaters for runs starting March 26th and continuing through Easter Sunday on April 4th. Yes, there are more 3D theaters than ever. But the recession slowed down the growth of 3D screens just as Hollywood picked up the pace for 3D films.
For instance, Warner Bros’ Clash Of The Titans was supposed to open this weekend in 2D. Instead, it’s opening next weekend in 3D, putting it on a collision course with Disney’s Alice in Wonderland 3D, still playing strong, and this weekend’s newcomer How To Train Your Dragon 3D from DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount, and even Avatar is still in cinemas. “It’s unprecedented to have 3 wide release 3D films in 5 weeks. So everyone is fighting for their share,” one studio mogul observed to me. “It’s nasty. There’s just one too many 3D films in the marketplace,” another exec said to me. Paramount and Disney really went mano a mano for this weekend’s 3D plays, and Dragon ended up with 2,178 3D locations, including 185 IMAX theaters, or about the same number that Disney had opening Alice four weekends ago when it was only up against Avatar. That’s miraculous. In turn, Warner Bros, despite fighting hard, will end up with several hundred less 3D screens for Titans over Easter.
Here’s the Top 10 (numbers will be refined Sunday morning):
1. How To Train Your Dragon 3D (Dreamworks Animation/Paramount) NEW [4,055 Theaters]
Friday $12.2M, Saturday $17.6M, Weekend $43.3M
Even rival studios readily acknowledge that DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg had one of his best films in years coming out this weekend. “It’s exciting, adventurous, emotional,” one competitor gushed. “But it’s been tracking badly.” That’s because the pic lacked comedy, unlike DA’s previous hits Kung Fu Panda and Monsters v Aliens. (Those often annoying wisecracks written into so many DA movies are real crowd pleasers.)
So Dragon finished its opening weekend with a $16M drop from Monsters v Aliens which debuted the same time last year. This, even though both pics commanded higher 3D ticket prices, and Paramount distributed Dragon to more 3D theaters. (Dragon‘s studios kept wanting to compare the pic not to its own MvA but to Sony’s 3D Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, which opened with $30M in September also to great reviews. It’s the box office game of managing expectations.) Still, with 97% positive reviews and an “A” Cinemascore, moviegoers liked the product, which heads into 2 weeks of school holidays and should play to good multiples.
2. Alice In Wonderland 3D (Disney) Week 4 [3,384 Theaters]
Friday $4.9M, Saturday $7.4M, Weekend $17.2M, Cume $293.1M
The culprit hurting Dragon is clearly Tim Burton’s Alice since it’s still playing in 75% of its 3D theaters and still showing box office strength even after its 4th weekend in release. Its total estimated international gross to date is now $363M for a worldwide total of $656M so far.
3. Hot Tub Time Machine (MGM/UA) NEW [2,754 Theaters]
Friday $4.8M, Saturday $5.2M, Weekend $13.6M
Right now this comedy from beleaguered MGM, which is on the auction block, is hanging on to #3 even though it underperformed. Hollywood expected the John Cusack starrer to open to at least $20M. Nope. Even though 30 Rock even wrote the pic into last week’s episode. (Tina Fey’s character pretends to be headed to a Truffaut retrospective only to be seen buying tickets to Hot Tub Time Machine — which is one of the best or worst titled movies in recent Hollywood history. You tell me which.) Though the pic didn’t cost much, near-bankrupt MGM did get permission from creditors to earmark $45M for P&A expense, but I’m assured the studio didn’t spend all that. Still, I wonder if it was a mistake to focus only on advertising the pic to men and not to women.
4. The Bounty Hunter (Relativity/Sony) Week 2 [3,074 Theaters]
Friday $4.1M, Saturday $5.3M, Weekend $12.4M (-40%), Cume $38.8M
The Jennifer Aniston-Gerard Butler starrer may be a lame movie, but it’s showing some legs. On the other hand, there’s almost nothing else aimed at women in the marketplace.
5. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid (Fox) Week 2 [3,083 Theaters]
Friday $2.8M, Saturday $4.2M, Weekend $10M (-55%), Cume $35.7M
There’s a lot of kid-oriented product in the marketplace now.
6. She’s Out Of My League (Paramount) Week 3 [2,432 Theaters]
Friday $1.1M, Saturday $1.3M, Weekend $3.5M, Cume $25.6M
7. Green Zone (Universal) Week 3 [2,564 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Saturday $1.4M, Weekend $3.3M, Cume $30.4M
8. Shutter Island (Paramount) Week 6 [2,123 Theaters]
Friday $951K, Saturday $1.3M, Weekend $3.1M, Cume $120.6M
9. Repo Men (Relativity/Universal) Week 2 [2,519 Theaters]
Friday $932K, Saturday $1.1M, Weekend $3M (-50%), Cume $11.3M
10. Our Family Wedding (Fox Searchlight) Week 3 [1,132 Theaters]
Friday $650K, Saturday $975K, Weekend $2.2M, Cume $16.7M