SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: This was a tough weekend at the box office for one new major studio tentpole opening on a long Martin Luther King weekend but not for another which met the lower end of expectations. The 4-day holiday overall is looking -25% down from last year’s:

1. The Green Hornet 3D (Sony Pictures) NEW [3,584 Theaters]
Friday $11.1M, Saturday $12.7M
Estimated 3-Day Weekend $34M, Estimated 4-Day Holiday $40.5M

Saturday’s take was up +15% from Friday’s, which relieved Sony fears tonight. It seemed a miracle that this much bad-buzzed big movie that’s a modern adaptation of the old radio series about the legendary action duo — Britt Reid (with the unorthodox casting of Seth Rogen) and his resourceful Kato (with Taiwanese pop singer Jay Chou) not to mention their coolly equipped The Black Beauty — was tracking very well for weeks now. But then rival studios emailed me Friday that The Green Hornet was surprisingly underperforming. Sony execs disagreed. They said things could have been worse at the box office Friday but the West Coast was “pushing it way up” with late shows. And just as they predicted, Saturday’s number jumped. Friday’s post midnight screenings were light — $550K on 700 plays — because Sony didn’t push them. Meanwhile, The Green Hornet earned a “B+” CinemaScore overall but an “A-” among audience members under age 25. The audience skewed male (61%) vs female (39%) and age was evenly split over and under 25 (50%).

The debut is the 2nd highest opening ever for a film ever released during the 4-day holiday weekend in January and the 3rd highest debut ever for a 3-day January bow. But given the higher 3D ticket prices and PG-13 rating and superhero genre, these grosses are still on the lower side of Hollywood’s $40M-$50M expectations.  Then there’s the $120M-$150M production cost: blame reshoots and the release delay from December 22nd to January 14th so Sony could give the flick a 3D makeover. As for the marketing plan, “we really worked hard to create a summer film launch in January,” a Sony exec told me. Personally, I hated those cheezy Carls Jr promos but they helped create awareness. Pic had a strong presence with ads during key NFL and College Bowl games, plus the NBA. And a high impact outdoor campaign with a glow-in-the-dark logo effect plus “real” headlights on the image of The Black Beauty which toured in 20 markets and starred on Myth Busters and in U.S. auto shows. Rogen (who lost a lot of weight to play the role) and Chou each did an enormous amount of PR/appearances to support the film.

2. The Dilemma (Universal Pictures) NEW [2,941 Theaters] B
Friday $6.1M, Saturday $6.8M,
Estimated 3-day Weekend $17.4M, Estimated 4-day Holiday $20.6M

anastasia Chavez
4 years
It's because this industry is too politically correct. The media certainly doesn't help this industry or anyone...
Anastasia Chavez
4 years
Right on, brother! That's what you're supposed to do. That's what we ALL need to do.
anastasia Chavez
4 years
Glad to hear someone got a return on their money.

This is a shockingly soft opening for a Ron Howard-directed movie starring proven box office strongmen Vince Vaughn and Kevin James whose last four comedies were mega-openers (Four Christmases – $31M, Couples Retreat – $34M, Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $31M, and Grown-Ups – $40M). “Somehow putting them together gets you half that,” one rival studio exec snarked to me Friday night. I readily admit to being relieved to see Vince cool off at the box office because he’s such a pain-in-the-ass to almost everybody in the filmmaking process. On the other hand, The Dilemma was Universal Pictures chief Adam Fogelson’s first release of his new greenlit movie slate. But, seriously, what Big Studio mogul would not have okayed that talent combination in a PG-13 comedy? (Although I think Ron Howard should have deleted that gratuitous gay slur scene which was cut out of the trailer after protests that it was offensive.) The pic’s CinemaScore was a “B”. Given that this film’s production budget was $70 million, Dilemma has a long way to go but Universal believes it’s “performing at or slightly above tracking” which was forecasting only high teens because of poor tracking in recent weeks. That’s soft for the pic’s respective cost and a disaster for the reputations of Howard, Vaughn, and James. The disconnect, insiders tell me, was the storyline. “The subject of infidelity is a really challenging one,” one exec explained to me even though the studio’s own pre-release publicity points out that Vince has consistently proven to be a popular draw in comedies that take a look at the issues of relationships. “At a tie when people are looking for wish fulfillment, this may be too painful.” Other insiders are complaining to me that “this pic was meant to be a comedy with some drama, and it turned out to be a drama with some comedy”. Universal is also distributing the film internationally and it opens day and date in Australia, New Zealand, and Romania. In April, Universal begins rolling it out to the rest of the world.

3. True Grit (Paramount) Week 4 [3,459 Theaters]
Friday $3.2M, Saturday $4.5M 
Estimated 3-Day Weekend $10.5M, Estimated 4-Day Holiday $12.5M, Estimated Cume $127.7M

Wow, the Coen Brothers’ Western just keeps going and going as it rides to awards wins.

4. The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Co) Week 8 [1,543 Theaters]
Friday $2.4M, Saturday $3.8M
Estimated 3-Day Weekend $9M, Estimated 4-Day Holiday $10.7M, Estimated Cume $46.3M

This Oscar-touted film doubled its screen count this weekend.

5. Black Swan (Fox Searchlight) Week 7 [2,328 Theaters]
Friday $2.4M, Saturday $3.2M
Estimated 3-Day Weekend $8.1M, Estimated 4-day Holiday $9.9M, Estimated Cume $74.7M

This is a big expansion for this awards-praised pic, adding 750 locations.

6. Little Fockers (Universal) Week 4 [3,394 Theaters]
Friday $2M, Saturday $3M
Estimated 3-Day Weekend $7.1M, Estimated 4-Day Holiday $8.3M, Estimated Cume $135.4M

8. Tron: Legacy 3D (Disney) Week 5 [2,439 Theaters]
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $2.4M
Estimated 3-Day Weekend $5.7M, Estimated 4-Day Holiday $7.4M, Estimated Cume $158.6M

9. Yogi Bear 3D (Warner Bros) Week 5 [2,702 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Saturday $2.4M
Estimated 3-Day Weekend $5.2M, Estimated 4-Day Holiday $7.3M, Estimated Cume $84.1M

7. The Fighter (Relativity/Paramount) Week 6 [2,414 Theaters]
Friday $1.4M, Saturday $2.1M
Estimated 3-Day Weekend $5M, Estimated 4-Day Holiday $6.1M, Estimated Cume $66.7M

10. Tangled 3D (Disney) Week 8 [2,408 Theaters]
Friday $840K, Saturday $1.7M
Estimated 3-Day Weekend $3.9M, Estimated 4-Day Holiday $5.7M, Estimated Cume $182.7M