THURSDAY 4 AM: Get ready for a wacky weekend when four major studio releases will be joining an already crowded marketplace. Good thing DreamWorks Animation and Twentieth Century Fox turned on the ignition to rev Turbo into the domestic box office race on Wednesday. This non-sequel original story opened #1 with $5.8M into 3,552 theaters and received a coveted ‘A’ CinemaScore which should help word of mouth by Friday. The 3D toon was followed close behind by Universal/Illumination’s three-week-old 3D toon Despicable Me 2 ($5.6M last night but on its way to $500M worldwide today), #3 Sony/Happy Madison’s Grown-Ups ($4.3 for a $55.8M North American cume) and #4 Warner Bros/Legendary’s Pacific Rim ($3.5M and passing $100M worldwide). Sorry to repeat myself, but tracking has been unreliable this summer just as it’s been for some time now. But that hasn’t stopped all those morons at other media outlets from declaring ‘bombs’ before the movies have even opened in a theater. (Variety’s headline was the worst – “Two Ryan Reynolds Misfires in One Weekend?” – with writer Andrew Stewart telling Hollywood that his editor Claudia Eller is responsible for it.) Shameful. That said, no one’s quite certain how much the $135M-costing snail comedy can gross over the next 5 days with Gru and his minions still creating mucho mayhem in the market. Rival studios feel producer Lisa Stewart and story scribe and director David Soren who scripted with Darren Lemke and Robert Siegel put together a very watchable toon aimed at rug rats rather than a wider age range. Fox admits the pic plays young and says the special-order family tracking has been “consistently strong” but the studio’s estimates of mid-$30sM through Sunday must be lowball. (Even DWA’s The Croods opened to $43.6M in March – and Hollywood thought that was soft. But it went on to gross $582M global all in.) “It plays really well and should come on after Despicable Me 2 and monsters subside,” a Fox exec told me hopefully.
Still, the voice cast though talented and diverse is unexciting what with Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Luis Guzmán, Bill Hader, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, Ben Schwartz, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez, and Samuel L. Jackson. (There have been criticisms on social media and in critic reviews that the pic stereotypes race and ethnic groups as Turbo tries to win the Indy 500. But it’s an effing cartoon, people, so relax your cracks. Plus, none of the actors protested.) Pic is releasing day and date this weekend in 28 markets, including Russia, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina and select Southeast Asia territories. The Middle East will release in late August after Ramadan, Italy in late August to play into the fall, and Australia/New Zealand in late September for their spring school holidays. The balance of releases, mostly in Europe, will span from late September through October, coinciding with fall school holidays and a what Fox believes will be a less competitive window for family product versus this summer.