SUNDAY PM, 6TH UPDATE: Welcome to another weekend of strong North American box office. But it’s down -6% from last year because Saturday grosses proved softer than expected. Probably the NCAA basketball effect. R-rated pics were hot. Numbers for the #1 movie, Sony Pictures/MGM co-production’ 21 Jump Street, showed an opening of $13.2M Friday and $13M Saturday for a $35M weekend from 3,121 theaters. Friday’s number includes the $700K Friday midnights from 598 theaters. Overall, nice haul for the raunchy laugher whose budget was only around $45M. What’s especially interesting here is that these remakes of popular TV shows rarely work on the big screen. But stars Channing Tatum (The Vow) and Jonah Hill (Moneyball) are hot right now — with Tatum having two films of different genres in the Top 10 this weekend and Hill coming off an Oscar nom. And directors Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs) found the right irreverent way in for their first live action feature. Michael Bacall’s and Jonah Hill’s story used the Patrick Hasburgh/Stephen J Cannell series as a jumping off point. Bacall is credited with the screenplay. This is the first successful bonafide comedy of 2012 (since Fox’s This Means War disappointed and Warner Bros’ Project X had a ‘found footage’ conceit). Reviews have been surprisingly good — not just 88% on Rotten Tomatoes but even The New York Times. (Not that this is a review-driven film.) Audiences gave it a ‘B’ CinemaScore. Exit polls showed moviegoers were 53% male and 50% were under 25.
Sony had an extensive word of mouth campaign for the film with over 350 screenings across the country. Overall, the marketing campaign targeted young adult moviegoers and positioned the film as a “must-see” action comedy. There was the usual promotion on high profile sports games and primetime TV But mostly Sony sold the talent to engage audiences and break through the clutter. “We partnered with 15 different networks to create custom content to showcase the film talent and convey the irreverent humor of the film,” a Sony exec tells me. Jonah and Channing were joined by Ice Cube and Rob Riggle for a domestic regional press tour in Denver, Chicago, Washington DC, Miami, and NYC. In addition to national talk show appearances, Hill hosted Saturday Night Live the weekend before 21 Jump Street opened. Also helping was the pic’s premiere at the South by Southwest fest, while Jonah and Channing visited Wondercon Friday. An extensive campaign was formulated for Twitter including a “Tweet-Off” between Tatum and Hill.
Meanwhile, #2 Illumination Entertainment/Universal’s Dr Seuss’ The Lorax after three weeks in release is benefitting from the fact that 24% of K-12 classes were out of school Friday. But Disney’s disappointing holdover John Carter is still disappointing a week later. Despite its $250M budget it’s only a distant #3. It’s now up to international to perform: this weekend the film earned $40.7M internationally for a worldwide cume now of $179.3M. Otherwise director Andrew Stanton’s domestic bomb is a $100M-$150M writeoff for the Walt Disney Co.
But the real surprise this weekend is Casa De Mi Padre, which is Will Ferrell’s $6M-costing indie filmed almost entirely in Spanish with English subtitles and playing in only 382 locations. The R-rated pic opened in the Top Ten with an impressive $2.2M weekend and the 2md best per screen average. Ferrell, who speaks surprisingly good Spanish in the pic, got the project off the ground and is the only on-screen gringo in what he says is a “telenovela meets a Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez/bad Mexican spaghetti Western”. Ferrell brought in pals from his Funny Or Die website, director Matt Piedmont and screenwriter Andrew Steele, whose script was written in English and had to be translated into intentionally bad Spanish writing. Casa De Mi Padre was a 23-day production financed by Nala Films, the Santa Monica company behind In The Valley Of Elah and Dan In Real Life. The film is being distributed in limited release in the United States by Pantelion Films, which is a partnership between Lionsgate and the Mexican media company Televisa.
Here’s the Top 10 based on weekend grosses:
1. 21 Jump Street (MGM/Sony) NEW [3,121 Theaters] R-rated
Friday $13.2M, Saturday $13M, Weekend $35M
2. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Illumination/Universal) Week 3 [3,769 Theaters] PG-rated
Friday $6.8M, Saturday $8.7M, Weekend $22.8M, Cume $158.4M
3. John Carter (Disney) Week 2 [3,749 Theaters] PG13-rated
Friday $3.9M, Saturday $5.6M, Weekend $13.5M (-55%), Cume $53.1M
4. Project X (Warner Bros) Week 3 [2,922 Theaters] R-rated
Friday $1.5M, Saturday $1.4M, Weekend $4.0M, Cume $48.1M
5. A Thousand Words (DWorks/Paramount) Week 2 [1,895 Theaters] PG13-rated
Friday $1.1M (-43%), Saturday $1.6M, Weekend $3.7M (-39%), Cume $12.1M
6. Act Of Valor (Relativity) Week 4 (2,765 Theaters] R-rated
Friday $1.1M, Saturday $1.4M, Weekend $3.6M, Cume $62.6M
7. Safe House (Universal) Week 6 [1,920 Theaters] R-rated
Friday $815K, Saturday $1.0M, Weekend $2.7M, Cume $120.2M
8. Journey 2 (Warner Bros) Week 6 [1,935 Theaters] PG-rated
Friday $716K, Saturday $975K, Weekend $2.4M, Cume $95M
8. Casa De Mi Padre (Lionsgate) NEW [382 Theaters] R-rated
Friday $782K, Saturday $784K, Weekend $2.2M
10. This Means War (Fox) Week 5 [1,660 Theaters] PG13-rated
Friday $745K, Saturday , Weekend $2.1M, Cume $50.5M
Meanwhile, 21 Jump Street had a very limited day-and-date rollout overseas grossing $7M. But it had a big opening in Australia where it became the #1 movie with $4.3M U.S. dollars (including previews) on 243 screens. It was #1 in the market so far, pulling in 38% of the country’s total box office, following a big publicity push by Channing and Jonah who are also executive producers. The film rolls out in the majority of the world in coming months. That said, in North America, I’m told that audiences are responding with whoops and hollers when they see the movie’s biggest unadvertised surprise…
SPOILER ALERT… SPOILER ALERT…