SUNDAY AM: The No. 1 movie was Warner Bros’ mediocre laffer Get Smart, which opened in 3,911 theaters to a better-than-expected $39.1 million weekend. (The studio had been projecting $35M.) Exit polling showed the audience was split evenly male-female and skewed older, with 60% aged 25 or older — no doubt because of the original Mel Brooks-Buck Henry TV series. Many in Hollywood had made a fuss over the fact that this retread starring Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart and Anne Hathaway as Agent 99 was competing head to head for North American box office gross against another even worse comedy, Paramount’s moronic The Love Guru, because the two studios felt they couldn’t find another open date all summer. But it wasn’t a fair fight. The vehicle for Mike Myers’ return to the Big Screen after a long absence was filled with toilet humor, dick jokes and midget gags. It bombed badly, debuting at just No. 4 in 3,012 venues for an embarrassingly low $14 million weekend. (As one studio insider described the situation succinctly, “Ugh.”) But there’s a big difference in the two pics’ negative costs: $100M vs $60M, respectively. I’m also told that Warner Bros vastly outspent Paramount on marketing their comedy, $50M to $35M, which as Get Smart‘s release neared began to be advertised on the back of The Rock’s popularity in order to draw non-Caucasians — a strategy that seems to have worked. As for The Love Guru, it was aiming for a much younger audience aged 12 to 17 — but even they could smell a stinker. On Friday, Get Smart beat The Love Guru by $13.3M compared to $5.3M. And on Saturday, early numbers widened the gulf from $14.3M to $4.7M.
Meanwhile, newcomer Kit Kittredge, the Picturehouse American Girl movie, outperformed. Though platforming in just 5 theaters, it scored an incredible per-screen average of $19,731 Friday. Theaters in cities that American Girl stores were charging $20 a movie ticket to include a promotional lunch, souvenir and gift. But on Saturday, The Grove still did over $20,000 with normally priced tickets, I’m told. (So why didn’t the pic open wide this weekend instead of July 2nd to get out of WALL-E‘s way?) Warner Bros is already plotting out its newest franchise (usurped from Picturehouse, which is shuttering). No surprise, given the massive Warner Bros DVD sales of the three prior American Girl made-for-TV movies. Kit Kittredge the movie cost only $9 million and will be in profit at just $27 million including P&A. So, given the DVD projections, this could be a cash cow. (See my previous, Who’s Adopted This Orphaned Cash Cow?)
The No. 2 movie for the weekend was DreamWorks Animation / Paramount’s Kung Fu Panda which in 4,053 plays finished with a $21.7M weekend and new cume of $155.5M after Sunday thanks to the Saturday kiddie matinee bump. (It made $6.2M Friday and $8.5M Saturday. Holdover The Incredible Hulk self-financed by Marvel and distributed by Universal was No. 3 with a 21.5M weekend from 3,508 runs (-61% from its opening a week ago) and a new $96.4M cume after Sunday. (It made $6.6M Friday and $8.4M Saturday.)
The rest of the Top 10 were holdovers. Fox’s holdover horrow flick The Happening from M Night Shyamalan was No. 5 earning a 10M weekend from 2,986 theaters (-67% from its debut a week ago) and new $50.2M cume after Sunday. The Spielberg/Lucas fourquel Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull for Paramount came in No. 6 with an $8.4M weekend and $290.8M cume. At No. 7, Sony’s Adam Sandler/Judd Apatow comedy You Don’t Mess With The Zohan had a $7.2M weekend and new cume of $84M. HBO Films / New Line / Warner Bros’ Sex And The City hung in for No. 8 with a $6M weekend a new cume of $132M. No. 9 was Marvel/ Paramount’s Iron Man with a $4M weekend a new cume of $304.7M. And Rogue Pictures/Universal’s The Strangers finished No. 10 with a $1.9M weekend and $49.5M new cume.