Weekend Box Office – $43.3 Million For HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON

     March 28, 2010

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After siphoning away 30% of Alice in Wonderland‘s precious 3D screens, Dreamworks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon was the big winner this weekend – although its total may have been a bit under what the studio was hoping for.

Title Weekend Total
1 How to Train Your Dragon $43,300,000 $43.3
2 Alice in Wonderland $17,300,000 $293.1
3 Hot Tub Time Machine $13,650,000 $13.6
4 The Bounty Hunter $12,400,000 $38.8
5 Diary of a Wimpy Kid $10,000,000 $35.7
6 She’s Out of My League $3,526,000 $25.6
7 Green Zone $3,350,000 $30.4
8 Shutter Island $3,175,000 $120.6
9 Repo Men $3,048,000 $11.3
10 Our Family Wedding $2,200,000 $16.7

how_to_train_your_dragon_movie_poster_larger_02.jpgHow to Train your Dragon has garnered some of the best reviews of any major studio release so far this year (97% on Rotten Tomatoes), but that praise did not necessarily translate into a huge opening weekend. From its 4,055 theatres (over 2,100 in 3D), How to Train Your Dragon brought in an estimated $43.3 million or $10,600 per screen. That is $16 million under the take for DA’s own 3D game-changer Monsters vs. Aliens, which debuted on this same weekend in 2009. For their part, the studio would like me to point out that Dragon did trump the $30 million made by Sony’s 3D animated Cloudy with A Chance for Meatballs, but I don’t feel like humoring them…

This is a case of too many 3D titles and not enough screens to go around, a phenomenon anyone with eyes could have seen coming. Though cinema chains worked overtime to add 3D digital screens to their facilities in time for Avatar, they did not move quickly enough to accommodate multiple 3D titles on the same weekend. Disney’s Alice in Wonderland made over $34 million last weekend – its third in release. This weekend, despite losing about 355 screens overall, Alice showed remarkable resiliency – earning $17.3 million for a second place finish. And that Avatar is still lurking in a few 3D locations as well – though the blockbuster finally fell out of the top ten after 100 days in release.

Dreamworks ended up winning the battle for more screens, but that was a pyrrhic victory considering that Dragon brought in only about 38% of Disney’s debut total for Alice in Wonderland on roughly the same number of 3D screens. But here’s the bright side: How to Train Your Dragon will continue to play on those hard-fought 3D screens over the Easter holiday. It’s not a known entity like Alice but it has those glowing reviews to recommend it and a full week of kiddie-school vacations to walk those numbers up. In fact, the real loser here may be Clash of the Titans, which decided kind of late in the game to make the jump to 3D. As a result Warner Brothers will have to settle for far fewer 3D equipped screens.

hot_tub_time_machine_movie_image_clark_duke_rob_corddry_john_cusack_rob_corddry_04.jpgOn the flatter side of the street, the late, great MGM opened its alluringly titled Hot Tub Time Machine this weekend on 3,000 screens, Not even a well-placed nod on last week’s 30 Rock was enough to push the comedy over the top, however. Hot Tub earned an estimated $13.6 million – a bit short of its $20 million projection. The good news here is that the film can now get a jump on its destiny: becoming a basic cable staple for years to come.

The monster wave of 3D titles spelled bad news for last week’s visually traditional titles: Diary of a Wimpy Kid fell by nearly 59% to $10 million while Repo Men fell off by over 50%. The Bounty Hunter managed to hold on to about 60% of its first week gross, but its new $38.8 million total still puts it a bit off of the $60 million goal for a big-name battle of the sexes comedy.

As I mentioned, Easter weekend brings the release of Warner Brother’s big Clash of the Titans reboot – in 3D theatres if you can find one. I’m a big fan of the original so I’m looking forward to seeing what the new film has to offer… in whatever dimension it’s offering it in.

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