January generally isn’t the time for the studios’ best and brightest, but that changes for the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. This year, Sony successfully pitched the superhero comedy The Green Hornet, which won the weekend with $34 million. Universal didn’t do quite as well with their high profile release The Dilemma, which came in second with $17.4 million. Details after the jump:
|1||The Green Hornet||$34,000,000||$34.0|
|4||The King’s Speech||$9,070,000||$44.6|
|10||Season of the Witch||$4,500,000||$18.0|
The Green Hornet has truly overcome the bad buzz that plagued early press on the production. It wasn’t cheap to make, but $34 million is a strong winter opening. Plus, direct competition is relatively light in the coming weeks: the next action film (The Mechanic, 1/28) is two weeks away and the next PG-13 actioner (I Am Number Four, 2/18) is over a month away. Given Jay Chou’s superstar status in Asia, I expect the international box office prospects are promising. It’s too early to call it, but The Green Hornet looks very much like the beginning of a franchise after weekend one.
The Green Hornet is now among the top January opening weekends, ranked below Cloverfield ($40.1 million) and the 1997 Star Wars re-release ($35.9) and just above last year’s The Book of Eli ($32.8) and Paul Blart: Mall Cop ($31.8). Speaking of Paul Blart himself…
Comedies led by Kevin James or Vince Vaughn have opened very well over the last couple years:
- Four Christmases (2008) – $31.1 million
- Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009) – $31.8 million
- Couples Retreat (2009) – $34.3 million
- Grown Ups (2010) – $40.5 million
And yet together James and Vaughn couldn’t crack $20 million with Ron Howard at the helm of The Dilemma. Curious. $17.4 million is certainly no disaster, and the comedy could absolutely recover in the coming weeks with strong legs. But you have to imagine Universal was hoping for more when the studio greenlit this package.
True Grit continues to do big business, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down with only a 23% decline from last weekend to $11.2 million. Fellow Oscar contender The King’s Speech expanded into wide release this weekend with a promising start of $9.1 million. Black Swan rounds out the top five with $8.1 million as a major success for Fox Searchlight. The film crossed $70 million this weekend to surpass Sideways to become the studio’s third highest grossing film after Juno and Slumdog Millionaire. Black Swan could conceivably reach $100 million, especially if the film gains momentum once Oscar nominations are announced January 25th.
There’s only one new wide release next weekend in No Strings Attached, the R-rated comedy that stars Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. It’ll be a tough road to overtake number one from The Green Hornet, but not impossible if the film connects with audiences. In limited release, Peter Weir’s The Way Back opens in about 650 theaters.