Jack and Jill gained some ground on Saturday, though not enough to slay the Immortals. The 3D action/fantasy film finished first with an estimated $32 million from 3,112 locations. Considering that the film’s distributor was expecting a top opening of $26 million that has to be seen as a win. And even if the film’s total does look somewhat anemic compared to past 3D hits, with the year we’ve had I’d prefer to focus on the positive.
|2||Jack and Jill||$26,000,000||$26|
|3||Puss In Boots||$25,500,000||$108.8|
|6||Harold and Kumar 3D||$5,900,000||$23.2|
|8||Paranormal Activity 3||$3,625,000||$100.8|
For Relativity Media, being able to promote Immortals as America’s number one film is undoubtedly positive. Before today, the company’s biggest hit was Limitless, which opened to $18.9 million back in March. Then again, that film was priced at just $27 million while the reported budget for Immortals is somewhere between $75 million and $100 million-plus, depending on whom you ask. But wait! I was trying to be positive, wasn’t I?
OK then, it is positive news that Immortals has scored the third highest debut for an R-rated movie so far this year. Especially considering that 2011’s top adult films were The Hangover – Part II and Paranormal Activity 3. Those are franchise films, after all. Immortals is original… unless you count that “from the producers of 300” stuff. In any case, neither of the year’s top R-raters had a 3D price premium backing their totals so that makes third place seem a little less spectacular.
And what of the 3D angle? Could it be spun into a positive for Immortals? Not so much. Though the film came close to topping Puss In Boot’s $34 million and The Smurfs $35.6 million, in the end it fell short of even those middling 3D debuts. The best it can claim is the title of top R-rated 3D opening of 2011 and, considering the former record holder was Final Destination 5 with $18 million, I’m not sure that’s something to brag on.
So, OK. There are a lot of ways in which the Immortals win could be spun away from the positive. But here’s something no one can take away: the film beat the odds by taking the top spot at all. All signs indicated another embarrassingly-light turnout for this male-centric action/fantasy film. 2011 hasn’t exactly embraced that genre, plus it was up against Jack and Jill, the latest comedy from the team of Adam Sandler and director Dennis Dugan.
Over four films in four years, Sandler and Dugan had yet to open a film to less than $30 million, so there was little reason to believe that Jack and Jill would be the first. Yes, the trailers looked awful and the film’s Rotten Tomato score of 03% wasn’t promising, but had that stopped Grown Ups from scoring back in 2010? Sandler has been one of the decade’s most reliable performers, which is why most box office watchers (myself included) expected more from Jack and Jill. Though not quite as low as I expected after Friday’s numbers came in, the weekend estimate of $26 million from 3,438 locations marks the lowest opening for a Sandler/Dugan comedy since 2006’s Benchwarmers.
The weekend’s final new release is the latest from director Clint Eastwood. J. Edgar – a look at the life of infamous FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover – was not expected to be a big money player this weekend… mostly because it is hoping to be a player in this year’s Oscar race. Warner Brothers gave it a limited release on Wednesday followed by a wide-ish expansion into 1,901 locations by Friday. The film’s three-day estimate of $11.4 million is in line with expectations and represents a pretty good per-theatre average of $6,000.
So, thanks in part to that surprise first-place performance of Immortals, this week’s box office was up by over 15% from 2010 levels. It’s too bad, of course, that Breaking Dawn will make it nearly impossible for any other film to get much attention by next Friday, but hey! Let’s not get bogged down by reality while we are trying to focus on the positive!