Not even close. For the second weekend in a row, DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is America’s number one attraction; down just 41% with an estimate of $35.5 million. Though down a much more substantial 60%, Fox’s Prometheus managed to hold on to second place thanks to two widely underperforming debuts. Those would be Rock of Ages and That’s My Boy which, even when combined, couldn’t come close to challenging for first place.
|3||Rock of Ages||$15,060,000||$15|
|4||Snow White & the Huntsman||$13,805,000||$122.6|
|5||That’s My Boy||$13,000,000||$13|
|6||Men in Black 3||$10,000,000||$152.6|
|8||Best Exotic Marigold Hotel||$2,200,000||$35.1|
|19||What to Expect When You’re Expecting||$1,330,000||$38.7|
Before we start picking apart the bones of Rock of Ages and That’s My Boy, I feel obliged to give credit to Madagascar 3. The three-quel is not only number one in America but is also the most popular movie worldwide, earning a reported $157 million internationally through Sunday. That puts the global total for the family film at $277.4 million after ten days, which is on par with Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa at the same point in its run. The last entry in the Madagascar franchise ended up earning a giant $603.9 million globally (70% of that from international sales) without the 3D ticket price advantage of the latest film. With Pixar’s Brave launching next weekend, Madagascar 3 will lose the limelight so how nice for them that, this weekend at least, audiences found all alternate viewing options so absolutely repellent!
This brings me to the business of dissecting this week’s disasters, starting with Rock of Ages. Now, I’m sure there was a point in time when adapting Broadway’s jukebox musical seemed like a really good idea: say, around the time that Fox’s Glee was the biggest thing on television? Of course, that was a long time ago and what works on TV does not always translate to the big screen. Witness last summer’s Glee the 3D Concert Movie, which grossed a total of $18.6 million… worldwide. Of course, the box office has seen some big musical success stories, most notably Mamma Mia!, which took in an astounding $609.8 million globally in 2008. Unfortunately, Rock of Ages is hewing a lot closer to the Glee model at this point.
From 3,470 locations, Rock of Ages took in just $15 million. To illustrate how dismal that number is, just a month or so back, long term tracking had the film earning $30 million or more on its first weekend. This past week, as marketing for the film ramped up and reviews started trickling in, projections got progressively lower, culminating in New Line/Warner Brothers’ announcement that $18 million might be the limit. The fact that even the studio’s hedge bet did not pan out is proof that something went very, very wrong with this high-profile project.
It should be fun to debate what that “something” was: reviled director Adam Shankman is always a likely target; and, of course, Tom Cruise makes an attractive whipping boy as well (though, coming off his career high in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol there is less material to work with there than after, say, Knight and Day dropped). The studio was holding out hope that Rock of Ages would find its ‘legs’ in the weeks to come, but I’m not sure any film could walk away a winner after getting kneecapped this badly its first time out.
And yet, as bad as it was for Rock of Ages, it was even worse for That’s My Boy. From 3,030 locations the R-rated comedy took in an estimated $13 million: a new low for an Adam Sandler film. But let’s be clear, Sandler has had worse openings. In 2004 the dramedy Spanglish opened to just $8.8 million from 2,438 locations and in 2002 Punch-Drunk Love saw a total domestic gross of just $17.8 million. These films were both outside of Sandler’s traditional comedy wheelhouse, however. When the star is in form he routinely sees his comedies open above $25 million, which is why That’s My Boy looks like such a stumble.
To be fair, no one expected huge things from Sandler’s latest; not only is the film rated R (almost all of the comedian’s biggest hits have been in the PG-13 oeuvre) but it had the bad fortune to follow Jack & Jill, the 2011 film that managed to alienate even some of Sandler’s most devoted fans. The reviews have been almost as bad for That’s My Boy as they were for Jack & Jill, so I wouldn’t expect much box office longevity from this one.
It didn’t seem like such a hard feat to accomplish: in order to put the box office in the black for a second week in a row all Hollywood had to do was deliver up a couple of films that audiences liked more than last year’s Green Lantern. How hard could that be? Madagascar 3 clearly did its part and yet here we are, down again thanks two star-powered misses. Here’s hoping Brave will be strong enough to blot out all memory of this week’s shame.