So much for a slow-pace in these final weeks of summer. Along with a strong holdover performance from Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes at number one, the box office was crowded with four new releases: one which seriously over-performed (The Help), one which very seriously underperformed (Glee The 3D Concert Movie) and two which fell somewhere in between.
|1||Rise of the Planet of the Apes||$27,500,000||$104.8|
|3||Final Destination 5||$18,400,000||$18.4|
|5||30 Minutes or Less||$13,000,000||$13|
|6||Cowboys and Aliens||$7,610,000||$81.4|
|8||Crazy Stupid Love||$6,930,000||$55.4|
|9||Harry Potter 7b||$6,875,000||$356.9|
Last weekend, Rise of the Planet of the Apes surprised a lot of people by debuting to almost $55 million: a figure that seemed more in keeping with an early summer release than an August afterthought. One week later, the sci-fi hit lost very little steam: falling less than 50% and stretching its domestic total to over $104 million. That is a greater ten day total than X-Men: First Class saw in June and not far behind where Captain America – supposedly the summer’s last blockbuster – was on its tenth day at the end of July.
Though most people predicted a second week on top for Fox’s Apes, very few realized how close this weekend’s number two film would come to catching them. With an estimated $25.5 million from 2,534 locations, The Help was just $2 million behind the weekend’s top earner and more than $10 million ahead of where its own studio projected it would be after five days. On Wednesday the Disney/Dreamworks release The Help saw a solid debut of $5.5 million and, going into Friday, the film had grossed just under $10 million.
Although The Help was based on one of last year’s most popular books, box office watchers did not expect the film version to find appeal beyond its immediate chick-lit base. Last August another classic of that genre, Eat Pray Love, saw a debut of $23.1 million – a figure that seemed unattainable for The Help considering its relatively unknown, ensemble cast. Instead the film, which was made for a reported $25 million, ended up grossing a big $35.4 million through Sunday to become one of this summer’s surprise hits.
Two years ago The Final Destination also laid claim to that “surprise hit” title. The fourth installment in the teen-horror franchise turned the then-promising 3D format into a series’ best launch of $27.4 million. This weekend Final Destination 5 was expected to take in about $25 million for what should have been a second place finish but, despite its relatively positive reviews, the film earned only an estimated $18.4 million from 3,155 locations – putting it smack in the middle of the pack of Destination titles.
This weekend’s number four and five films both hail from Sony Pictures, though I’m not sure anyone at the studio imagined that after three weeks The Smurfs would still be strong enough to beat out their brand new comedy 30 Minutes or Less. From Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer, the R-rated action-comedy pulled in an estimated $13 million or more than $10 million less than what Fleischer’s last R-rater brought in. Considering that Sony put the film’s prospects at closer to $18 million before Friday, 30 Minutes or Less is looking a bit ‘meh’ at the moment. Critics seemed to agree, giving the film a Rotten Tomato score of 44%.
But if 30 Minutes or Less did not live up to expectations, what can I say about Fox’s Glee The 3D Concert Movie? Go ahead, look for it on the top ten chart. You won’t find it. That’s because the big screen version of the annoyingly-popular TV show earned only $5.7 million from its 2,040 locations: enough only for a number eleven finish. What happened to that Gleek army I keep hearing about? Two years ago another 3D concert movie – Jonas Bothers: The 3D Concert Experience – was considered a disappointment when it earned $12.5 million on its first weekend. Though Glee’s reported budget, at less than $10 million, is under the Jonas’ total, the studio expected the film to earn its budget back in the first of its “two weeks only” advertised theatrical run.
Though none of the weekend’s four new titles got close to the $34.8 million launch of last year’s The Expendables, the box office still came out ahead of 2010 by an estimated 5%. Next weekend we should stay ahead with the two remakes – Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night – that are scheduled for release. Considering how far off box office projections have been in the last three weeks, however, I am not even going to attempt to predict how those two will land…