As expected, neither of this week’s new comedies came close to catching Transformers 3 on its second weekend. While Horrible Bosses became the latest R-rated comedy to top expectations this summer, Zookeeper became the latest potential tentpole to fall flat. Meanwhile, both films combined barely topped this weekend’s estimate for Dark of the Moon, which became the US’s highest-grossing release of 2011 as of Sunday.
|10||Mr. Popper’s Penguins||$2,850,000||$57.7|
With a new domestic total of $261 million, Transformers: Dark of the Moon surpassed The Hangover Part II this weekend to become the year’s top earner. With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2 on the horizon it’s unclear how long that title will hold, but it should look good on the film’s promos for the next week or two.
In 2009 Transformers 2 closed as the year’s second highest earner with a domestic total just over $402 million. In its first ten days, Moon lagged behind its predecessor here in the US but, with this weekend’s decline of 52% to Revenge of the Fallen’s 61%, Tf3 has captured the advantage. Already a bigger hit internationally, Dark of the Moon continued its worldwide domination this weekend. Combined estimates put the film over the $600 million mark as of Saturday and, because it has yet to open in China or Japan, it is sure to top its predecessor’s $836 million worldwide total in the coming weeks. Additionally, Tf3 has a good chance of breaking the one billion mark. That would make it the second film of 2011 and the ninth of all time to pass that particular barrier.
A few months back, Horrible Bosses looked like the weaker of this weekend’s new releases. The R-rated title from New Line/Warner Brothers seemed destined for a debut of no more than $20 million – completely competent for a counter-programming comedy. But that was before The Hangover Part II and Bridesmaids made this the summer of the adult comedy. Even with Bad Teacher still a force in the top ten, Horrible Bosses bested all projections with a first weekend estimate of $28.1 million from 3,040 theatres. The puts the ensemble comedy in-between the debuts of the summer’s other comedy originals: Bridesmaids ($26.2 million) and Bad Teacher ($31.6 million). Bosses probably won’t have the legs of the former and its reported budget of $35 million is higher than the latter but, as few imagined it could beat out a Kevin James family-film, I’d say Horrible is counting its blessings.
In the weeks after Paul Blart: Mall Cop became a giant hit, Kevin James found himself an unlikely A-lister. Of course, with stardom comes heightened expectations and, this year, James was unable to deliver. The Dilemma fell flat – opening to just $20.5 million over the four day MLK holiday. This weekend, despite its family-friendly talking animal cast and summer release slot, Zookeeper didn’t do much better, earning an estimated $21 million from its 3,482 locations. That is a bit higher than projections placed it going into the weekend but nowhere near the $30 million-plus the film was once expected to earn. Zookeeper did manage to top Mr. Popper’s Penguins which, though not a hit, went on to post decent multiples in its second and third weekends. Unfortunately, Harry Potter will probably see to it that families continue to stay clear of Zookeeper.
Overall, this weekend represented another box office loss – down 15% from 2010 when Despicable Me was a surprise hit with $56 million. The good news is that next weekend is all but guaranteed to put us in the plus column with the final installment in the most lucrative franchise of all time: Harry Potter. After its UK premiere, Deathly Hallows Part 2 has a 100% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is already tracking as the highest debut of the series here in the US.