Four new releases hit theatres this weekend, including one that was marketed to within an inch of its life. Still, year-to-year grosses will be down once again by almost 10% and it was a holdover that took the number one title. Universal’s Hop earned an estimated $21.7 million to put it on top of the US box office for the second week in a row.
|9||Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2||$4,885,000||$45.4|
|10||The Lincoln Lawyer||$4,600,000||$46.4|
Hop got the jump on this weekend’s new releases. Going into its sophomore frame Universal increased the family film’s theatre count to minimize the second-week decline on what was 2011’s best debut. Consequently, Hop fell off by just 42%, giving it a new domestic total of $68.1 million or well above the CGI/live-action comedy’s reported budget of $63 million. Of course Hop was probably destined to be a repeat at number one. It had no competition for family audience dollars and a weak field of new releases to leap over.
Chief among those was Warner Brothers’ Arthur. Despite the fact that there was almost no media event that Russell Brand did not turn up on to promote his first starring turn, the remake of Dudley Moore’s iconic 1981 film failed to achieve even the modest goal of $15 million that the studio was projecting. From its 3,276 locations Arthur brought in just $12.6 million. In terms of the film’s reported $40 million budget that estimate could be worse; but with Arthur there are also serious PR costs to consider. Because I doubt there’s a person in this country that missed Brand’s media blitz, I’d say that Arthur deserves to take its place on 2011’s ever-lengthening list of box office misses.
Just how large a miss may be illustrated by the PG-13 revenge flick Hanna, the film at number three. Though by no means a sleeper, Focus Features opened Hanna in fewer theatres than Arthur and concentrated more on targeted marketing as opposed to big, splashy media campaigns. The result? Hanna came in less than half a million behind Arthur, with an estimated $12.3 million from 2,535 locations. The film has a reported budget of $30 million but with pre-sales and finance deals, the production was supposedly ahead of the game even before this weekend’s numbers were released.
So if Hanna is considered a modest hit and an overachiever for having come in just above projections, the number four film Soul Surfer is a runaway success story. The inspirational biopic was made for a reported $15 million and, going in to the weekend Sony was prepared to get happy if Soul Surfer got close to $10 million. Instead they went over that with an estimated $11.1 million from 2,214 locations. The film has had very strong word of mouth (though mixed reviews) and should have a long and lucrative career on the Christian film circuit.
Our final new release will have no afterlife on the Christian circuit. Nor will it have a long or lucrative career on any circuit, I’m afraid. If Universal’s R-rated comedy Your Highness looked like it was struggling on Friday (when it debuted in fourth place) this weekend’s sixth place finish behind holdover Insidious has put it out of its misery. From 2,769 locations Your Highness earned only an estimated $9.5 million. Add to that the fact that the film cost a reported $50 million to produce and that director David Gordon Green’s Pineapple Express debuted to more than double that figure in 2008 and this looks pretty bad for the big name cast. Luckily, Your Highness should fall out of the top ten by next weekend so they won’t have to live with the shame for long.
Next weekend we may finally see an increase over 2010 grosses (next week last year Kick-Ass debuted in first place). To that end Fox will launch the animated family film Rio while Dimension unveils Scream 4. Each of those films should be able to top Kick-Ass’s $19 million, right?