(Photo by DreamWorks Animation)
DreamWorks Animation’s first movie was Antz, released two months before A Bug’s Life, and thus this studio was born into incessant comparison to Pixar’s output, molded by it, becoming the snarky and sarcastic foil to its competitor’s earnestness.
DreamWorks Animation would forge most of its identity and formula on the back of one giant, smelly, green ogre: Shrek, which has generated sequels, tie-ins, theme park rides, and billions of dollars, while ensuring Smash Mouth’s “All-Star” never leaving the pop culture’s ironic curriculum.
The studio’s other franchises include Kung Fu Panda, which introduced a whole new world of visual flair and surprising emotional depth to the DreamWorks movie canon, and Madagascar, which pulled off the mega-rare feat of each movie being higher-rated on the Tomatometer than the last. At least the mainline movies. (Penguins of Madagascar 73% is lower than the 79% Madagascar 3 has, but that’s a spin-off.)
Their latest releases were Spirit Untamed and Boss Baby: Family Business, with The Bad Guys and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish on the horizon. Now, we’re ranking all DreamWorks Animation movies by Tomatometer!
This week, the Weekly Ketchup is departing from our regular Friday schedule because of San Diego Comic-Con, and all of the extra big news that it will bring throughout the weekend. So today, you get a “pre-SDCC” Weekly Ketchup! This edition brings you nine headlines from the world of film development news (those stories about what movies Hollywood is working on for you next). Included in the mix this time around are stories about such titles as Ghostbusters 2, Star Trek 4, a remake of Cooley High, and Edgar Wright’s Shadows.
When film historians tell the story of the first 15 or so years of the 21st century, at least one chapter is likely to be dedicated to the “YA” fad. The movie business is by nature cyclical, but this particular wave started and seemingly has ended all within the course of eight years. It was only in 2008 that the first Twilight movie was released (the last in 2012), and The Hunger Games spanned four movies, one a year from 2012 to 2015. Those two mega-successful franchises (both from Lionsgate or subsidiary Summit Entertainment) are the rare exceptions to a rule that was much more demonstrated by box office disappointments (The Host, Beautiful Creatures, I Am Number Four, The Giver, The Mortal Instruments, etc). Until this March, the Divergent series seemed like it would be another four-films-adapting-three-novels genre success for Lionsgate. The franchise starring Shailene Woodley kept dropping, both in box office and critical reception. Even so, it was presumed by most that Lionsgate would continue their sad march towards a Divergent series wrap up. The fourth movie, Divergent Series: Ascendant, even had a release date of June 9, 2017, up against both World War Z II and Universal’s next reboot of The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise. Well, according to Variety this week, Lionsgate is changing course at the last moment, negotiating for The Divergent Series: Ascendant to be made into a “TV movie” that would then lead to a Divergent spinoff TV series (probably using different characters). It sounds like there are still many unknown variables, such as which of the “movie stars” will also reprise their roles in the “TV movie.” Shailene Woodley, who got her start in TV (Secret Life of the American Teenager) might be likely to return, but Ansel Elgort and Theo James might not. As for what channel Divergent Series: Ascendant will be produced for, we still don’t know yet. However, Starz seems the most obvious candidate since that network was just acquired by Lionsgate three weeks ago for $4.4 billion (ie, Lionsgate might have known they were doing this at the time). So, what do the fans think? Is Divergent going direct-to-TV the final death knell in the “YA novel adaptation” fad?
When it comes to sequels, the math varies depending upon a few different factors, but the most obvious one is budget. The $46 million opening weekend of the Ghostbusters reboot, for example, would have been an obvious “franchise starter” for a movie on a $40 million budget. However, that movie was a special effects extravaganza, with a budget in the $144 million range. One of Sony Pictures’ executives confirmed soon after the box office numbers came out that, yes, they are still committed to making more Ghostbusters movies in the near future. Sony President of Worldwide Distribution Rory Brue specifically said, “I expect Ghostbusters to become an important brand and franchise… While nothing has been officially announced yet, there’s no doubt in my mind it will happen.” As for what the next Ghostbusters sequel might involve, the reboot has a scene after the credits that pretty much tells us. And we can almost certainly expect that the four female stars (Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Kristen Wiig) are probably already signed (or in negotiations) for the sequel as well (and probably director Paul Feig, too). One actor who might be tougher to confirm is Chris Hemsworth — along with his Marvel committments, it’s sounding like he will continue to be quite busy because…
Earlier this year, it was confirmed that the “official” designation for the new timeline that started in the 2009 Star Trek reboot is “Kelvin.” That name comes from the ship that was destroyed by the time travelling baddies in the beginning of that film (if that’s a spoiler to you after seven years, well, you probably shouldn’t be reading any of this). One of the crewmen on the Kelvin was George Kirk, played by Chris Hemsworth, who of course was the father of the future Captain James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine). Kirk’s father dying so young was one of the more character-oriented changes in the Kelvin timeline (along with, you know, the entire planet Vulcan being destroyed), and this week’s news indicates we haven’t seen the last of him. Paramount Pictures, Skydance, and Bad Robot have announced the fourth/fourteenth Star Trek movie, and one of the stars will be… Chris Hemsworth as Kirk’s dad. The announcement doesn’t explain exactly how that happens, but calls him “a man he [James T. Kirk] never had a chance to meet, but whose legacy has haunted him since the day he was born.” Time travel probably is the most obvious explanation for how this will all go down (whole books could be written about time travel in Star Trek), but there are other possibilities. One other detail was revealed about Star Trek 4 this week, namely a confirmation from J.J. Abrams that Pavel Chekov, played by the recently late Anton Yelchin, will not be recast, saying, “There’s no recasting. I can’t possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better.” There’s no release date for the 4th/14th Star Trek movie yet, but given the 3-4 years between the films recently, we can guess at a target window of either 2019 or 2020.
This week, we’re giving you two editions of The Weekly Ketchup, because of the anticipated deluge of news coming out of San Diego Comic-Con. If there’s going to be one story that sort of exemplifies the difference between this first column, and the second, it’s this one (in a few ways). In 2014, after taking 11 years off, author Donna Tartt came back with her third novel, The Goldfinch, and was rewarded with the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The Goldfinch is a sprawling, decades-long American epic with elements including terrorism, art theft, and alcholism (basically, it’s a lot like Great Expectations) — in other words, it’s a little different from the comic book movies we’ll hear about this week. Warner Bros has had the film rights to The Goldfinch since 2014, and this week, we learned that the studio is now in talks with director John Crowley for him to make The Goldfinch his next film after last year’s award-winning drama Brooklyn. If he signs on, Crowley will be working from a screenplay adaptation by screenwriter Peter Straughan (cowriter of Frank, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).
The traditional “trades” are still out there covering the film business, but every once in a while they do something that reminds us they’re still not fully caught up with the era of “social media.” For example, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter still sometimes “bury the lede,” nestling the most interesting tidbits in much longer, seemingly less important articles or profiles. One example happened this week when The Hollywood Reporter ran a story about Jeffrey Katzenberg’s future, following the acquisition of DreamWorks Animation by Universal earlier this year. Sort of halfway through, you’ll find one sentence about the year 2019, during which DreamWorks Animation will release Shrek 5 and the movie now known as Shadows. We’ve covered both of those movies in the Weekly Ketchup in recent weeks and months, but the news that they are now “only” three years away is still big. There’s not much to say about Shrek 5 (except maybe that it now sounds more like a sequel, and less like a reboot, as once suggested). The movie called Shadows definitely does require a bit more explanation, though. The film, first announced last November, will mark the animation debut of fan-favorite director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). DreamWorks has long been wanting to do an animated movie involving the concept of “shadows,” dating back to their ambitious Me and My Shadow from several years ago, and Edgar Wright’s Shadows is an extension of that.
Kirsten Dunst is now preparing to make her feature film debut as director after directing two short films in 2007 and 2010, and she’s sort of swinging for the fences with an independent remake of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, previously adapted as a film in 1979 starring Marilyn Hassett and Jameson Parker. Originally published under a pseudonym, The Bell Jar was the only novel written by poet Sylvia Plath– she committed suicide a few months after The Bell Jar was published in 1963 — and is now interpreted as a roman à clef (a work of fiction based mostly on real events), as both the main character and Plath herself struggled with similar psychological issues. Dakota Fanning (who will turn 23 next year) will star as the novel’s central character, Esther Greenwood, a young woman whose potential future as a promising writer is rocked by her own struggles with mental health. Independent production of Dunst’s adaptation is expected to start in early 2017, possibly aiming for a debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2018.
Few decades were as rife with nostalgia as the 1970s (mostly for the 1950s and early 1960s). Full discussion of the “why” would require much, much more discussion, but it was probably partially due to how quickly American life had changed in 10 or so years from, say, 1962 to 1972. A few examples of this nostalgia in the 1970s were Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and at the movies, American Graffiti and Animal House. Another such film (which is arguably not as popular today as its competition) was 1975’s Cooley High, about a group of African American best friends living in Chicago in 1964. Produced for under a million dollars, Cooley High was both a box office success ($13 million) and a hit with critics (82 percent on the Tomatometer). MGM is the studio most known for remakes than any other these days (such as Poltergeist, Hercules, RoboCop, and the upcoming Ben-Hur, The Magnificent Seven, and Going in Style), and now, it’s also planning a remake of Cooley High, working with rapper-turned-actor Common, who will produce the remake as well as costar (probably as one of the teachers). It’s also possible Common might contribute at least one song to the score. As for why Cooley High, and why now? Reportedly, the producers felt that a new Cooley High would be “a timely project in light of the racial unrest that has followed several high-profile shootings throughout the country.”
Although it was great that The LEGO Movie was over-the-top fun and creative in its adaptation of the titular toys, the bad news was that its success unsurprisingly inspired lots of other studios and producers to try to mine gold from traditionally non-narrative properties. One example is the “Emoji,” i.e. the little smiley faces and icons you can attach to texts and Facebook posts. To that end, Sony Pictures put an animated movie called EmojiMovie: Express Yourself into fast production, aiming for a release date next summer on August 11, 2017. And now, we know who will be providing that movie the voice for its lead character. T.J. Miller, who is probably best known for either costarring in Deadpool, or in HBO’s Silicon Valley, will provide the voice of a “meh” Emoji named Gene who finds himself conveying other emotions (because of a software glitch). EmojiMovie: Express Yourself will be directed by Anthony Leondis, whose previous films included Igor (Rotten at 36 percent) and the direct-to-video sequel Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch (also Rotten at 40 percent).
Obviously, beloved celebrities and filmmakers die every year, but 2016 seems particularly rough so far. We lost another of Hollywood’s most popular filmmakers this week, with the news that Garry Marshall died at the age of 81 from complications from pneumonia following a recent stroke. Marshall was a triple threat, working as a film director/writer, one of the most successful TV producer/showrunners ever, and also as a frequent comedian and actor. This included the rare feat of becoming something of a center of a “Marshallverse,” an ever expanding circle of stars and creators who all had deep ties early in their careers to Marshall. We can arguably thank him for the careers of director Ron Howard (from Happy Days), Robin Williams (from Mork & Mindy), Penny Marshall (his sister, but also his Laverne & Shirley star), and even Julia Roberts (who had her first major hit movie with Pretty Woman). Critically, Marshall’s last 25 years have been a little rough, but many of his Rotten movies were, admittedly, “barely” Rotten, right in the 50-59 percent range. The “Garry Marshall problem” might simply have been that he made the sort of broad appeal, warm-and-fuzzy comedies that audiences tended to embrace more than critics did. In recent years, Marshall had turned most of his energy towards his own mini-genre of holiday comedies: Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Mother’s Day. Sure, none of them earned above 18 percent on the Tomatometer, but we’re still going to miss reporting on what holiday he might have adapted next. R.I.P. Garry Marshall.
Ever since 1998 and into this Friday’s release of Kung Fu Panda 3, DreamWorks Animation has emerged as one of the dominant forces in animated storytelling worldwide, whose blend of state-of-the-art tech and raucous contemporary humor has carved their own identity in our current cartoon renaissance. Kung Fu Panda 3 inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery, in which we explore the nearly two-decade history of DreamWorks Animation.
The summer box office slump spilled into a new month as the North American
box office delivered the worst June frame in five years. Four new releases
targeting different audiences were sprinkled throughout the top ten but none
managed to unseat reigning chart king
Shrek Forever After
which held the number one spot for the third straight time. Ticket sales were
once again down sharply compared to last year as the films Hollywood has
programmed are still not generating the usual summer excitement.
After became the first of the four ogre toons to top the box office for
three consecutive weekends as the 3D pic grossed an estimated $25.3M falling by
a relatively light 42% from the Friday-to-Sunday portion of last weekend’s
Memorial Day holiday session. It was the smallest drop suffered by any wide
release. Paramount and DreamWorks Animation have taken in $183M after 17 days
which still trails the performances of the previous Mike Myers sequels. Shrek 2,
the top-grosser of the franchise, had collected $314.5M by this point while
Shrek the Third stood at $255.9M. Those films had lower ticket prices and no 3D
surcharges. Forever After is on track to finish its run in the vicinity of
enjoyed a solid opening for its raunchy comedy
to the Greek which laughed up an estimated $17.4M leading a quartet of
new releases. The R-rated film about a record company assistant assigned to
escort an unstable rock star from London to Los Angeles averaged a good $6,460
from 2,697 theaters. Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, and Sean Combs starred and Judd
Apatow produced. The debut was almost identical to the $17.7M second place bow
and $6,335 average of 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall which inspired the Aldous
Snow character played by Brand in Greek. Both films were directed by Nicholas
Stoller. Budgeted at $40M, Greek skewed a bit towards adult men as studio
research showed that 53% of the audience was male while 55% was under
and Katherine Heigl followed close behind in third place with their new
which launched with an estimated $16.1M from 2,859 sites for a respectable
$5,631 average. The PG-13 film about a woman who discovers after getting married
that her husband is a secret assassin opened a few notches below the $20.2M
debut of Kutcher’s last summer offering What Happens in Vegas with Cameron Diaz
from May 2008. Killers was not screened for the press before its release, but
critics reviewing it on opening day panned the film.[rtimage]MapID=10011824&MapTypeID=2&photo=18&legacy=1[/rtimage]Disney
saw a steep 54% drop for its expensive adventure film
of Persia: The Sands of Time which grossed an estimated $13.9M following
its disappointing holiday opening. With only $59.5M collected after ten days,
the Jerry Bruckheimer production looks to end its run near the $90M mark.
Overseas and home video revenue need to be stellar in order to recoup the
estimated $150-200M in production costs plus the additional cash spent on
Suffering the worst decline of any film in the top ten was
Sex and the City 2
which tumbled 59% in its second weekend to an estimated $12.7M. Warner Bros. has
banked only $73.4M in 11 days trailing 28% behind the $101.8M that the first
Sex rang up in the same number of days. The gals should end up near the
$100M mark at the end of the domestic run.
Fox learned this weekend that
Marmaduke is no
Marley & Me. The new comic strip pic bowed to an estimated $11.3M from 3,213
theaters for a lackluster $3,517 average and did not come close to the $36.4M
debut of the studio’s other Owen Wilson-led dog flick. Marmaduke was
based on a property with only limited popularity and it lacked the dazzle of 3D
that kids are now used to from other family films. With
The Karate Kid
opening Friday and Toy
Story 3 in 3D debuting a week later, the road ahead looks difficult for
the Great Dane.[rtimage]MapID=1226669&MapTypeID=2&photo=10&legacy=1[/rtimage]Paramount
and Marvel took in an estimated $7.8M with
Iron Man 2, off
53%, raising the total to $291.3M. The super hero sequel rose to number 39 on
the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just behind the $291.7M of 2005’s
The Chronicles of Narnia. Next week should see the Robert Downey Jr. hit
join its predecessor in the $300M club.
Opening poorly in eighth was
Splice, a new
sci-fi horror entry released by Warner Bros., with an estimated $7.5M. The
R-rated thriller averaged just $3,041 from 2,450 locations and became the latest
fright flick to fail to connect with paying audiences during the early summer
period which has never been kind to the genre. Reviews were quite good for a
horror pic, though.[rtimage]MapID=1208173&MapTypeID=2&photo=28&legacy=1[/rtimage]Robin
Hood fell 51% to ninth place with an estimated $5.1M boosting
Universal’s cume to $94.3M. Rounding out the top ten was Summit’s hit romance
Letters to Juliet
which declined by 49% to an estimated $3M for a total of $43.3M to date.
Debuting in limited release at number 11 was UTV’s new Indian political drama
Raajneeti with an estimated $917,000 from 124 locations for a solid $7,395
The top ten films grossed an estimated $119.9M which was down 24% from last year
when The Hangover opened in the top spot with $45M; and down 29% from
2008 when Kung Fu Panda debuted at number one with $60.2M.
With both of the big new Memorial Day weekend openers debuting to disappointing results, the 3D animated sequel Shrek Forever After remained at number one for a second straight weekend thanks to only a moderate decline. After claiming the top spot on Thursday and Friday, the much-hyped comedy sequel Sex and the City 2 settled for second place for the weekend while the big-budget adventure pic Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time finished third. If estimates hold, the Friday-to-Sunday period will slump to the worst showing for Memorial Day weekend in nine years despite theaters charging record-high prices for tickets. Audiences sent a strong message to Hollywood studios – if you keep releasing subpar films and charge us more and more for them, we’ll get our entertainment elsewhere.
The DreamWorks Animation toon Shrek Forever After held onto the box office crown by grossing an estimated $43.3M this weekend over three days dropping a respectable 39% from its opening. After ten days, Paramount has taken in $133.1M – boosted in part by 3D surcharges – and could be headed for a final tally of $230-240M. That would make it the lowest-grossing installment of the ogre series despite the extra high 3D and IMAX ticket prices. 2001’s Shrek grossed $267.7M, 2004’s Shrek 2 took in a mammoth $436.7M, and the 2007 pic Shrek the Third banked $322.7M. All four films were released on the weekend before the Memorial Day holiday session. Third fell by a larger 56% to $53M over the Friday-to-Sunday span in its second frame so Forever is holding up better.
Expected to be the queens of the holiday box office, the ladies of Sex and the City 2 instead managed just a second place debut taking in an estimated $32.1M over the Friday-to-Sunday span. Warner Bros. opened the R-rated sequel in 3,445 theaters and averaged $9,325 per site which nearly matched the $9,926 average of Shrek which is playing in 922 more locations. Bad word-of-mouth quickly affected the Sarah Jessica Parker franchise flick. Opening day on Thursday fetched $14.2M and sales have fallen every day since. Saturday suffered a disturbing 23% fall from the previous day which was truly disastrous since Friday was not helped by the opening day rush and Saturday was a day off for the audience of adult women.
Since its Thursday bow, SATC2 has grossed $46.3M and its five-day launch from Thursday to Monday should reach roughly $52M. That means the sequel will gross less in its five-day holiday opening than its 2008 predecessor made in its three-day non-holiday bow. The first Sex debuted to $56.8M on the weekend after Memorial Day and was generally liked by fans who were expected to show up in larger numbers for the new installment. Reviews were horrendous, but franchise films like these usually can still score big bucks from loyal fans. With the road ahead expected to include large declines, City 2 is not likely to come close to the $152.6M of the first film.
The overseas launch was good but not amazing. SATC2 took in $27.6M from 17 markets including the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Brazil. The first Sex opened better with $37.2M from 13 markets, although the dollar was weaker back then.
Opening in third with disappointing results was the expensive action adventure Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time which collected an estimated $30.2M in its first weekend of play. Based on the popular video game, the PG-13 pic averaged $8,275 per theater from 3,646 locations and represented one of superproducer Jerry Bruckheimer’s worst openings for an action film in recent years. Marketing the historical adventure tale as being from the producer of Pirates of the Caribbean didn’t seem to fool too many moviegoers into buying a ticket. Reviews were mixed.
Persia never really sparked much interest among audiences despite a prolonged marketing push aimed at launching a new franchise. With reports putting the production cost in the range of $150M to $200M, a lot was at stake to get this film to sell tickets. Jake Gyllenhaal anchored the pic playing a rogue prince out to prevent a magical dagger from falling into the wrong hands. It wasn’t his first time starring in an effects-driven action tentpole launching over the Memorial Day session. In 2004, he co-starred in The Day After Tomorrow which exceeded expectations with a $85.8M four-day debut on its way to a massive $629M score worldwide. Persia opened overseas a week earlier and has seen decent but not spectacular numbers with $59M overseas this weekend from 45 markets for a $87.5M international total and $117.7M global cume.
Iron Man 2, the summer’s biggest hit and the year’s largest 2D grosser, followed in fourth place with an estimated $16M in its fourth weekend. Paramount’s super hero release dropped 39% boosting the 24-day total to $274.6M putting the comic sequel at number 45 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just behind the $277.3M of last summer’s The Hangover. Iron Man 2 still looks to be on a trajectory to finish close to or just a bit behind the $318.4M of its 2008 predecessor.
Universal’s pricey Robin Hood saw more audience erosion falling 45% to an estimated $10.3M which put the Crowe-Scott collaboration at $83M after 17 days of release in North America. Moviegoers overseas have given the historical epic similar treatment. The international markets brought in an estimated $17.6M from 56 territories, down 41% from last weekend, for a $154.6M total and $237.6M global tally. Worldwide ticket sales should finish in the $300-350M range. After exhibitors take their share, it won’t be enough to cover the massive production and marketing costs. If that wasn’t bad enough, the film won’t even come close to the $165.5M of Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves from the summer of 1991 when the average ticket price was just above $4.
The teen drama Letters to Juliet is holding up well with female audiences grossing an estimated $5.9M this weekend, off just 35%. Summit has collected $36.6M to date. Fox Searchlight’s comedy Just Wright followed with an estimated $2.2M, down 49%, for a $18.2M cume. The hit comedy Date Night spent yet another weekend in the top ten with an estimated $1.8M in its eighth lap, down 40%, bringing Fox’s total to date to $93.4M.
After bombing on opening weekend, MacGruber tumbled by 64% in the second frame to an estimated $1.5M for a dismal ten-day score of only $7.1M. Look for a final gross of around $9M making it one of the worst performances in history for a film playing in more than 2,500 theaters joining recent favorites like Lucky You, Hoot, and The Rocker. Paramount’s third film in the top ten finished in the ten spot. The 3D toon How to Train Your Dragon dropped 46% to an estimated $1M raising the sum to $212.6M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $144.3M which was down 14% from last year’s Memorial Day holiday which fell a week earlier on the calendar when Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian opened in the top spot with $54.2M in three days; and down 13% from 2008’s holiday when Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull debuted at number one with $100.1M.
This weekend The fourth film in the Shrek series took the box office crown in the fourth weekend of the 2010 summer movie season, but with a much smaller gross than anticipated. Meanwhile, the SNL curse continued as Universal’s MacGruber crashed and burned on impact.
Shrek Forever After took charge of the box office this weekend, debuting to $71.3M from 4,359 locations (which includes 194 IMAX and 2373 3D screens) for a per screen average of $16,345. The opening, while extremely good for most movies, is a big let down for the franchise.
Each film in the Shrek series had a higher opening weekend gross than the previous one (taking into account that Shrek 2 opened on a Wednesday). While Shrek Forever After wasn’t expected to meet the heights of Shrek the Third, with the 3D and IMAX surcharges added in to a huge theater count, the $72M has to be seen as disappointing. As you can also see, the opening weekend percentage of the final total has been going up as well, as the grosses become more and more front loaded. With less-than-stellar reviews it is distinctly possible that Shrek Forever After may not make as much money as stablemate How To Train Your Dragon, which is currently at $211M and counting.
After two weeks in the top spot, Robert Downey, Jr. and Iron Man 2 took a step back into the second spot this weekend, falling 49% to an estimated $26.6M, bringing its cume to $251.3M. By comparison, the original Iron Man had grossed $223.1M by the end of its third weekend back in 2008. Third place belonged to fellow hero Robin Hood which fell 48% from last weekend to an estimated $18.7M, bringing its total to $66.1M. Look for a final gross in the $115-120M range.
We’re now at fourth place with still no sighting of MacGruber… Taking up residence in the fourth spot was Summit Entertainment’s Letters to Juliet, which took in an estimated $9.1M this weekend, a drop of only 33% from last weekend’s opening. Its cume now stands at $27.4M and it looks to end its run in the $55-60M range. Fifth place finds fellow sophomore Just Wright which fell 49% from last weekend to an estimated $4.2M, bringing its total to $14.6M. Look for a final gross in the $25-30M range.
Who is that I see trying to defuse a bomb with only seconds remaining? It’s MacGruber! Oh no, he didn’t make it! Crashing into sixth place this weekend, the Saturday Night Live sketch-turned-movie bombed at the box office, pulling in only $4.1M, according to estimates, from 2,551 screens for a per screen average of $1,607. The $4.1M opening is one of the worst openings of all time from a film with at least 2,500 screens. How bad was this opening? 1999’s Chill Factor, starring that dynamic duo of Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Skeet Ulrich opened to $4.5M from 2,558 theaters.
Seventh place belonged to the film that just wouldn’t quit, Date Night, which had the best hold in the top 10, dropping a slim 26% to an estimated $2.8M. Its total now stands at $90.6M. In eighth place was the horror remake A Nightmare on Elm Street which fell 51% to an estimated $2.3M, bringing its cume to $59.9M. It looks to end its run with a total nearly identical to 2009’s remake du jour, Friday the 13th which finished with $65M.
DreamWorks Animation’s second film in the top 10 ended up in 9th place this weekend as How to Train Your Dragon fell sharply with the latest animation offering taking most of its business. The dragon tale took in $1.85M this weekend, according to estimates, bringing its cume to a robust $210.9M.
Rounding out the top 10 was another new title to the charts, the Bollywood film Kites. Distributed by Reliance BIG Pictures, the crossover hit opened with $1M from 208 playdates, for a per screen average of $4,976.
The top ten films grossed $141.9M which was down 15.7% from last year when Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian opened in the top spot with $54.2M; and down 14.8% from 2008 when Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opened at number one with $100.8M. However in both previous years, this weekend was part of the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
This week at the movies, we’ve got a fairy tale finale (Shrek Forever After, starring the voices of Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz) and a clueless commando (MacGruber, starring Will Forte and Kristen Wiig). What do the critics have to say?
Everyone’s favorite ogre returns this week in the fourth (and reportedly final) installment of the Shrek franchise, but is there enough fairy tale magic left after Shrek the Third? Unfortunately, the critics don’t all seem to think so. Presented in 3D (a franchise first), Shrek Forever After finds its titular hero longing for the good old days, when he was still a regular ogre. When the conniving Rumpelstiltskin tricks Shrek into giving up a day from his past in exchange for a day as a regular ogre, Shrek unwittingly signs away the day of his birth, effectively rewriting the history of Far Far Away… as if he never existed. Though critics say Forever After has its share of moments, and it’s a step up from the third installment, most also felt that the film felt entirely too familiar and formulaic.
While Saturday Night Live has produced some of America’s best comedic talents over the past few decades, its track record on film is hardly as impressive. Most films based on SNL sketches have done poorly, with a few rare exceptions like The Blues Brothers and the Wayne’s World films. This week, Will Forte’s bumbling action hero, MacGruber, finds himself thrust into an international espionage comedy on the big screen, and it’s up to him to save the world from the dastardly Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) and his nuclear warhead. So far, only a handful of critics have chimed in, but most of them have been pleasantly surprised by what they felt was a relatively effective and enjoyable sendup of 80s action movies. Continue to check back as more reviews roll in. (Also, check this week’s Total Recall to see a ranked list of films based on SNL sketches.)
Also opening this week in limited release: