This weekend Universal’s hit kidpic Hop became the first film of 2011 to spend back-to-back weeks at number one as the bunny pic fended off competition from four new wide releases to remain the most popular film in North America. Its star Russell Brand also claimed second place with his comedy remake Arthur making the British comedian that rare star to hold the top two spots at the box office. The frame’s other debuting titles had mixed results with the teen girl-led films Hanna and Soul Surfer faring well while the raunchy fantasy comedy Your Highness failed to make much of a splash. As usual, the overall box office was down by double digits compared to last year.
Dropping a reasonable 42% in its second turn with moviegoers, Hop grossed an estimated $21.7M boosting its ten-day total to a healthy $68.2M. The Universal release cost only $63M to make so the studio has a solid moneymaker on its hands that could possibly find its way to $120-130M from North America alone. So far the animation/live-action hybrid is following the same path as Johnny Depp’s Rango from early March. After a similar $38.1M debut, the lizard toon declined by 41% putting its ten-day tally at the exact same figure as Hop’s. Rango now sits at $117.5M after its sixth session on its way to $120M+. Hop follows an eleven-week streak of new films opening at number one each frame.
Russell Brand’s Arthur remake finished in second place for the weekend thanks to the widest release of any new title and grossed an estimated $12.6M. The PG-13 redo of the 1981 Dudley Moore hit averaged a lackluster $3,848 per theater from 3,276 locations. Slammed by critics, the Warner Bros. release was meant to bring the story of a rich lovable drunk playboy to a younger audience by using the British comic as the anchor. But unfunny trailers and Brand’s not-so-sizable box office power led Arthur to a disappointing debut as moviegoers stayed away for the most part. The actor’s only other lead role in a film came in last summer’s Get Him To The Greek which carried an R rating and bowed to a better $17.6M on its way to $61M. Arthur co-starred Helen Mirren and Jennifer Garner who also failed to contribute commercial muscle. Though it ranked second overall, the comedy placed fifth in the top ten when comparing per-theater averages. The reported production budget was $40M with a hefty marketing tab added on top of that.
Focus landed in third with a commendable performance from its new action title Hanna which debuted to an estimated $12.3M from 2,535 playdates. The PG-13 espionage thriller averaged $4,861 and was the only action film in the top five. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, and Cate Blanchett, the pic earned strong reviews from critics which helped it appeal to upscale adult audiences looking for something without talking bunnies or bumbling drunks. Few films are anchored by a teen girl assassin so the fresh feel and the strong marketing push helped Hanna stand out as an option paying top dollar for.
The inspirational family drama Soul Surfer exceeded expectations and debuted in fourth with an estimated $11.1M. Posting the best average among the new titles, the PG-rated true story of a teen surfer who gets her life back on track after a shark bites off her arm averaged a good $5,014 from 2,214 sites. Sony’s TriStar unit handled distribution while FilmDistrict took marketing duties. Starring AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, and superstar singer Carrie Underwood in her film debut, earned mixed reviews from critics. Moms and daughters made up a big portion of the audience. Exit polls showed that a whopping 80% of the crowd was female and 56% was under 25. Soul Surfer earned an A+ grade from CinemaScore which is rare these days so word-of-mouth should allow the pic to play well for the rest of the spring season especially with the Easter holiday still to come.
The horror film Insidious posted a shockingly low second weekend decline of only 27% and ranked fifth with an estimated $9.7M in ticket sales. Fright films routinely lose over half of their opening weekend take in the sophomore frame so this result is indeed rare. With a solid $27.1M in its first ten days, rookie distributor FilmDistrict’s first release could find its way to an impressive $50M or more. With Insidious, four of the top five films had one-word titles.
Faring worst among the weekend’s four new wide releases was Universal’s fantasy comedy Your Highness which bowed to an estimated $9.5M from 2,769 locations for a dull $3,438 average. The R-rated action laugher starring Danny McBride, James Franco, and Natalie Portman tried to attract older teens and young adults by mixing an effects-driven Medieval quest with crude sexual humor but failed to impress. The $50M production skewed towards young men with 58% of the audience being male and 55% being 25 and older. A weak C+ CinemaScore and horrible reviews indicate a fast fade in the weeks ahead. Saturday sales dropped 9% while all other new releases – even rival comedy Arthur – enjoyed increases.
The sci-fi thriller Source Code dropped 39% in its second weekend to an estimated $9.1M. Holding up well despite plenty of competition, the Summit release has grossed $28.6M in ten days and looks headed for a $50M finish. Relativity’s action pic Limitless fell by an identical 39% to an estimated $5.7M boosting the impressive cume to $64.4M.
The kidpic Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules tumbled 51% to an estimated $4.9M giving Fox $45.5M to date. Lionsgate’s The Lincoln Lawyer enjoyed another moderate drop with an estimated $4.6M, off only 33%, for a $46.5M sum rounding out the top ten.
New films in limited release did not fare very well over the weekend. The IMAX 3D animal documentary Born To Be Wild debuted in 206 locations and took in an estimated $850,000 for a mild $4,126 average per site. The G-rated pic about orangutans and elephants was narrated by Morgan Freeman. Running only 40 minutes in length, Born played to regular ticket prices despite being an IMAX 3D presentation. Many exhibitors were able to squeeze in seven or eight showtimes per day meaning each showing attracted just 20-25 people. Reviews were terrific across the board. Lionsgate released the Spanish-language romantic comedy No Eres Tu, Soy Yo (It’s Not You, It’s Me) in 226 theaters but averaged a weak $2,655 with its estimated $600,000 take.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $101.2M which was down 14% from last year when Clash of the Titans remained in the top spot with $26.6M; and off 17% from 2009 when Hannah Montana The Movie debuted at number one with $32.3M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!
New releases all fared well as the April box office kicked off with the Easter-themed hit Hop which powered its way to number one playing well to family audiences. Older adults drove the action thriller Source Code to a second place debut while fright fans lined up for the new horror pic Insidious which finished in third. But overall ticket sales continued to struggle as last year’s top four films alone grossed more than all films this weekend combined.
With no huge stars appearing on screen or providing voices, the $63M-budgeted Hop was promoted as being from the producer of Despicable Me and the director of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Those overachievers grossed a combined $469M from North America alone and were crowd-pleasers with kids so families felt safe coming out for this new offering. A familiar Easter Bunny storyline and colorful trailers helped too as did a release date a few weeks before the family-friendly holiday. With a CinemaScore grade of A- and no new kidpics slated for next weekend, the road ahead looks promising although the 3D toon Rio will cause a major distraction on April 15. Overall, Hop enjoyed the fifth-biggest opening ever for April which generally is a slow month at multiplexes.
Tumbling 57% from its top spot debut was the kidpic sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules which took in an estimated $10.2M in its second weekend for fourth place. The Fox release, which cost just $20M to produce, has grossed a solid $38.4M in ten days and is headed for the vicinity of $55M, or just slightly below the $64M of its predecessor from last spring.
The Bradley Cooper-Robert De Niro hit Limitless followed with an estimated $9.4M, off only 38%, for a $55.6M total in 17 days for Relativity. Lionsgate’s Matthew McConaughey legal drama The Lincoln Lawyer also held up well in its third round slipping only 34% to an estimated $7.1M for a $39.6M cume to date. Both films are benefiting from strong word-of-mouth.
Alien flicks Paul and Battle: Los Angeles were once again neighbors on the box office chart and this time rounded out the top ten. Universal’s comedy collected an estimated $4.3M, down 45%, and has taken in $31.9M to date. Sony’s action pic fell harder with a 54% decline to an estimated $3.5M. The invasion film’s domestic total stands at $78.5M while the overseas tally crossed the century mark this weekend with $100.7M putting the global cume at $179.2M.
In limited release, Sony Classics platformed this year’s Oscar and Golden Globe winner for best foreign language film In A Better World in four sites in New York and Los Angeles and grossed an estimated $35,400. The Danish film averaged a respectable $8,850 per theater and earned mostly good reviews from U.S. film critics. The bullying drama played numerous film festivals like Toronto and Sundance and was released in Scandinavia last fall.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $111.8M which was down a sizable 33% from last year when Clash of the Titans opened in the top spot with $61.2M; and off 24% from 2009 when Fast & Furious debuted at number one with $71M. The two films still stand as April’s biggest opening weekends by a wide margin.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!
Finally, here’s the Jefferson Airplane With a hare-raising tribute to, ahem “chasing rabbits”: