April 25, 2014

Weekend Box Office Review: Megamind, Due Date, For Colored Girls open well, 127 Hours explodes in limited release

hollywoodnews.com: There weren’t a lot of surprises at the box office this weekend. Megamind opened right in line with most Dreamworks animated originals, with $47.6 million.

The standard for non-sequels in the Dreamworks cartoon library is $43-47 million. Opening just above A Shark Tale ($47.6 million) and Madagascar ($47.2 million), the supervillain epic has the third biggest opening for a non-sequel in the Dreamworks animation catalogue, behind Monsters Vs. Aliens ($59.3 million) and Kung Fu Panda ($60.2 million). It was their seventh biggest animated opening overall. More impressive was the 3.8x weekend multiplier, which is their biggest weekend multiplier in recent memory.

The film didn’t open anywhere near the $56 million debut of Despicable Me, but Universal used the yellow minions to sell the film to the kids, while using the whole ‘root for a super-villain’ angle for the grownups. Megamind didn’t really have a kid-friendly angle, so it was up to the parents to drag their kids along. The film played 57% female and 52% over 25 and scored an A- from Cinemascore. 66% of the tickets were sold for the 3D version (7% in IMAX 3D), which says something as it was the first major 3D release in a long time where 2D options were plentiful. Point being, if you give audiences, especially large families with young children, a 2D option, they will take it. I can say that the film looks just fine in 2D, and Paramount bought just a little bit of goodwill for not making me have to track down a 2D theater not-so near me in order to take the family on opening night.

Where it goes from here is an open question. Thanks to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I forgoing 3D conversion, Megamind will keep those 3D screens for at least an extra half-week (Tangled and The Nutcracker both open in 3D on the 24th). Still, Harry Potter 7 will still get the IMAX screens, and the film will be a brutal bit of direct-demo competition. Legs like How to Train Your Dragon ($43m opening/$217m finish = a stunning 5x weekend-to-final multplier) are unlikely, as the former film had no real kids competition (nor competition for IMAX and 3D screens) for a good two months, and the film was a more traditionally crowd-pleasing, heartwarming tale than the more aloof superhero/super-villain deconstruction comedy (that’s not a knock, Megamind is yet another dynamite cartoon for 2010). Aside from flukes like Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon, the usual Dreamworks animation weekend-to-final multiplier is about 3.5x. That sounds about right this time around, which will find Megamind with around $160 million.

Due Date with solid business for an R-rated comedy, with a $33 million debut weekend. It was actually the seventh-biggest opening weekend for an R-rated comedy, behind Sex and the City ($57 million), Jackass 3D ($50 million), American Pie 2 ($45 million), Scary Movie ($42 million), The Hangover ($45 million), and The Wedding Crashers ($33 million). This was purely a star sell, as Warner Bros sold leads Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis and director Todd Phillips. The trailer certainly didn’t make the movie look like a laugh riot, and the premise was warmed-over Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, so anyone who went went for the star-director combo. It’s the only R-rated comedy in town for awhile, so even if word of mouth proves middling, it should still clear $100 million with the help of the Thanksgiving holiday.

For Colored Girls (trailer) opened at the lower end of the Tyler Perry spectrum, which was pretty decent regardless. The all-star ensemble adaptation scored $20 million, or just about its $21 million budget, which is the fourth-lowest debut for Mr. Perry. For Colored Girls opened better than Daddy’s Little Girls ($11 million), The Family That Preys ($17 million), and Meet the Browns ($20 million). Basically it opened like a normal non-Madea Tyler Perry film despite being R-rated, 133 minutes long, and rather visually explicit about the kind of subject matter that Tyler Perry characters usually just talk about in past tense. It’s not a home run, but it’s still going to be a very profitable movie, even if it has a normal-for-Perry 2.2x-ish weekend-to-final multiplier. It’s chances of being an Oscar contender are pretty remote at this point, thanks to the pointlessly harsh reviews (whatever your issues with Perry, it’s a good, compelling, very-well acted piece of performance art). The best case scenario is that a few of the underemployed actresses featured (Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, Kimberly Elise, etc) get noticed and have more opportunities as a result.

In limited release land, there were a few major debuts. Fair Game, Doug Lyman’s drama about the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame opened with about 15,000 per screen in its 46 screen debut. The film scored an A- from Cinemascore and Summit will expand the Sean Penn/Naomi Watts picture to 130 additional theaters next weekend. The surprisingly charming terrorism comedy Four Lions opened with just $5,600 per each of its eight screens. The Elliot Spitzer documentary Client 9 opened on three screens and grossed $19,000. Like most Magnolia titles, this will make most of its pre-DVD revenue as a video-on-demand title. The big, BIG story in indie-land was the gangbusters opening weekend of Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. The true-life story of attempted survival (no spoilers here kids) got blisteringly good reviews and used the buzz to end up with a $66,500 per-screen average on just four screens. On films playing on four or more theaters, the Oscar contender had the tenth-biggest per-screen average ever. Fox Searchlight will be expanding this one in the weeks to come.

In holdover land, Saw VII 3D dropped 63% in weekend two, meaning that it will end up as the second-lowest grossing film in the franchise. How ironic that the worst film in the series will end up grossing less than any other except for Saw VI, which was the best film in the franchise. Red continued to hold strong, dropping just 17% and ending the weekend with $71 million. Three things of note: First of all, the film may just end up outgrossing Paranormal Activity 2 ($77 million and dropping another 55% this weekend). Second of all, it will surely surpass Knowing ($79 million) to become Summit’s highest-grossing non-Twilight release. Third of all, it’s about a week away from surpassing Sin City ($74 million) to become Bruce Willis’s third-biggest star live-action vehicle in the last ten years, behind just Unbreakable ($96 million) and Live Free or Die Hard ($133 million). Life As We Know It is at $48 million, having surpassed Killers and heading towards a rock-solid 4x weekend-to-final multiplier. Secretariat and The Social Network dropped a whole 20%, with respective totals at $50 million and $85 million so far. By all means, don’t make movies for older audiences, because there is obviously no money in that…

To read more about this story go to Mendeson’s Memos

About Scott Mendelson

Mendelson's Memos: The basics - 30 years old, married with one child, currently residing in Woodland Hills, CA. I am simply a longtime film critic and pundit of sorts, especially in the realm of box office. The main content will be film reviews, trailer reviews, essays, and box office analysis and comparison. I also syndicate myself at The Huffington Post and Open Salon. I will update as often as my schedule allows. Yes, I'm on Facebook/Twitter/LinkIn, so feel free to find me there. All comments are appreciated, just be civil and try to keep a level discourse, as I will make every effort to do the same. Read more at Mendelson's Memos:

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