It’s a mad, mad, mad world when a film can enjoy a $133 million opening weekend (the fifth highest of all time), have a worldwide total of $327 million (after it cost $200 to make), and provide an outstanding start to the summer film-going season and still be considered to have performed below expectations. Yet that’s exactly what happened with “Iron Man 2”, which fell short of the $155-$160 million opening weekend projected by Paramount as well as rival studios, box-office prognosticators, and fans. While it will be interesting to see how “Iron Man 2” plays in the coming weeks as other new releases hit theaters including “Prince of Persia”, “Robin Hood”, and “Sex and the City 2”, “Iron Man 2” should have the staying power to carry it through the summer to continue to out-gross the first film in the franchise to become the highest grossing film of the year.
Most hold-overs did little business this weekend in the wake of the “Iron Man 2” opening, yet many added to already successful runs. The second weekend of the remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” took in $9 million to come in at second place. While the drop-off was from last weekend was steep at 72%, the film’s profit margin ($48 million domestically from a $35 million budget) has been enough to keep it squarely seen as a success. The film’s drop-off was also less than last year’s “Friday the 13th” remake and conventional wisdom is that Freddy will win against Jason in this latest round at the box office, and as a result Freddy’s sequel is still in the works whereas Jason’s has stalled.
“How to Train Your Dragon” suffered the most due to “Iron Man 2” opening, as it lost many of its IMAX screens to that film. Although the film saw its biggest decline yet in its seventh week, said decline was still a modest 36%, as the it took in another $6 million. That brings its domestic total to $201 million, thus out-grossing “Monsters vs. Aliens” and nearing the take of bona-fide hit “Kung Fu Panda” on both the domestic and worldwide fronts.
In fourth place was the fifth weekend of “Date Night” which took in another $5 million, bringing its domestic total to an $80 million return on a $55 million budget. “Date Night” is turning out to be quite the impressive showing for Tina Fey (by this time next week it could be her highest-grossing film to date) and is a respectable box office take for Steve Carell.
In fifth place is the increasingly less dreadful looking “The Back-Up Plan” which took in another $4 million in its third week to bring its domestic total to $29 million. Although it’s hard to say at what point in the film’s life it might turn a profit (in the coming weeks domestically vs. when/if worldwide numbers come in vs. DVD), it appears that the film will yet turn a profit for CBS Films from its $35 million budget.
Three films opened in limited release this weekend, the most impressive being “Mother and Child” starring Naomi Watts, Annette Benning and Samuel L. Jackson. The film opened on four screens, taking in $44,400, or an impressive $11,100 per-screen, second only to “Iron Man 2” in the all-important race of the highest per-theater-average. With the critics (86% on Rotten Tomatoes, the highest of any film opening this weekend) and the all-important branding of Sony Pictures Classics on its side, the film could easily play well upon expanding its release in the coming weeks, and especially with worldwide grosses added, the movie should easily make back its independently raised $7 million budget.
The heavily promoted documentary “Babies” was released by Focus Features this weekend (trying to capitalize on Mother’s Day, though in a much less subtle way than “Mother and Child”), taking in $1.575 million on 534 screens, or an impressive $2,949 per-theater. While the budget for the film was not available, its likely very-low budget may already have seen a profit and $1.5 million is certainly a blockbuster opening in the documentary genre.
The independent relationship drama “Multiple Sarcasms” took in $17,800 this weekend in fifteen screens, or $1,187 per-theater. There was no budget for the film available, but it’s a decent showing for a film relying heavily on word-of-mouth. The film features a quirky cast including Oscar-winner Timothy Hutton. Stockard Channing, Mira Sorvino, and Mario Van Pebbles.
As always, we at the Awards Circuit would love to hear what drew you to the movies this weekend. Was it Samuel L. Jackson in the latest summer blockbuster or Samuel L. Jackson in the latest independent film to have won over critics? Please let us know what you saw, what you thought of it, and of course, any awards potential you see. Thanks again for spending a part of your Sunday here with us, and from all of us at the Awards Circuit, we look forward to seeing you at the movies.