Film 3-Day Per Total
1 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian $53,500,000 $13,062 $53,500,000
2 Terminator Salvation $43,010,000 $12,184 $56,382,000
3 Star Trek $21,951,000 (-49.0%) $5,416 $183,585,000
4 Angels & Demons $21,400,000 (-53.7%) $6,067 $81,511,000
5 Dance Flick $11,113,000 $4,536 $11,113,000
6 X-Men Origins: Wolverine $7,800,000 (-46.9%) $2,451 $163,054,000
7 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past $3,720,000 (-44.1%) $1,650 $45,858,000
8 Obsessed $2,000,000 (-56.4%) $1,248 $65,908,000
9 Monsters Vs. Aliens $1,345,000 (-57.7%)  $938 $192,991,000
10 17 Again $1,005,000 (-70.2%) $908 $60,314,000

This just in: My Vacation Pictures. Shot on 35mm. I look hot. Mostly because of the sunburn.

Though arguably the weekend isn’t over in terms of gross, the story has been written, and that story is… yeah. We live in a strange new box office, and though May looked to be strong on paper, much of what seemed promising has proved to be the exact opposite. To wit, on paper, to this point the weakest sister looked to be Star Trek. But for everything there are excuses. Who knew Wolverine would leak? Who knew Sony would undersell Angels and Demons (or count on international)? Who knew Star Trek would be good? That’s not me making excuses for being wrong, I’m talking knowing everything but quality perspective.

Then again, most of these movies were strike films, so that they are not received well, or all that good, or built on hype that was more theoretical than actual is also not that surprising. And all that said, Angels and Demons (which may be the weak sister of the May bunch) is still going to get well past $100. The numbers themselves are great, it’s the price tags.  

But it seems that the negatives in front of the Terminator franchise were put to the side for a film that has a listed production budget of $200 Million. The last film was not all that well recieved, and Cameron was out of the franchise. The franchise had become Arnie in some ways, and he didn’t even come back (excepting, well, whatever that is). What T4 promised was the war between humans and robots, and as cool as that might be to see, that’s not exactly the greatest selling point. So is it a victory that the fourth film only opened a million less for its three day? What internet nerds (or internerds) will get all up on about is Christian Bale, and the discussion about whether he’s a “star” or not. The answer with this film is no. He had no perceivable effect on the gross outcome. And though the next Batman film will do well, it won’t do as well as The Dark Knight, which had pop culture momentum of the highest order. Being a star means establishing a rapport with your audience. Giving them assurances of quality, and a romantic attraction. And sullen and glum can be attractive, if the audience is let in, and that’s not Bale’s schtick. That said, when Bale signed up for Terminator it was not his movie, and because of TDK it became more of his film. Perhaps the whole thing was viewed as so unnecessary by the public that Bale did bring them in somewhat. This was an expensive movie and the makers were swinging for the fences.

But looking at the film and its history is like picking up a rock and seeing the bugs scatter. On the surface this film looked like it could be a winner, but under the hood it is a strike movie, directed by McG, with a script that evolved during shooting based partly on internet leaks of the original ending. I’m sure the production company shit themselves twice over when the original ending went up on-line, but the reaction to that shows how ephemeral these films are: I knew the endings to a number of films before I saw the movies, and the only films that effected were the ones that were no more than their endings. Terminator 3 got to $150, Terminator Salvation is going to struggle to get past $120.

A Night at the Museum is a clear winner, though, and should have healthy numbers for its run. It will nearing $70 when the Monday numbers come in, and though it should be off some 50% with Up next week, I don’t think getting to $150 is going to be a problem. The first film had the holidays to play through, this film has more competition, so it should be (as most films are) front loaded, especially with Land of the Lost going after it’s target demo two weeks on, but if people respond to the film at all, it might play a bit longer. The question is how will it weather these other films. My guess is not that well, which means it’ll double the four day, and maybe a little more. The bad news is that it’s behaving more in line with sequels of the past where the numbers are significantly off. This will likely do less than 70% of the business of the original (which got to $250 Million), which puts Museum 3 a back-burner item. But no one takes a hit on this film, and Shawn Levy has another $100 Million Dollar-plus grosser.

Star Trek took its first big hit this weekend, falling nearly 50%. Usually Memorial Day weekend is a bit more robust than this, and beneficial to most films, but perhaps more so when you’re not dealing with franchise pictures. Trek is winding down, and next weekend will surely find the film off 50% again. At this point, it seemed like the film would be a little closer to $200 by weekend’s end, so it will have to settle for that next weekend. It will also have to settle for being the top grossing film of the year some time this week. Even if the film was expensive as fuck and the marketing and all that makes the movie something that becomes hugely renumerative only in ancillaries, make no mistake, that’s a huge victory in this weak May. In that way it reminds of the summer of 2007 with all those not that liked mega-tentpoles, but without the $300 Million dollar grosses. Audiences are not as amused or as loyal to these franchises as they were the triple threat of ’07. It’s easy to see why. But Star Trek hitting $200 next weekend means most of the gas is out, and after that, it should only be able to squeeze out another $30 or so (I’d go with a ten million wiggle room on that). Next weekend it will start bleeding screens, with 6/5 a major nut kick (after four weeks, regardless, you’re out of a lot of markets).

Angels and Demons also had no Memorial Day Bounce (or did it? I guess that’s a mystery for Robert Langdon to solve), so it’s off just enough to lag behind Star Trek. It could conceivably pick up enough to get over Trek with Monday numbers, but it should be noted that A&D has the higher per-screen. This doesn’t say anything good about Demons, but there you go. Angels will get past $100 next weekend, and could survive some of this a little better if the audience is slow to go. There’s no real direct competition like Trek, Wolverine, and Terminator fighting for much of the same audience. I don’t think it’ll help, but in this box office, I’m sure it’s the safest choice for retirees, post-mall walking.

Paramount knows when they have a POS, and they weren’t going to fuck around too much with Dance Flick, and so the numbers it got to aren’t that bad. If it tops out the four day with $15, they can probably get it to over $30 in the long run, and that should mean the film gets in profit with the unrated DVD and Blu-ray. Paramount might have tried harder if they didn’t have Trek to deal with, but probably not. I’m not 100% but this stinks of strike.

Wolverine is finishing up, and it should limp to $180. Not hitting $200 has got to hurt.

After that, who cares? I’ll be back Thursday Friday-ish.