“…sand people always ride single file to hide their numbers.”
–Alec Guiness (Star Wars: Episode 4)

April 8th, 2012

There’d be some victory in Hunger Games winning the weekend (in its third frame) over a one-two punch of repackaged nostalgia being crammed into theaters, were it too not an examples of a proven brand being pushed into theaters. Still, there are surely some that will find some relief that a too-late third sequel and the multi-dimensional ghost of James Cameron’s first strangulation of the gobal zeitgeist were both unable to unseat the film that at least has no number (implied or otherwise) after the title.

Easter was later in the month last year, which may explain why holiday totals are down a bit this year, but the weekend was overall a bit up from 2011, so… that’s good and stuff! Lets take a look at what happened…

1. The Hunger Games ($33.5 million)

[Total: $303 million | WW: $460m | Budget: $78m]

It’s now bigger than any of the Twilights, and nipping at the heels of the bigger Potter outings. It’s earning money faster than any non-sequel ever that doesn’t feature blue cat-people, which means for Lionsgate this release must really feel like one of those satisfyingly extended pee’s you take when you’ve been holding it a while. It’s hard to imagine this not landing halfway between three and four hundred million bucks, with exactly where being determined by the impact of, say, Cabin In The Woods and the Efron flick on its momentum…. Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to have problems either. Scaring up a full extra $80m to beat the final Potter flick might be tough, but stranger things have happened.


2. American Reunion ($21.5 million)

[Total: $21.5 million | WW: $41m | Budget: $50m]

I’m just not sure who this is for. Were there fans of the original really clamoring for another outing with the scamps between diaper changes? Does anyone give a shit about seeing these people be irresponsible with families and real lives in the background? Apparently not, if an opening that falls well short of the its predecessors says anything. I can’t remember a single joke from any of the trailers, meanwhile raunchy comedy has long moved on from this kind of blandness. Shit like Project X leaves the edginess of the Pie films in the dust, while post-Apatow there’s a much higher bar for the emotional return from our beloved man-children. Somebody bronze the molested pie and put it in a museum- shit’s an artifact. This release certainly isn’t a disaster, but it should be another sign to studios that reboots are the way to go with 90s properties… the delayed sequels aren’t cutting it.


3. Titanic 3D ($17 million)

[Total: $25 million | WW: N/A | Budget: $18m …. re-release only]

So at face value this re-release total is not particularly great, and would seem to suggest Cameron’s first round of engineered populism has aged itself out of the culture a bit. However when you look at the total five-day it comes up right behind The Lion King as the second best opening for a 3D re-release in the last year, and has done so with a 3+ hour runtime that limits screenings. It’s also sharing IMAX real estate with Wrath, which won’t be the case after this week. Even with an $18m conversion cost and a significant publicity expenditure, I’d expect this to have been more than worthwhile for Cameron and co.

You know, if those IMAX screens are so valuable, maybe we can have a mash-up fight. I’d pay a few bucks to see Wrath Of The Titanics. I don’t know that it would be any more exploitative than the actual film.


4. Wrath Of The Titans ($15 million)

[Total: $59 million | WW: $135m | Budget: $150m]

This is us watching this franchise spin around the drain in the states, meanwhile that foreign total brings in enough dough that this will ultimately be an evenish write-off for the studio. No disaster, the old guys cut their paychecks, and Worthington has Avatar to go back to eventually for his blockbuster cred. It is a shame though- this damn thing was a ton of fun.


5. Mirror Mirror ($11 million)

[Total: $36 million | WW: $48m | Budget: $85m]

As I walked out of a press screening of Wrath Of The Titans, I had something like four critics remark that while Wrath was a big mess, they had seen this film earlier in the day and were totally surprised by how clever and funny it was.

I have no idea what the hell any of them were talking about.

Finally catching this last week, I saw absolutely nothing the trailer didn’t sell with total accuracy. The film is silly, corny, flatly-staged, and messily paced, but its biggest problem is just how aggressively dull it is. There are certainly some clever design elements here and there, but just the Snow White & The Huntsman trailer alone shows this thing up in terms of clever visuals. All that is to say, I can’t cry over such meager returns, even if I’d have liked to see Tarsem make a better re-entrance into the Hollywood system. The combined disappointments of Immortals and this have dampened my enthusiasm for his theatrical brand, and it doesn’t seem as if he’s made a big imprint on the public either.


Good news, The Raid is doing well and made it up to 11th place this weekend. It will be punching its way into 500 more theaters next weekend, meaning it will technically be a “wide release” and could make some definite dough. Good on Sony for putting some real effort into releasing a film they’re already working to remake. I wish I could say the same for their efforts with another small acquisition, specifically Detention, which we’ve covered extensively here (and will have a few more fun things this week). That’s a film looking to make a splash in just 10 theaters, which is always an uphill battle. We’ll see if it manages to do so when we look at things next Sunday


Thanks for reading!

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Numbers via BoxOfficeMojo