Box Office: TRON’s Legacy Could Be In Question

The Reject ReportAudiences got derezzed, went into the grid, and disc warred all the way to end of line this weekend. And, if you followed all of that, you were probably among the masses.

While TRON Legacy jumped to the top of the pile, its weekend take wasn’t up to expectations, and the future of the franchise could very well be called into question. It just depends on the legs the film has, Olive Wilde’s legs notwithstanding.

With the Avatar comparison, one that I still don’t find justified, TRON Legacy’s opening weekend seems even more of a disappointment. Avatar opened to $77 million, and it pretty much had the entire run of January to do its damage. TRON opened to $43.6 million this weekend, and using the rather shaky formula of multiplying that by four to determine its total, domestic run, we’re looking at $174.4 million. That’s slightly north of its reported budget of $170 million, but even that number could be called into question when marketing gets factored in. The foreign sales on the film could be its saving grace. It has already made an additional $23 million outside of the US.

The 3-D and IMAX could add some supplemental numbers on top, as well. TRON has the IMAX theaters locked for the next three weeks. Judging by how well they are tracking and selling out, the numbers gained from those sales could boost the receipts it is already on track to bring in. Again, time will tell if the film is a success or if it becomes even a big enough hit to warrent yet another entry into the expected franchise. Next weekend’s numbers will be a nice deciding factor, as the film could have a huge drop a la Watchmen or it could have the longevity of something like Avatar. The next, few weeks should be smooth sailing for the film, but, unlike Avatar, TRON will have some strict competition hitting in January with Green Hornet opening on January 11th.

Yogi Bear proved just as smart as the average bear pulling in expected numbers. They may even come in a bit lower than what was projected when the actuals come out. However, How Do You Know didn’t seem to know much coming in at the #8 spot. With a reported budget of $120 million (most of which went to the film’s abundant cast), it seems safe to say the film is a dud.

The Fighter and Black Swan, both films expanding this weekend, did very well bringin in per screen averages of $4874 and $8655, respectively. As the awards season rolls on both of these films will benefit greatly. After the Academy Awards nominees are announced on January 25th, expect those numbers to skyrocket even further.

Here is how the weekend box office shaped up:

  1. TRON Legacy – $43.6m NEW
  2. Yogi Bear – $16.7m NEW
  3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – $12.4m (-48.3%) $42.7m total
  4. The Fighter – $12.2m (+3966.5$) $12.6m total
  5. The Tourist – $8.7m (-47.2%) $30.7m total
  6. Tangled – $8.6m (-39.5%) $127.8m total
  7. Black Swan – $8.3m (+151.1%) $15.7m total
  8. How Do You Know – $7.6m NEW
  9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – $4.8m (-42.9%) $265.5m total
  10. Unstoppable – $1.8m (-51.4%) $77.3m total

This weekend brought in $124.7 million, up 35% from last weekend. The weekend was down slightly from the same weekend last year when Avatar hit with monster numbers.

The last weekend of 2009 brought in the highest numbers for the year, but we can’t expect to see the same thing happen in 2010. Even if TRON Legacy has a substantial second weekend, it won’t be anywhere near what Avatar can do. Additional films opening next weekend won’t be able to supplement well, either. They include True Grit and Little Fockers opening on Wednesday and Gulliver’s Travels opening on Christmas. The King’s Speech also opens on 600 screens on Christmas Day.

We’ll be back on Tuesday to run down how we see the weekend turning out.

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Jeremy's been writing about movies for a good, 15 years, starting with the film review column of his high school newspaper. He stands proud as the first person in his high school to have seen (and recommend) Pulp Fiction. Jeremy went on to get a B.A. in Cinema and Photography with a minor in journalism. His experience and knowledge of film is aided by the list of 6600 films he has seen in his life (so far). Jeremy's belief is that there are no bad films, just unrealized possibilities. Except Batman and Robin. That shit was awful.

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