The two, big movies this weekend underperformed, one much more than the other, while Iron Man 2 stays right on schedule. Also, a new, limited release surprised everyone with a nearly $5000 per screen average.  All in all, it was a somewhat disappointing weekend, and much of that falls at the feet of Shrek Forever After, which didn’t have the lowest, opening weekend for a film from that series, but it certainly didn’t live up to expectations.

Shrek Forever After‘s $71.2-million opening is nothing to sneeze at.  Most films, whether they are part of a much larger series or not, only dream of having opening weekends that big.  However, it seems that bad taste Shrek the Third left in everyone’s mouth continues to haunt the franchise.  Not even 3-D and IMAX could boost the fourth and supposed final installment past the $100-million opening mark.  Depending on the longevity the film has at the box office, it could very well be the last entry regardless of what DreamWorks Animation had planned.

With a $165-million budget, the film will more than likely make money when you count up the worldwide totals.  The amount of money it’s going to make on DVD/Blu-Ray will be rather large, as well.  Also, when you look at the films in DreamWorks Animation catalog outside the Shrek franchise, you see the green ogre is still king of the studio.  The opening weekend for Shrek Forever After is still bigger than anything they have put out outside of the Shrek series.  While this may change in the coming years with Kung Fu Panda 2 and the How to Train Your Dragon sequel, this franchise is still their biggest money-maker, and that speaks volumes.

The biggest shocker of the weekend, though, was with MacGruber.  Despite the film’s moderate reviews (the film’s fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes has plummeted from 89% to 54% in the past week) and the love being dished out by those who find merit with it, it’s opening was staggeringly low.  Even with a $10-million budget, it will be hard pressed for MacGruber to make its money back in domestic take, as it is sure to be pulled from theaters sooner than anticipated.  Just to relay how bad this film’s opening is, we’ll compare it to The Ladies Man, which opened on 500 less screens and made $1.3 million more in its opening weekend.  It’s been ten years since Saturday Night Live pushed one of its properties to the big screen, and, if it’s ever going to happen again, expect to wait another decade.

A big winner for the weekend is Kites, which opened on just over 200 screens and found its way into the top 10.  An opening on 200+ screens isn’t all that limited, and the film only needed a per screen average of just under $5000 to break in.

Here is how the weekend box office shaped up:

  1. Shrek Forever After -$71.2m NEW
  2. Iron Man 2 – $26.6m (-48.9%)
  3. Robin Hood – $18.7m (-48.1%)
  4. Letters to Juliet – $9.1m (-32.8%)
  5. Just Wright – $4.2m (-49%)
  6. MacGruber – $4.1m NEW
  7. Date Night – $2.8m (-26.1%)
  8. A Nightmare on Elm Street – $2.2m (-50.9%)
  9. How to Train Your Dragon – $1.8m (-63%)
  10. Kites – $1.0m NEW

Even with the disappointing numbers from Shrek Forever After and MacGruber, the top 10 for the weekend ended up with a collective $141.7 million, up 8% from last weekend.  However, the weekend was down 15.6% from the same weekend last year when Night at the Museum II and Terminator Salvation pushed that weekend’s top 10 to $168 million.  Neither film hit very hard in 2009, but both together were enough to give Shrek Forever After a run for its money.  MacGruber wasn’t even in that fight.

Next weekend has two, new films in wide release to pump up the box office.  Carrie and the girls are back for more Cosmos in Sex and the City 2 and Jake Gyllenhaal looks to break into movie stardom with a little help from Jerry Bruckheimer and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.  It will be an interesting weekend to see which of the three films, either of these two or Shrek, comes out on top.  Sex and the City 2 will be opening on slightly fewer screens than Prince of Persia, plus it’s rated R and runs 30 minutes longer.  However it does have an extra day leading in, as it opens on Thursday night.  We’ll be back on Wednesday to see how it’s shaping up.


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