The mighty ogre, Shrek, has fended off his foes. So far, he has taken on and made haste of the Iron Man, the Sex and the City trolls women, and the Prince of Persia. This week, however, he faces his greatest challenge yet, an onslaught of four new films that run the gamut in terms of genre and demographic. Genetic monsters, talking dogs (which may or may not be caused by an attempt to create a genetic monster), Ashton Kutcher (who we know was caused by an attempt to create a genetic monster), and a drugged up rock star are all on tap in an attempt to tear and claw their way to the top of the box office heap. Needless to say, it’s going to get ugly
Let’s just be honest here. There really is very little chance any of the new movies this weekend are going to come out on top. Shrek Forever After, only in its third weekend, isn’t declining fast enough for any of the films on the new slate this weekend to pull ahead of it. Two films, however, could come closest to Shrek’s numbers, two films that couldn’t be further apart in target audience if they tried. Second place this weekend will fall to the feet of either Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, and Get Him to the Greek or a talking dog. Let’s hold off on talking about Marmaduke for now.
When the film Get Him to the Greek spun off from, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, debuted in April of 2008, it pulled in $17 million in its opening weekend. This after a massive campaign to let the world know it was part of the Judd Apatow camp. I’m sure many thought Apatow, actually, directed the film when it came out. It seems fairly certain Get Him to the Greek will be able to get the same type of numbers and, more than likely, a little better. It will play on the same number of screens (a little over 2700), but it’s also playing during the Summer and has proven star power in Russell Brand and Jonah Hill. Worst case scenario is Get Him to the Greek ends up being another Walk Hard, which pulled a MacGruber and only made $4 million its opening weekend. This doesn’t seem likely, though.
To get yourself to the Greek, check out the film trailer right here:
If there is any aspect to a kids movie that is tried and truer than the talking animal, I sure have never seen it. You can’t really go with an Owen Wilson comparison on Marmaduke, since he’s not the selling point on the movie. The selling point is the talking dog wearing sunglasses. For that, you have to look at the track record for such films as Cats and Dogs, Garfield, and G-Force. All of these films had solid openings, and, for the most part, all of them opened with other, family offerings elsewhere in the market. Garfield even opened to $21.7 million in the midst of Shrek 2 making its way to box office royalty. On just over 3000 screens, Marmaduke has the highest screen count this coming weekend, but even people who enjoy talking animal movies are scratching their heads at this one.
To see more of the talking dog before heading out to the theater, check out the trailer for Marmaduke right here:
Which leads us to Ashton Kutcher. I don’t know why that naturally progressed, but it kind of seemed to, didn’t it? Some people are already referring to Killers as Knight and Day lite even before either of the two films have been released. Nonetheless, Killers, while it doesn’t have the Tom Cruise-level potential of being a box office smash, will still likely have an admirable performance this weekend. Even Katherine Heigl has been known to open films in the Summer. Knocked Up aside (Apatow sold that movie), her starring role last year in The Ugly Truth pulled in $27.6 million and 27 Dresses in January of 2008 made $23 million its opening weekend. She was, however, in 2006’s Zyzzyx Road which opened to an astonishing $20 (note, there’s no million attached to that. The film made a twenty dollar bill from its one-theater opening weekend), but we won’t hold that against her all that much. Surprisingly enough, Kutcher isn’t quite as successful when it comes to opening numbers with high and low numbers alike. Director Robert Luketic brings in the low to mid $20-million openings, but you can’t really use him as a selling point here either.
If you want to see what Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz made with Splenda looks like, check out the Killers trailer right here:
The fourth and final, new film opening wide this weekend is Splice, a happy film about a cute, little, genetic creature who Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley come to love and who teaches these wayward doctors a valuable life lesson. Of course, things get quite horrific during the course of the film, and the less like a cute, family movie with a cute creature this film becomes, the lower the numbers get for its opening weekend go. How much Splice makes this weekend, though, depends solely on how well Warner Brothers has marketed it to its core demographic. Neither Brody, Polley, nor director Vencenzo Natali are much of a selling point. What it boils down to is how excited horror fans are. Splice‘s opening weekend numbers could be as low as something like 2002’s Eight Legged Freaks and its $6.4-million take. I don’t, though, see Splice getting much higher than the $17 million Species pulled in in 1995 if it can even get that high.
To see just how cute the creature in Splice gets, check out the trailer right here:
As mentioned previously, this coming weekend belongs to Shrek Forever After, but the remaining question is just how much the jolly, green box office giant is going to take in in its third weekend out of the gate. In its second weekend (the three-day weekend, not the full, Memorial, four-day), Shrek had a drop at just under 40%, and there’s no indication this coming weekend will be any different. Also, look for Shrek Forever After to surpass its budget of $165 million this weekend putting the film in the domestic black.
Elsewhere on the familiar front, after the disappointing opening weekends for both Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Sex and the City 2, don’t expect either of them to make much of a second weekend impact on the whole. Sex and the City is likely to have a bigger drop than Prince of Persia, no thanks to the poor word of mouth both films have gotten so far. When all is said and done, look for Sex and the City 2 to touch just on the other side of $100 million and Prince of Persia to hit just under it.
Two, smaller films open into the New York and L.A. markets. The first one is Ondine from Magnolia Pictures, which also debuts this week (Wednesday, 6/2, to be precise) on HD-Net. It opens this Friday on two screens in L.A. and one in New York with a wider release coming closer to the end of the month. Ondine is the latest film from director Neil Jordan, stars Colin Farrell, and made the rounds at a few film festivals in late 2009.
Check out Colin Farrell playing Prince Eric (yes, that’s a Little Mermaid reference. Live with it.) in the Ondine trailer right here:
The other, notable but limited release is Cropsey, a documentary about an urban legend turned killer. The film hit hard when it played Tribeca and Fantastic Fest last year. It opens at the IFC Center in New York this weekend.
Get a very creepy glimpse at Cropsey right here:
Outside of these, two films, other limited releases this weekend include the very cult-sh Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead playing in New York, the comedy Finding Bliss in New York, and BoyBand in the booming market of Worcester. Rajneeti, a Bollywood drama, opens on roughly 100 screens throughout the US.
Here’s how the top 10 is shaping up this weekend:
- Shrek Forever After – $25.8m (-40.2%)
- Get Him to the Greek – $17.8m NEW
- Marmaduke – $16.4m NEW
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – $16.1m (-46.1%)
- Killers – $15.5m NEW
- Sex and the City 2 – $14.7m (-52.3%)
- Splice – $12m NEW
- Iron Man 2 – $11.2m (-31.4%)
- Robin Hood – $5.8m (-43.8%)
- Letters to Juliet – $3.7m (-35.5%)
The way this weekend is shaping up, it’s going to be down both in comparison from last weekend and from the same weekend in 2009. Even looking at the three-day take from last weekend, which pulled in $143.4 million, this weekend’s expected $139 million is a 3% drop on the overall box office. That’s still relatively disappointing considering neither of the two, new films last weekend were able to make much of a splash. This is also an indicator of the B-level offerings, plentiful though they may be, this weekend has to offer.
This would also account for an 11.7% drop from the same weekend in 2009 when The Hangover and Up both made around $44-45 million. This wasn’t surprising for Up in its second weekend, but The Hangover was a huge shock to the box office. It also had amazing longevity that took it through the rest of the Summer and into the Fall ending up at $277 million domestic and the highest grossing R-rated comedy in history. Don’t expect the same from Get Him to the Greek, the only comparable film in current release.
We’ll be back on Sunday night to go over the weekend numbers.