Four new movies hit theaters this weekend, a few of them looking like valid candidates to take a strong win at the box office. However, it was a returning film, Think Like a Man, who stepped up, led the pack, and made every other film – including those newbies – look downright mediocre by comparison. Producer Will Packer, whose union with Screen Gems has created such timeless films as Obsessed and Takers, hasn’t had a film top the chart two weekend in a row since 2007 when Stomp the Yard came on strong. That film ended its run with $61.3m domestic and not much else overseas. Think Like a Man, with its current trajectory, is a lock to be Packer’s biggest movie for Screen Gems, as it’s nearing the $68.2m Obsessed pulled in during its release. Posters for Think Like a Man 2 have already been Photoshopped.
Sadly Aardman isn’t putting the posters together for The Pirates! 2!. The latest film from the stop motion animation studio opened with $11.4m, Aardman’s lowest opening to date, but not exactly a sign the studio is headed for trouble waters. Yeah, it’s been said. The Pirates! isn’t the biggest movie Aardman has ever put out. Flushed Away dropped in the Summer of 2006 with a reported budget of $149m, while The Pirates! budget is $55m. Flushed Away ended its time in US theaters with $64.6m, but foreign markets have always been much kinder to the UK-based studio than the ignorant Americans over here. All of Aardman’s films have grossed well over $100m worldwide with 2000’s Chicken Run bringing $224.8m the world over. US numbers have always been higher than any, other, single country, but with foreign markets amassed, Aardman shouldn’t be too concerned with how their films play here.
Jason Segel and Emily Blunt need American audiences to make them profitable stars, but The Five-Year Engagement isn’t the film to do it. After expectations inflated what the film could earn, it ended up in the #5 slot, just under The Hunger Games and its sixth week moral victory. The Five-Year Engagement isn’t Judd Apatow’s lowest opening as a producer, but the comedy titan’s lower numbers have always fallen to films like Walk Hard and Drillbit Taylor. This latest film, being a relatively accessible romantic comedy, was expected for more. That R rating certainly didn’t help matters, and a PG-13 rating would have boosted The Five Year-Engagement’s numbers by at least $4m.
The two films in the R-rated, thriller category dropped in with numbers in the $7ms. The Raven’s $7.2m opening was expected despite John Cusack’s overtime Twitter pimping, but the $7.7m Safe brought in is low by Jason Statham standards. Crank: High Voltage, The Bank Job, and that Uwe Boll movie were all wide releases that opened to less than $7m, but Statham’s action movies have hit a nice, $10m range stride in the last, few years. Safe’s weekend isn’t dreadful, and the actor’s next three projects are already headed our way. They all have far more interesting conceits than Safe, too, the biggest factor in what caused this small of an opening.
The Avengers, titled The Avengers Assemble in foreign markets thanks to Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman, is the latest film to get a wide, foreign release before hitting the states. It’s already managed to bring in $178.4m in 39 markets, Australia being the most profitable of these with $8.2m. France and Italy are also fans of the Marvel team with $4.9m and $4.6m coming from those countries, respectively. As more films like Tintin, Battleship, and The Avengers begin showing just how much anticipation is built when released outside of the US first, we’ll be seeing lots and lots more plans of attack like this. Of course, it all depends on the percentage of gross the studios get from foreign markets, which is traditionally lower than what they get from US theaters. However, it’s proving to be a success on paper, and that’s always been good enough for this business.
Here’s how the weekend broke down:
- Think Like a Man – $18m (-46.5%) $60.8m total
- The Pirates! Band of Misfits – $11.4m NEW
- The Lucky One – $11.3m (-49.7%) $39.9m total
- The Hunger Games – $11.2m (-23.3%) $372.4m total
- The Five-Year Engagement – $11.1m NEW
- Safe – $7.7m NEW
- The Raven – $7.2m NEW
- Chimpanzee – $5.4m (-48.8%) $19.1m total
- The Three Stooges – $5.4m (-44.7%) $37.1m total
- The Cabin in the Woods – $4.5m (-43.9%) $34.6m total
All those $11m weekends add up, but not to a whole lot. This $93.2m weekend isn’t shocking regardless of how you look at it. The last weekend before Summer has traditionally been a lower grossing weekend, a possible sign movie goers are looking to the horizon for the massive slate of huge movies that are about to come. Segel and Blunt, stop motion Pirates, Statham punching, and a period piece horror/thriller were all valid programming for this calm before the storm. Some of these ideas just weren’t handled well on a marketing level, and it shows in the numbers. Movies like Think Like a Man and The Hunger Games did their best, but, in the end, it fell to the four newbies. Evidently, the four of them were already on vacation.
And here we are, the Summer of 2012 and all the glorious explosions that are sure to come with it. Many of the weekends ahead will only have one newcomer, and, as anyone who isn’t hiding under a rock up in the mountains somewhere can tell you, The Avengers has a crack at first blood. It’s going to be #1 next weekend. It’s going to break at least a few records. The only questions now are “By how much?” and “How many?”
We’ll be back later in the week to see how the weekend is shaping up.