Halfway through April and the clock is quickly counting down to the May 4th release of The Avengers. Sorry Chimpanzee. Sorry not-so Lucky One. Same to you Raven and you can quote me on that. The early word from the April 14th screenings of The Avengers is that it will be epic. Our own Robert Saucedo gained admittance to a screening in Houston dressed as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and has already apologized in advance for as he puts it “spending the next two weeks talking incessantly about [how] awesome THE AVENGERS was. The film will be huge.”
Anything wedged between The Hunger Games and The Avengers will be left in the dust, but I’m hopeful that The Cabin in the Woods won’t drop off too much in its second week like most horror releases do. After four weeks, Lionsgate’s Hunger Games has gobbled up $337 million in domestic returns and has already surpassed $500 million worldwide. Scoring $21.5 million in its fourth week suggests that we can expect healthy returns these next two weeks leading up to the release of The Avengers. A $21 million weekend is a good opening for most films getting a release, so to see that number in week 4 is a bit of a rarity. It will be interesting to see how the heavy hitters of the summer blockbuster season fare a month after its release. Outside of The Avengers and The Dark Knight what other potential blockbusters could still be averaging $20 million earnings in its fourth week of release?
With The Hunger Games running away with the weekend it left two newcomers to fight it out for second best. Unfortunately that dubious honor went to The Three Stooges. Playing on 650+ more screens than The Cabin in the Woods, which finished in third place with $14.85 million, consider its victory on account of its marketing blitz. I think I’ve seen its trailer attached to more movies this year than any other release. Add in the TV spots – most likely inserted in between episodes of Tom & Jerry and Looney Tunes to tie-in the slapstick chicanery – and a mega release into 3400 theaters and it’s understandable why it opened up to Woods. Critical praise for the horror-comedy means bupkis when it comes to dollars and cents. Making a case for Cabin in the Woods is that it had the second-best per-screen average of the top 10, behind The Hunger Games.
Now this horror-comedy had a big hurdle to leap that goes beyond being left for dead by MGM two years ago. That hurdle was its marketing. How do you hook the audience when the best gimmick is surprise. The Cabin in the Woods isn’t your average horror release. I wouldn’t go as far to call it game changer. More like two guys (Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard) having way too much fun inside The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
On the 100th anniversary weekend of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic, Titanic 3D managed to keep its head above water raking in another $11.5 million to bring its two-week total to $44.5 million. Not too bad for a 15-year-old that reportedly cost $17 million and sixty weeks to convert to 3D. It’s doubtful that it will unseat The Lion King as the 3D Revival Box Office champ. That Disney animated hit went on pull in $94 million. There are but a handful of movies that have the appeal to justify the expense of a 3D conversion and warrant an audience in theaters. Both Titanic and The Lion King do. The Phantom Menace does not.
American Reunion rounds out the top five. Even with the gap in theatrical releases, the American Pie is already a well-established franchise. As one of the few “true” comedies in the top 10, it should continue to play well in this coming week before the release of the Judd Apatow-produced The Five-Year Engagement. Spots 6 – 8 is a toss up due to the proximity of each film’s estimated gross. As it stands Mirror Mirror netted $7 million to bring its total to $50 million. That figure was just enough to beat the likes of Wrath of the Titans and 21 Jump Street.
Newcomer Locout was the least impressive of the bunch. It was given only a 2300 screen release and it just didn’t click the way that FilmDistrict thought it would. Luc Besson productions are always a mixed bag in terms of execution. Guy Pearce owned his role as the ex-CIA operative Snow, but it was basically a one-note performance, a cross between Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken character (Escape from New York) and Bruce Willis’ John McClane (Die Hard).
Overseas, Battleship has already debuted in twenty-six territories earning $58 million. It has the chance to make upwards of $300 million before it makes landfall in the States and Canada on May 18th. This is Universal’s biggest gamble of 2012 in terms of cost vs. earnings. The hope is they have something in the ballpark of Transformers earnings (aside from the title, the advertisements all but make it look like it’s Transformers: You Sunk My Destroyer) and not John Carter (which has managed to earn $269 worldwide thanks in large part to overseas grosses – it’s like a 3:1 ratio versus domestic earnings).
Titles outside the top 10 worth mentioning include The Raid: Redemption expanding to 881 theater and taking in $1 million dollars. The PG-13 rated Bully opened at 158 locations and collected $534k. Cult destined Blue Like Jazz from Roadside Attractions earned $281k at 136 theaters, while Foreign Academy Award nominee Monsieur Lazhar played at 19 locations and collected $120k.