Box Office: The Croods is Animation Domination, Olympus Doesn’t Fall, And Oz Is Still Profitable

I’m going to try to keep my commentary brief, as I have been away for most of the weekend running in a 200-mile relay. I’m tired, sunburned and have not seen a complete movie in days. So I’m starting to get the shakes; I’m jonzeing for something to watch (recommendations are welcomed).

So it seems we have our first breakout animated hit of the year with the first DreamWorks Animated release under the Fox banner. The Croods may have had a poorly constructed theatrical push, but the kids just love hearing Nicolas Cage’s voice (whereas adults are more intrigued by what hairpiece he’ll wear next.) It’s $44 million opening is the second biggest opening of the year. Not bad for only the second animated release of 2013. For those paying attention to my weekly columns (minus that week spent at SXSW), the only other entry is The Weinsteain Company’s theater filler Escape from Planet Earth.

But the opening weekend victory of The Croods seemed to be inevitable. It had a massive debut on more than 4,000 screens and a healthy ad budget. I even saw the most ridiculous blurb for the movie in a TV spot in which one critic called it “an animated Avatar.” Huh?

Prior to watching the screening of the Gerard Butler starrer Olympus Has Fallen, some fellow critics and I were having a discussion on just what was the best Butler movie. We couldn’t come up with one. While some would pick 300, I feel that’s more of a Zack Snyder movie than a Gerard Butler movie. My favorite character of his was from Law Abiding Citizen, but the final act killed that movie. Butler has had a string of duds of late with Chasing Mavericks and Playing for Keeps. The good news for Olympus is that it is a better Die Hard sequel than what we got last month with A Good Day to Die Hard. As a plus, it is the first R-rated movie to be a success. I’d have to do the math, but I think Butler’s White House terrorism picture outgrossed The Last Stand, Bullet to the Head and Parker combined for its first weekend.

For those that missed Olympus Has Fallen or enjoyed it the first time, you can see it again in a few months from now when we get the Sony Pictures’ release White House Down starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. Hopefully, Foxx is a better POTUS than Aaron Eckhart.

Oz the Great and Powerful continues to make money for Disney as it nears $200 million domestically. While the project may have cost the studio $325 million overall, if you include how well it will do overseas then it seems like it was a successful gamble on Mickey Mouse’s part. As for star James Franco, him may have played quite the rapscallion here, but his persona goes into total overdrive with a film that appears in the top 10 after expansion. Of course I mean the #6 entry in the top 10, Spring Breakers.

Now this is a movie that has been getting all kinds of attention. It played twice at SXSW, which is a rarity for headlining films. But it was all about building buzz. The film’s marketing catch is that it stars some Disney starlets in Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens in a very adult-oriented film. Its filmmaker, Harmony Korine, is famous for writing the film Kids at the age of nineteen. His first directorial effort, Gummo, wasn’t all that, but with Breakers he has a film that does just enough to separate itself from the arthouse to make the leap to mainstream.

Over on Facebook Scott Sawitz wrote, “Spring Breakers will make you never let your kids leave the house.

And Robert Saucedo, who programmed the film instead of the new Tina Fey-Paul Rudd comedy for the Houston-area Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, expressed that “SPRING BREAKERS is brilliant, bubble gum pop art house” and also remarked that “this movie is going to be a huge pop culture touchstone for 2013.”

New distribution label A24 is pushing it hard in its second weekend of release, expanding it from 3 locations to 1,104. But it may be a case of too much, too soon on the part of A24. But the label is looking to make a name for itself in a big way and pushing Breakers to the limit may do the trick. It will be interesting to see how A24 handles Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring and the Sundance hit The Spectacular Now in the coming months.

The last new release in top ten is Admission. Barely breaking into the top five, it’s performance again shows that Paul Rudd is not a headlining star and that Tina Fey may be better off writing the movies that she appears. We all remember how well her adaptation of Mean Girls was, right? Maybe Fey fears that if she writes a movie for another star that star may end up just like Lindsay Lohan. As far as Admission‘s paltry weekend goes you have to ask yourself how many people want to see a movie about an Ivy League admissions officer attempting to get a eccentric student into Princeton. Granted, the film is based on a book that somebody was passionate about bringing to the big screen. It’s one thing to say your movie is from the director About a Boy, it’s another thing to make a film that is as good as that one.

Well, that’s all I got today, kiddos. For those who wanted to hear my musings on how well the rest of the films in the top ten did, well…

Weekend Box-Office Top Ten for March 22 – March 24, 2013

1. The Croods (Fox/DreamWorkds) – $44.7 MILLION

2. Olympus Has Fallen (FilmDistrict) – $30.5 MILLION

3. Oz The Great and Powerful (Disney) – $22 MILLION ($175.5m cume)

4. The Call (Sony Pictures) – $8.7 MILLION ($31m cume)

5. Admission (Focus Features) – $6.4 MILLION

6. Spring Breakers (A24) – $5 MILLION ($5.4m cume)

7. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros) – $4.3 MILLION ($17.4m cume)

8. Jack the Giant Slayer (Warner Bros/New Line) – $2.9 MILLION ($59m cume)

9. Identity Thief (Universal) – $2.5 MILLION ($127.7m cume)

10. Snitch (Lionsgate/Summit) – $1.9 MILLION ($40.3m cume)

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