Inside Pulse Box Office Report: Dragon Flies High to Recapture First Place

Instead of delivering a can a whoop ass to the competition this weekend, Kick-Ass got its ass kicked. It managed to stave off the only other wide release of the weekend, Death at a Funeral, and last week’s big comedy, Date Night, but its estimated $19.75 million wasn’t enough to beat out How to Train Your Dragon and its $20 million haul. Now in its fourth week of release, the DreamWorks animated film is seeing its second weekend in first place – three weeks after it had an opening bow of $43.7 million. Today, its total is $159 million domestic. When combined with foreign grosses the film has made $321 million. It may not doing gangbusters like former DreamWorks box office champs like Monsters Vs. Aliens ($198 million domestic), Kung-Fu Panda ($215 million), and Shrek 2 ($441 million), but the film is performing better than MvA did in its fourth week last year – $20 million vs. $13.2 million. Now you could attribute that to more 3-D presentations, but I suspect that the combination of great word to mouth, a 98% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and the fact that its still playing on 3,825 screens had something to do with it.

Lionsgate may have been disappointed with the opening totals of Kick-Ass because there were speculations that it could open near $30 million. But it had its limitations of having a hard R-rating and being based on comic-book property that isn’t as well known as Batman or Spider-Man. It does have a respectable 78% rating at RT, and considering that Lionsgate only spent $25 million to acquire the rights to the independently financed film from director Matthew Vaughn, the movie will no doubt perform extraordinarily well on DVD and Blu-ray. The question is if the combination of foreign grosses and video sales will be enough to greenlight a sequel. I hope so, because I really want to see a villain named “Mother Fucker.” That’s the name the series creator Mark Millar (Wanted) is toying with for the next issues of the Kick-Ass comic.

Even with a line-up that consisted of Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Martin Lawrence and Zoe Saldana (sans Avatar blue enhancements), Death at a Funeral only upstaged its comedic competition, Date Night with the NBC stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey, by $300,000 ($17.3 million vs. $17 million). Three years ago, the original British version of the ROTFL comedy had a cumulative take of $8.6 million when it was in States (though, its highest number of screens was 324 – the remake opened on 2,459 screens). I will say that the remake was funny, but still unnecessary. The costs were low, so it will surely recoup its $21 million budget. But I want to see how well it plays overseas. The 2007 original had $38.2 million in foreign grosses.

Rounding out the top five is the weak fantasy spectacle Clash of the Titans with $15.7 million. A $10 million gap separates fifth place from sixth as The Last Song brought in another $5.8 million, raising its 19-day total to $50 million domestic. Not bad for Miley Cyrus and the Mouse House since the film cost $20 million to produce. The bottom of the top ten features movies that have been on the list for three to five weeks (Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?, Hot Tub Time Machine, and The Bounty Hunter), or in the case of Alice in Wonderland ($3.5 million) seven weeks.

Looking at limited releases, seven new films made their debuts including the Oscar winner from Argentina The Secret in Their Eyes. The thriller, which upstaged films like A Prophet and The White Ribbon, earned $176,000 on 10 screens. The seven new films include two documentaries, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which made $166,000 on eight screens, and The Cartel (a doc about education not drugs), which earned $4,100 on two screens.

As impressive as these totals are, the best per-screen average belongs to the James Ivory film The City of Your Final Destination. It is the first film he has done after the passing of Ismail Merchant (of Merchant Ivory Productions fame). Star Anthony Hopkins reunites with Ivory after collaborating on Surviving Picasso in the mid-’90s. The drama earned $22,000 on a single screen. Screen Media Films, the company distributed Destination, typically don’t get very wide releases. Its biggest gross to date is 2007’s Lymelife with $421,000 and it played on only 35 screens.

1. How to Train Your Dragon – $20 million ($159 mil.)
2. Kick-Ass – $19.8 million ($19.8 mil.)
3. Date Night – $17.3 million ($49.2 mil.)
4. Death at a Funeral – $17 million ($17 mil.)
5. Clash of the Titans – $15.8 million ($133 mil.)
6. The Last Song – $5.8 million ($50 mil.)
7. Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too? – $4.2 million ($54.9 mil.)
8. Hot Tub Time Machine – $3.55 million ($42. 5 mil.)
9. Alice in Wonderland – $3.5 million ($324 mil.)
10. The Bounty Hunter – $3.2 million ($60.4 mil.)

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