Hold up, girl. Don’t you know who my father is?
You know the summer movie season is going bad when Entertainment Weekly has a story called “What’s Wrong with this Summer’s Movies?” Each time a studio greenlights something in excess of $100 million it comes at a risk. Because besides production costs you have to consider another $60-$80 million for worldwide marketing. If the movies fail to succeed, then some executive will look mighty foolish for giving the go ahead for stupid, quote-unquote popcorn movies that are supposed to be surefire blockbusters. When one fails and then another, higher-ups start to sweat and others start looking for the nearest window.
We are entering a dangerous period in Hollywood where remakes are running amuck because it is easier to invest in something that has proved successful than it is to stand up for originality. I don’t think anyone was clamoring for The Karate Kid to be remade. And yet it was. Even something as classic as King Kong has had two big screen remakes; and we all know how Gus Van Sant’s shot-by-shot remake of Psycho turned out. Then there’s the adaptations. You have books, TV shows, video games, comics, etc. Soon our attention spans will have dipped so low that we’ll start to see movies based around the Geico gecko commercials or a Lowe’s movie narrated by Gene Hackman.
Another factor to consider is how much television has improved. You have series like True Blood, Burn Notice, Mad Men and Entourage encouraging us to stay home and watch TV, because chances are good that any one of those programs can best anything playing in theaters. I mean have you guys checked the latest promo for Boardwalk Empire? Can you honestly say that series won’t be better than half of the movies it will be competing against in September?
Truth is, there’s no perfect formula for success. Which is why studios try to piggyback off the success of a film when it becomes a hit with audiences. It’s why there’s such a term as the “Gladiator Effect.” After the DreamWorks film became a huge hit you had studios trying to replicate its success. Warner Bros. produced both Troy and Alexander, both of which had theatrical and director’s cut releases on DVD. Buena Vista had King Arthur from uber producer Jerry Bruckheimer. And Ridley Scott even tried to duplicate Gladiator‘s success with Kingdom of Heaven. It failed theatrically, but the director’s longer cut on home video has been positively received.
I think many were expecting The Karate Kid to finish a strong second behind The A-Team. A few factors had to be considered: Jackie Chan’s waning star power in America, the directing resume of Harald Zwart (Agent Cody Banks and The Pink Panther 2) and the fact that it was a two hour and twenty minute feature marketed towards kids. I’m sure if a straw poll was taken the majority of people in attendance were not adults wanting to wax nostalgia. It was a youth-oriented film geared towards minorities since it had Jaden Smith in the lead role. (The white boys will get their revenge when one of their own plays Asian in The Last Airbender. Uh oh.)
The A-Team had the hurdle of not only being a relic of ’80s TV, which at its zenith was attracting audiences that would make the 20th Century Fox/American Idol think tank jealous, but it acted like the start of a franchise that may or may not happen. A shame, because the movie is a whole lot of fun. Like Scott says in his review, “[The A-Team] succeeds because it fully embraces the concept of being a fun action film.” In a summer where fun action movies should be in high demand, it is the meatiest action movie around yet the men were not geared to see “a plan come together.” It’s got a few more weeks before another action heavy (Knight and Day) arrives, so here’s hoping that it has the testosterone to stay in the top 10 for a little while longer. It needs to have legs at the domestic box office, become a big hit overseas or have crazy-like sales on DVD and Blu-ray before any thought of a sequel can happen. Hopefully a plan can come together, because it is a fun as hell moviewatching experience. Probably the best since Kick-Ass.
For three weeks Shrek Forever After was at the top of the list, but this weekend it finishes in third place. At $210 million, it should surpass How to Train Your Dragon sometime this week, but when Toy Story 3 arrives on June 18, the clock will strike midnight for the DreamWorks Animated hit and the franchise turns into a pumpkin. Get Him to the Greek lost 42.5% of its audience, but is only $3.5 million away from matching its production budget. It may not be this year’s Hangover, but the raunchy comedy continues to outperform cinematic excrement like Killers and Marmaduke.
Sex and the City 2 is coasting with overseas grosses well above $100 million, but on the domestic front it is still well below that mark. After three weekends it has made $89 million while the original had made $119 million three weeks into its run. Worldwide Prince of Persia is at $262 million, an impressive number if it didn’t cost $200 million to make. This is a big hit for the Walt Disney guys; the studio only has one certifiable hit this year with Alice in Wonderland. The release of Toy Story 3 can’t come soon enough.
Iron Man 2 is on the precipice of hitting $300 million by the end of Monday, and Robin Hood should eclipse $100 million. Well below expectations for both.
For limited releases, Solitary Man had the biggest jump in attendance as it added 31 screens to its playout. It finished the weekend with $371k and $876k overall. If this was 1998, a studio would have no problem giving the film at least a 1000-screen opening. But Douglas has become almost an afterthought, having not been the headline of a major hit since A Perfect Murder (another remake).
New in release were Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, which had the biggest per-screen average, taking in $170k on seven screens. Winter’s Bone earned $85k on four screens and Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky made $48.8k on three screens. The documentary The Lottery didn’t quite hit the jackpot with $17k on one screen. Do yourself a favor and check out what’s playing at your local arthouse theater (if your city has one). Think outside the scope of the summer blockbuster and support independent films.
1. The Karate Kid – $56 million
2. The A-Team – $26 million
3. Shrek Forever After – $15.8 million ($210 mil.)
4. Get Him To The Greek – $10.1 million ($37 mil.)
5. Killers – $8.2 million ($31 mil.)
6. The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – $6.6 million ($72 mil.)
7. Marmaduke – $6 million ($22 mil.)
8. Sex And The City 2 – $5.5 million ($89 mil.)
9. Iron Man 2 – $4.6 million ($299 mil.)
10. Splice – $2.9 million ($13 mil.)
Tags: box office, Get Him To The Greek, Iron Man 2, Shrek Forever After, Splice, The A-Team, The Karate Kid, Winter's Bone