Inside Pulse Box Office Report: Little Fockers Opens Strong and True Grit Proves the Western is Still Alive

Inside Pulse Box Office Report: Little Fockers Opens Strong and True Grit Proves the Western is Still Alive

Audiences have been pretty dismissive about what studios have been offering in recent weeks. Is this a sign that the public won’t stand for below average entertainment? Or maybe there is a growing faction who are so disinterested in the number of movies being released in 3D that they would rather not go to the cineplex at all. Whatever the reason may be the downward trend continued with the Christmas holiday releases of Little Fockers, the latest in the Meet the Parents/Fockers comedy series.

A comedy that cost $100 million due to reshoots in part because of Dustin Hoffman’s appearance, which he admits was nothing more than a paycheck grab on his part, is a clear indication that Little Fockers was well on its way to be pretty focking terrible before it even hit theaters. Now I must that I never saw Meet the Fockers, so any of its $500 million in worldwide grosses can’t be traced back to me, but I can understand why it was made. Meet the Parents was a popular hit and Universal Studios wanted to keep the franchise going. So since we met the parents, why not meet the Focker parents? Yet with a title like Little Fockers the kids would have had more of a presence, right?. From the advertisements I’ve seen, only one little focker (the son) is highlighted in quick scenes where he’s either falling off a rock wall or seeing his father and grandfather in the bathroom trying to reduce an erection. And it wasn’t even a focking erection.

The lackluster reception it has received thus far most likely means Little Fockers will struggle in the U.S. to make back its production budget. And overseas it will probably make a little more than that, but won’t net the $237 million that Meet the Fockers made in 2004.

The crowd-pleaser of the weekend, True Grit, cost considerably less than the new #1 comedy in theaters, and it scored well with older audiences. By the time it reaches the end of its run it should match the low-end totals of Burn After Reading ($60 million), while trying to eclipse the earnings of No Country For Old Men ($74 million). Though westerns are a tricky genre. Of the new millennium the most successful western remains Brokeback Mountain at $83 million. Comparatively, Kevin Costner’s Open Range made $58 million, 3:10 to Yuma made $53 million, Appaloosa made $27 million and The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford could only collect $3 million domestic. Totally ignored by the Hollywood Foreign Press when Golden Globes nominations were announced, it will be interesting to see how True Grit fares overseas. Could it be a monster overseas and pull the $95 million that Brokeback did?

It’s too early to tell if Tron: Legacy will be a hit internationally, but domestic numbers are not good for this sequel to the original 1982 film. With only $88 million after two weeks without strong competition, that’s a good indicator that a sequel won’t happen any time soon. And considering the ADD mentality of today’s film-goer, it wouldn’t be out of line to expect Disney to cut its losses and reboot the franchise from scratch in a decade without the need of having a CG-rendered Jeff Bridges.

Having the percentage drop in audience attendance was The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The holiday weekend ensured that its drop in attendance was minor (12.8%) compared to Yogi Bear and Tangled. Its weekend totals were $10.8 million, pushing its domestic total $63 million. No chance it will make it to $100 million, but it may get as high as $90.

The holiday weekend was heavily family-oriented. Besides Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Yogi Bear, Tangled and Guillver’s Travels battled for 3D screens in hopes to boost earnings. Of those, only Travels was a new release – and it bombed big time. Yogi may be smarter than the average bear, but not when it comes to audiences. In its second weekend it took a nosedive, but had it not been a holiday weekend the percentage drop would have been more than fifty percent. Instead, it settled for 46.8%. Looks like Warner Bros. will be taking a loss on this one, but thankfully, The Town was a strong box office surprise for the studio, and the success of Inception and the latest Harry Potter will offset the loss.

Oscar hopefuls The Fighter and Black Swan continue to perform well against the bigger competition. The boxing docudrama picked up eight screens and managed a solid $8.5 million while Swan added 507 locations and took home $6.6 million for the weekend. Fox Searchlight’s Black Swan managed to make that amount on less than 1500 screens compared to 20th Century Fox’s Gulliver’s Travels, which made $7.2 million on 2500 screens. It will be interesting to see how well The Fighter and Black Swan will hold up in the coming weeks. Both have a good shot of making over $50 million, but that all depends on how well it can attract audience interest.

As for Gulliver’s Travels, when I first heard that its development kept Emily Blunt from playing Black Widow in Iron Man 2 I was ticked. Then I saw the advertisements and I was really ticked. Granted its $7.2 million only accounted for its Christmas Day opening and Sunday earnings, that’s roughly $3.6 million per day. That’s a terrible opening no matter how you look at it. I don’t know how much Fox spent on both production and marketing but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was in the ballpark of $200 to $275 million combined.

Not too much happening on the arthouse scene this weekend. Sofia Coppola‘s Somewhere and Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist performed strong despite opening on a couple screens. Somewhere had a per-theater-average of $20,286. The Illusionist grossed a little more than $50k on three screens with its start on Christmas day. Gwyneth Paltrow’s country-singing vehicle Country Strong opened in limited release (two screens) and made $17,300. As for The King’s Speech, it had a large expansion this weekend, adding 657 screens, and made $4.6 million as a result. Look for this one to pick up steam in the coming weeks after the Golden Globes are announced and expansion continues.

Box Office Estimates taken from

1. Little Fockers – $34 million ($48.3 million overall)
2. True Grit – $25.6 million ($36.8 million overall)
3. Tron Legacy – $20.1 million ($88.2 million overall)
4. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – $10.8 million ($63.9 million overall)
5. Yogi Bear – $8.8 million ($36.7 million overall)
6. The Fighter – $8.5 million ($27.5 million overall)
7. Gulliver’s Travels – $7.2 million
8. Tangled – $6.5 million ($143.7 million overall)
9. Black Swan – $6.6 million ($29 million overall)
10. The Tourist – $5.7 million ($41 million overall)

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