Inside Pulse Box Office Report: Hornet Brings Green, Dilemma Underwhelms

It’s not enough to open in first place anymore. You have to break records if you want it to mean something. Which is why it’s always good to keep track to see how well a movie performs during a holiday weekend. The Green Hornet opened number one with $34 million in its first three days and should cover at least $40 million when the Martin Luther King holiday is over. Not a bad number, but not quite a record-breaker. That honor would befall Matt Reeves’ Cloverfield, which raked in $46.1 million over the same four-day period back in 2008. And it cost $75 to $85 million less, that is if you believe Hornet‘s estimated budget of $90 to $110 million.

But don’t go thinking that director Michel Gondry is at fault. He didn’t have final cut, but he knew this going in. Watching it at a press screening last week I will say that it was much better than the ads made it out to be. However, it also proved that Seth Rogen isn’t much of writer when writing himself as the lead. Might want to work on that if ever Sony Pictures gives a greenlight to doing a sequel. And that may just happen if international numbers make it a hit. Ads over there have been placing emphasis on Cameron Diaz and Jay Chou, who is China’s answer to Justin Timberlake.

I don’t know why Ron Howard would ever want to direct something like The Dilemma, but he did and continues to destroy his film canon. A total mess of a comedy, without Frost/Nixon, his last few films have been pretty weak in terms of subject matter. Crappy adaptations of crappy Dan Brown novels and now he’s going to tackle Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. Are you freaking kidding me? Also, while Vince Vaughn wasn’t the weak link in The Dilemma I think audiences are tired of seeing him in relationship comedies like The Break-Up, Four Christmases and Couples Retreat, which to my surprise all became hits. I guess no one would buy him as an oddball eccentric like he was in Clay Pigeons. Also, not helping Dilemma‘s case is Kevin James being married to Winona Ryder. If James can have Maria Bello and Amber Valletta, surely he could have been married to somebody better looking. Not to be cruel, but it just makes sense. James is the shulbby guy, he needs a hot-ass wife.

Outside these two major releases, the box office remained kind to Oscar hopefuls. True Grit continues to show its legs, again earning north of $11 million in its fourth weekend. On a night where the western didn’t get a single nomination from the Hollywood Foreign Press for a Golden Globe, the Coen brothers and Paramount are reaping the benefits. The picture is a major hit in terms of its cost to produce versus box office earnings so far. Right behind Rooster Cogburn and co. was The King’s Speech, which picked up 785 new locations and has made close to $50 million without playing on more than 2000 screens.

Speaking of 2000 screens, Darren Aronofsky’s ballet thriller finally had its expansion exceed that number on his way to passing $70 million. It is by far the director’s biggest film to date, and could conceivably make it to triple digits once Oscar chatter heats up. As Black Swan remains steady, Little Fockers continues to drop, but sadly there are enough people out there that thought it was worth seeing again.

The Green Hornet in 3D caused Tron: Legacy, Yogi Bear and Tangled to lose screens this weekend. With the rumor going around that a Tron sequel is going to happen, Legacy hasn’t even eclipsed $160 million in the U.S. yet, and it cost $170 million to produce. Yikes. Yogi Bear continues to steal more than pic-a-nic baskets from viewers as it now has a realistic chance of making it past $90 million domestic.

If the Golden Globes were a measuring stick when it comes to box office sustainability, then The Fighter should be dominating. It got six nominations, but it hasn’t really got that buzz like The King’s Speech and Black Swan have received. $65 million thus far is more than adequate as it was budgeted around $25 million. Playing on 400 screens less than Season of the Witch it did just enough to make sure the Nicolas Cage witch movie that isn’t really a witch movie finished in tenth place.

Outside of the top ten, foreign markets prove that Americans aren’t guilty of watching crappy films. Gulliver’s Travels has amassed close to $100 million internationally. Yeah, you read that right. The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader is closing in on $260 million in overseas grosses, and Harry Potter has blown up earning $648 million.

In indie theaters, Blue Valentine collected $1.4 million on just 230 screens. Newcomers were Barney’s Version playing at four locations and having the largest per-screen average of any movie currently in theaters, $17,925. Freestyle Releasing’s delivered The Heart Specialist which starred the likes of Zoe Saldana and Ed Asner. I never heard of it until I saw it listed on Yes, it just goes to show that this indie release was far from my radar.

Box Office Estimates taken from

1. The Green Hornet – $34 million
2. The Dilemma – $17.4 million
3. True Grit – $11.2 million ($126 mil. overall)
4. The King’s Speech – $9.1 million ($45 mil. overall)
5. Black Swan – $8.1 million ($73 mil. overall)
6. Little Fockers – $7.1 million ($134 mil. overall)
7. Tron Legacy – $5.7 million ($157 mil. overall)
8. Yogi Bear – $5.4 million ($82 mil. overall)
9. The Fighter – $5.1 million ($66 mil. overall)
10. Season of the Witch – $4.5 million ($18 mil. overall)

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