Easter Bunny brings pagan box office bounty for “Clash of the Titans,” Tyler Perry, Dreamworks Animation, and Miley Cyrus

Liam Neeson looks disappointed at his share of the grosses for Performing completely as expected and discussed previously here, Warner Brothers’ “Clash of the Titans” earned a technically record-breaking estimated $61.4 million over this Easter holiday weekend as recorded by Box Office Mojo. I say “technically” of course because ticket prices have been skyrocketing for sometime now. So, while it says something that audiences are still willing to pay the increasing freight in the face of a not so great, but perhaps gradually improving, economy, I personally get a bit irritated with this constant trumpeting of broken records.

Still, as much as this reminds of me of ultra-geek baseball stats, I can’t ignore that the past Easter weekend record holder was, as per Anne Thompson’s resident box office guru, Anthony D’Alessandro, 2006’s “Scary Movie 4” at $40.2 million. I’m no math whiz, but I don’t think ticket prices have gone up by quite a third since then. So, it’s definitely a strong performance for the critic-proof, mythological monster-heavy sword & sandals fantasy remake. However, executives who will use the performance to bolster arguments for retrofitting yet more movies to 3-D might want to examine the trends a bit more closely.  D’Allesandro remarks:

In a last-minute post-production business move that paid off, Warner Bros. decided to 3D-ify Titans, stirring debate among critics and fans that retrofitted visual fare just doesn’t cut it.  No matter if you agree with Zeus or Hades on the dimensional debate, Titans played fine with all audiences, earning 52% of its B.O. from 1,800 3D huts.

Well, yes, but it appears to me that all that discussion about the relative quality of 3-D processes filtered out to the general public. 52% isn’t bad, of course, especially considering the brutal competition for screens. However, compare that to the numbers provided last week by the L.A. TimesBen Fritz.  80% of  the grosses for the technologically game-changing “Avatar” made using 3-D cameras, have come from 3-D and 70% for another 3-D film shot with conventional cameras, “Alice in Wonderland,” which got less criticism for its after-the-fact 3-D. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m guessing that Tim Burton‘s visuals are generally pretty stunning however you slice them and, though some have been certainly been critical, it probably helped that he at least knew the film would be presented that way while he was making the film, unlike “Titans” director Louis Leterrier.

So, now we’re at 52%. Is this a trend or just a product of the fact that we now have three major films in 3-D in wide release? I’ll venture that too many films where audiences don’t feel the format adds appreciably to the fun could seriously harm this round of 3-D if the studios abuse it, and that’s already happening, I think.

Moving on, the counter-programming behind “Why Did I Get Married Too?” worked like crazy for Tyler Perry and Lionsgate. The king of all urban media scored a personal fiscal best for movies not featuring his trademark Madea character. He lured enough grown-up African-American woman and their significant others to theaters to score a rock solid $30.15 million — $10 million and change over the film’s lean-for-Hollywood $20 million budget.

I know it’s a huge stretch, but I’m claiming this one as a victory against the Man for “Black Dynamite” genius Michael Jai White, who plays one of the main male roles in the film. Yes, I’m sure Janet Jackson, Jill Scott and Sharon Leal are the focus and the big draws here, but it can’t hurt, even if this time he’s largely being offered up as eye candy for the ladies.

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Third up was a strong second-week performance for last week’s critically lauded, family-friendly 3-D fantasy-comedy animation winner, “How to Train Your Dragon.” As well reviewed, well-liked, family movies tend to do, it held very well in its second week and suffered only a modest 33.2% drop on week two earning an estimate of $29.2 million for Paramount-Dreamworks. This one is clearly going to be a very solid earner for some time to come.

Even this week’s fourth place winner was far from an abject failure. “The Last Song,” a PG-rated Disney (branded as Touchstone) melodramatic vehicle for teen/tween sensation Miley Cyrus based on a novel by weepy-king Nicholas Sparks, came reasonably close to matching its $20 million budget with a very decent $16.2 million. Not terrible for a movie with a passionate but obviously somewhat limited gender/age base.

(I should add here that the actual numbers are somewhat higher for “Last Song,” as that actually opened on Wednesday, and “Clash of the Titans,” which opened late Thursday night. For the sake of comparison, we’re ignoring that this week though that extra few million both movies made obviously figure in to the total grosses.)

Helena Bonham Carter in In fifth place, the previously mentioned “Alice in Wonderland” actually underperformed a bit, earning only an estimated $8 million and change for Disney. Probably hurt badly by the loss of 3-D screens to “Clash of the Titans,” it dropped by 53.3%. Still, the film has beat it’s massive $200 million budget domestically and is nearing the $310 million mark, so it’s nothing to lose your head over.

  

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