The long Memorial Day weekend is not quite half over but it doesn’t look like a barn-burner for anyone. Looking at the traditional three days which are used to cover the more competitive side of box office results, it’s looking like Carrie Bradshaw and the other women of “Sex and the City 2” have been stood up by a significant share of the expected audience, leaving “Shrek Forever After” the box office leader.
The $60 million guessed at for the entire “five day frame” by jolly Carl DiOrio on Thursday may still be possible” but it’s start to look like it’ll be lucky to hit even that modest number. (The first film in the series earned $57 million in its initial three-day frame.) In any case,everyone really did seem to expect the film to hit #1 and that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case. The present weekend estimate for Warners’ “Sex” according to Box Office Mojo is $32.125 million while the final Shrek film took in $43.345 million.
The pleasant surprise for Dreamworks/Paramount here is that their animated comedy about the world famous fairy tale troll experienced a better than average 38% percent drop from it’s opening — which was a big let down compared to previous films at just under $71 million, but far from disastrous. This may be more evidence that telling a decent story actually counts for something.
The consensus on this “Shrek” is that it’s nothing great (Mike Fleming termed the reviews “mediogre” <yuck, yuck>), but a relatively decent ending to the series with some considering it one of the better entries in the four picture series, so word-of-mouth may be giving it a small boost. There’s also the factor of it in being in nearly a thousand more theaters than the other films and many of those being 3-D with higher ticket prices. The public may be starting to tire of those prices, but enough of them appear to still be willing to pay the added freight to keep the troll on top.
“Sex” on the other hand, which had a $100 million budget — which would only a few years ago have been considered obscene — seems to have been disliked by even some of its biggest fans among the press and was hated, hated, hated by others — not all of them men, by the way. The audience word of mouth (or word of Twitter, Facebook, text, e-mail, etc.) may be almost as bad. The Numbers points out that its grosses declined on Saturday from Friday and it’s expected to decline more today.
“Sex 2” only barely edged out in the three-day frame of producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney’s “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.” An attempt at a new “tent-pole” franchise, it was tracking less than grandly and already expected to do only respectable business. That’s pretty much what happened with its current estimate being $30.17 million. Criticized for its casting, one has to wonder if it really would have done that much worse if they had cast a few relatively unknown actors of South-Asian or Middle-Eastern ancestry. Outstanding young actor and friend of PH (and editor Will Harris) Dileep Rao, I’m sure, would have been willing to talk to Mr. Bruckheimer about the lead role.
Among limited releases, I deserve to have a body part (let’s make it a toe) eaten for failing to mention the twenty theater release of the latest from cannibal-zombie inventor George Romero, “Survival of the Dead.” I’ve got to remember to check sources other than Box Office Mojo, which seems to ignore certain random films from smaller distributors — and that’s why the next series of numbers comes from, where else, The Numbers.
Anyhow, apparently I wasn’t the only one who failed to realize Romero’ latest was in theaters, because it didn’t exactly gorge itself on box office flesh. It earned only $43,000 in twenty theaters though, as Mr. Romero mentions in this interview (thanks to BKS for sending this), his films are very inexpensive and sell very well on home video. Also, that take maybe really isn’t bad at all, however, when you consider that it’s already been available on VOD for nearly a month. Romero’s most loyal fans have, undoubtedly, largely already seen it.
The much more heavily promoted magic-realist slapstick/action comedy, “Micmacs,” from French cult fave Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amelie,” “The City of Lost Children”) made more in four theaters than Romero’s film made in twenty. In fact, it had this anemic weekend’s biggest per-screen average, earning $12,175 on four screens. That’s good but absolutely nothing special for a limited release. The most famous and historic — but not the best (try “Weekend” or “Contempt”) — movie made by an even more distinctive French cineaste, Jean-Luc Godard, did pretty well for a fifty year old film. “Breathless” starring two very different film legends, dashing, Bogey-esque, Jean-Paul Belmondo and tragic Jean Seberg, earned $8,175 on four screens.