Seeing as we have two action movies in contention this week, I’ll cut to the chase. Marvel and Paramount’s “Iron Man 2,” as was universally expected back before the weekend started, easily held on to its #1 spot at the box office. Ir scored a weekend estimate of $53 million that nevertheless included a somewhat higher than average drop of over 58%, indicating that the movie, as I imagined, isn’t quite wowing filmgoers the way the first movie in the franchise did.
This week’s big debut, “Robin Hood” has generally received a decidedly mixed reaction from, as far as I can tell, everyone who sees. It came in slightly below expectations at an estimate of roughly $37.1 million for Universal. (Earlier, the box office gurus were talking about figures in the range of $40-50 million.) Nevertheless, though the reaction be “meh,” not all the news for brave Sir Robin is mediocre. Indeed, THR this morning trumpeted a take of $74 million from just under 6,944 screens across the globe, making it the world’s #1 movie.
It’s been a long, long time since my stint in an International Sales wing of a smallish film company, but it appears that, then as now, the combination of a really well-known star like Russell Crowe, action, and a strong (at least in theory) storyline remains the formula for success in non-English-speaking territories. I’m sure this news is music to the ears of the suits of recently bad luck/bad decision prone Universal.
(By the way, my primary source for all of these numbers this week is, in fact, The Numbers. My usual resource for this information, Box Office Mojo was beset by some kind of serious site issue earlier today. I’m happy to see they have the problem fixed now.)
Of the week’s lower profile new releases, both nominal romantic comedies directly targeted both in terms of gender and, I suppose, ethnicity. “Letters to Juliet” is the more Anglo-Saxon of the two films aimed squarely at the female audience and stars the talented and generationally diverse but definitely Anglo-Saxon pair of Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave. As with this week’s other films, it came in slightly below the figures that were being bandied about previously with an estimate of $13.75 million. “Just Wright,” on the other hand stars Queen Latifah, Common, and Pam Grier and — in a world where de facto segregation still exists to some degree in our movie houses — is theoretically aimed at a mostly African-American audience. It earned an estimated $8.5 million for Fox Searchlight but actually beat the Seyfried rom-com in terms of per-screen averages by a hair — $9.00 per screen to be precise — since it was in over a thousand fewer screens.
The family trade remained reliable this week. The #5 film was “How to Train Your Dragon” with an estimated $5.12 million, which continues to have legs seven weeks into its run.
On the limited release front, I’ll once again refer you to the fine coverage being offered by Peter Knegt over at Indiewire. I’ll simply note that I’m happy to see a good turn-out for the debut of the latest from English master-filmmaker Ken Loach, whose developed an interesting pattern at times of of shifting from slice-of-life comedies and dramas to politically engaged action dramas. I’m also delighted to see no mention of a particular German horror film I’ve been refusing to mention simply because — well, I don’t even want to talk about it. Maybe now I’ll finally have some luck in un-thinking the premise. May screenings of it, whatever it is, remain empty and far, far away from me.