G.I Joe: Retaliation

 “G.I. Joe: Retaliation" had every reason to fail and flop, pushed off its initial release date and drawing bad publicity for its delays and talk of reconstituting characters that were once killed off. In fact, it was almost worse; 'Retaliation's last-minute postponement was just five weeks before its debut last summer. Taken out of its initial date (promoted with a pricey Super Bowl spot more than a year ago) the film finally landed this weekend. And while inflation plus 3D-enhanced prices couldn't help the film surpass the $54.7 million opening of "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" in 2009, Paramount is likely pleased with a $41.2 million weekend, and a $51.7 four day opening (with a 2013-high $80.3 million international debut for global grosses meeting $132 million) is not too bad all things considered. 

G.I Joe: Retaliation

The early returns -- remember 'Retaliation' has been in theaters since Wednesday night, whereas the original had a regular weekend -- suggest this will perform less like the first film and more like a contemporary blockbuster, where the bulk of the money is coming from overseas. It could even perform softer than the $150 million total that 'Cobra' took, but the international market is becoming more and more important to studios these days. However, it's worth noting is that Paramount ceded the international rights to MGM, which means they take a heavy hit if this film doesn’t match the first effort in the U.S. “G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra” reportedly cost $175 million, and “Retaliation” is supposed to carry a $130 million pricetag, a nice bit of savings if true. But does that take into account the massive last-minute schedule delay, prompting a whole new marketing effort that allowed more facetime for Channing Tatum, who doesn’t have much more than a cameo in this one?

Regardless, fans granted a B+ Cinemascore to the first film and have opted for A- this time around, and the picture is said to be pacing 50 percent ahead of "G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra" on a global scale which at the very least is good news for the series that is running out of leading characters now that Tatum's Duke is out of the picture. A March opening is usually going to be smaller than an August one, given that some kids were in school on Thursday and Friday, and the summer rush hasn't set in. The film could generate strong holds in the coming weeks (particularly after NCAA’s March Madness ends), and certainly Hasbro will look at a possible $300-$400 million worldwide gross and demand a sequel, but it may mean taking the 'Narnia' route and shopping the series to another major studio. That didn’t really work for Walden Media when they took “The Chronicles Of Narnia” from Disney to Fox, however, and Paramount might be cagey enough to sit on the rights and collect TV and cable checks for the two films in lieu of letting the Joes' rights lapse. "G.I. Joe 3" likely remains a fifty-fifty proposition for now.

A decent second weekend haul kept “The Croods” in the game for now. The animated comedy is performing along the lines of Dreamworks’ “How To Train Your Dragon,” a relief for the execs embarrassed by “Rise of the Guardians” getting pantsed during the holidays last year. It will need some extra juice to match “Dragon,” which boasted seriously strong holds as the weeks continued, but domestically it looks like they’re in the clear, while overseas “The Croods” is already pulling down some serious cash as well. A $400-$500 million total is well within reach.

Tyler Perry's Temptation

Every time you lose faith in the earning power of Tyler Perry, his brand comes lurching back to life like some sort of urban revenant seeking fresh blood. The thesis used to be that Perry’s name was worthless without a skirt, as his “Madea” movies were the only real draws in his portfolio, the bulk of his other efforts affordable programmers at best. Moving into the mainstream leading man world only led to “Alex Cross,” which cost more, and performed much worse, than any other Perry effort. But “Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor,” which does not feature Perry as an actor, will be the tenth Perry-linked film to open over $20 million, nine of which he directed himself, and all of which were cheap enough to yield a profit. Read that statistic again, because you can’t say that for any other directors or actors currently working today.

Perry’s films usually skew towards conservative family values and Christian themes, so adding (PG-13) salaciousness to the brand was something of a gamble. But the name remains a draw, and as long as Perry keeps the budget down and Lionsgate can keep putting these films out on over 2,000 screens (at 2,047 locations, this is the smallest Perry launch since “Meet The Browns” five years ago), there will always be an audience. Worth mentioning is the presence of a certain celebrity in the cast who will go unnamed due to her success pioneered almost entirely by Google hits: this household name was mocked as being added to the cast, though her E! reality shows regularly, handily outdraw buzz-worthy programs like “Mad Men” and “Girls,” suggesting her Q-rating is significantly higher than someone like, say, Jon Hamm, possibly giving this project a boost it wouldn’t have if Perry had merely cast one of his usual repertory day players.

Olympus Has Fallen Gerard Butler

Olympus Has Fallen” out of first place, and it wasn’t too pretty. Clearly a bulk of the audience opted for the similar “G.I. Joe,” taking the wind out of Gerard Butler’s sails a bit. FilmDistrict and Millennium Films seem to be getting what they expected out of this title, however, and given the lukewarm reactions to the “White House Down” trailer, it’s possible they may have won the annual “Dante’s Peak”-Vs.-“Volcano” type showdown, particularly considering “Olympus” was shot at an affordable $70 million, and the Roland Emmerich counterpicture (because “counterpicture” should be a word used for this circumstance) likely costs something similar to the average blockbuster pricetag.

The Host

If the “Twilight” fans were truly nuts, “Remember Me” would have been a blockbuster, “On The Road” would have scored massive arthouse numbers, and Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart would dominate the A-List. But because fans don’t necessarily flock towards everything “Twilight”-related, the latest brainchild of series architect Stephenie Meyer laid a big fat Easter egg flop this weekend. “The Host” wasn’t exactly an expensive endeavor, and fans have already shown medium-hot support to the book, so these meager numbers aren’t a tremendous surprise. If anything, this suggests that the Meyer brand is more relevant to readers than it is to moviegoers, and that “Twilight” is a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Thank God.

Oz: The Great And Powerful” is within spitting distance of $200 million domestically and with a solid $33.8 million global Easter weekend from only two-thirds of the international markets,  the worldwide total is now $412.3 million and seems headed to $500 mil. It's not the "Alice In Wonderland"-billion-plus cume they were trying to model 'Oz' after, but probably enough for a sequel (though not a great profit will be found since 'Oz' was said to cost somewhere in the range of $250 million, minus P&A). Disney can thank Pixar and Marvel for bringing in the bucks recently, because if “The Lone Ranger” fails this summer, that’s four straight $200 million plus in-house live action films to underperform for the studio in “Oz,” 'Tron' and the dreaded “John Carter.”

Spring Breakers James Franco

The Call” should cross $40 million domestic by Monday, a major victory for a smartly-marketed low budget feature. It easily passed the free-falling “Admission” in its second weekend, a film that is playing quite definitively as if it has absolutely zero audience. No great success for the second weekend of “Spring Breakers,” as the film expanded further but still lost half its audience (anecdotal word of mouth amongst mainstream filmgoers is not strong), but the victory was in the mild marketing effort and cheap buzz scared up by the film’s considerable social media profile. Meanwhile, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” expunged more than half its initial engagements and still registered the lowest per-screen average in the top ten by far, performing the stunning magic act of making massive audiences simply disappear. 

In limited release, “A Place Beyond The Pines” is showing early numbers that suggest $270k in receipts at only four locations, which likely suggests a strong coming expansion. "Renoir" opened at six theaters, meanwhile, with a strong $63.7k. Movie buff doc "Room 237" grossed $36k at two engagements, while "Blancanieves" brought in $25k in four. Middling numbers met the theatrical debut for "Wrong," which only pulled in $18k at sixteen theaters, though it's been available on VOD for months now. 

The strongest indie holdover is "Quartet," which somehow grossed $368k in its twelfth week of release, bringing its total to $16.6 million stateside and nearly $50 million worldwide. "No" also continued to perform, with $246k in the till at seventy theaters for a seven week total of $1.3 million. Also still pulling in crowds is "From Up On Poppy Hill," which grossed $121k at twenty four locations in week three, while "The Sapphires" expanded from four to twelve engagements with a $72k gross. Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls.

1. G.I. Joe: Knowing Is Half The Box Office (Paramount) - $41.2 million ($51.7 mil.) 
2. The Croods (Fox/Dreamworks) - $26.5 million ($90 mil.)
3. Tyler Perry’s Temptation: You Can’t Bring Your Mother To This One (Lionsgate) - $22.3 million
4. Olympus Is Having A Terrible Day (FilmDistrict) - $13.5 million ($54 mil.)
5. Stephanie Meyer’s 15 Minutes Extender (Open Road) - $11.2 million
6. Oz: Milkin’ It (Disney) - $11.3 million ($198 mil.)
7. The Call (Sony) - $4.5 million ($39 mil.)
8. Admission (Focus) - $3.1 million ($12 mil.)
9. Spring Breakers (A24) - $2.5 million ($10 mil.)
10. The Incredible Eighth Choice For A Rental Because Everything Good Was Out (Warner Bros.) - $1.3 million ($21 mil.)